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Antonomasia Allegory

Antonomasia is a substitution of any epithet or phrase for a proper name, such as "the little corporal" for Napoleon I. The reverse process is also sometimes called antonomasia. A frequent instance of antonomasia in the Late Middle Ages and early Renaissance was the use of the term "the Philosopher" to refer to Aristotle.


It is the result of interaction between logical and nominal meaning of a word.

1) When the proper name of a person, who is famous for some reasons, is put for a person having the same feature. e.g. Her husband is an Othello.

2) A common noun is used instead of a proper name, e. g. I agree with you Mr. Logic, e.g. My Dear Simplicity.

As in other stylistic devices based on the interaction of lexical meaning, the two kinds of meanings must be realized in the word simultaneously. If only one meaning is materialized in the context, there is no stylistic device. Antonomasia may be likened to the epithet in essence if not in form. It categorizes the person and thus simultaneously indicates both the general and the particular. Antonomasia is a much favored device in the belles-lettres style. In Russian literature this device is employed by many of our classic writers. It will suffice to mention such names as Vralman, Molchalin, Korobochka and Sobakevich to illustrate this efficient device for character­izing literary heroes, a device which is now falling out of use. These Rus­sian names are also coined on the analogy of generally acknowledged models for proper names, with endings in -man, -in, -vich.

So far we have dealt with a variety of antonomasia in which com­mon words with obvious logical meaning are given nominal meaning without losing their primary, basic significance. But antonomasia can also make a word which now has a basic nominal meaning acquire a generic signification, thus supplying the word with an additional logical meaning. This variety of antonomasia is not so widely used as a stylistic de­vice, most probably due to the nature of words with nominal meaning: they tell very little or even nothing about the bearer of the name.

"The Bard" for William Shakespeare. "Old Blue Eyes" for Frank Sinatra. "The King" for Elvis Presley. "The Iron Lady" for Margaret Thatcher. "A young preacher from Georgia" for Martin Luther King (as used by Barack Obama in his victory speech)

An allegory is a figurative mode of representation conveying a meaning other than the literal. Fictions with several possible interpretations are not allegories in the true sense. Not every fiction with general application is an allegory. Allegory is generally treated as a figure of rhetoric, but an allegory does not have to be expressed in language: it may be addressed to the eye, and is often found in realistic painting, sculpture or some other form of mimetic, or representative art. The etymological meaning of the word is broader than the common use of the word. Though it is similar to other rhetorical comparisons, an allegory is sustained longer and more fully in its details than a metaphor, and appeals to imagination, while an analogy appeals to reason or logic. The fable or parable is a short allegory with one definite moral. Since meaningful stories are nearly always applicable to larger issues, allegories may be read into many stories, sometimes distorting their author's overt meaning. For instance, many people have suggested that The Lord of the Rings is an allegory for the World Wars, in spite of J. R. R. Tolkien's emphatic statement in the introduction to the second edition "It is neither allegorical nor topical....I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence."

Allegory has been a favorite form in the literature of nearly every nation. It represents many tales. In classical literature two of the best-known allegories are the cave in Plato's Republic and the story of the stomach and its members in the speech of Menenius Agrippa; and several occur in Ovid's Metamorphoses. In Late Antiquity Martianus Capella organized all the information a fifth-century upper-class male needed to know into an allegory of the wedding of Mercury and Philologia, with the seven liberal arts as guests; Capella's allegory was widely read through the Middle Ages. Medieval thinking accepted allegory as having a reality underlying any rhetorical or fictional uses.

Some elaborate and successful specimens of allegory are to be found in the following works, arranged in the approximate chronological order:

Aesop – Fables . Plato – The Republic (Plato's allegory of the cave). Euripides – The Trojan Women. The Romance of the Rose . William Langland – Piers Plowman . William Golding - "Lord of the Flies". Dante Alighieri – The Divine Comedy . Jonathan Swift – A Tale of a Tub . Edgar Allan Poe – "The Masque of the Red Death" (though Poe did not believe in allegory, this story is generally assumed to be one). C.S. Lewis – The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: generic allegorical elements of good and evil, as well as many Christian themes, expressed in a narrative with strong fantasy fiction elements and credible characters: not fully an allegory.


Date: 2015-12-24; view: 2201

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