« ZurückWeiter »
it would no vise be. 118 renders the impression more strong and vivid. Thus When we say, "A good man enjoys comfort in the midst of adversity,'
we express an idea in the simplest manner possible. But as there is an analogy between comfort and light, and between adversity and darkness, we may express the same idea in figurative language, thus: *To the upright there ariseth light in darkness.' Here' a' 'new circumstance is introduced; two objects, resembling one another in some respects, are presented to the imagination ; light is put in the place of comfort, and darkness is used to suggest the idea of adversity.
Although figures imply a deviation from the simple form of speech, we are not thence to conclude, that they imply anything uncommon, or unnatural. On many occasions, they are both the most natural and the most common method of uttering our sentiments. It would be
very difficult to compose any discourse without using them often; there are but few sentences of considerable length, in which there does not occur some expression that may be termed a figure. -*
The principal advantages of Figures of Speech, are the two following:
1. They enrich language, and render it more copious. By their means, words and phrases are plied, for expressing all sorts of ideas; for describing éven the minutest differences; the nicest 'shades and colours of thought; which no language could do by proper words alone, without assistance from Tropes.
2. They frequently give us a much clearer and more, striking view of the principal object, than we could have, if it were expressed in simple terms, and divested of its accessary idea. By a well chosen figure, even conviction is assisted, and the impression of a
mind, made more lively and forcible than Having considered the nature of figures, ter next proceed to particularize such as are of the most consequence; viz: Métaphor, Allegory, Simile, or Comparison, Hyperbole, or Exaggeration, Metonymy, Synecdoche, Personification," A postrophe, Antithesis, Interrogation, Exclamation Vision, Prony, Amplification, or Climax, &c.
METAPHOR. Metaphor is a figure founded upon the resemblance which one object bears to another. Hence, it is much allied to simile or comparison. When we say of some distinguished character, that he upholds the state like a pillar which supports the weight of an edifice,' we make a comparison: but when we say of such a character, that he is the pillar of the state,' it now becomes a metaphor a Qur meaning is, that the individual, by his wisdom or prudence, contributes as much to the safety and security of the nation, as a pilar, by its strength and solidity, does to the stability of a building
The following are examples of metaphor taken from Scripture: "I will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her::_ Thou art my rock and fortress. Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.'.
In the use of metaphors, the following rules are to be observed:
1. Metaphors should neither be too numerous, too gay, nar too elevated, but suited to the nature of the subject.
2. They must be drawn from proper objects; avoiding all such as will raise in the mind disagreeable, mean, or low ideas.
3. Every metaphor should be founded on a resemblance which is clear and striking; not far-fetched, nor difficult to be discovered. The transgression of this rule, makes what are called harsh or forced metaphors, which are displeasing, because they puzzle the reader, and instead of illustrating the thought, render it perplexed and intricate.
4. Metaphorical and plain language must not be jumbled together; that is, a sentence should never be constructed so that part of it must be understood literally, and part metaphorically.
5. Two different metaphors must not meet together on the same subject. This is what is called mixed metaphor, and is one of the greatest misapplications of this figure. One may be sheltered under the patronage of a great man:' but it would be wrong to say, shel
tered under the mask of dissimulation:' as a mask conceals, but does not shelter.
6. Metaphors should not be crowded together on the same subject; for the mind finds it difficult to pass readily through many different views of the same object, presented in quick succession.
7. Metaphors should not be too far pursued. If the resemblance, on which the figure is founded, be long dwelt upon, and carried into all its minute circumstances, the reader becomes tired and weary of this stretch of fancy, and we render our discourse obscure. This is called straining a metaphor. Authors of a lively and strong imagination are apt to run into this exuberance of metaphor. When they hit upon a figure that pleases them, they are loth to part with it, and are apt to continue it so long as to become tedious and intricate.
