Parable

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Parable - a short, simple story designed to convey some religious principle, moral lesson, or general truth by comparison with actual events. A parable is often an allegory in which each character represents an abstract concept—such as obedience or honesty—and is illustrated through real-life events.

Illustration of PDF document

Download Guide to Literary Terms Study Guide

Subscribe Now

The term is from the Greek parabole, meaning “comparison” or “putting beside” which was derived from paraballein, meaning “to throw beside.”

Melville’s Billy Budd is sometimes offered as a parable since it demonstrates that absolute good may not co-exist with absolute evil. In this novel, Billy is an innocent, impressionable, young sailor, the personification of absolute good. He is court-martialed and hanged for mutiny and murder under trumped-up charges brought against him by Claggart, the personification of absolute evil.

see: allegory, fable


Explore all literary terms.


Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-hour free trial

Already a member? Log in here.

Previous

Palindrome

Next

Paradox