Metaphor: Definition, Examples And Types

Published on 05-Sep-2022

What is a Metaphor, and how is it used? 

Metaphor is one of the literary devices that are used for comparison. The slight difference is, in Metaphor, instead of comparing with using "like/as," the two matters are combined as one. In Metaphor, two completely different subjects are stated as being one similar thing. Writers often use metaphors as a way to exaggerate or to create a rhetorical effect. Metaphors are also used in our daily lives as a means to overreact or humor.

For example: 

  1. I may be poor, but I have a heart of gold. 
  2. The lonely Moon stared at me the whole night. 
  3. That man has rock-hard biceps. He won't be hurt. 
  4. I'm drowning in the sea of grief. 
  5. Tonight I will sleep on the grass under the blanket of stars. 


There are 5 primary varieties of metaphors based on their use.

They are: 

Extended Metaphor

In an extended metaphor, the writer uses an image or object to create a metaphor throughout the story. An extended metaphor often gives away the story's theme as the writer meant to. As the name suggests, an extended Metaphor could be the whole poem or writing, as the author wishes. One needs to focus on using symbols or imagery in the plot to discover extended metaphors in writing. 

Example:  In the poem "Flea" by John Donne, throughout the whole poem, the author uses "flea" as a medium to describe his love for a woman. The "flea" symbolized his "love and attraction," whereas the whole poem was an extended metaphor.   

Standard Metaphor

This is a simple metaphor where two different matters are compared to each other as the same matter or idea. The uses of Standard Metaphors are literal comparisons, directly stating two things as one combined thing. 

Example: "She is my oxygen. I can't live without her!" In this comparison, a person and oxygen are compared with each other in a literal perspective and are concluded as one thing. The remark is a way of exclamation to exaggerate one's love for another. 

Implied Metaphor

An abstract idea is compared rather than a matter or subject in an implied metaphor. Compared to a direct metaphor, an implied metaphor focuses on the subtle comparison between two ideas. 

Example: "The coach spits out every complaint he had from his team." In this Metaphor, there was no direct comparison between the two subjects. Instead, the word "spit" and "coach" implies how the coach strictly complained about his team. 

Visual Metaphor

A visual metaphor compares an image with something else on a visual level. A visual metaphor is famous for its use in advertising. Many companies use visual imagery to compare different things as promotional tools. For example, a fiery chicken cartoon is used in packets for spicy chicken crackers. 

Visual Metaphor in literature writing is slightly different. Authors use images to compare based on the imagination of readers. In literature, visual images can give a character identity or meaning. 

Example: In "Harry Potter" by J.K Rowling, the lightning bolt scar on Harry's forehead shows a connection to Voldemort. His unique scar symbolizes the fight between Harry's parents and Voldemort and how Harry survived that fight. The lightning bolt scar also was a visual metaphor for Voldemort's return. 



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