Glossary Home Figurative Language


An analogy is an extensive comparison between one thing and another that is very different from it.

These are created with the intentions of elucidating some aspect that is not normally clear. That “thing” or “aspect” might also speak to the larger themes of a piece of poetry or prose. This is quite similar to the way that metaphors and similes work, but an analogy is broader, and usually, the implications are more complex. Analogies will often be composed of multiple lines, rather than single phrases or juxtapositions. They might include within them several similes or metaphors, or a combination of both.


Examples of Analogies

  • Life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.
  • That relationship was a roller coaster. I never knew which way my emotions were going to go next.
  • When he was born he was as light as a feather, but now look what happened.
  • Trying to make sense of that lecture is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
  • Life is is not a race. The first one to the end isn’t necessarily the winner.
  • His voice is like nails on a chalkboard. He makes me want tear my hair out.
  • She blossomed like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.


Purpose of Analogies

Writers use analogies to create links between things that didn’t exist in the past. These are sometimes original, or as often the case, taken from other sources. They can help to make an idea or the subject clearer to a reader or make an idea more complex, complicating its source and implications. Many analogies are part of our everyday speech, therefore making it quite easy to fall into a cliche. this is something new or first-time writers have to be on the lookout for. 


Examples of Analogies in Literature

Example #1 Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

In what is perhaps Shakespeare’s most popular play, Romeo and Juliet, there are numerous examples of important literary techniques. In regards to analogies there a good example in the passage where Juliet compares Romeo to a rose. While considering what it would be like for the two to leave their homes, their families, and their names, Juliet asserts that nothing would change.

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.

Even if Romeo did not have the same last name he would still be Romeo. This is compared to calling a rose a different name, its properties would not change.


Example #2 “A Hanging” by George Orwell

“A Hanging” is a short story/essay that was written and published by Orwell in 1931. It tells the story of an Indiana man who was hanged in Myanmar. The story goes into the details of the prison and the various inmates who are forced to trough out the gallow. This short story is commonly cited as containing a solid example of an analogy. Take a look at these lines from the work:

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.

In these lines, a reader can find examples of metaphors and similes. Together with the context of the story, the experience of the inmates, and the fates that are awaiting them, these elements come together to form a very poignant picture of the scene.


Example #3 The Day is Done by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Take a look at the first lines of this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as an example of an analogy:

The day is done, and the darkness

Falls from the wings of Night,

As a feather is wafted downward

From an eagle in his flight.

Here, the poet is comparing the end of day to the soft falling of a feather through the air. The metaphor is extended, allowing Longfellow to create an analogy that references different parts of a bird and of natural spaces.

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