Exploring Simile and Metaphor

Simile and Metaphor Explanations

In your new textbook for class 9, there is a chapter titled ‘Tones in Statements’. While we discuss tonality in a text, we have a reference to simile and metaphor, two vital literary devices. You will get a definition of these two terms in our post on definitions. In this post, we will try to understand ‘simile’ and ‘metaphor’ exploring some brilliant examples from great minds of English literature.

These two literary terms are comparatively easier to understand. Let’s have a look.



A ‘simile’ is a figure of speech that links one thing to another. To figure out the use of ‘simile’, we look for the words ‘like’ or ‘as’. For example, you can see the use of ‘simile’ in Graham Greene’s Stamboul Train here —

The great blast furnaces of Liège rose along the line like ancient castles burning in a border raid.

Stamboul Train, Graham Greene

Here is another example from a poem by Ted Hughes —

The wolf with its belly stitched full of big pebbles;
Nibelung wolves barbed like black pine forest
Against a red sky, over blue snow …

February, Ted Hughes


A ‘metaphor’ is a figure of speech that is not explicit like a ‘simile’. We use’ metaphor’ to describe one thing in terms of another. In poetry, poets use metaphor exclusively to create special effects. The following example will illustrate further.

Shelley dreamed it. Now the dream decays
The props crumble. The familiar ways
Are stale with tears trodden underfoot.
The heart’s flower withers at the root.
Bury it, then, in history’s sterile dust.
The slow years shall tame your tawny lust.

Song at the Year’s Turning, R. S. Thomas

Here, we know that dreams do not decay, a structure decays. So, the word ‘decay’ has been attributed to ‘dream’ so that the readers understand how the dreams perish. Similarly, ‘stale’ is commonly used for food, not ‘tears’. Also, the use of ‘sterile’ with ‘dust’ shows the usage of metaphor as a strong implicit device.

Let’s go for a far simpler example. ‘He has a heart of stone.’ Does it mean that the person has a heart made out of a stone? Not really. Rather, it means that he is cruel by nature and the heart is almost as rigid as a stone.

I hope these examples will help you to dive deeper into the usages of simile and metaphor.

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