The first extremely obvious question is – What is this darned metaphor? Another fancy name? Well… yes and no. It is fancy, but also effective. Charged with energy. Stuffed with genius. By definition, a metaphor is a figure of speech where two entirely dissimilar words or phrases are brought together to suggest a similarity. Confused? What are examples for?
All the world’s a stage
Yes, it’s Shakespeare and he is comparing the world to a stage. You generally don’t see the world as a stage, you see it… as the world, the earth, the mother; but not a stage. That is why it’s a metaphor. Because it has brought together two entirely unrelated things and made sense with it.
That was simple. But there is no peace, here starts the rollercoaster. (bet you won’t enjoy it right now)
1. Extended or telescoping metaphor or conceit
When your metaphoric insight has developed, then you cannot restrain yourself to just one metaphor. Like –
All the world’s a stage and men and women merely players.
This extension – “Men and women are merely players” has made this an extended metaphor. The author stretched “the world” and “a stage” by introducing parts of “the world” (men and women) and “a stage” (players). Of course, it has to make sense. You can’t extend it by comparing men and women to an ipod. Sounds distasteful? Exactly.
When you’ve grown tired of clichéd words and are searching desperately for a word closely related to it that has not been used to death, that word is a metonym. A new word to replace an old one. Of course, an example. The pen is mightier than the sword. This saying in itself has become clichéd, but originally the thought was otherwise. Here, the pen stands for the freedom of expression and the sword for the power of authority. Now, if you said, freedom is greater than power, nobody would have said Wow. That’s why Pen and Sword instead of freedom and power.
3. Mixed metaphor
Some of us fail to create a good metaphor; such a twisted, out of tune metaphor is called a mixed metaphor.
The waves of emotion have punctured my heart.
Can waves puncture? They do in a nonsensical world, but most of us are still sane, but widely tolerable of nonsense and that is why such nonsense is given a modest name of mixed metaphor.
OK, for info’s sake – there are two kinds of mixed metaphors: permissible mixed metaphors and impermissible mixed metaphors. Never use impermissible ones, so that leaves me to explain only permissible ones.
Permissible mixed metaphors make sense even though the parts are not directly related.