It is a good rule, likewise, when we have written a metaphor, to make a picture of it, to see whether the parts agree with each other; and what kind of figure the whole presents. Thus, when Shakspeare says,
to take up arms against a sea of troubles,' if we make a picture of this metaphor, we must represent a man clad in armour, going out to fight water ! 'the impropriety of such inconsistent metaphors must be very apparent.
An Allegory is the representation of one thing by another that resembles it. The only material difference between Allegory and Metaphor, beside the one being short and the other prolonged, is, that a Metaphor always explains itself by the words that are connected with it, in their proper meaning; whereas in Allegory, something more is intended than the words in their literal signification imply.
Allegory was a favorite method of delivering instruction in ancient times; for what we call fables, or parables, are no other than allegories. Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress is perhaps the longest allegory every written.
SIMILE, OR COMPARISON. A Simile, or Comparison, is where the analogy or resemblance between two objects is expressed in form,
and generally pursued more fully than the nature of a metaphor admits. Thus, when we say of a great man,
He is the pillar of the state,' it is a metaphor; but when we say of him, He upholds the state like a pillar that supports the weight of an edifice,' it then becomes a comparison.
The advantage of this figure arises from the illustration which the similé employed gives to the principat object; from the clearer view which it presents; or The more strong impression which it stamps upon the mind.
Comparison ought not to be founded on likenessey which are too faint and remote. For these, instead of assisting, strain the mind to comprehend them, and throw no light upon the subject. A comparison which carries a sufficiently near i resemblance, may become unnatural and obscure, if pushed too far. Nothing is more opposite to the design of this figúrė, than to hunt after a great number of coincidencés in minute points, merely to show how far the writer's ingenuity can stretch the resemblance. The object from which a comparison is drawn, ought never to be an úöknown object; nor one, of which few people can have a clear idea. Similes, or comparisons, should never be drawn from mean or low objects.
HYPERBOLE, OR EXAGGERATION. Hyperbole, or Exaggeration, consists in magnifying an object beyond its natural bounds. This figure occurs frequently in common conversation; as when to rep-> resent the quickness of motion, we say, as quick as lightning,' or 'as swift as the wind.' If anything be ready to add to it some exaggerating epithet, and to make it the greatest and best we ever saw.
The errors frequent in the use of Hyperboles, arisela from overstraining, or introducing them on unsuitable occasions. Dryden, in his poem on the restoration of King Charles the Second; compliments that monarch'at the expense of the sun himself:
That'stat at your birth shơne cüt so bright,
This is mere: bombast. It is difficult to ascertain, by any precise rule, the proper measure and boundary of this figure. Good sense and correct taste must determine the point, beyond which, if we pass, we become extravagant.
METONYMY, AND SYNECDOCHE. A Metonymy is founded on the several relations of cause and effect, container and contained, sign and thing signified. When we say, "They read Milton,' the cause is put instead of the effect; meaning, Milton's works. On the other hand, when it is said, Gray hairs should be respected,' we put the effect for the cause, meaning by 'gray hairs
"The kettle boils,' is a phrase where the name of the container is substituted for that of the thing contained. • To assume the sceptre,' is a common expression for entering upon royal authority; the sign being put for the thing signified. When the whole is put for a part, or a part for the whole, agenus for a species or a species for a genus; when any thing less, or any thing more, is put for the precise object meant; the figure is then called a Synecdoche or Comprehension. It is very common, for instance, to describe a whole object by some remarkable part of it: as when we say: ' A fleet of twenty sail,' instead of ships; when we use the head for the person, the waves for the sea. In like manner, an attribute may be put for a subject; as, • Youth 'for the 'young,' the 'deep' for the sea;' and sometimes a subject for its attribute.
PERSONIFICATION. Personification is that figure, by which life and action are attributed to inanimate objects. When we say the earth thirsts for rain,' or smiles with plenty,' we represent the earth as a living creature thirsting and smiling There are three degrees of this figure, namely:
1. When some of the properties or qualities of living creatures are attributed to inanimate objects. As 'a furious dart; a deceitful disease ; the angry ocean.' Here the personification consists in ascribing fury, de