Can you layer several allegories on top of one another in a film or novel? For instance, can you make people believe that your film is an allegory of the Greek mythological story Oedipus and then also hide the fact that it is also an allegory of Shakespeare tragedy Hamlet? What are some ways of achieving this?

  • What are you looking to achieve by doing this? Jun 25, 2021 at 9:28
  • No-one's stopping you, so whether you can is up to you. Jun 25, 2021 at 11:15
  • Simple. Have your characters watch a play about Oedipus. Don't mention Hamlet or Denmark.
    – wetcircuit
    Jun 25, 2021 at 11:30
  • These don't need to be full-blown allegories. You can reference elements of all these different storylines and mythos together, and have threads of each going through the story. It's extra-easy, because often the later stories are all ready allegorical of earlier works. I tied together Western Greek, Indian Aryan, then Nazi and esoteric national socialism, connecting the common elements because it's all rather racist, caste-based and paternalistic. Believe it or not, they all relate to each other quite intuitively! It was a lot harder to make any of that hot mess sympathetic.
    – DWKraus
    Jun 26, 2021 at 3:33

1 Answer 1


So … Hamlet murders his father, marries his mother, then stages a play to reveal he murdered his father when his father’s ghost tells him he was murdered? Then he fights a duel with himself and kills his father’s murder and dies from his wounds?

You certainly can develop any story you want. The skill of the story teller is just about the only limitation on telling of the story.

Conceptually, stories like Hamlet and Oedipus are great stories because they embody story elements that are universal to the human condition — the shock of incest, the desire for revenge, the retreat from reality in the face of unbearable emotional pain.

If you wish to combine multiple tropes in a story, terrific, great, go for it.

It sounds really complicated and hard to do, and seems likely to cause a lot of challenges for you. I can’t imagine how to develop so many components in a way that would be believable and not seem tedious and too obviously contrived.

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