What’s the difference? That’s the big question. Where do we find distinction between fantasy and allegory? They seem to be used in conjunction if not interchangeably. Well, contrasted to how the words are used, their meanings can not even be obscured to mean the same or similar things.
The faculty of imagining things, especially things that are impossible or improbable.
A story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to revealed a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.
There we have as clear and plain a distinction as ever I have seen. You can see that neither fantasy nor allegory is a genre, but more like a toolbox of materials to be used upon and in a genre. Like I said a while back in my post “Fantasy: Good Or Evil“:
Fantasy is the great magnet of writing; wherever it is concerned it transforms the genre completely.
What do you know? I believe that was a direct quote, those hardly ever happen. Moving on, fantasy is not like allegory in that it is capable of converting an entire story with a few choice words of myth and method. That puts fantasy on a larger scale than allegory and we can think of it as being the bigger of two objects. Say that fantasy is a large sponge and allegory is a small cup.
By comparison the cup is much smaller than the sponge, so we consider the sponge greater. However, with enough squeezing and pushing, the sponge will fit in the small cup because it is more flexible. Fantasy is broad and absorbitant, yet it can be reduced and fitted into the allegory category. You’ve probably read a Fantasy/Allegory novel at one time or another. “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C. S. Lewis is a good for instance in Fantasy/Allegory. In the series Lewis portrays the character of Aslan the Lion as God, he even has him sacrifice his life for the guilty as Jesus did on the cross. Allegory is a picture of something else, something real.
Yet fantasy, in order to fit in the category of allegory, has to empty itself of nearly all of its contents like a sponge would do to fit in a small cup. A lot of the quality is lost from the fantasy when it is made to pattern or outline real events or people. Both fantasy and allegory are useful tools in telling a story, they can coincide to a degree but the quality of one or the other may suffer because of it. The greater of the two is allegory just for the sheer depth and power over other elements it posses, but fantasy still retains a larger realm of influence among genres and it shall always be so.
Remember these are tools to be used in the telling of a story for the reader’s enjoyment, to compliment the plot and message, and above all, to bring glory to God. That’s where allegory comes in handy. For with allegory, a glimpse of God may be input into fantasy. Allegory opens the door for a supernatural God to step into a world made to mirror and magnify His glory. The hand in hand conbination of fantasy and allegory is like a million spotlights all pointed to a stage upon which stands the theme, the message, the focal point of the story: this should always be Love, and the love of God.
So, the question began and the question remains: fantasy or allegory? I say yes.
As always, thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it, I enjoyed writing it. Like, follow, leave a comment, let me know what you think, and follow me on social.
—the anonymous novelist