« PreviousContinue »
“ Celestial Railroad,” Addison's “Vision of Mirza,” Spenser's “ Faerie Queen,” Bunyan's “ Pilgrim's Progress," Chaucer's “ House of Fame,” Swift's “ Tale of the Tub” and “ Gulliver's Travels,” Dante's “ Divina Commedia."
Since only the representative term of the comparison is given in the Allegory, leaving both the comparison and the real subject of consideration to be made out, sculpture and painting may be allegorical. The statue of a child clasping a dove to its bosom, but assaulted by a snake, represents innocence attacked by evil; and hope may be allegorically represented by the picture of youth leaning against an anchor. The whole course of man's life may be symbolized by a series of pictures. All the virtues of life, faith, hope, courage, purity, etc., have their emblems. Even architecture is said to be allegorical. “The heavy Gothic style is felt to symbolize mystery, profundity, and to awaken reverence, and is therefore suited to a house of worship; while the lighter Grecian styles betoken rather cheerfulness and social pleasure.”
When the allegorical relation takes place among men, and from which an instructive lesson is to be drawn, the Allegory is called a Parable. The Parable of the Prodigal Son and of the Sower are good examples.
This form of Allegory is chiefly used in conveying a , religious truth.
When the Allegory is founded on the supposed action of brutes or inanimate things, it is called a Fable. The Fable differs from the Parable in not being confined to the rules of possibility or probability. The Fable, like the Parable, is designed to teach some useful truth. “Aesop's Fables” are classic examples. The following from the ninth chapter of Judges is a good type of the class. Let it be shown first why it is an Allegory, and then its characteristic mark as Fable should be given:
“ The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them ; and said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honor God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees ? And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou and reign over us. But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou and reign over us. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou and reign over us. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow; and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon."
Figures of Contrast.
There are two general classes of figures of contrast, - Expressed Contrast and Implied Contrast.
Expressed Contrast. — The first of these is called Antithesis. Antithesis is a figure of contrast which impresses an idea by bringing it into the same conception with its opposite; as, “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight.” The Proverbs are constructed almost wholly on the figure of Antithesis.
The Antithesis is not always in the form of the balanced sentence as in the above. A part of considerable length may be constructed to produce in the mind a state opposite the one intended in order to intensify the feeling which the writer wishes to arouse. Whittier thus introduces “ Marguerite":“ The robins sang in the orchard, the buds into blossoms grew;
Little of human sorrow the buds and the robins knew.” “ Sick, in an alien household, the poor French neutral lay; Into her lonesome garret fell the light of the April day.”
Byron's description of the battle of Waterloo, in “ Childe Harold," bringing before the mind the rapturous joy of the music and the dance before the appalling horrors of the battle broke upon them, is an example of the effective use of the principle of Antithesis.
The second and last figure of expressed contrast is the Climax, meaning literally a ladder. This is a figure or an arrangement in which a sentence rises, as it were, step by step in importance, force, or dignity; as,
“ The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
“ Antithesis contrasts objects by bringing them together in opposition; Climax contrasts objects by exhibiting their degrees of difference through a series of intermediates.” 1
Climax, like Antithesis, is not confined to a single sentence. Its principle controls the arrangement of the parts of a discourse, which should always rise in force,
1 D. J. Hill.
beauty, and dignity to the end. Bryant, in his “Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood,” forms a unique climax in attributing human feelings to objects in the following order: birds, squirrels, insects, trees, flowers, trunks of trees, and mossy rocks. This at first seems an anticlimax, proceeding from the highest to the lowest, but the personification necessarily becomes stronger as the object becomes lower in the scale of being. To attribute human joy to a bird is more natural and requires less effort of the imagination than to attribute human contentment to a mossy rock.
Anticlimax, or Bathos, is a fault in style, unless intentionally used for purposes of wit. In such cases the seeming anticlimax is a true climax; for the effect, while different in kind, is greater in degree. Holmes uses the anticlimax to good effect in the “ One-hoss Shay,” in descending from the important events of the Lisbon Earthquake and the defeat of Braddock's army to the completion of the Deacon's Masterpiece:
" That was the year when Lisbon-town
Saw the earth open and gulp her down.
That the Deacon finished the one-hoss shay.” Implied Contrast. — These are divided into four classes : the Epigram, Interrogation, Irony, and Wit and Humor:
1. An Epigram has no clear distinguishing mark. It is the startling expression of a thought by means of the contradiction between the real and the apparent meaning. It is in general any pungent way of saying a thing. The following are examples of good Epigrams:
“ Language is the art of concealing thought.” “Those laborious authors who mistake perspiration for inspiration.” “ When you have nothing to say, say it.” “ The more haste, the less speed.” “ One secret in education is to know how wisely to lose time.” “ The child is father to the man.” “ He asked for bread and received a stone." “ Not louder shrieks to pitying Heaven are cast,
When husbands, or when lap-dogs, breathe their last.” “ He went and told the sexton, and the sexton tolled the bell.”
The last example is a variety of Epigram called Paronomasia, or Pun, being a play upon words. An Epigram plays a conspicuous part in wit, the characteristic element of each being the shock of surprise. So frequently do some authors use the Epigram that their style may be characterized as epigrammatic. Pope belongs to this class.
2. The second figure of implied contrast is Interrogation. Interrogation, as a figure, does not seek
and thus compels his activity; as, —
“ Hath a dog money ? is it possible
A cur can lend three thousand ducats ?” The contrast consists in forcing on the attention the opposite truth to the one presented. This figure contributes to Energy, as may be illustrated by changing the foregoing example to a direct statement. It is an appeal for a silent rejoinder. The Interrogation is a sign of thorough conviction on the part of the speaker.