Metaphor & simile
Writers often use analogy to convey their message. An analogy is the comparison of two things. In language, we do this through metaphor or simile. By focusing on a writer's use of metaphor and simile, we begin to see how this important stylistic feature constructs meaning in the mind of the reader. In other words, comparing two things has an effect on the reader.
This activity offers a simple but useful way of making an inventory of metaphors and similes in a text. We will focus on 'Shooting an Elephant' by George Orwell. You can apply this method to any literary text that you are studying for Parts 3 or 4 of your syllabus.
Comparing X to Y
Simile and metaphor are forms of figurative language that we use to compare two things or ideas. Here is a brief explanation of both, which will help you in the activity below.
Metaphor - When we say X is Y, we are using metaphor. For example, if we way "My uncle is a bear," we are using metaphor.
Simile - When we say X is like Y, we are using simile. Simile also relies on words such as, 'as', and 'seem'. For example, if you say “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get, "(Forrest Gump), you are using simile. 'Life' (X) is compared to 'chocolates' (Y) in order to comment on life's unpredictable nature.
In both metaphor and simile we use language to point to the characteristics that two things or ideas have in common.
Below you will read a passage from 'Shooting an Elephant', a short story by George Orwell. As you read, look for four comparisons that are made (see left column in worksheet). Complete the table in which you explain what is being compared. Furthermore, explain 'how' they are compared: through simile or metaphor. Finally ask yourself what effect these comparisons have on the reader.
|X is compared to...||Y||to these effects|
|Burmese people are compared to...|
|The cheers of the Burmese people are compared to...|
|The elephant's fall is compared to...|
|The elephant's trunk is compared to...|
Individual oral commentary - In preparation for the individual oral commentary, you will want to conduct several presentations in class. In these presentations, you can present passages from the works that you have read in class. Try finding passages in your Part 4 texts that are rich in metaphor and simile. Explain how the authors of these works use these forms of figurative language to convey a particular sentiment.