Western Reserve Public Media

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?

  1. Metaphors make language come alive.

  2. They give the speaker a frame of reference for the topic. The writer can make an emotional connection before the arguments are stated.

  3. 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 writing?
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 school.

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.

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