Chapter 14, Everything’s an
Argument, & other sources
What Is Figurative
• Language that plays with the
meanings or sounds of words to
enhance imagery, add layers of
meaning, direct the readers’
attention in a particular way or
to add power.
• Tropes & Schemes
Metaphors, et al.
• A metaphor compares two
things (without using like, as, or
• Similes (use like, as, &c.)
• Compare two things without like or as
• Descriptive – “Your eyes are stars.”
• Abstract – “Mercy is the gentle rain
that falleth from heaven upon the
place beneath.” (paraphrase)
• Embedded – “The yellow smoke that
rubs its muzzle on the windowpane…”
• Allegory is an extended metaphor
Metaphor & Simile
• They were very lazy and slept all day
• They were lazy sloths and slept all day.
• The greedy oil companies destroyed
the native culture.
• The greedy oil companies invaded like
barbarian hordes and decimated the
• The woman cried a lot.
• The woman seeped tears like water from
• May be a metaphor or a simile
• Why use personification?
• The sun glories in his strength
• The ambitious cat strove to make himself
leader of the neighborhood toms.
• The stubborn door refused to open.
• The door slammed on his thumb.
• The shoe squeaked as she walked.
• The shrimp fled the fish.
• An attribute of the thing being
described is used to indicate the whole
• “Capital must talk to labor.”
“Brass” Military VIPs
TROPES: Synecdoche (I)
1. Genus for species or species for
1. “Weapon” for sword
2. “Creature” for man
3. “Bread” for food
4. “Cutthroat” for assassin
2. Part for whole
1. “Hands” for helpers
2. “Roofs” for houses
TROPES: Synecdoche (II)
3. Matter for the material from
which it is made
1. “Silver” for money
2. “Dust” for humans (in a Biblical
3. “Flesh” and blood for humans
4. “Steel” for sword
Why use Metonymy & Synecdoche?
• He drew his sword and cut the child down
• He drew his weapon and cut the child down
• The writer is more powerful than the soldier
• The pen is mightier than the sword
• The pundits had predicted that Minnie
Mouse would be elected president
• The talking heads had predicted that Minnie
Mouse would be elected president
• Hyperbole – “My mother’s going
to kill me”
• Satire – Humorous exaggeration
of people, behavior or actions to
make a point
• Parody – Exaggeration or
distortion of a particular form or
work (art, words, texts, film
noir, pastorals, etc.)
TROPES: Shrinking, &c.
• Understatement – “The presidential
election has taken a little bit longer
• (Verbal) Irony – The significance of
the statement is the opposite of the
meaning of the words – “Khruschev
was such a well-mannered, self-
• (Situational) Irony – the outcome
differs radically from the
Paradox & Oxymoron
• Paradox - an apparent contradiction
that induces a reconsideration of
words in question. “He who finds his
life will lose it, and he who loses his
life for my sake will find it” (Matt.
• Oxymoron – two words which form a
contradiction. Dry rain, burning cold,
apathetic alertness, &c.
• Swooshed • Thou still unravished
• Spat bride of quietness, Thou
foster child of silence
• Crackle and slow time.
• Ululation • By the margin, willow-
veiled, slide the heavy
• Growl barges, trailed by slow
• Susurration horses. And, unhailed,
the shallop flitteth,
• Clack silken-sailed, skimming
• Murmur down to Camelot.
•Parallelism – repeating a grammatical
•Antithesis – contrasting 2 opposites –
most effectively employed in parallel
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of
wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it
was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the
season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of
despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we
were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other
way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that
some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for
good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
SCHEMES: Word Order
• Anaphora – repetition of a word for effect
BASSANIO: Sweet Portia,
If you did know to whom I gave the ring,
If you did know for whom I gave the ring
And would conceive for what I gave the ring
And how unwillingly I left the ring,
When nought would be accepted but the ring,
You would abate the strength of your displeasure.
PORTIA: If you had known the virtue of the ring,
Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,
Or your own honour to contain the ring,
You would not then have parted with the ring.
SCHEMES: Word Order (II)
• Tricolon crescans – three elements
presented in increasing order
• “Young man, sit in that corner and do
not move, do not talk, do not breathe!”
• Inversion – changing the usually
order of the syntax
• “Ask not what your country can do for
you; ask only what you can do for your
• Clichés – figurative devices that
have lost their energy through
familiarity and long use.
• Mixed metaphors – changing image
midway – also saps language of its
• Unduly slanted language /
connotations – inappropriate use of a
Beware! - Examples
• The political machine was as pervasive as
kudzu, and it chewed up and digested
• The bus was like a growling dinosaur,
belching smoke and fire.
• Mother Theresa distributed food to the
orphans with the efficiency of a shark.
• Vote for Fred: he’ll slash taxes like an ax-
Life Without Figurative Language
As the apple tree among the trees of
My beloved is more handsome and potent the wood, so is my beloved among
than the other men... the sons. I sat down under his
shadow with great delight, and his
fruit was sweet to my taste.
He has a handsome face and nice black His head is as the most fine gold, his
hair. locks are bushy, and black as a
His eyes are handsome. His eyes are as the eyes of doves by
the rivers of waters, washed with
milk, and fitly set.
His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as
His cheeks and mouth are manly and he sweet flowers: his lips like lilies,
has good breath. dropping sweet smelling myrrh.
His hands are tan and strong; he has a His hands are as gold rings set with
sexy tummy. the beryl: his belly is as bright
ivory overlaid with sapphires.
His legs are strong and his face His legs are as pillars of marble, set
exemplifies the qualities we like in our upon sockets of fine gold: his
homeland. countenance is as Lebanon,
excellent as the cedars.