A metaphor is an analogy identifying one object with another and ascribing to the first object one or more of the qualities of the second…. The tenor is the idea being expressed or the subject of the comparison; the vehicle is the image by which this idea is conveyed or the subject communicated. (A Handbook to Literature)

Metaphor and Simile

The simplest distinction between kinds of comparison, and usually the first one grasped by beginning students of literature, is between metaphor and simile. A simile makes a comparison with the use of like or as, a meatphor without. Thought this distinction is technical, it is not entirely triviial, for a metaphor demands a more literal acceptance. If you say, “A woman is a rose,” you ask for an extreme suspension of disbelief, whereas “A woman is like a rose” acknoledges the artifice in the statement . . . . (Writing Fiction)

The Cliche Metaphor

Cliche metaphors are metaphors so familiar that they have lost the force of their original meaning. They are inevitably apt comparisons; if they were not, they would’t have been repeated often enough to become cliches. But such images fail to surprise, and we blame the writer for this expenditure of energy without a payoff. (Writing Fiction)

The Far-Fetched Metaphor

Far-fetched metaphors are the opposite of cliches: They surprise but are not apt. As the dead metaphor far-fetched suggests, the mind must travel too far to carry back the likeness, and too much is lost on the way. When such a comparison does work, we speak laudatorily of a “leap of the imagination.” But when it does not, what we face is in effect a failed conceit: The explantation of what is alike about these two things does not convince. Very good writers in the search for originality sometimes fetch too far. (Writing Fiction)

The Mixed Metaphor

Mixed metaphors are so called because they ask us to compare the original image with things from two or more different areas of reference: As you walk the path of life, don’t founder on the reefs of ignorance. Life can be a path or a sea bu it cannot be both at the same time. The point of the metaphor is to fuse two images in a single tension. The mind is adamantly unwilling to fuse three. (Writing Fiction)

The Obscure and Overdone Metaphor

Obscure and overdone metaphors falter because the author has misjudged the difficulty of the comparison. The result is either confusion or an insult to the reader’s intelligence. In the case of obscurity, a similarity in the author’s mind isn’t getting onto the page. (Writing Fiction)

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Metaphor Sources

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