# September 7 th, 2007.  Similes compare two dissimilar objects, concepts, etc., in order to suggest an unexpected likeness between the two.  Similes.

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September 7 th, 2007

 Similes compare two dissimilar objects, concepts, etc., in order to suggest an unexpected likeness between the two.  Similes can often be distinguished by the presence of one of two code words, “like” and “as.”

 Two Dissimilar Subjects ◦ Blanket ◦ Snow

 If we wish to make a comparison between the way a blanket covers a bed and the way the snow covers the group, we should use a simile.  How can we use a simile to compare the two?

 The snow is like a thick blanket on the ground.  Notice the key presence of “like.”

 If you choose to use a metaphor instead, remember that you aren’t simply comparing the snow to the blanket – you’re equating the two!

 Rather than claiming that the snow is like the blanket, simply claim that the two are the same.  “The snow is a blanket on the earth.”

 Is the snow actually a blanket? No! However, the image the equation creates is a vividly descriptive one – and vivid images are excellent!

 An easy way to remember the difference between similes and metaphors is to determine whether the writer is trying to be direct.

 “The snow is a blanket” is direct; the comparison in “the snow is like a blanket” is by definition more abstract than the equation.

 At their core, metaphors and similes aren’t separated by much; in the previous example, the presence of the word “like” is all that distinguishes one from the other

 “You are my sunshine”  “You are like the sun”  Which is the metaphor?  How can you tell that the Langston Hughes quote contains a metaphor?

 Think of analogies as similes or metaphors on steroids – the Barry Bonds of rhetorical devices!  Analogies allow writers to help readers understand difficult issues or concepts by comparing them to familiar ones.  As a result, similarity between the difficult concept and its familiar counterpart is crucial; if there is no similarity, the comparison is useless for rhetorical purposes.

 Analogies can be separated into two parts.  Target – the unknown idea or object; we’re trying to explain it, or at least make it clear.  Source – the familiar idea or object; we use sources to shed light on the more complicated target.

 There is a famous analogy between our solar system and atomic structure.  ^ Target  < Source

 The solar system works as a source because it is more familiar and tangible.  Moreover, the two share a common structural property – objects revolving around a center

 “Think of an atom as a miniature solar system; the electrons revolve around the nucleus in the same way that planets orbit our Sun.”  It’s a simple but effective comparison.

 Let’s turn our attention to personification, another type of figurative language.  Personification involves giving the qualities of animals or persons to inanimate objects – to animate the nonliving, a la Dr. Frankenstein (although I supposed he was reanimating the monster).  Once again, figurative language is used to bring images, concepts, or objects to life!

 I like to see it lap the miles, And lick the valleys up, And stop to feed itself at tanks; And then, prodigious, step  Around a pile of mountains, And, supercilious, peer In shanties by the sides of roads; And then a quarry pare  Can you spot examples of personification?  Remember to look for human emotions, human actions, etc.

 To fit its sides, and crawl between, Complaining all the while In horrid, hooting stanza; Then chase itself down hill  And neigh like Boanerges; Then, punctual as a start its own, Stop-docile and omnipotent- A stable door.  Can you spot examples of personification?  Remember to look for human emotions, human actions, etc.

 Lap the miles;  Lick the valleys up;  Stop to feed itself at tanks;  And then, prodigious, step around…  And, supercilious, peer in shanties…  Crawl between [the quarry walls];  Complaining all the while in horrid, hooting stanza;  Then chase itself down hill  And neigh like Boanerges;  So on and so forth…  Dickinson gives the train personality, and allows her readers to think of it almost as an independent entity – an interesting linguistic choice.

 Allusions have a double meaning; while the words have a primary significance, they also recall something else that the reader will find familiar – a person or figure, a place, an event, etc.  While allusions function symbolically, it’s important to understand both the primary and secondary meanings.

While this is clearly Keanu Reeves, can you spot the Biblical imagery?

 T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” is incredibly dense; it’s almost impossible to understand the first time you read it because it’s so packed with difficult allusions.

 While it’s a British text, Eliot was one of the forefathers of the Modernist movement – a literary phenomenon that dramatically reshaped American literature after the First World War.  In other words, you won’t read it in this class, but it is important!

Try figuring this passage out: What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man, You cannot say, or guess, for you know only A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, And the dry stone no sound of water.

While the poem is “about” many things, it functions as an angry protest of post-WWI life in Britain, and London in particular. Eliot looked at his society and saw a ruined country, and over-industrialized and overpopulated nation devoid of beauty and faith. He paints London as cultural and spiritual “waste land” filled with people leading vacant, meaningless lives. Watch how Eliot tethers his observations on the degeneration of society to references to religion (the poem contains many allusions to religious texts, both Western and Eastern in origin); by doing so, he provides a contrast to the present day that highlights the decay of his nation.

