Figurative Language PowerPoint Presentation
Lesson 3. Definition. Figurative language is the inclusive term for words that are used in ways that depart conspicuously from their . literal. meanings in order to achieve special meanings or effects.. ID: 192201Embed code:
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Figurative language is the inclusive term for words that are used in ways that depart conspicuously from their
meanings in order to achieve special meanings or effects.
Figurative language is used most often in poetry, but it is essential to all literary genres and discourse.
There are two main classes of figurative language:
figures of thought
figures of speechSlide3
Figures of Thought
Figures of thought
are also called
comes from the Greek word meaning “a turn”
They are words or phrases used in ways that effect an obvious change (or “turn) in their standard meaning.Slide4
Figures of Thought
One kind of trope depends on a comparison between two very different objects, or else on a transference of qualities associated with an object, experience, or concept to another not literally connected with it.
simile, metaphor, personification, pathetic fallacy, synecdoche,
Figures of Thought
Another kind of trope depends on a contrast between two levels of meaning, or a shift from one level of meaning to another.
is the most prominent example of this types.
paradox, oxymoron, understatement, litotes, hyperbole
is a figure of thought in which one kind of thing is compared to a markedly different object, concept, or experience
The comparison is made explicit by the word “like” or “as”:
Jen’s room is like a pig sty.
Jen’s room is as dirty as a pig sty.
The tone of a simile may be exalted:
like a red, red rose.”
The tone may be wry or scornful:
His head was large, globular and oily;…and his large hat, set upon it sideways, looked like a bulb which had grown out of another.
The tone may indicate heartbreak:
“Death lies on her like an untimely frost/Upon the sweetest flower of all the field.”Slide7
, a word or phrase that in literal use designates one kind of thing is applied to a conspicuously different object, concept, or experience, without asserting an explicit comparison.
Jen’s room is a pig sty.
Instead of simply putting the differing objects side by side (as in a simile), the items actually become superimposed on each other.
Metaphors can be markedly more complex than similes.Slide8
“But soft, what light from yonder window breaks?/It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.”
A metaphor may be short or long, a quick linking or a series of sustained comparisons.
On the simplest level, it is as concise as a single word.
I “wilted”; her heart “sang”; “leaden” thoughts; a heart of “gold”; calling someone an “angel” or a “dragon”
Sometimes a speaker elaborates on a metaphor to explain its relevance, as in
when Horatio describes the effect of the ghost’s appearance on his nerves:
“It harrows me with fear and wonder.”
The key here lies in the word “harrow”, which means to break up soil with a sharp, heavy instrument.Slide9
occurs when two or more linked images clash:
“She felt a heavy burden of guilt, but she would not let it engulf her resolve.”
The image of being weighed down is confused by the conflicting image of being surrounded and swallowed up, drowned.
The solution would be to reword the phrase to make it more clear:
“She felt a heavy burden of guilt, but she would not let it hinder her resolve.”
Mixed metaphors often occur because the writer is not thinking clearly, and it can make a statements seem ludicrous.Slide10
Mixed metaphors are also used to suggest that a speaker is so carried away by powerful feelings as to be heedless of the mixed messages.
, when Ophelia is distraught over what she believes is Hamlet’s sudden plunge into madness, she contrasts her bereft state with the delight of having “sucked the honey of his music vows.”
The reference to tasting that sweet honey clashes with that of delighting in the musicality of Hamlet’s professions of love, but both express eloquently the young woman’s despair over an incalculable loss of something rare and precious.Slide11
is sustained through several lines.
, Polonius tends to elaborate on many points and is quite wordy. In the following example he warns his daughter, Ophelia, not to trust the seductive lies of young men who are “burning” with passion:
I do know
When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul
lends the tongue to vows. These blazes, daughter,
giving more light than heat, extinct in both
even in their promise, as it is a-making,
you must not take for fire.Slide12
Polonius is saying that the momentary “blazes”—fervent declarations of aroused suitors hoping to seduce gullible maidens—should not be mistake for “true fire”—trustworthy and lasting vows.Slide13
Lesson 2: More TropesSlide15
is a figure of thought (or trope) in which an abstract concept, animal, or inanimate object is treated as though it were alive or had human attributes.Slide16
“She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;/And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips/Bidding adieu.”
