« PreviousContinue »
movement of logical thought does not discern the point of identity.
By the foregoing suggestions, which of the following are figurative? In which case do the objects compared belong to different worlds? Point out the conspicuous differences between the objects in the figurative expressions, and then state precisely the point of identity:—
1. The steamer sweeps along like a lightning train. 2. The snowbird comes whirling down like a leaf. 3. “His russet beard was already flecked with patches of snow, as hedges sometimes in November.” 4. “ This he said with a smile, that danced in his eyes, as the sunbeams dance on the waves of the sea, and vanish again in a moment.” 5. The lion fights like the tiger. 6. The man fights like a tiger. 7. His airy fancy flits about, like a humming bird from flower to flower. 8. The humming bird hums like a spinning top. 9. The eagle soars aloft till he looks like a speck in the sky. 10. The imagination, as the eagle, soars aloft to dizzy heights. 11. “ Pleasures are like poppies spread; you seize the flower, the bloom is shed.” 12. The bare feet of the boy must soon be “hid in the prison cells of pride.” 13. The anchor of the vessel is a thought controlling the vessel's movement. 14. Man's life is a rainy day.
On the basis of explicitness, figurative comparisons are divided into Expressed Comparison and Implied Comparison, with subdivisions under the second.
Expressed Comparison. — The expressed comparison is called a Simile, from similis, like. This figure is peculiar in that the ideas compared and the comparison are all expressed. The word like is generally used to denote the comparison ; but the words as, so, just as, similar to, and other expressions of comparison may be used. Sometimes the word expressing the comparison is understood. The finding of these words of comparison is no assurance that the expression is figurative.
The Simile serves chiefly to illustrate truth to the intellect or to please the emotions by transferring from one object to another some quality more pleasing than naturally belongs to the object under discussion. They may be enlisted in the service of all the esthetic emotions — wit, humor, beauty, and sublimity. While less energetic than implied comparisons, they, because expressing the resemblance more fully, may be used to express resemblance which would be obscure in the other forms.
To explain a Simile is to point out the identity between the objects compared, and then to show how the identity is expressed. So explain the following, and then change each figure to literal language and note the gain in the ease of interpretation:
1. “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of waters." 2. “Their lives glide on like rivers that water the woodland.”
3. “It (mercy) droppeth as the gentle rain from Heaven upon the place beneath.”
4. “The Kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed." 5. “With oaken brace and copper band,
Lay the rudder on the sand,
Over the movement of the whole.”
Like icicles from her deck." 7. “How far that little candle throws his beams :
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.” 8. “For there are moments in life when the heart is so full of That if it by chance be shaken, or into its depths, like a
pebble, Drops some careless word, it overflows, and its secret Spilt on the ground like water, can never be gathered to
gether.” 9. “And my ear with the music impregnated may be,
Like the poor exiled shell with the soul of the sea.” 10. “ As seeds lie dormant in the earth for hundreds of years, and then when brought to the influence of air and light, exhibit their vitality, so the germ of the soul may lie concealed and undeveloped during the whole term of human life.”
Implied Comparisons. — In implied comparisons the resemblance is never expressed, and often one term of the comparison is omitted. They vary as to the degree of implication, and on this basis fall into two classes; namely, the Metaphor and the Allegory, with varieties under each.
Metaphor. — This figure, instead of expressing a resemblance, asserts or assumes an identity; thus: “ Judah is a lion's whelp.” “A cloud of sorrow darkened his face.” Every Metaphor may be expanded into a Simile. Judah is like a lion's whelp. Sorrows, like a cloud, darkened his face. It would thus seem that the only distinction between the Metaphor and Simile lies in the form. But this distinction in form arises from a distinction under the form. The Metaphor arises from a greater degree of animation and a bolder effort of the imagination. It thus becomes not only shorter, but stronger, flashing the thought upon the mind. The Metaphor ventures to exaggerate the resemblance, as the more cautious Simile would give it, into total identity. The exaggeration does not
deceive, for it is understood that only resemblances are meant; but it excites the mind to a more vivid realization. The reason for the greater force of the Metaphor over the Simile is explained by A. S. Hill in the following:
“ According to Dr. Whately, who adopts the idea from Aristotle, the superiority of the Metaphor is ascribable to the fact that “all men are more gratified at catching the resemblance for themselves than at having it pointed out to them '; according to Herbert Spencer, “the greater economy it achieves would seem to be the probable cause'; but neither explanation is altogether satisfactory. On the one hand, the Metaphor, though shorter than the Simile, usually makes the mind do more work; on the other hand, the mind is rendered more able to work, — not, however, because it is gratified, but because it is stimulated to exertion.”
The Metaphor, because of its stimulating power, is classed as a figure of Energy. Yet it contributes largely to Clearness, and is more often elegant than the Simile. No other figure is so common or contributes so much to effective expression. The Metaphor, real or faded, is met with in almost every sentence that drops from tongue or pen. This figure more than any other has increased the power and scope of language; and this it has done by multiplying meanings without increasing words. Language has been designated by Richter “a dictionary of faded metaphors.”
In some Metaphors the identity is asserted, in others assumed. Macbeth applies the name Metaphor to the first only, reserving the second for a distinct class, which he names Implication. “The metaphor," he says, “ lies wholly in the copula or verb, which asserts something of the subject that is not literally proper to the nature of that subject.” He defines Implication as an implied Metaphor or an implied Simile, giving these examples:
“ No palm grove islanded amid the waste.” “ Rising above the deluge of years,” in speaking of Persepolis. “ The vales are surging with the grain.”
There is certainly a clear distinction here, these being briefer and less explicit than the preceding. The term Metaphor, however, is usually applied to both; and this seems justifiable, since the objects compared are always viewed as identical. I think there is not a resemblance assumed ever, but an identity, making the Implication, at most, always an implied Metaphor.
From the nature of the Metaphor it is easy, when more than one figurative conception is given of the object under discussion, to confuse the mind by contradictory representative images. Such a confusion of figures is called a mixed Metaphor, and is one of the most common faults of a loose and careless speaker. Says Genung: “It arises from giving too little attention to the successive images that crowd upon the bràin, and is avoided by simply surrendering one's thoughts to the picture suggested until it is wrought out as far as needed.” The following examples illustrate this error:-
1. “He is swamped in the meshes of his argument." 2. “ His bosom was swollen with the flame of patriotism.”