Metaphor in Literature
Metaphor is another of the many devices employed by writers in literature. At its most basic definition, a metaphor is a comparison. It is different from a simile, which is comparison using “like” or “as.” Metaphor, by being indirect, implicit, or even hidden, is far more complex. Many metaphors are part of everyday speech. Phrases such as “it was raining cats and dogs” or “he was boiling mad,” are metaphors.
Metaphors in literature are most common in poetry. Poems are frequently meant to convey deep emotions and complex images, often with a paucity of words. One of the most famous poetic metaphors is from a Shakespearean sonnet: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day.” The entire poem is a metaphorical comparison between the object of the love sonnet and the beauty of the summer.
William Shakespeare is famous for his metaphors. “All the world’s a stage” from As You Like It is another example of Shakespeare’s mastery of the metaphor in literature. A metaphor can allow the reader to have a greater understanding of a concept that the author is attempting to communicate. Authors also use metaphors in literature for solely artistic reasons, allowing them to craft language in new and interesting ways. A famous modern example of metaphor in literature is Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, in which the playwright used the Salem Witch Trials to condemn McCarthyism of the 1950s.