An analogy is a comparison in which an idea or a thing is compared to another thing that is quite different from it. It aims at explaining that idea or thing by comparing it to something that is familiar. Metaphors and similes are tools used to draw an analogy. Therefore, analogy is more extensive and elaborate than either a simile or a metaphor. Consider the following example:
“Structure of an atom is like a solar system. Nucleus is the sun and electrons are the planets revolving around their sun.”
Here an atomic structure is compared to a solar system by using “like”. Therefore, it is a simile. Metaphor is used to relate the nucleus to the sun and the electrons to the planets without using words “like” or “as’. Hence, similes and metaphors are employed to develop an analogy.
Examples of Analogy from Everyday life
We use analogy in our everyday conversation. Some common analogy examples are given below:
- Life is like a race. The one who keeps running wins the race and the one who stops to catch a breath loses.
- Just as a sword is the weapon of a warrior, a pen is the weapon of a writer.
- How a doctor diagnoses diseases is like how a detective investigates crimes.
- Just as a caterpillar comes out of its cocoon, so we must come out of our comfort zone.
- You are as annoying as nails on a chalkboard.
Analogy Examples in Literature
Below are a few examples of analogy in literature:
The given lines are from Amy Lowell’s poem “Night Clouds”.
“The white mares of the moon rush along the sky
Beating their golden hoofs upon the glass Heavens.”
The poetess constructs the analogy between clouds and mares. She compares the movement of the white clouds in the sky at night with that of the white mares on the ground.
“They crowded very close about him, with their hands always on him in a careful, caressing grip, as though all the while feeling him to make sure he was there. It was like men handling a fish which is still alive and may jump back into the water.”
The people are taking a prisoner to the gallows to be hanged. They are holding him firmly as if he were a fish which might slip and escape.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow uses analogy in the below lines taken from his poem “The Day Is Done”.
“Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start.”
He relates his poems to the summer showers and tears from the eyes. He develops the similarity to show spontaneity of art when it directly comes out from the heart of an artist.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called,”
Juliet is indirectly saying that just like a rose that will always smell sweet by whichever name it is called; she will like Romeo even if he changes his name.
John Donne in his poem “The Flea” uses analogy of a flea to describe his love with his beloved.
“This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is”
In the quoted lines, he tells his darling that as a flea has sucked blood from both of them and their blood has mingled in its gut, so the flea has become their “wedding bed”.
Function of Analogy in Literature
Writers use analogies to link an unfamiliar or a new idea with common and familiar objects. It is easier for readers to comprehend a new idea, which may have been difficult for them to understand otherwise. Their comprehension of a new idea picks up the pace when they observe its similarity to something that is familiar to them. In addition, by employing this literary tool, writers catch the attention of their readers. Analogies help increase readers’ interest as analogies help them relate what they read to their life.