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Free «Figurative Language» Essay Sample


A common element found in the literary pieces of: The Man in the Glass by Anonymous, Success is Counted Sweetest (1830-1886) by Emily Dickinson, Little Boy Blue by Eugene Field and Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson is the massive use of figurative language. Figurative language is a part of literature whereby a word does not imply the dictionary meaning of the word. Types of figurative language include metaphor, simile, irony, personification, paradox and hyperbole. A metaphor is a direct comparison (King Richard the Lion-Hearted). A simile is an indirect comparison that uses like or as (lee's handwriting is chicken scratch.) Irony is the use of words to mean the opposite of what is being said; irony is below the surface meaning and may be funny, serious, and deadly. Personification is the use of words to make some thing or quality have human characteristics. Paradox is a statement that seems to contradict but nonetheless has some truth to it; for example, Lee is the most independent dependent person I know! And finally, Hyperbole is exaggeration to emphasize or to heighten; the Kentucky Wildcats smashed East Tennessee.

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Figurative language gains and maintains the interest of the audience something which is of high value in literature. Not only that but it also makes the language more expressive and not dull. Otherwise what will be the difference between a technical language and a literary language. Following poems are examples of how the use of figurative language makes a piece of writing an exceptional piece of literature work.

The Man in the Glass by Anonymous

The man in the glass is a poem by Anonymous which is about facing yourself and realizing that success is only worthwhile when one achieves it by being true to oneself.


"But the man in the glass says you're only a bum." Here, the word 'bum' is a metaphor meaning that the man is a loser. Bum here does not the hips or the lower region of the person, but implying a loser.

Another metaphor usage is reflected in "down the pathway of years," where pathways reflects a line of years, one after the years in the same direction.


There is also presence of irony in the poem with the usage of the words, "final reward will be heartache and tears" implying that there will be no reward only sadness if the success achieved is done so by not being true to oneself.

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"Just go to the mirror and look at yourself And see what that man has to say." The author here personifies the reflection as a separate man who is staring back and the main standing in front must confront to.

Success is Counted Sweetest by Emily Dickinson


Through the usage of "To comprehend a nectar" Emily stresses that to appreciate some reward in life, it is necessary to have a solid need for it beforehand, 'nectar' implying a reward.

Another metaphor Emily uses is "Not one of all the purple host Who took the flag to-day where she says that the arrogant people who achieve success though have won but do not have the true essence of victory.


Using "On whose forbidden ear" she personifies victory and success for the one defeated as it is nothing less than a forbidden ear which does not listen to his call for victory.

Little Boy Blue by Eugene Field

Little boy blue is a poem about a boy who has kept his two favorite toys up on the shelf and has forgotten to play with them for a long time. In return they have gotten rusty and old but still are his true friends as they still wait to be played by him.


"Red with rust" it on the poem reflects the condition of the toy which is now rusty of not being played with every day and have been kept on the shelf for a long time.


"But the little toy friends are true!" This implies that the toys have a personality are the boy's friends who stay there where he had put them a long time back and still look at him

Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson

This poem has much to do with remembering the past that was filled with glorious war victories and reflects how one feels patriotic.


"The foe long since in silence slept" this means that the enemy has not taken any recent action, thus, is in sleep.


Eugene personifies the bridge as "rude bridge" which also implies a past glory of patriotism which is solid and silent thus implying that it is rude.

 "And Time the ruined bridge has swept Down the dark stream that seaward creeps." Here the bridge and the stream have been personified doing the actions of sweeping and creeping.


"When, like our sires, our sons are gone" here the author compares the sires with sons, who both are gone.


English literature and poetry more specifically and famous authors such as Emily Dickinson and Eugene were very fond of and have infused a majority and almost all of their poems with them. The massive presence of figurative language, such as metaphors, similes, paradoxes, personification, and hyperbole, makes English literature and poetry fun, interesting and captivating to read which makes one's mind wonder and fall in a trance of the images of the author's perception. They are not present altogether in the same piece of writing but at least one of them if not is present in a poem making it a marvelous piece of writing.


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