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Transcript of Figurative Language
Simile-explicit comparison between two things by using like, as, than, appears, or seems.
"A sip of Mrs.Cook coffee is like a punch in the stomach." p817 Bedford Intro to Lit.
“In the eastern sky there was a yellow patch like a rug laid for the feet of the coming sun . . .” — The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane
"Your teeth are like stars; they come out at night. They come back at dawn When they're ready to bite."
Poem by Denise Rogers
Twinkle Twinkle little star how I wonder what you are, up above the world so high like a diamond in the sky.
pun -- a play on words that relies on a word having more than one meaning or sounding like another word
Coming our way
Ground zero at noon
Halve a nice day”
--Pragmatist, Edmund Conti
In this example of a pun, the word “have” in the common expression “have a nice day” being replaced by “halve” is used to draw attention to both the narrator’s practicality and situation. “Halve” in this case refers to the “halving,” which one can reasonably assume is a figurative expression of destruction, of the earth.
“A little more than kin, a little less than kind.”
--Hamlet, William Shakespeare
This is a pun because when Hamlet says this about Claudius, he is referring to the fact that Claudius was his uncle (kin), then married Hamlet’s mother and became his stepfather (another type of kin), but they do not get along well (are not kind to each other). However, the word “kin” in and of itself is also one letter less than “kind,” and therefore, a “little less” than “kind.”
“There was a man who entered a pun contest. He sent in ten different puns, in the hopes that at least one of them would win. Unfortunately, no pun in ten did.”
--A Prairie Home Companion Pretty Good Joke Book, Brian Becker et al.
The humor in this joke derives almost entirely from the pun in the last sentence. “No pun intended” is a common saying that people use after unintentionally making a play on words, and “no pun in ten did” sounds like “no pun intended.” It is also made ironically funnier by the fact that the punchline to a joke about a pun contest is “no pun intended.”
“Mercutio: Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance.
Romeo: Not I, believe me. You have dancing shoes. / With nimble soles; I have a soul of lead / So stakes me to the ground I cannot move.”
--Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
“Rationalizing guilt is a common trait of white-collar criminals.”
--Criminology, Larry J. Siegal
“Give us this day, our daily bread.”
--The Lord’s Prayer, Unknown
This line from The Lord’s Prayer is an example of a synecdoche, because in this case bread (a major part of the meal) is used to signify the entire meal, as opposed to actually flat-out saying “our daily food.”
“Land ho! All hands on deck!”
--Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
This synecdoche takes the most important part of any sailor trying to steer his ship to safety -- the hands -- and uses them as a substitution for the word “sailors.”
“Take thy face hence.”
-Macbeth, William Shakespeare
Synecdoche -- a figure of speech in which part of something is used to signify the whole or, less typically, a whole used to signify the part
“And he swung toward them holding up the hand / Half in appeal, but half as if to keep / The life from spilling”
--Out, Out, Robert Frost
In almost every culture, blood is associated with life, for obvious reasons -- if you lose enough blood, you die, and many older doctors even thought people could have “bad blood” that might be making them sick. Robert Frost utilizes people’s associations of blood with life in this metonymy, and writes “life from spilling” in place of “blood from spilling.”
“I all alone beweep my outcast state / And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries”
--Sonnet 29, William Shakespeare
In the Christian faith, Heaven is the place where God is found, and therefore, the two are very closely associated. In this sonnet, Shakespeare uses the metonymy of appealing to Heaven as a substitution for appealing to God. He does not mean that Heaven, the place itself, is deaf; rather, he means that he’s bothering a God who doesn’t want to listen to his petty complaints.
“At noon on Monday, October 22, the White House asked the television networks for airtime…”
--My Fellow Americans: The Most Important Speeches of America’s Presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama, Michael Waldman
“O, for a draught of vintage!”
--Ode to a Nightingale, John Keats
metonymy -- a figure of speech in which something closely associated with a subject is substituted for it
“I like to see it lap the miles / And lick the valleys up / And stop to feed itself at tanks / And then, prodigious, step”
--The Train, Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson personifies the train by using phrases like “lick[ing] the valleys up” and “stop[ping] to feed itself.” Obviously, a train cannot physically eat or drink, so these lines are used as a metaphor for the way the train travels through the countryside.
