Using a Metaphor
to “Frame” Persuasive Writing
Aristotle states in Poetics: “[T]he greatest thing
by far is to be a master of metaphor. [It is] a sign of genius,
since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the
similarity in dissimilars.”
What is a metaphor?
The term metaphor meant in Greek “carry something across”
or “transfer.” It is a comparison between two
things, based on resemblance or similarity. A metaphor is
a device for seeing something in terms of something else.
“Raining cats and dogs” lets you carry the image
of many cats and dogs to the concept of a lot of rain. A “table
leg” uses the concept of something long, thin and straight
that holds up the body to a similar support for a table. A
metaphor indirectly applys the characteristics of one thing
to another. If someone is a “wet blanket,” that
person is rather cold and not much good for fun. If a dream
is “all Elmer’s glue and glitter” it is
cheap and not something that will last long.
Why use metaphors?
Metaphors make language come alive.
They give the speaker a frame of reference for the topic.
The writer can make an emotional connection before the
arguments are stated.
They use a minimum of words to create a thought, for
example, “my school is a prison.”
How are similes and metaphors different?
A simile is a form of metaphor that compares two different
things to create a new meaning. A simile always uses “like”
or “as” within the phrase and is more explicit
than a metaphor. For example, Shakespeare’s line “The
world is a stage” (metaphor) could be rewritten as a
simile to read: “The world is like a stage.”
How can I use a metaphor in persuasive
Metaphors can be used as a frame around a piece of writing.
It would be built in this manner
Sample Persuasive Writing
When I’m at school, I look Minnesota, but I feel California.
I’m forced to wear this lovely plaid skirt and white
blouse. I’d like to do away with the dress code at this
I am the same person in plaid or in my jeans. The way I dress
is not the measure of how much I learn. I am forced to be
like everyone else rather than displaying the independent
me — the person who wants to think for herself. Uniforms
are expensive. My parents not only have to buy my regular
clothes, but also have to spend money on uniforms.
For these reasons, I feel I should have the right to select
what I want to wear to school. I’d like the cold realities
of Minnesota replaced with the independent-thinking, “groovy”
realities of California.