Romeo and Juliet
, Lord Capulet uses personification to express his despair at finding Juliet supposedly dead on the morning of her wedding day:
Death is my son-in-law, Death is my heir;/My daughter he has wedded.”
The grim representation of Death as both his daughter’s bridegroom and his own prospective heir conveys the morbid turn of mind of the old father as well as the empty future he envisions now that he has lost his only child.Slide18
A different use of the trope occurs in Charlotte Bronte’s
when the heroine agonizes over her decision to refuse Mr. Rochester’s proposal to run off with him:
“Conscience and Reason turned traitors against me and charged me with crime in resisting him.”
The dilemma is that Jane has just discovered that her beloved is already married, but to a long demented wife whom he cannot legally divorce.
She is torn by the conflict between standing on moral principles and offering succor to the man she loves.Slide19
More on Personification
An extended form of
can occur in
in which an abstract concept is presented as though it were a character who speaks and acts as an independent being.Slide20
In the medieval morality play
the personified characters include not only the hero, Everyman, who represents all human beings as they face death and final judgment, but also such abstract qualities as
Beauty, Knowledge, and Good Deeds
The play depicts the extent to which each of these abstractions is able and willing to accompany
on his terrifying final journey toward the grave and the divine reward or punishment that awaits him beyond it.Slide21
The Faerie Queen
The Pilgrim’s Progress
is a special type of
, in which inanimate aspects of nature, such as the landscape or the weather, are represented as having human qualities or feelings.
The term derives from the logical absurdity
of supposing that nature can sympathize with
human moods and concerns.Slide23
once was considered a derogatory term because it showed false or “morbid” feelings.
It no longer has that negative connotation and is now merely descriptive.
reflects or foreshadows some aspect of the poem or narrative at that point, such as the plot, theme, or characterization, and so intensifies the tone.Slide24
A mild, sunny day would promise a tranquil, happy scene.
It is no accident that the dire events in
begin with the ghost’s appearance on a winter midnight.
James Joyce has his young narrator in “
” allude to this trope when he anticipates the failure of his futile romantic quest:
“The air was pitilessly raw and already my heart misgave me.”Slide25
More Pathetic Fallacy
can also be used ironically.
The bloody battle of
in Stephen Crane’s
The Red Badge of Courage
is set on a lovely summer day.
On the eve of the battle, the naïve young private Henry Fleming sees nature attuned to his need for consolation:
“There was a caress in the soft winds; and the whole mood of the darkness, he thought, was one of sympathy for himself and his distress.”Slide26
More Pathetic Fallacy
A change in the mood of the weather or the look of the landscape is a favorite means for authors to signal a shift in the fortunes of characters.
As Henry encounters the devastation of war, the setting accordingly turns dark and threatening.
After the battle is over, Henry is able
“to turn with a lover’s thirst to images of tranquil skies, fresh meadows, cool brooks—an existence of soft and eternal peace.”
The weather reflects his newly optimistic mood as
“a golden ray of sun [comes] through the hosts of leaden rain clouds.”Slide27
derived from the Greek word for “
to take up together
It is a figure of thought in which the term for part of something is used to represent the whole.
Less commonly, the whole can be used to represent a part.Slide28
A fleet of ships may be described as “
Athletes have been nicknamed “
Manual laborers called “
he food needed for sustenance “
It is closely related to
is a trope which substitutes the name of an entity with something else that is closely associated with it.Slide30
” is a metonymic synonym for “the king”
” for the works of the playwright
” for the ruling body of modern Russia
” or “
” as the designation for the king of the country.
The name derives from Greek roots that mean “
changing a name
Synecdoche and Metonymy
The mingling of synecdoche and metonymy has been used for ironic effect.
The distraught Ophelia, in shock over Hamlet’s malicious tirade, says about her heretofore gentle lover:
“The courtier’s, the soldier’s, scholar’s, eye, tongue, sword…
of all observers, quite, quite down.”