Adapted from Wikipedia (not always the most reputable of sources, but I can vouch for this, and the writer sums the meaning up nicely): The narrator is referred to as the "Son of man" – a title used for Ezekiel, who God called upon to warn Israel to repent of their idolatry. The deity eventually tells Ezekiel that Israel will not change; therefore, their altars will be desolate, images broken, and their cities will lay in waste. While this is what the poem is alluding to, the images the words conjure prompt readers to picture the ruin of post-war Britain – and shudder.

 Why do writers want to use figurative language, or figures of speech?  Because they’re based on comparisons, figures of speech can make something that’s difficult to understand seem more familiar, interesting, and real – a useful trick for any essay, persuasive or otherwise.

 These questions aren’t asked with the intention of eliciting an auditory response. ◦ Rather, they cause the audience to question the other side – and, in turn, accept yours. ◦ They attract the audience’s attention and gain interest because the audience supplies the answer! ◦ “How many times do I have to tell you to do your homework?” does not invite a response, but does expect the listener to THINK of the answer.

◦ An invitation to imagine a situation or a description of a dream acts as a rhetorical device, also. No audible response invited here either, other than thinking.  Imagine a debate is about the best way to treat a wounded puppy. One side argues to take the puppy to a veterinarian, and the other side argues that it’s best to leave the animal to heal on its own.

 Writers who smoothly incorporate the words of others into their works will seem more credible. ◦ If an author is arguing over an issue that confuses you, and he or she offers quotes from individuals who seem qualified to understand the matter, you’ll be more likely to believe them.  One note: If the author cites people that seem unqualified to comment on the issue at hand, the quotes can undermine their credibility!

 Deduction is the process of moving from a formally stated premise (or premises) to a logically valid conclusion. ◦ This means that writers must move from general descriptions to specific or particular conclusions. ◦ The process allows writers to lead their audiences down a specific rhetorical path – until they “logically” reach the same conclusion as the author!

 Syllogism merely refers to the most basic form of this process: ◦ Start with a major and minor premise ◦ Move logically from your premises to your conclusion ◦ The “Billy” example works well.

 These are fundamentally flawed arguments that cannot be defended logically.  Instead of the “if p, then q” or “if not-p, then not- q” style of argument, fallacies fall into a “if p, then q…if not-q, then not-p” form – they’re backward! ◦ In order to use a fallacy for maximum effect, a writer must convince the audience that his argument is not flawed, and that his illogic is actually logical.  “If we guillotine the king, then he will die. Therefore, if we don't guillotine the king, then he won't die.” – fallacyfiles.org

 This refers to instances when writers shift the meaning of an important word in the middle of an argument. ◦ The reason that the distinction between “creative” and “creativity” is important – one refers to something that the artists can do, while the other dares them to do something that they aren’t qualified to perform! ◦ It’s a fairly sneaky way of making an argument or charge – which is why it’s usually effective.

 Simply put, this is when people ignore the nuances of life – when they assume that extremes are our only choices instead of recognizing multiple possibilities.  “Someone is either good or evil.” ◦ Do good people behave well at all times? Is an evil person incapable of positive action?

 Presenting situations as “all” or “none” usually results in an invalid argument; there are usually exceptions that need to be considered.  Overgeneralization saps an argument of its effectiveness, so don’t use it!

 This looks confusing, but it’s really simple!  It describes an attempt to prove causality when there is none; the author states that a second event is caused by a first because it came afterward.  Remember: Something may have happened after another event, but the first event doesn’t necessarily cause the second.

 This term seems misleading, because no question is actually being asked.  It describes a controversial statement by a writer that invites a skeptical reader to question it; in other words, the author states something that could be argued as though it is an immutable fact!

 Ad hominem refers to “attacks against the person.”  It’s an attempt by the writer to distract you from the issue at hand by focusing instead on the credibility of his or her opponent.  This technique is usually used by authors who cannot win a debate based on the soundness or logic of their position; it’s a last-gasp effort to convince the reader to join their side, rather than convince them that their side is the correct one.

 A red herring is fishy (har har har), and almost identical to an argument ad hominem  The difference between the two lies in their foci; the argument ad hominem switches focus from subject to opponent, whereas the red herring switches from one subject to another.

 Subordination indicates that one clause (Clause A) is more important than another (Clause B)  Coordination, on the other hand, indicates that both clauses are equally important or independent of one another.  These can be recognized by the presence of FANBOYS – the coordinating conjunctions - For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, or So.

 Logos: Appealing to one’s reason or logic  Pathos: Appealing to one’s emotion or pity  Ethos: Appealing to one’s ethics or morality

 Parallelism - Refers to the repetition of words or phrases that have similar grammatical structures. ◦ The overall effect is one of emphasis, and often makes a writer’s argument seem more structured.

Rhetorical Device Simile Metaphor Analogy Personification Allusion

Rhetorical Question Quote Figurative Language Deduction Syllogism Fallacies Equivocation

Either/Or Fallacy Overgeneralization Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc Begging the Question Argument Ad Hominem Red Herring

Subordination Coordination Logos Pathos Ethos Parallelism

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