Figurative Language

The Language of Comparison
Literal v. Figurative Language
 Literal language
 Means exactly what it says it means
 Ex. That boy is smart.
 Figurative language
 Uses the language of comparison
 Not literally true
 But truth exists in the connection between two
seemingly unlike things
 Ex. That boy is sharp as a tack.
The Power of the Language of Metaphor
 Good similes and metaphors create different levels of
recognition in the reader.
 1st level: “I knew that.”
 2nd—“I would have known that.”
 3rd—“Wow! I never would have made that connection
 Excellent metaphors surprise us into a recognition that
we would never have gotten on our own.
 They hand us an experience that gives us a new way of
seeing the world.
 A comparison between two seemingly unlike things,
using “like” or “as”
 Formulas
 A is like B.
 A is as _____ as B.
 Example:
 The bruise on her arm was like a large purple flower.
 The bruise on her arm was as purple as a dark flower.
Direct Metaphor
 A figure of speech that directly compares two
seemingly unlike things
 Formula:
 A is B (A = B)
 Example:
 The bruise on her arm was a large purple flower.
Implied Metaphor
 A metaphor that suggests, rather than states directly,
the connection between two seemingly unlike things
by assigning the characteristics of one to the other
 Does not directly name one of the items being compared
 Drops hints about it
 Formula:
 A has specific characteristics/qualities (of B).
 Example:
 The purple bruise on her arm blossomed quickly.
 The word “flower” never appears directly, but the bruise
(A) is given the characteristics of a flower (B) in that it
is purple and blossoms.
 Assigning human characteristics to an animal or thing
 Is a type of implied metaphor
 Example:
 The wind whispered its secrets through the trees.
 Analysis:
 The implication is that the wind is human—only
humans can tell secrets.
Extended Metaphor
 Taking a metaphor, whether direct or implied, and
exploring different points of comparison between the
two items—not just one
 Think of turning a diamond over in your hand, exploring
each facet, instead of looking at it only from the top.
 Often runs through several lines of a poem
 Ex. Robert Frost’s “A Hillside Thaw”
Application/Practice Time!
 Using the following two seemingly unlike things,
create original examples of two different types of
similes, a direct metaphor, and an implied metaphor:
 Stapler
 Alligator
 Even though these two items are seemingly unlike,
think of all the possible connections you could make
between them. What qualities or characteristics do
they share?
Similes: A is like B
 The stapler is like an alligator.
 The stapler snapped down on the paper like an
alligator on its prey.
 The stapler is like an alligator chomping its jaws on the
 The stapler locked my paper like the jaws of an
 The stapler’s metallic incisors are those of an irate
alligator. (A is like B.)
 A stapler silently waits for its prey like an alligator.
 The alligator shut its jaws, and like a stapler to paper,
stuck to the gazelle’s leg.
Similes: A is as _____ as B
 A stapler is as quick as an alligator.
 The stapler is as mean as the jaws of an alligator.
 The stapler swung open like the thrashing tail of an
 The staples are as sharp as an alligator’s teeth.
 A stapler is as heartless to its victims as an alligator is
to its own.
 The stapler lies in wait like an alligator ready to pounce
on its prey.
 The alligat0r’s body was like a stapler, thick, tough as
metal, and ready to pierce.
Direct Metaphor
 The stapler is an alligator.
 The stapler is the head of a black alligator.
 This paper pincher is no less than a fresh-water predator.
 A stapler is an alligator with its intimidating bite.
 The stapler was a powerful alligator with clenched jaws.
 When merging stack of papers, the stapler becomes a
hungry alligator.
 As I watched the teacher prepare the homework, her
stapler became an alligator on attack.
 The stapler looked hungry, waiting; its jaws were those of
an alligator’s, ready to close on its prey.
Implied Metaphor
 The stapler sits with open jaws in wait for its next feast.
 The stapler waits patiently for its prey, the paper.
 The stapler clamped its jaws on my paper.
 The stapler’s teeth gnashed viciously at my paper.
 I keep a tiny alligator in my pencil pouch.

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