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Extended metaphor

 

Techniques > Use of language > Metaphor > Extended metaphor

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

An extended metaphor is one where there is a single main subject to which additional subjects and metaphors are applied.

The extended metaphor may act as a central theme, for example where it is used as the primary vehicle of a poem and is used repeatedly and in different forms.

Example

He is the pointing gun, we are the bullets of his desire.

All the world's a stage and men and women merely players.

Let me count my loves of thee, my rose garden, my heart, my fixed mark, my beginning and my end.

Discussion

The power of an extended metaphor is in the hammer blows that it applies, demonstrating the passion and commitment of the author.

Done well, an extended metaphor drives the point home. Done badly, it either confuses people, for example through conflicting vehicles, or annoys them, for example through excessive elaboration or too many metaphors for a single subject.

An extended metaphor is sometimes called a 'conceit', for example where the metaphoric theme of a poem is called its conceit, perhaps signifying the arrogance of the poet in assuming command of the language to the point of redefinition of terms that may be beyond many readers.

See also

Complex metaphor, Compound metaphor

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