Here the order of Ophelia’s list goes against logic, associating the courtier with the eye, the soldier with the tongue, and the scholar with the sword.
represent the whole man by means of parts, and so are
which expresses the close association between the soldier and his weapon, is a
is the broadest class of
figures of thought
that depend on presenting a deliberate contrast between two levels of meaning.
The word is derived from a type of character in Greek drama, the
, who pretended to be stupid and unaware.
He used that pretense to deceive and triumph over another stock character, the
, who was truly stupid, but boastful and complacent.Slide34
Types of Irony
There are five types of
Consists of implying meaning different from, and often the complete opposite of, the one that is explicitly stated.
Usually the irony is signaled by clues in the context of the situation or in the style of expression.Slide36
In Robert Frost’s “Provide, Provide,” the speaker laments the transience of earthly fame and power. He advises:
“Die early, and avoid the fate.”
The irony is implied by the contrast between the mock sagacity of the tone and the cold comfort of the drastic so-called solution.Slide37
In more complex cases of verbal irony, the detection of the irony may depend on values that the author assumes are shared by his or her audience.
“A Modest Proposal”
Presents a happy solution to the famine in the author’s native Ireland: using the infants of the starving lower classes as a source of food.
The author is continually cool and rational: the reaction of horror is left to the reader.
The risk is that an oblivious audience will mistake irony for serious statement and will miss the underlying meaning.Slide38
What about Sarcasm?
Many people use
Sarcasm is actually simpler and more crude
In dialogue, it is often signaled by vocal inflection.
“I’m going to opium dens, dens of vice and criminals’ hangouts, Mother. I’ve joined the Hogan Gang, I’m a hired assassin, I carry a tommy gun in the violin case!...They call me Killer, Killer
, I’m leading a double-life, a simple, honest warehouse worker by day, by night a dynamic
The Glass MenagerieSlide39
refers to an implication of alternate or reversed meaning that pervades a work.
A major technique involves the use of a naïve protagonist or
who continually interprets events and intentions in ways that the author signals are mistaken.Slide40
In Mark Twain’s
, Huck believes at first that the rascally King and Duke are the brave and noble men that they claim to be, despite signs of their shady past.Slide41
Other narrators may be unreliable not because they are gullible but because they are mentally incapacitated.
“The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe
The narrator is paranoid and hallucinatory.Slide42
Another way to create
is to relate the same events from the perspectives of different narrators.
The Sound and the Fury
The novel’s narration shifts between two different time periods and among three sons from the same dysfunctional southern family.
One narrator is mentally retarded, the second is
depressed, the third is a sadistic egoist consumed with rage and scorn.
The book concludes with an omniscient 3
Creates a “jigsaw puzzle” effectSlide43
occurs when the audience is privy to knowledge that one or more of the characters lacks.
May be used for comic or tragic effects.Slide44
by Shakespeare, he lets us in on the fact that Viola is disguised as a boy in the first scene.
This allows us to enjoy the humorous dramatic ironies that result when the Countess Olivia, the object of the duke’s courtship, falls in love with Viola.
, Odysseus’s disguise as a beggar provides
as he encounters family members and hated rivals, but in order to get his revenge, he must refrain from revealing his true identity.Slide45
occurs in tragedies, it is called
Romeo and JulietSlide46
refers to an implied worldview in which characters are led to embrace false hopes of aid or success, only to be defeated by some larger force, such as God or fate.Slide47
Death of a Salesman
kills himself to secure his family the insurance payment that his suicide will, in fact, make invalid.
, several characters congratulate themselves on a triumph or a narrow escape, only to be destroyed shortly afterward
The establishment of complex, even contradictory, attitudes toward experience, and the interpretation of possible motives or outcomes in more than one way, are major sources of literature’s richness.
Because life itself is full of contradictions and unexpected turns, irony has long had a special appeal to writers and readers.
The ability to respond to irony in its myriad forms is a sure sign of a reader’s astuteness.Slide49
Basically, recognizing irony makes you look smart.