Figurative Language Tropes and Rhetorical Figures
The difference between the language of science and the language of literature • The special language of science uses words and expressions that communicate one thing at a time without the danger of confusion or of multiple interpretations. Polytetrafluoroethylene probably means the same thing every sentence in which it appears. It is hard to imagine a circumstance where it could be used ironically and it is unlikely to find its way into a simile or metaphor. • The language of literature and common life, however, is filled with words and expressions used figuratively, words that mean in a particular context something more than any dictionary definition would lead us to expect. The figures of speech that create these extra meanings are traditionally divided into TROPES (figures that change the meaning of a word) and RHETORICAL FIGURES (those that change the tone or emphasis of a statement without changing the meaning of individual words).
The Principal Tropes: metaphor, symbol, simile, personificationtrope (n). a figurative or metaphorical use of a word or expression • METAPHOR—A figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things without the use of such specific words of comparison as like, as, than, or resembles.
There are several kinds of metaphor • Directly Stated Metaphor • Implied Metaphor • Extended Metaphor • Dead Metaphor • Mixed Metaphor • “Fame is a bee” • “I like to see it lap the Miles” • Does not state explicitly the two terms of comparison. The example is an implied metaphor in which the verb lap implies a comparison between “it” (which is a train) and some animal that “laps” up water. • Fame is a bee / It has a song— / It has a sting— / Ah, too, it has a wing • A metaphor that is extended or developedover a number of lines or with severalexamples • “The head of the house” • Used so often the comparison is no longer vivid. • A metaphor that fails to make a logical comparison because its mixed terms are visually or imaginatively incompatible. If you say “The President is a lame duck who is running out of gas,” you’ve lost control of your metaphor and have produced a statement that is ridiculous (ducks do not run out of gas).
SYMBOL—A person, place, thing, or event that has meaning in itself and that also stands for something more than itself. • We can distinguish between two types of symbols: • Public • Personal
__Public_____ symbols • The dove, for example, is a public symbol of peace—that is, it is widely accepted the world over as such a symbol. • Uncle Sam is a public symbol that stands for the United States. • A picture of a skull and crossbones is a public symbol of of • __death or warning or pirates____ • Two snakes coiled around a staff is a widely accepted symbol of • __medicine____ • Waving a white flag is a public symbol of • __surrender____
__Personal____ symbols • Most symbols used in literature are personal symbols; even though a symbol may be widely used, a writer will usually adapt it in some imaginative, personal way so that it can suggest not just one, but a myriad of meanings. • One of the most commonly used symbols in literature, for example, is the journey, which can stand for a search for truth, for redemption from evil, or for discovery of the self and freedom. The journey of Huck Finn and Jim down the Mississippi River has been interpreted to symbolize all of these concepts, and more. • The marigolds in “Marigolds” symbolize __beauty and possibly guilt____
SIMILE a figure of speech that makes an explicit comparison between two unlike things, using a word such as like, as, than, or resembles. • What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? • The simile compares __postponed dreams____to__A Raisin in the Sun____
PERSONIFICATION a figure of speech in which an object or animal is given human feelings, thoughts, or attitudes. • The cruel wind tore off the roof of the house. • What is the object or animal being personified? • __wind____ • What is the human trait given to the object? • __cruelty____ • What effect does this give to the object? Meaning, how does this example of personification help readers to visualize/interpret the thing being described? • __nastiness and harsh wind___
The Principle Rhetorical Figures: irony, hyperbole, and oxymoron • RHETORICAL FIGURES (figurative language that changes the tone or emphasis of a statement without changing the meaning of individual words). • rhetoric: (n) language with a persuasive or impressive effect
hyperbole (hi-purr-buh-lee) [never say “hyper-bowl!!!”] • a figure of speech that uses an incredible exaggeration, or overstatement, for effect. • In Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain uses hyperbole for comic effect. An example is Twain’s response when Mr. Bixby tells him he must learn the shape of the Mississippi River throughout its course: • Have I got to learn the shape of the river according to all these five hundred thousand different ways? If I tried to carry all that cargo in my head it would make me stoop-shouldered.
oxymoron • a figure of speech that combines opposite or contradictory terms in a brief phrase. • “Sweet sorrow,” • “deafening silence,” and • “living death” are common oxymorons • (jokesters include “jumbo shrimp”)
Block 7—Tutorial Honors Literary Terms Review
Overview Terms • Literary Analysis: • the study or examination of a literary work or author. • Literary Devices: • figures of speech or tools a writer uses to add layers of meaning to the text
simile • simile—a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things, using a word such as like, as, than, or resembles
metaphor metaphor—a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things without the use of specific words of comparison
personification personification—a figure of speech in which an object or animal is given human feelings, thoughts, or attitudes
foreshadowing foreshadowing—a literary device in which an author drops subtle hints about plot developments to come later in the story
allusion allusion—an implied or indirect reference especially in literature and film; references are often made to Greek gods or goddesses, Shakespeare, the bible, specific historical events or figures, and widely known aspects of popular culture
motif • motif—a recurrent thematic element in a literary or artistic work
“I feel again the chaotic emotions of adolescence, illusive as smoke, yet as real as the potted geranium before me now.” • The simile compares the chaotic emotions of adolescence to smoke and the realness of a potted geranium. • The comparison suggests that the first object in the comparison is both hard to grasp and solid as an everyday object • and it develops…
“Joy and rage and wild animal gladness and shame become tangled together in the multicolored skein of a 14-going-on-15…” • The metaphor compares • The emotions of teen years: joy, rage, wild happiness, and shame to • A piece of multicolored yarn • The comparison suggests that the first object/person in the comparison is • The emotions are so woven together that no matter how much one might try to separate them she can’t • and it develops…
“Poverty was the cage in which we all were trapped…” • The metaphor compares • Poverty to • A cage • The comparison suggests that the first object/person in the comparison is • Poverty is something that we can not escape • and it develops…
“…those days are ill-defined in my memory, running together and combining like a fresh water-color painting left out in the rain.” • The simile compares • The ill-defined days to • a water-color painting left out in the rain • The comparison suggests that the first object/person in the comparison is • the days blended together so much that she could not tell one from another • and it develops…
“…the oriole nest in the elm was untenanted and rocked back and forth like an empty cradle.” • The simile compares • The empty bird’s nest to • Empty cradle • The comparison suggests that the first object/person in the comparison is • Sad and lonely • and it develops…
“…and now if an oriole sings in the elm, its song seems to die up in the leaves, a silvery dust.” • The metaphor/personification compares • The death of the oriole’s song to • A silvery dust • The comparison suggests that the first object/person in the comparison is • The song’s death is beautiful and ethereal • and it develops…
“In May and June there was no rain and the crops withered, curled up, then died under the thirsty sun.” • The personification compares • Dying crops due to the heat of the to • Parched sun • The comparison suggests that the first object/person in the comparison is • The sun was intense • and it develops…
“We were down in Old Woman Swamp and it was spring and the sick-sweet smell of bay flowers hung everywhere like a mournful song. ‘I’m going to teach you to walk, Doodle,’ I said.” • The simile compares • The sick-sweet smell of bay flowers to • A mournful song • The comparison suggests that the first object/person in the comparison is • The scent of the flowers was heavy and sad • and it develops…