Figurative Language

A simile is a comparison between
two objects in which the two objects
are essentially different but they
share some kind of likeness. The
idea is to use the comparison
directly with the words "like," or
"as." For example, "Her feet were as
cold as ice."
A metaphor is a comparison between two
objects in which the two objects are
essentially different but they share some
kind of likeness. The idea is to use
metaphoric comparison in place of a word
which directly describes the original subject
without the use of "like" or "as." For
example, in George Seville's "Maxims," he
writes, "Men's words are bullets, that their
enemies take up and make use of against
Apostrophe is when you address
someone or something which is absent
or literally cannot listen. Examples
would include any letters to people who
are no longer alive, or, depending on
the approach, prayer. A perfect example
is Lorenz Hart's song "Blue Moon”,
where he addresses the moon about his
Personification is the addition of
human characteristics to a material
object. Perfect examples of
personification can be found in
animated films. Pixar has made
millions off films centered around
personification such as "Toy Story,"
"Cars," and "The Brave Little Toaster."
Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration.
Teenagers are regular pros at using
hyperbole without thinking about it. In
Robert Frost's poem "After ApplePicking," he uses hyperbole in the phrase
"ten thousand fruit to touch." On
another level you can remember
hyperbole with the use of "Your mama is
so fat..." jokes.
Understatement, or litotes, is the opposite of
hyperbole in that rather than imply that
something is much more than it seems,
understatement implies that something is
much less that what it really is. It often comes
across as sarcastic as in Holden Caulfield's
statement from "Catcher in the Rye," "I have to
have this operation. It isn't very serious. I have
this tiny little tumor on the brain."
Onomatopoeia is the use of words that
imitate sounds. Many people associate
onomatopoeia with baby books which
emphasize the sounds that animals make,
however it's used much more regularly in
conversation when telling personal
anecdotes. A tip for remembering
onomatopoeia is to think of "Knock-Knock"
jokes. The name of the type of joke itself
uses onomatopoeia.
Irony is when a statement or situation is contradictory
to what is expected. Many times the situation is exactly
opposite of what it may appear to be. There are many
types of irony, the two most common being verbal
irony and dramatic irony.
* Verbal irony occurs when either the speaker means
something totally different than what he is saying or the audience
realizes, because of their knowledge of the particular situation to
which the speaker is referring, that the opposite of what a
character is saying is true. Verbal irony also occurs when a
character says something in jest that, in actuality, is true.
* Dramatic irony occurs when facts are not known to the
characters in a work of literature but are known by the audience.
A paradox is a statement or situation which
seems false on the surface but can be true
upon closer inspection. For example, in "1984"
George Orwell uses the phrase "ignorance is
strength." This idea of ignorance is contrary to
what is taught in school but when given
thought anyone can think of examples where
someone was able to achieve more for
themselves when ignoring the needs or
feelings of others (consider slavery).
An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which
apparently contradictory terms appear in
E.g.- “Faith unfaithful kept him falsely
“We ate jumbo shrimp for dinner.”
A symbol is an object representing something
else. It can represent another person, an idea
or a significant event. The use of color in
writing can also be symbolic in that colors
have connotations that people associate with
them. Students can get a better idea of
symbolism from studying Greek mythology.
For example, in the story of Daedalus and
Icarus, the wings that Daedalus builds
represent freedom