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Home / Fiction Writing / Literary Devices / Literary Devices – The Metaphor

Literary Devices – The Metaphor

One of the most well known metaphors in literature comes from William Shakespeare, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players...” This is a metaphor because the world is not actually a stage, but it is being compared to one. It implies that life is like a play on stage and we are all merely actors playing out different scenes. Shakespeare is well known for using metaphors in his works to invoke thoughts and feelings in a reader’s mind and allow them to understand the depth of the image he is trying to express. A metaphor compares two different things and implies it has similar characteristics. It essentially describes one object as another even though they are different.

metaphor_literary devices
The metaphor works its way into just about any piece of life-changing writing.
Image Credit: Chris Shutterhacks, Creative Commons.

Metaphors can convey meaning and conjure up images, thoughts and feelings in a reader’s mind with just a few simple words. Sometimes instead of using a few sentences or a paragraph to describe something, a metaphor can provide a stronger description with a lasting impact. This also allows the reader to use their imagination and interpretation and become more engaged in your writing. A metaphor can be used to set a scene, express a mood or even just to get straight to the point and not lose a reader in a paragraph of descriptions when a simple metaphor can show the reader so much more.

A metaphor is a tool to be used when you want a particular part of your writing to stand out. Metaphors shouldn’t be used just for the sake of it otherwise it might seem forced and will fail to convey the description as strongly or in the best way. It can also add an element of drama. Most people use metaphors in everyday life and a lot of times we don’t even notice it because it has become part of our vocabulary. Some examples of common ones we use are “the time flew”, “the ball is in your court” and “my heart is broken”.  These metaphors have become so common that they are clichés, yet we still use them. Why do we use these metaphors in our conversations? The same reason that writers use them, to express a thought, an emotion through a strong description to help people understand the gravity of our situation.

There is no need to use already existing metaphors. Overused metaphors lose their intended effect as they no longer require the use of imagination. The use of original metaphors will add strength to your writing and readers will appreciate the move away from outdated and overused metaphors. One of the greatest abilities a writer has is to express their message through memorable, convincing writing. The use of a creative literary device such as a metaphor allows a writer to leave an impact through their writing. When used effectively, the metaphor has the potential to change everything and inspire creativity in the reader’s mind.

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