Reply To: Allegory vs symbolism

Forums Fiction Themes Allegory vs symbolism Reply To: Allegory vs symbolism

Daeus Lamb

Hey @e-b-raulands! I don’t know if I’ve met you before, but hi. I just want to start off by saying that I’m a big fan of well-done allegory.

I happen to agree that stories can present the gospel, but if they do believe it still has to be didactic. Personally, I don’t think The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is ever going to save someone unless they already know the gospel and the book merely reminds them of it.  Allegory by nature isn’t the gospel, it just points to it — like symbolism can.

Now, while I’m at it,  including the gospel didactically in novels often ends up feeling like someone snipped out a sermon and glued it in the pages. It doesn’t have to sound like this, but it takes skill to avoid that and even if you have that skill it doesn’t fit in every story that’s worth telling.

Symbolism, as in the case of Till We Have Faces or my story The Diary of Nameless, can point to the gospel (it seems to me) just as effectively as allegory. Other stories, like The Lord of the Rings, are less clear in the direction they point but at least but still offer great instruction to those with ears to hear. But, as we’ve mentioned, it would have been better with context. This is probably what you’re thinking of when you say “symbolism”. Yet, within the context of The Silmarillion, Tolkien’s world is a mixture of allegory and symbolism. His world is not a pagan world with Christian symbols  (something I don’t believe in) but has an allegorical version of our God and humanity’s fall. I think Kate, Martin, and I would probably favor this blending of allegory and symbolism for the sake of context, except in stories which defy realism, such as the first two I mentioned in this chapter.


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