Universality Saves the Day
This on both Roberts Ch 10 and 16
"The threat of censorship and the danger of political or economic reprisal have often caused authors to express their views indirectly in the form of allegory rather than to name names and write openly, thereby risking political, accusations of libel, or even bodily harm" (Roberts 151).
I have always wondered whether authors intentionally use symbols or if people just over analyze the subtext to the point where they think they found symbols. However, I am convinced that authors' uses of allegories are intentional and sincere. A symbol is usually just one object, person, etc. like the symbol of a heart for love or water for life. Also, Roberts mentions that symbols are usually repeated throughout the text. While I am sure some authors do this intentionally, there may be others who simply chose to use a body of water as part of the setting and therefore, its presence is repeated in order to describe the landscape, not to symbolize life.
Allegories, on the other hand, seem to be too long to have been just mistakenly observed. Usually allegories are a passage or a whole work. Symbols are usually used to emphasize ideas of life, love, death, etc., but from what I have read, symbols never actually taught me a lesson or moral. However, allegories are generally intentionally put into the text by the author to teach a lesson. Like Roberts said in the above quote, authors used allegories to speak their minds or inform others of important lessons without coming right out and saying it because of oppression.
"Everything written, spoken, painted, or composed reflects the period of its composition--its historical, intellectual, and cultural context, or milieu" (Robert 232).
I wonder why Aesop chose to use animals to represent characters in his allegories. Did he use allegories to teach lessons because he was a slave? I also remember reading in the past that Aesop never actually recorded any of his allegories, but rather they were passed down through the generations verbally. I also remember hearing that Aesop taught his lessons to adults. However, today they are used to teach children. I remember being given a book of Aesop's fables as a gift when I was seven. I think allegories like Aesop's fables are so universal that they can teach adults and children alike. In fact, universal themes and messages seem to be what makes literature. Why has Shakespeare's pieces lasted so long? In my opinion, it is because we can still relate to his messages. For instance, Shakespeare's Sonnet 30 approaches the concept of negative versus positive thought. We have all had the experience of thinking one negative thought and then thinking more and more negative thoughts until we think a positive one. Sonnet 30 seems like it could have been written in modern times because the idea is so universal. I think what keeps old pieces alive is when we can learn about a different time or place while still being able to relate to the characters.