“‘Ah, William, we’re weary of weather,’ / Said the sunflowers, shining with dew”
--Two Sunflowers Move in the Yellow Room, William Blake
“The sea had climbed the mountain peaks / And shouted to the stars / To come to play: and down they came / Splashing in happy wars”
--A Certain Evening, Gilbert Keith Chesterson
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness / Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun / Conspiring with him how to load and bless / With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run
--To Autumn, John Keats
This is personification because a sun and a season are inanimate, and therefore, cannot experience friendship. John Keats uses the phrase “close bosom-friend of the maturing sun” to describe the way autumn is characterized by the presence of the sun.
personification -- the attribution of human characteristics to nonhuman things
"Catch" by Roberts Francis relay's on extended metaphor comparing poetry to playing catch.p.708 Bedford intro to Lit Two boys uncoached are tossing a poem together,
Overhand, underhand, backhand, sleight of hand, every hand,
Teasing with attitudes, latitudes, interludes, altitudes,
High, make him fly off the ground for it, low, make him stoop,
Make him scoop it up, make him as-almost-as possible miss it,
Fast, let him sting from it, now, now fool him slowly,
Anything, everything tricky, risky, nonchalant,
Anything under the sun to outwit the prosy,
Over the tree and the long sweet cadence down,
Over his head, make him scramble to pick up the meaning,
And now, like a posy, a pretty one plump in his hands.
Extended metaphor-sustained comparison in which part or all of the poem consist of a series of related metaphors.
Controlling metaphor- runs through an entire work and controls the nature or form of that work.
"Chess" by Rosario Castellanos p.820 (The
Bedford Intro to Lit.) The game of chess two people are playing is also being compared to their relationship.
Because we were friends and sometimes loved each other,
perhaps to add one more tie
to the many that already bound us,
we decided to play games of the mind.
We set up a board between us;
equally divided into pieces, values,
and possible moves.
We learned the rules, we swore to respect them,
and the match began.
We've been sitting here for centuries, meditating
How to deal the one last blow that will finally
Annihilate the other one forever.
1) Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress”
“An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest:”
The speaker uses a hyperbole as he exaggerates his love for his mistress, adding emphasis without really being genuine.
Hyperbole: a figure of speech expressing exaggeration, also known as an “overstatement”. It adds emphasis to the text without the intention of it being literally true.
2) "Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world."
Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Concord Hymn
The shot wasn't literally heard around the world but uses a hyperbole to add emphasis to the the significance of the shot and its role in the initiation of the war.
3) My tongue is a piece of sandpaper
I’m dissolving into a puddle.
I want to dive into a snowdrift
Though I’m sure that would befuddle
Open me up, my organs are cooked
I think I’m now well done.
You can fry an egg upon my brow
As I melt away in the sun!
-"Summer is Here" By Sharon Hendricks
This poem includes many examples of hyperbole use as she exaggerates the heat of summer to add emphasis, but not literal meaning. For example, she may not literally want to dive into a snowdrift, but says so because it reveals the speaker’s desire for a cool environment in contrast to her summery, hot environment.
4) "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No. This my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red."
William Shakespeare, Act II, Scene II of Macbeth
Metaphor- comparison between two unlike things, but it does so implicitly, without words such as like or as.
>"Mrs.Cook's coffee is a punch in the stomach"p817 Bedford Intro to Lit.
>William Shakespeare "All the worlds a stage, and all the men and women merely players, they have their exits and their entrances" The world is being compared to a stage, a play being acted out by the actors, the actor being the people. The exits meaning death and the entrances meaning birth.
>Emily Dickinson "Indicative that Suns go down- The notice to the startled Grass That Darkness-is about to pass-" P.818 Bedford Intro to Lit.
"The Mask" by Charlene Valladares: "I look in the mirror at the beginning of each day, and ask myself what mask should I place on my face today. No not the sad one it's too revealing, I don't want to show the world my true .........."
Understatement: Opposite of the hyperbole, a figure of speech that says less than is intended.
1) "Fire and Ice"
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if I had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To sat that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
3) “When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose” -Death of the Ball Turret Gunner by Randall Jarrell
Analysis: Humbly describes his death in an understatement, a death that actually violently occurs in a bomber plane.
2) “The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace”
-To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell
Analysis: Marvell employs an understatement in describing a grave as "fine and private" considering in actualilty, it's a place of entire isolation.
4) "I have to have this operation. It isn't very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain." -Holden Caulfield and J.D Salinger's Poem "The Catcher In The Rye"
Analysis: Having an operation done on the brain in any fashion is a serious matter, therefore, an understatement is used in stating "It isn't very serious" when referring to a brain tumor surgery.
1) Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
-Wallace Stevens "The Snow Man"
Analysis: The final line of the poem demonstrates a paradox. At first it appears to say that "nothing" is both present and absent. But in reality, "nothing" is still "something" and can be seen in either form, demonstrating a paradox.
Paradox: A statement that initially appears to be self-contradictory but, with closer inspection, actually makes sense.
2) Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
-“Holy Sonnet: Batter my heart, three-person’d God,” by John Donne
Analysis: This is an example of paradox because at first glance, it appears to be contradictory but in actuality makes sense as it considers that God restores life’s spirit by first dismantling it.
