Metaphor- a figure of speech which makes an implicit, implied or hidden comparison between two things or objects that are poles apart from each other but have some common characteristics between them.
According to literarydevices.net, a metaphor develops a comparison that is not always straightforward. Unlike similes; which use the words “like” or “as” to directly compare two subjects, metaphors are simply stated. Metaphors often have little context clues, making it the reader’s job to connect the two subjects or find the common characteristics. For example, “He is a walking dictionary”. When the word “is” is used, there is a direct association to the boy, and a dictionary. Dictionaries include numerous words and definitions, implying that the boy had impeccable vocabulary and was wise with his words.
There are four main types of metaphors; pragmatic, aesthetic, cognitive, and rhetorical/persuasive. Pragmatic metaphors are often memetic, which are based off of the mental content that deal with analogies.
artist : brush :: firefighter : hose
Aesthetic metaphors deal with vivid ideas or the appreciation of beauty when used for comparison. Cognitive metaphors describe things with no literal name. They produce new meanings, but are easy to understand through concrete analogies. Lastly, rhetorical or persuasive metaphors persuade the audience to think a certain way. These are often used politically, or in advertisements.
Metaphors are an essential literary device in my opinion. They have the ability to convey hidden messages, making writings more engaging, and increase the mental capacity of readers. Many famous authors have effectively used metaphors in their work. In the wise words of William Shakespeare, “All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances.” As a playwright, Shakespeare knew much about staging, theatrics, and so forth. He uses his extensive knowledge to make a comparison using a familiar subject, a stage, and another subject more difficult to fathom, the world. This is an example of a pragmatic metaphor because of the analogy with a stage, to the world. I presume that Shakespeare tried to explain the circle of life in this metaphor. Actors only have a certain amount of screen time or time in in the limelight. Just as people have limited time on earth, until they “exit the stage”. The cycle renews with new actors and new entrances. Everyone may interpret metaphors differently, as they can have multiple meanings. That is the magic of metaphors.