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Save his own dashings — yet the dead are there;
So shalt thou rest; and what if thou withdraw
So live that when thy summons comes to join
-- WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.
FIGURES OF SPEECH.
In preceding Lessons we have studied some of the different forms in which thought may be expressed. We now come to consider other forms which are of such importance that they deserve to be examined by themselves. These are usually called Figures of Speech. They consist of intentional deviations from the ordinary application of words or from the usual forms of expression. The purpose of these deviations is to increase the effect of language to present thought in a more attractive or more forcible manner.
Examples. “He is a lion." Here the word “lion” is turned from its usual signification to denote “a man of strength and courage," and it expresses the idea in a more pleasing and striking way than do the plain words.
“ The silver moon” is much more beautiful than “ The moon which has a pale bright color.”
Compare further :“All is not gold that glitters." “Appearances are often de
ceptive." “ Our heads are in the lion's “We are completely in the mouth.”
power of our enemy, and he
may destroy us at any moment.” “ The arrows fell like flakes “ The arrows fell in countless of snow on Christmas Day." numbers."
Value and Use of Figures. — Figures of Speech perform a very important part in language. They are at once its ornament and its strength. Among their chief uses are these :
1. They give variety by affording an entirely different way of expressing a thought.
2. They enable us to present ideas so that ihey may be more easily grasped. This is especially true of abstract ideas, as they are made easier of comprehension by being associated with concrete objects.
3. They add to the force of language.
4. They enable us to express our thoughts in a more attractive form.
5. They give elevation, dignity, and grace to language.
6. They increase the capabilities of language by giving the same word the power of presenting different ideas. For example, in the sentence, “ He is a fox," the word “fox," which usually denotes an animal, is here employed to designate the “ quality of craftiness."
7. In general terms, it may be said that Figures of Speech intensify all the qualities of style.
Kinds of Figures. — The Figures of Speech most commonly used may be classified thus:
1. Those based on the idea of resemblance, - the Simile, Metaphor, Allegory, Personification.
2. Those based on contiguity or the law of association, Synecdoche, Metonymy, Hyperbole, Apostrophe, Vision.
3. Those based on the idea of contrast, — Antithesis, Epigram, Euphemism, Irony, Interrogation, Climax.
A Simile is a figure which expresses the likeness one object bears to another. The objects compared must differ in kind ; likening one man to another or one house to another does not constitute the rhetorical figure.
The likeness is generally expressed by some word such as, like, as, compared to.
Sometimes the sign of comparison is omitted, as, “When the rising sun fell on Memnon's statue, it awakened music in that breast of stone. Religion does the same with human nature.”
Rules. — In the use of similes, the following rules should be observed :
1. Similes should not be drawn from things which have too near a resemblance to the object compared.
2. Similes should not be drawn from objects in which the like. ness is too faint or remote.
3. Similes should not be drawn from objects unfamiliar to ordinary readers.
4. In serious discourse, similes should not be drawn from low or mean objects.
5. In describing what is low or trivial, similes should not be drawn from great or sublime objects.
Rhetorical Value. — The simile aids the understanding in illustrating the thought by a comparison to something already known; it impresses the feelings by the surprise of finding a likeness where none was expected; and it pleases by the beauty of the comparison.
THE METAPHOR. The Metaphor is a figure of speech in which likeness between two objects is implied.
Of the two objects or thoughts, one is well known and the other is unknown; and the former is applied to explain the latter; thus, “ The French Revolution was the whirlwind of the universe." Here the well-known power and effects of the “whirlwind” are used to give a vivid idea of the terribly destructive effects of the French Revolution.
Difference between Metaphor and Simile. — The metaphor and the simile both contain a comparison, but in the latter the resemblance between the things compared is formally expressed, while in the former it is only implied. If we say "He upholds the state as the pillar upholds the edifice," we make a comparison by a simile ; but if we say “ He is the pillar of the state," we make a comparison by a metaphor.
Rhetorical Value. - 1. The metaphor is often of great value in explaining what is unknown. For example, the Scriptures in
attempting to describe to us the abode of the blest, speak of it as a "city.” We know what a city is and our knowledge is at once transferred to explain the unknown. 2. It is also employed to deepen the impression on our feelings by adding a force and energy that could not be secured by plain language; as, “The news was a dagger to his heart.” 3. Again, it may give an agreeable surprise and enable us to clothe abstract ideas with life, form, color, and motion.
Rules for the use of Metaphors. — The rules given for similes hold also for metaphors. The following additional ones are also to be observed :
A metaphorical and a literal statement should not be used in close connection; as, “In peace thou art the gale of spring; in war, a valiant soldier."
2. Metaphors from different subjects should not be combined in the same expression ; as, “ His parents wished to pave his way over the stormy sea of temptation." Such a combination is usually called a Mixed Metaphor.
3. Metaphors should not be carried too far; if too many of the minor points of resemblance are dwelt upon, the reader feels the pleasure begin to cloy.
4. Metaphors should not be multiplied to excess.
5. Metaphors should be natural and becoming and worthy of the subject. Thus the inappropriateness of the following must strike every one. “That wonderful old furnace (a volcano) where the hand of God works the bellows."
Metaphors Expanded. — Every simile may be compressed into a metaphor, and every metaphor may be expanded into a simile. The metaphor is a briefer, stronger, and more lively figure than the simile. Hence, as poetry loves to dwell on the pleasing, the simile is better adapted to it, while the vigorous and animated comparison of the metaphor is more suited to prose.
Examples. — METAPHOR: “The ship ploughs the sea."
SIMILE : “As the plough turns up the land so the ship acts on the sea.”