What is an Analogy?
Analogy means a comparison of one thing with another thing for explanation, clarification, understanding, and comprehension in that the thing being compared becomes clear to the readers or audience. Although an analogy is used mostly in writing and specifically in literary pieces for understanding, it is important for developing critical thinking skills. Some of the aspects of its importance are as follows.
Importance of Analogy
An analogy is important because it is used in several thinking skills. First of all, it is used in problem-solving issues when the problem seems out of the grasp of the students or the decision-makers. They use different analogies to make it easier to understand the problem and find its solution. Secondly, it is used in argumentative writing to make arguments convincing and logical. Thirdly, it is used to create perceptions about something that the readers or audience have never seen. Fourthly, it is used to increase memory retention as it seems easier when the readers or students apply analogies to remember something. And lastly, it is used for creativity, innovation, prediction, explanation, and communication to facilitate messaging.
Besides these aspects, analogies are important for doing certain pedagogic tasks as follows.
Analogies are highly useful when it comes to teaching vocabulary. Students do not understand unknown words easily. Therefore, comparison and contrast through analogies make them understand different abstract words and their usages. In fact, the introduction of new words through analogies becomes a catalyst for better reading strategies to prepare the students for complex and academic readings. Also, when they occur in literature, students become able to better understand the storyline.
Students come across many words the meanings of which they do not know. They continue reading without taking up the dictionary to spend time on those words. However, when they come across analogies, they become habitual in understanding those words. The comprehension improves, and they are able to understand better and grasp different concepts and situations of the storylines. This prepares them for a better understanding of difficult and abstruse treatises later in life.
Develops Higher Order Thinking Skills
Analogies help develop high order thinking skills. The reason is that students and teachers learn by making comparisons and contrasts between similar and dissimilar things. When they come to know about the differences between things, concepts, and ideas, they learn how to differentiate, and this makes them aware of how to deal with different abstract concepts and thoughts in practical life. This also enables them to learn how to make decisions about them when relating through comparison and contrast.
Verbal Reasoning Abilities
When students use analogies in different reading strategies, they learn how to make comparisons and contrasts to make logics appear strong and cohesive. This move enables them relate things with each other and with one another, on different levels, and through different perspectives. This type of comparison and contrast and relational thinking make them able to speak about a new topic and new situation or write about them. Even at a lower level, students learn how to reason when speaking or writing. Therefore, analogies develop reasoning skills.
Looking for Common Points
Comparison and contrasts are often made to find out common threads between different things, ideas, and concepts. Based on this quick learning, students come to know how things relate to each other and how those relations become common. Generalizations further help them understand argumentative concepts that otherwise prove very complex for them.
Examples from Literature and Importance
The Analogy from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
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.
This analogy shows the beauty of Romeo. Shakespeare compares Romeo with a rose and states that he smells as sweet as the rose. Even if his name would have been different, he would have been beautiful like the rose. Therefore, it implies the beauty and attraction of Romeo in the sense that it makes readers aware of him. It is important to make Romeo beautiful and sweet. Therefore, this analogy is important here.
The Analogy from The House in Parise by Elizabeth Bowen
Memory is to love what the saucer is to the cup.
This is a very interesting analogy. It compares memory with the saucer and love with the cup. If a person keeps the saucer tightly on the cup, its contents stay hot. Similarly, if the memory is tightly pressed lovingly in the heart and mind, the love stays fresh and strong, giving out warmth and freshness. Therefore, this analogy is significant in the course of this storyline.
There is No Frigate like a Book
To take us lands away.
These are the first two lines of the poem by Emily Dickinson. She has compared a frigate to a book. As a frigate takes us away from the lands into the seas, the book does the same by engaging the readers with its contents, whether they comprise a story or a philosophical discussion. She is of the view that a book is more effective in taking the human mind away from the current occupations than a frigate as a frigate just takes us away physically but does not shut down our thinking machine. However, the book does the opposite. Therefore, this analogy helps readers understand the importance of a book.
How to Write an Analogy?
When writing an analogy, a writer has to take care of the following four points.
- Check that the two things to be compared have something common in them.
- Check that readers are aware of at least one thing or have complete knowledge of one thing.
- The comparison or contrast should be based clearly on some relational aspect.
- This aspect could be correct when it relates one thing to another thing.
- Decide whether it is an extended or short analogy.
- It must have some linking point with the thing or object being compared.