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Advanced Composition 

The Importance of Metaphor

April 5, 2001

Good writing uses metaphor. Metaphor "transfers" or "carries across" ideas. Metaphor is used when we notice how something resembles another. If we notice and make a comparison we are using metaphor. If we use them well, our writing will carry more meaning and emotion."

Three Kinds of Metaphor

Metaphor: Some people are mountains, unreachable and serene. We compare humans to mountains directly.

Simile: Some others are like mountains, strong and silent watchers. In simile, the comparison uses the words "like" or "as." Simile is a special kind of metaphor.

Personification: The mountains look down and pity the poor people below. In this example, the "mountains" have taken on human qualities. This is personification.

Writing Exercise:

Think about a period of time in your life. Examples of these could include, attending school, raising your children, working at a job, or being a child. Describe this period as like a journey on a road. Where did it take you? When did it start? Use three metaphors in a short paragraph about this period in your life. (try to use one metaphor, one simile, and one personification if you can)


The road we take while raising our children is a hard one, complete with switchbacks, hairpin turns, and sudden detours.


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