College has kept me away from blogging for quite some time; however, it has kindled in me a fascination for topics that I’ve never given deep thought before, such as the metaphor. I thought I would share an essay on the metaphor with all of you. I was working on this essay for an exam, and it was a great experience, for I received huge insights into the concept of metaphor. Do read on!


“The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor; it is the mark of a genius, for to make metaphors means to have an eye for resemblance.”

                                                                                             -Aristotle, Poetics.

 

No language can be called complete if it does not accommodate one crucial figure of speech – the metaphor. Metaphor allows one to suavely explain abstract concepts using more material topics, thereby adding more colour and flavour to language. Not only does this make language more aesthetically pleasing, but it also sharpens one’s intellect as it allows one to ‘map’ or create a ‘correspondence’ between two otherwise completely unrelated topics.

It is true that metaphor has been an indispensable part of literature for centuries, for otherwise we wouldn’t have been fortunate enough to hear of Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage…” or Shelley’s “If Winter comes can Spring be far behind?”. However, if we were to consider metaphor as solely a part of high-standard literature that is unintelligible to the layman, then we would be in grave error. For each one of us thinks and speaks metaphorically, though we are unaware of the fact.

For instance, an extremely tough Maths problem must have made you think you were ‘getting nowhere’ near the solution. After having been ‘stuck’ for quite sometime with a particularly troublesome ‘step’, you must have started wondering why in the world you chose Mathematics as your chief ‘branch’ of study.

All the thinking going on in your mind is, to a fair extent, metaphorical. You see, in your mind’s eye, the problem as a journey to be accomplished. However, you are unable to ‘move on’ with it. Further, you envision education as a ‘tree’, out of whose many ‘branches’, you chose Maths (and now regret it).

Besides this, to mention a few more metaphors we come across in daily life, we have:

“I’m feeling low.” (Sadness is equated to being low)

“I’m in high spirits.” (Happiness is equated to being high)

“I can’t digest this fact.” (Fact is food)

 

Hence, metaphors weave their way in and out of daily conversation, but we don’t realise it. It can therefore be said that without metaphor, our language would be severely limited and conveyance of subtle emotions would become impossible.

It is also very interesting to know that all the highly-revered scriptures of all religions are metaphorical to a great extent. The Bhagavad Gita is, in itself, a metaphor. Arjuna symbolises all mankind – confused, anxious, desperate for the truth of life; while Krishna is the Almighty, the unseen Power that guides us throughout the journey of our life. The Bible is also replete with metaphors; anyone who can understand them in their entirety can be held as good interpreters of its essence. All epics – be it the Iliad and the Odyssey or the Ramayana and the Mahabharata – make a generous use of metaphors to bring forth their ideas more ’emotionally’. The same applies to all other religious scriptures; underneath the subtleties of their metaphors, lies knowledge that transcends the ‘ordinary’ of the material world.

As Aristotle’s words imply, the ability to reason metaphorically is a symbol of intellect, as it stimulates the imagination, arousing it from its deep slumber. It provokes human thinking and hence, acts as a bridge to abstract realities. It can therefore be concluded that metaphor is not just a device used to add flourishes to language; instead it is the crux of all human thought and builds up the art of concept-interlinking and is thus, inseparable from human life and language.

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Thank you for the patience! If you did like this, don’t forget to’like’, comment and follow!

Also, if you would like to know more, do read ‘Metaphor’ by Zoltan Kovecses. Further, I must mention my deep thanks to Professor Hemachandran for having brought up such a wonderful topic in his lecture.

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