Extended Metaphor

Extended Metaphor Definition

The term extended metaphor refers to a comparison between two unlike things that continues throughout a series of sentences in a paragraph or lines in a poem. It is often comprised of more than one sentence and sometimes consists of a full paragraph.

Extended Metaphor Examples in Prose

Example 1

“Bobby Holloway says my imagination is a three-hundred-ring circus. Currently I was in ring two hundred and ninety-nine, with elephants dancing and clowns cart wheeling and tigers leaping through rings of fire. The time had come to step back, leave the main tent, go buy some popcorn and a Coke, bliss out, cool down.”
(Dean Koontz, Seize the Night. Bantam, 1999)

Here, it can be seen that the “circus” has been compared to the author’s “imagination”.

Example 2

“It never takes longer than a few minutes, when they get together, for everyone to revert to the state of nature, like a party marooned by a shipwreck. That’s what a family is. Also the storm at sea, the ship, and the unknown shore. And the hats and the whiskey stills that you make out of bamboo and coconuts. And the fire that you light to keep away the beasts.”
(Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union. Harper, 2007)

In the extract quoted above, the writer has compared “family” with a “shipwreck”.

Example 3

“One day [Mr. Bixby] turned on me suddenly with this settler–
‘What is the shape of Walnut Bend?'”

“He might as well have asked me my grandmother’s opinion of protoplasm. I reflected respectfully, and then said I didn’t know it had any particular shape. My gun powdery chief went off with a bang, of course, and then went on loading and firing until he was out of adjectives.”

“I had learned long ago that he only carried just so many rounds of ammunition, and was sure to subside into a very placable and even remorseful old smooth-bore as soon as they were all gone.”
(Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, 1883)

Here, it can be seen that the writer makes use of metaphors like “gun powdery”, “firing”, and “ammunition” to describe the “anger” of Mr. Bixby.

Example 4

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.”
(Shakespeare’s As You Like It)

Shakespeare has remarkably compared “earth” to a “stage” in the extract mentioned above.

Example 5

“But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief.”
(Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet)

Here again, Shakespeare has made use of extended metaphor by comparing “Juliet” with the “sun”.

Examples in Poetry

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,

“And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

“I’ve heard it in the chilliest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.”
(Emily Dickinson)

In the poem given above, Emily Dickinson has remarkably made use of the tool of extended metaphor by comparing “hope” with the “little bird”.

Examples of Extended Metaphor in Hip-Hop

“But if you was LeBron James then I’d be Dwyane Wade
We both graduated at the same time from the same grade
He was at the head of the class, on TV with celebrity acts,
But that champion ring was one thing you never could grasp,
I was slightly rated lower had to fight to gain exposure
and that might’ve made me slower
but now I have taken over
And I’m down in Miami’s Heat,
living my boyhood dreams
And for you to do what I’ve done,
you’d have to join MY team!”
-Iron Solomon

In the extract quoted above, Iron Solomon makes a comparison between “LeBron James” and “Dwyane Wade”.

Functions of Extended Metaphor

Extended metaphor provides the writer with an opportunity to make a larger comparison between two things or notions. The device of extended metaphor is usually employed in prose and poetry to project a specific impression regarding things or notions in the reader’s mind. Further, the tool serves to project the comparison intensely in the reader’s mind, than is the case when simple metaphors or similes are used.

1 comment for “Extended Metaphor

  1. Zachary
    February 20, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    I think that Iron Solomon might be making a comparison between himself and Dwayne Wade, rather than LeBron James and Dwayne Wade.

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