Reply To: Allegory vs symbolism

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@Daeus-lamb I think the big problem with Middle Earth is that most of the symbolism isn’t tied to any obvious standard/picture within its world. The interpretation of decisions, arcs, and outcomes is left largely to the reader’s imagination and worldview, and is likely to be skewed if the reader doesn’t know anything about Middle Earth’s history or everything that led up to Frodo’s quest.

Middle Earth has a history, and the history explains the symbolism— but in the trilogy, which is what everyone reads first, there’s no trace of that. Even the people who believe in it trust more in ‘what their heart tells them’ than they deliberately turn to the standard for guidance.

So it sounds like the system you have set up fixes that nicely, with nods to the standard/picture and threads of it that are relevant to your stories and characters. The world is held up against that standard and asked to conform to it, instead of just spinning merrily on in the way it was started and slowly getting farther and farther away while no one notices. My gut instinct says you’ll do fine.

Honestly my definition of allegory is probably pretty loose. I consider my entire series one enormous allegory of human history, but there are several books (Valiant and Uncharted are the two most obvious, but there are books between the allegories of the Fall, the Tower of Babel, the giving of the Law, and the coming of Christ) that are complete in themselves and if you never read the rest of the series you would hardly guess they were allegorical at all. It’s harder to label a series allegorical or not allegorical by reckoning up individual books. Does your whole series build up towards the Messiah’s coming? Not necessarily in an obvious way, but would you consider that the crowning moment that ties the whole series together? If so, you have an allegory.

If not, it’s probably all symbolism. In this case it would be a lot less important for obvious ties to Christianity such as the appearance of a Messiah figure, but God’s law should still be one hundred percent necessary and theologically sound, and the world should definitely be measured up to it.

INFP-A. If you can't be brilliant, odd will do.

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