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DIRECTION. — Form similes by comparing the following pairs of objects:
1. Anger and a cloud.
5. Mercy and rain. 2. Life and a battle.
6. Food and books. 3. Influence and dew.
7. Hope and a rainbow.
8. Wisdom and an owl.
Metaphor is a figure of speech founded upon resemblance. It is often called an abridged simile. with the simile in being founded upon resemblance, but differs from it in structure. In the simile one object is said to resemble another; and, generally, some sign of comparison (as, like, etc.) stands between them. In the metaphor, an object is spoken of as if it were another, and no sign of comparison is used. Thus: “Man is as the flower of the field” is a simile. “Man is a flower of the field” expresses the same thought by a metaphor.
The metaphor is briefer than the simile; it leaves more to the reader or hearer to detect, and stimulates him to the detection. As it results from a more intensely excited imagination, so it conveys a more forcible conception. It often possesses more beauty than the simile, and more nearly resembles a picture; hence the use of the metaphor is sometimes called “word-painting.”
The rules which have been given for the simile apply in a measure to the metaphor, yet for a correct use of the metaphor additional aid is needed. The rules which more particularly limit its use are the following:
RULE I. —Metaphorical and plain language should not be used in the same sentence.
When a metaphor has been introduced into a sentence, all parts of the sentence should be made to conform to the figure thus introduced; if part of it must be understood metaphorically, and part literally, a disagreeable confusion is produced. Thus: “Trothal went forth with the stream of his people, but they met a rock; for Fingal stood unmoved; broken they rolled back from his side; nor did they roll in safety; the spear of the king pursued their flight." The literal meaning is improperly mixed with the metaphorical; first they are waves that roll; and then they are presented to us as men that may be wounded with a spear.
Rule II. — Two different metaphors should not be used in the same sentence and in reference to the same subject.
This is what is called “mixed metaphor,” and is indeed one of the grossest abuses of this figure. Such is the expression, “His tongue grappled with a flood of words." This makes a most unnatural medley. Another example is, “His thoughts soared up from earth like fire and winged their flight to distant stars."
RULE III.—Metaphors even on the same subject should not be crowded together in rapid succession.
Crowding metaphors has a confusing effect upon the mind. Figures, whether for ornament or for illustration, to have their proper effect, must be used with moderation.
RULE IV.—Metaphors should not be too far pursued.
This is called "straining the metaphor,” and is a sure means of destroying the dignity of the figure.
If the resemblance on which the figure is founded be long dwelt upon, and carried into all its minute circumstances, we tire the reader, who soon grows weary of this play of fancy. We also render our discourse obscure.
DIRECTION.– Point out the metaphors in these sentences, and change them to plain language:
1. The web of our life is of mingled yarn. good and ill together. 2. Fame is a plant that grows on soil immortal. 3. Confidence is a plant of slow growth in an aged bosom.
4. Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.
5. A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit.
9. Moderation is the silken string running through the pearl chain of all virtues.
10. 'Tis slander, whose edge is sharper than the sword.
13. You shall see them on a quarto page, where a neat rivulet of text shall meander through a meadow of margin.
14. The leaves of memory seemed to make a mournful rustling in the dark. 15. There stood a brotherhood of venerable trees. 16. Though inland far we be, Our Souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither.
And when the stream
18. Dwell I but in the suburbs of your good pleasure?
- Recast these sentences, using metaphors instead of plain lan.
1. They write for wealth, not fame. 2. We are often deceived by appearances. 3. Forsake not your friends. 4. You have many advantages. 5. The rulers of great monarchies have not always been wise men. 6. Washington was cautious. 7. We have no money. 8. We often tremble when there is no cause for alarm. 9. One is injured by evil associates. 10. Fabius was cunning.
DIRECTION.— Correct these examples of mixed metaphor, by (1) changing the first part to agree with what follows, and (2) the last part to agree with what precedes:
1. The chariot of day peers over the mountain-tops.
3. There is not a single view of human nature which is not sufficient to extinguish the seeds of pride.
4. When the tongue goes upon stilts, reason spreads but half her sails.
5. This world, with all its trials, is the furnace through which the soul must pass and be developed before it is ripe for the next world.
6. We are constantly called upon to observe how the noxious passions, which spring up in the heart like weeds in a neglected garden, are dissipated by the light of truth.
7. The germ, the dawn of a new vein in literature, lies there.
8. We must keep the ball rolling until it becomes a thorn in the side of Congress.
9. A torrent of superstition consumed the land.
10. The very recognition of these by the jurisprudence of a nation is a mortal wound to the keystone upon which the whole arch of morality reposes.
11. O Independence Day, thou chorus of the ages, we hail thy glimmerings 'mid the cataracts of time.
DIRECTION. — Bring into the class examples of correct metaphor, a part of them gleaned from your reading and a part of them your own coining.
Personification is a figure of language which represents the lower animals and inanimate objects as endowed with powers of being above their own. The figure is of three grades: (1) that in which inanimate objects are raised to the rank of brutes, (2) that in which brutes are raised to the rank of man, and (3) that in which inanimate objects are raised to the rank of man.
The first of these grades,—that of endowing inanimate objects with life,- is the most common form of personification, but it is the least forcible. The second grade is used less frequently than either of the others. The third grade,- that in which things are raised farthest,- is the most forcible. The notion of the resemblance of the thing personified to a person is produced by an excited imagination; hence, this figure is appropriate only as the expression of strong emotion. The higher forms of personification can be admitted only into the most animated prose; they are employed much more freely in poetry. The personification of abstract qualities is frequent even in prose, the object of which is merely to instruct.
It is well to note that while all personifications are metaphors, not all metaphors are personifications.