Monday, 10 October 2016

Metaphors, analogies, similes, allegories - how are they different?

These four literary devices are roughly the same as each other, but with some varying aspects. Each of them will draw comparisons between things to help the reader further understand the meaning or impact of what is written, but they each do this differently. Allegories in particular are quite different to the other three, as they are far more subtle and symbolic, lacking the “clear comparison” aspect.
Metaphor:
A metaphor involves saying that one thing is another thing, when it actually isn’t. The comparison is implicit, so it often says A is B, rather than A is like B. This often means metaphors sound illogical and ridiculous, but it’s usually clear when a metaphor is a metaphor, so we embrace the idea it is expressing.

Examples:
The job interview was a breeze.
My face is a canvas.
The world is a stage.
He is my rock.
Analogy:
An analogy is basically a metaphor, but takes it a step further by extending the comparison. Therefore, an analogy is more of an argument than a figure of speech. Metaphors and similes are figures of speech, and analogies are often made up of them both. Or, as Britta so simply put, “it’s a thought with another thought’s hat on”.















Examples:
- “Politicians are puppets, and we are the audience. We don’t see the strings, so we just believe whatever we see, and we don’t know who is really putting on the show.”
- The best example, though, is the famous Forrest Gump quote: “My momma always said life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.”
Simile:
A simile is basically a metaphor, but with the words “like” or “as” chucked in there for clarity. This makes it explicit rather than implicit.

Examples:
We’re as close as two peas in a pod.
She’s as light as a feather.
The sun’s warmth is like a blanket.
When people bring their bins in from the street, they rumble like thunder. (Is this just an Aussie thing? Is it just me?)
 

Allegory:
Allegories are implicit and symbolic. They aren’t spelled out for the reader like the metaphors and similes and analogies. They exist in many forms of art where one story is clearly told, but an alternate meaning or idea can be found within it. This isn’t usually identified within the work, as it is more open to the audience’s interpretation. It’s up to the audience to draw their own comparisons by noting familiar themes, and so on.

Examples:
- Some might say Star Trek is an allegory for racial diversity and general discrimination, as it involves a number of different alien races all interacting and clashing in various contexts. The same might be said about X-Men, as it also shows those who are marginalised for being different. This could be a hint at any kind of discrimination, such as homosexuality, even though they focus on aliens and mutants. This is an allegory.

- Another example I like to refer to is The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien wrote about trees waking up and marching to destroy the home of the man who destroyed them for the purpose of building machines and creating armies. If that isn’t an allegory for the industrial revolution and destruction of our forests, I don’t know what is. There are many more you can find within LOTR that relate to war, greed, etc. But Tolkien never liked allegories for his stories anyway. That is perhaps indicative of the allegory - it is often only open to the interpretation of the audience.




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