A figure of Speech is a word or expression used to give particular emphasis to an idea or sentiment. Some figures of speech, such as simile, metaphor, personification and apostrophe are based on resemblance.
What is a Simile?
In simile, a comparison is made between two distinctly different objects which have at least one point in common. The simile is usually introduced by such words as like, so or as.
-The righteous shall flourish as the palm tree.
-O my Love is like a red, red rose.
-O my Love is like a melodie.
-Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale.
-Her eyes were like diamonds.
Note that a comparison of two things of the same kind is not a simile.
Some common similes of everyday speech are given below:
-As proud as a peacock
-As bold as brass
-As clear as crystal
-As good as gold
-As old as the hills
-As cool as cucumber
What is a Metaphor?
A metaphor is an implied simile. Here a word or expression that in literal usage denotes one thing is applied to a distinctly different kind of thing for the purpose of suggesting a likeness between the two. Unlike the simile, the metaphor does not state that one thing is like another or acts as another, but it takes that for granted and proceeds as if the two things were one.
-Life is a dream.
-Variety is the spice of life.
-Revenge is a kind of wild justice.
Note that every simile can be compressed into a metaphor and every metaphor can be expanded into a simile. When we say, “Her eyes were like diamonds” we use a simile, but when we say, “Her eyes were diamonds” we use a metaphor.
-O my Love’s like a red, red rose. (Simile)
-O my Love’s is a red, red rose. (Metaphor)
-He fought like a lion. (Simile)
-He was a lion in the fight. (Metaphor)
Not only nouns, but other parts of speech may also be used metaphorically. In the following example, the verb is used metaphorically.
How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank. (Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare)
In a mixed metaphor an object is identified with two or more different things in the same sentence. When used inadvertedly, the effect can be ludicrous.
I smell a rat, I see it floating in the air, but I will nip it in the bud.
What is Personification?
In personification, either an inanimate object or an abstract idea is spoken of as though it were endowed with life and intelligence.
-Necessity is the mother of invention.
-Pride goeth forth on horseback, grand and gay.
-Sky lowered and muttering thunder, some sad drops
-Wept at completing of the mortal sin. (Paradise Lost by Milton)
What is an Apostrophe?
An apostrophe is a direct and explicit address either to an absent person or to an abstract or nonhuman entity. Many odes are such an address to a listener who is not literally able to listen. John Keats’ ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ is an apostrophe addressed to an Urn and Samuel Coleridge’s, “Reflections of Love’ is an apostrophe addressed to an absent woman.
Many apostrophes imply a personification of the nonhuman object that is addressed. If such an address is to a god or other supernatural being to assist the poet in the composition, it is called an invocation.
Here is how John Milton invokes divine guidance at the opening of Paradise Lost.
And chiefly Thou, O spirit, that dost prefer
Before all temples th’ upright heart and pure,
An apostrophe is a special form of personification.
Roll on, thou deep and dark Blue Ocean, roll!
O solitude! Where are the charms
That sages have seen in thy face?
O death! Where is thy sting?
O grave! Where is thy victory?