Figure of Speech -Figures of Resemblance or Similarity


A Figure of Speech, word or group of words used to give particular emphasis to an idea or sentiment, is any deviation for increased effect from the plain and ordinary method of speaking. The special emphasis is typically accomplished by the user's conscious deviation from the strict literal sense of a word, or from the more commonly used form of word order or sentence construction. From ancient times to the present, such figurative locutions have been extensively employed by orators and writers to strengthen and embellish their styles of speech and composition. Broadly speaking rhetoric is the art of speaking in which we can locate dressing or ornamentation. But it is always to be remembered that it is not the essence of the poem rather one of the essentials.

Figures of Speech are usually classified as

I. Figures of Resemblance or Similarity.
II. Contrast.
III. Association or Contiguity.
IV. Miscellaneous Figures.

I. Figures of resemblance.


A Simile (Lat. similis, like), specific comparison by means of the words “like” or “as”, is a comparison of two unlike things or ideas to show their similarity of relation.

Examples: (1).William Wordsworth: “But, like a thirsty wind, to roam about.”
(2). The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne, burned on the water.–Shakespeare.
(3) He was a lion in the fight.
(4) Ye are the salt of the earth.
(5) He is fond of blowing his own trumpet.
(6) My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose
(7) But, like a thirsty wind, to roam about.
(8) Christianity shone like a beacon in the black night of paganism




    Note. The simile must be clearer and better known than the original ideas, and should be strictly relevant. The Epic Simile, however, in Homer, Virgil, Milton, etc., is often expanded for its own intrinsic beauty, and then irrelevant but picturesque details are added.

Metaphor (Gr. metapherein, to carry over, transfer) that does not use the terms “like” or “as”, identifies two unlike things on account of their implied similarity of relation. Unlike simile here is no use of  like, as or than.

 Examples:
 (1) The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve.–Shakespeare. (The striker or clapper of the bell is being compared to the tongue of a speaking human being.)
(2) The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
 Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled. - Matthew Arnold (The Sea of Faith is compared to the Christianity)
(3) Life is but a walking shadow.
(4) He uttered a volley of oaths
(5) The man tore through the building.
        
Notes. 1. Metaphor is compressed simile. It transfers the name and properties of one thing to another, while simile keeps them distinct. They may be expanded into similes e.g.
As a lion (fights bravely) (known ideas).
He fought bravely (unknown ideas).
2. All language is full of metaphors, which are no longer felt as unusual or figurative modes of speech. For instance, all words relating to invisible things have been formed by transference from the material world on the assumption that there is an analogy between the two e.g. integrity, courage, eminence, a sharp voice, a dull mind, etc.
3. Metaphors, if kept distinct, may succeed each other without fault. Mixed Metaphors occur when metaphors from different sources are combined in one phrase or clause, or in others depending on it e.g.

(a) Even from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
Even in our ashes live their wonted fires.
(b) I bridle in my struggling Muse in vain.
That longs to launch into a bolder strain.
(c) To take arms against a sea of troubles.
(d) I smell a rat ; I see him floating in the air ; but, mark me,
I shall nip him in the bud.
(e) Eobert Boyle was the Father of Chemistry, and brother of
the Earl of Cork.

Personification (Latin, persona, a mask, person) is the attributing of life and personal qualities to feelings, abstract ideas, or things without life.  The use of human characteristics to describe animals, things, or ideas. Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago” describes the city as “Stormy, husky, brawling / City of the Big Shoulders.” It is a representation of inanimate objects or abstract ideas as living beings, as in the sentences “Necessity is the mother of invention,””Lean famine stalked the land,” and “Night enfolded the town in its ebon wings.”
        

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