You may have come across the term analogy whilst looking at the English language, but what is this and how does it work? The concept of an analogy might seem a little confusing at first but by looking at the meaning, we can further understand how it can be used.
In this article, we are going to be taking a look at what exactly an analogy is as well as viewing some examples of them in both a spoken context and within written work.
An analogy is a way of describing something by comparing it to something else which makes the idea more simple. The thing which is being compared is likely to have some similarities or things in common with whatever its comparison is. These comparisons are often used as figurative language in order to more easily explain an idea or principle. You might say that someone made an analogy between the human mind and a smart computer.
When used as a literary device, analogy will assist the writer to make a comparison between two things that may be familiar or not. It can also be used in order to create a deeper meaning and allow the reader to create a more detailed image in their mind about what is being described.
Analogies can come in various forms but are usually seen in the form of a simile, where a comparison is made using the words like or as, or as a metaphor where the comparison is made in a non literal sense.
Analogy in Conversation
You may see the use of analogy within day to day conversation as it is a common way to elaborate on an idea by using this type of comparison. We are now going to take a look at some examples of analogy which may be heard in spoken language.
- Mary had a little lamb, its fleece white like snow.
- As light as a feather.
- As stiff as a board.
- As sweet as a cookie.
- As good as gold.
- It is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
- Your actions are as useful as moving the deckchairs on the Titanic.
- It is as useful as a chocolate teapot.
- The last few weeks have been an emotional roller-coaster.
- To explain a joke is like dissecting a mouse, you gain a better understanding, but in the process, the mouse’s life is lost.
- She is as graceful as a freezer falling down the stairs.
- Flower is to the petal as tree is to the leaf.
- Her flower like smile blossomed through the morning sun.
- He is like a diamond in the rough.
- My father is the sergeant within our home.
- Those words are like music to my ears.
- An atoms structure is just like the solar system, with the sun as the nucleus and the planets as the electrons.
- The way in which a detective solves crimes, is like the way a doctor diagnoses illnesses.
- In the same way that a caterpillar emerges from its cocoon, we must emerge from our comfort zones.
Analogy in Literature
As we have mentioned earlier, analogy is a common way for writers to create a more clear image for the reader as well as a way to express a deeper meaning to the piece of writing. Let’s now take a look at some examples of times in which analogy has been used within written work.
- In the play Romeo and Juliet written by William Shakespeare, we see an example of an analogy being used in the following passage; “Her beauty is on the face of the night, like a jewel in the ear of Ethiop.”
- In the piece Do not go gently into the good night by Dylan Thomas, there is a good example of analogy when reading this line; “Graven men who are near death and see with a blind sight, blind eyes which burn like meteors and be gay.”
- In the famous novel Animal farm written by George Orwell, we see many examples of analogy throughout, one of these can be seen in the following passage; “The animals looked from man to pig and from pig to man, and once again yet it was not possible to tell which was which.”
- Once again from Romeo and Juliet, we see another example of analogy in the line “The candles of night are burned out and day tiptoes on the mountains.”
- In the song by Walk Whitman, Song for myself, we see an example of analogy in the line “When the sharks fin cuts like a black chip in the water.”
- In the movie, Forrest Gump we see a now, very famous analogy which reads “life is like a box of chocolates, you do not know what you might get.”
- In a note from Henry Kissinger to the president, we see an example of analogy in the sentence “Withdrawing the American troops will be like salted peanuts to the general public, the more they do it, the more they will want.”
- We see another example of analogy in the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare in which he writes. “what is in a name? A rose by any other name would still smell so sweet.“
- John Donne writes a poem entitled The flea in which he uses the title creature to compare his marital bed. This is seen in the following extract “This flea is you and I and this our wedding bed.”
We have looked at ways in which analogy can be used within both written and spoken English. Through doing this we have discovered that this concept can be used to further explain an idea by means of comparison to something which has similarities. Analogies can be seen in the form of a simile or a metaphor.
Analogy can be used in spoken language to develop the listeners understanding of what is being said as well as being used as a literary device which aids the reader in creating a more detailed picture within their mind.