With the release of Love and Absinth, I thought I might talk a little about the allegorical elements I’ve tossed into my tales. Warning, though, if you’ve not read Love and Absinth, and think you might like to, the following post may be a little bit of a spoiler. And if you’ve already read Knue who Slew the Dragon, you may have noticed that a few characters had very allegorical sounding names. The same is true in Love and Absinth.
But let’s back up. Just what is allegory? I like Richard Nordquist‘s definition of allegory because it does not necessarily assign a moral connotation to the allegorical meaning in a work. It simply states that allegory is “the rhetorical strategy of extending a metaphor through an entire narrative so that objects, persons, and actions in the text are equated with meanings that lie outside the text.”
And, I do have to admit that I have always been intrigued with the use of allegory, especially in the way in which it has been used in the medieval morality play, Everyman. Although, there are several very major differences between morality plays and my own fairy tales.
For one, the main character in a morality play usually represents humanity as a whole, while supporting characters represent good and evil. This firm focus on good and evil is another characteristic of morality plays which is not present in my own allegorical fairy tales.
In my fairy tales, the protagonists themselves are often allegorical right alongside many of the supporting characters. They are what they are; I do not assign “good” and “evil” to my characters. However, they do represent what their names reflect. Since I am excited about the publication of Love and Absinth, let’s take the two title characters as prime examples.
Love. Love is an emotion, but in the fairy tale of Love and Absinth, Love is also a main character, fully representing the emotion of love and all that that can entail. Absinth also. Absinthe with an “e” is a very potent liqueur with a very bitter flavor, but in the fairy tale, Absinth is a protagonist representing that same sour harshness. Both are very strong and come from seemingly opposite sides of the spectrum.
Can they coexist? In the fairy tale of Love and Absinth, the characters of Love and Absinth are forced to coexist. The use of a symbol (which I will not go into here) binds them together in the form of a ring. The story gives us a genial look at what happens as they try to reverse the circumstances, while the allegory forces us to contemplate what it will take for opposites to exist together in peace.
Through the use of allegory, I am able to address the question of how different or alike love and absinthe may be, while at the same time telling a simple story on the surface. If you enjoy fairy tales, you can read Love and Absinth for the tale without having to worry about any deeper meaning. But if you, like me, enjoy digging beneath the surface, the use of allegory provides material to ponder.
And while Love and Absinth uses allegory perhaps the most blatantly in this trilogy of fairy tales, it is by no means the only one to do so. I will not examine the other characters in Knue who Slew the Dragon or Sycorax and the Sorcerer, but you are free to find them and analyze what purpose they serve. It’s not that difficult, really. Which is another thing I love about allegory!
*Love and Absinth is now available on Amazon’s Kindle format. For those of you who do not own a Kindle, Amazon provides a free Kindle App for tablets, computers and smartphones. Otherwise, I do plan on publishing all three tales in this series to other formats in 2014 as well.