“Busy old fool, unruly sun / Why dost thou thus / Through windows, and through curtains call on us?”
--The Sun Rising, John Donne
“Oh! Stars and clouds and winds, ye are all about to mock me; if ye really pity me, crush sensation and memory; let me become as nought; but if not, depart, depart, and leave me in darkness.”
--Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
In this passage, Dr. Frankenstein uses an apostrophe when he addresses the stars, clouds, and winds, which are obviously inanimate, and therefore, have no means of understanding what he’s saying.
“Death, be not proud, though some have called thee / Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so”
--Death Be Not Proud, John Donne
John Donne speaks to death in this poem, which is an apostrophe because death is a concept, not an actual being capable of replying.
“Bright star, would I were as steadfast as thou art--”
--Bright Star, John Keats
apostrophe -- an address either to someone who is absent and therefore cannot hear the speaker or to something nonhuman that cannot comprehend
3) Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
-“Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost
She being brand by e.e Cummings
she being Brand
know consequently a
little stiff I was
careful of her and (having
thoroughly oiled the universal
joint tested my gas felt of
her radiator made sure her springs were O.
K.)i went right to it flooded-the-carburetor cranked her
clutch (and then somehow got into reverse she
the hell) next
minute i was back in neutral tried and
again slo-wly;bare,ly nudg. ing(my
oh and her gears being in
A 1 shape passed
from low through
greasedlightning) just as we turned the corner of Divinity
avenue i touched the accelerator and give
her the juice,good
was the first ride and believe I we was
happy to see how nice and acted right up to
the last minute coming back down by the Public
Gardens I slammed on
breaks Bothatonce and
brought allofher tremB
4) "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others"
-George Orwell’s "Animal Farm"
This confirms the idea that, like humans, all animals can be viewed as equal. But, there continue to be different levels. Similar to the idea of natural selection, some are more fit for an environment or "more equal" than others. At first the statement seems contradictory in saying that all are equal but some more than others. But with closer analysis, the statement is valid.
William Shakespeare "Romeo and Juliet" Romeo compares Juliet to the sun/summer.
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou her maid art far more fair than she:
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.
1) A woman carrying water crosses the square.
She is running slowly, running not to spill. Then a child, out into clear
view, going along diagonal and running like a hare
jink-jink. I am tucked up here, a sure thing, with my sausage and beer
and a field-stove to keep my fingers supple. Days pass.
I'm more than content in my snuggery, my lair;
I have somewhere to lay my head and somewhere to piss
and, for comic disputation, the birds of the air.
-“Sniper” by David Harsent
Analysis: The contradictory term “Running slowly” is example of an oxymoron.
Oxymoron: A condensed form of paradox in which two contradictory words/phrases are used together.
The author of Her Book by Anne Bradstreet p.819 Bedford intro to Lit The book is being compared to a child.
Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth did'st by my side remain,
Till snatcht from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad exposed to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th' press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call.
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
The visage was so irksome in my sight,
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could.
I washed thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.
I stretcht thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run'st more hobbling than is meet.
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save home-spun cloth, i' th' house I find.
In this array, 'mongst vulgars may'st thou roam.
In critic's hands, beware thou dost not come,
And take thy way where yet thou art not known.
If for thy father askt, say, thou hadst none;
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caused her thus to send thee out of door.
2) 'Yesterday upon the stair
I met a man who wasn't there
He wasn't there again today
Oh, how I wish he'd go away'
-William Hughes Mearns; 1899
Analysis: The author employs the use of an extended oxymoron in wishing that a man who isn't there would go away.
3) I find no peace, and all my war is done
I fear and hope, I burn and freeze like ice,
I flee above the wind, yet can I not arise;
And nought I have and all the world I season
-Sir Thomas Wyatt “I Find No Peace” from Petrarch’s 134th Sonnet
Analysis: Wyatt contradicts himself by stating that he simultaneously fears and hopes, burns and freezes, flees above and yet doesn't rise, etc. These are all contradictory statements and therefore, oxymorons.
4) "No light, but rather darkness rather visible" - Excerpt from John Milton’s Poem: "Paradise Lost"
John Donnes' " A Valediction Forbidding Mourning" Through the entire poem the separation of two loves is being compared to death, the driving force behind the poem.
As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say
The breath goes now, and some say, No:
So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
'Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.
Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears,
Men reckon what it did, and meant;
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.
Dull sublunary lovers' love
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
Those things which elemented it.
But we by a love so much refined,
That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.
Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to airy thinness beat.
If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if the other do.
And though it in the center sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.
Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th' other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.
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Luperchio, Kevin. "Robert Frost's Fire and Ice." Assumption. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Sept. 2013.
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Works Cited (Cont.)
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"Litany" by Billy Collins
You are the bread and the knife
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker
and the marsh birds suddenly in fight