Metaphors and Similess Metaphors and similes involve comparisons between two unlike thingss Literal comparison – His car is as fast as Tom’s car – The Exorcist is scarier than The Blair Witch Projects Figurative comparison – His car is as fast as lighting (simile) – My love life is a soap opera (metaphor)
Simile asserts a resemblances “bent double like old beggars under sacks”s “coughing like hags”s “obscene as cancer”s “roots ripe as old bait”s “bulky as a sleeping cat”s “cinders that covered the ground like snow”
Metaphor asserts an identitys “the mountain of beans in my lap”s [hailstones are] “little white planets”s “It was festival, carnival”s “the wolf whine of the siren”s “Old age is a flight of small cheeping birds.”
A poem using metaphorss On the next slide I provide the text of Sylvia Plath’s poem “Metaphors.”s It consists of a series of metaphors for the same thing.s Can you figure out what all the metaphors refer to?
Metaphors I’m a riddle in nine syllables, An elephant, a ponderous house, A melon strolling on two tendrils. Oh red fruit, ivory, fine timbers! This loaf’s big with its yeasty rising. Money’s new minted in this fat purse. I’m a means, a stage, a cow in calf. I’ve eaten a bag of green apples, Boarded the train there’s no getting off.
Answers The metaphors describe a pregnant woman. For example—”Eaten a bag of green apples” can refer to both morning sickness and the baby bump. “A melon strolling on two tendrils” describes the look of the pregnant woman’s body—huge stomach on two thin legs. A pregnancy is “a riddle in nine syllables” because it lasts nine months and at the time this was written the sex of the child would be a mystery.
Parts of a comparisons Tenor: real object s Vehicle: What it’s compared tos Pregnant woman s elephants experience of becoming s “boarded the train pregnant and feeling there’s no getting your body swell and off” change as the birth comes closer 0r going into labor
Extended metaphors In “Metaphors” several different metaphors were provided for one thing. In some poems a single metaphor is elaborated on for several lines, supported by various related comparisons. Let’s look at Langston Hughes’s “Mother to Son.” What metaphor for life is used in this poem?
Extended metaphor Mother to Son Well, son I’ll tell you: Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair It’s had tacks in it, And splinters, And boards torn up, And places with no carpet on the floor-- Bare. But all the time I’se been a climbin’ on, And reachin’ landin’s And turnin’ corners And sometimes goin’ in the dark Where there ain’t been no light. . . . Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
Extended metaphors An extended metaphor is continued over at least several lines of the poem. When the whole poem involves an extended metaphor we can also call that the controlling metaphor of the poem. In “Mother to Son” the controlling metaphor is that the journey through life is like climbing a staircase, but everyone does not have the same sort of staircase to climb. The next page breaks down some of the smaller comparisons that are part of this controlling metaphor.
“Mother to Son”s Vehicle s Tenors Crystal stair s An easy life filled with luxuries s Hard life of poverty ands Dark staircase in need struggle of repairs Splinters s Small problemss Tacks s Significant hardshipss Boards torn up s Lacking basic supports Reaching landings s Reaching turning points or milestones
“MARKS”s Linda Pastan’s “Marks” is another good example of a poem with a controlling metaphor. The speaker is a woman who compares herself to a student ready to drop out of school as she explains that she is tried of feeling criticized or unappreciated by her family.
“Marks”s Vehicle s Tenor – Student – Wife and mother – Teachers – Husband, kids – Sex, cooking, – Courses or ironing, childrearing assignments – Comments or – Grades criticisms – Dropping out of – Getting divorced or school not playing trad. role anymore
Personifications Attributing human qualities to non-human things (a kind of metaphor) – “Fearing the chronic angers of that house” – “even the dirt kept breathing a small breath” – A poem that uses extensive personification is “Schizophrenia”. In an extended metaphor the house is personified as someone being torn apart of even driven mad by the fighting among the family members inhabiting it.
Puns = play on wordss A pun involves playful use of words that have more than one meaning or sound very similar to other words.s “Carnal Knowledge” is a pun meaning knowing about meat and having sex.s “Marks” means grades, and the wounds caused by getting these gradess “The neighbors said it was a madhouse” – Can be a metaphor for a house with crazy people in it (insane asylum) or the house itself has been driven mad.
Metonymys Substitution: cause for effect, container for contained, something closely associated with something else with thing itself – The king could be referred to as “the crown” – “Doublet and hose should show itself courageous to the petticoat” = men should act courageously in front of women – “The pen is mightier than the sword”= it is easier to persuade through writing than through force – “Detroit opposed the new emission standards” Detroit = the city where most American car manufacturers have their headquarters so here it stands for the auto industrys Alternate definition: “to convey the intangible in terms of the tangible by substitution” – “the heart” for love, “tears” for sorrow
Synecdoches Part is used to signify the whole: – Child is “another mouth to feed” – Ten workers are “ten hands “ – “He belongs behind bars.”s Whole for a part – “Germany invaded Poland.”s By some definitions, synecdoche is viewed as a special case of metonymy. They can be hard to tell apart.
Synecdoche/metonymys “Her heart was learning to lie down forever” (heart=dog; “lie down forever” stands for dying.)s “All pajamas and running noses” (both stand for children)s “We longed for burnt wood” (stands for fire)s “. . . Rage. . . Walked in the ironlike black coat before him” (coat for father) (and father is the personification of rage)—This line is from “Barn Burning.”
Hyperbole = exaggerations “The whiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy”s “Men marched asleep”s “A mountain of beans”
Understatement=saying less thanyou means “No one ever thanked him” – When the poet says no one ever thanked the father for warming the house, it seems to mean that no one appreciated anything he did.s “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair” – The implication is that it’s been the extreme opposite
Oxymoron and paradoxs Paradox is a self-contradictory statement that is nevertheless true – “It was the house that suffered most”s An oxymoron is the combination of contradictory words – Sweet sorrow – Jumbo shrimp – Deceitful candor