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Figures of Speech

We deal with figures of speech in all languages, in order to 'transport' meaning from our mind through the words we're using, to the ear of the listener or to the readers of our pages.

Mainly three figures of speech are among the most widely used. We shall look at these three and measure their potential for the writer.

The metaphor

Of all, the metaphor is the most powerful. Here the writer doesn't liken one thing to another. He simply takes the identity of one thing and imprints it on another - and so he penetrates magic. A bit like "the princess of the night raised her pale face over the peak of the mountain and lit the whole garden in front of the palace." Our princess here is the moon, you will soon realise.

The simile

The simile does liken, and for this very reason it seems somehow to be weaker. One is made aware of the device, and so it becomes self-conscious. Its danger is that it tends to be 'arty' or artificial. Just how good is:

"O my luve is like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June..."


With personification again the writer can make the abstract appear tangible and familiar. Maybe the secret lies in what Blake tells us - that

Cruelty has a Human Heart
And Jealousy a Human Face ... etc.

We shall take them one by one and consider their magic in more details in our future lessons. Until then, try to find them in your reading and recognise them in your own time. Familiarize yourselves with spotting them for now.

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