Montreal: Similes, Metaphors, and Analogies

So this past week I got the privilege of spending some time in Montreal. After being in Paris for a couple days this past summer, I can see why they call Montreal the Paris of the North. The narrow cobbled streets, the apartment buildings with many windows, and even the Notre-Dame Cathedral are much the same as in Paris. Of course, they are different, with Montreal being at least 1000 years younger than Paris, but walking through the cramped streets of Old Montreal, you felt like you were transported to Europe. It was interesting to make a comparison between the two cities.


Above: Buildings in Paris (left) and Montreal (right)

Below: Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris (left) and Montreal (right)

In writing, we have special expressions to describe these comparisons. Most people will know them, of course, but I figured I’d explain about them and about a couple others.

Simile: a comparison between two things using the word like or as. These are possibly the most used yet most unrecognized expression in the English language.

He roared like a lion.
My heart beat as fast as a gazelle

Metaphor: A comparison between two objects, similar to a simile, except there is no use of like or as. A metaphor can be stated outright “He is a rock” or it can be subtly implied. A famous metaphor is created by John Green in his bestselling YA book, the Fault in our Stars. Augustus Waters, the secondary character and love interest of the protagonist, has a very interesting metaphor: put a cigarette in your mouth, but don’t light it. You put the thing that kills you between your teeth but you don’t give it the power to kill you. Read more about this book here.

Analogy: a comparison between the features of two or more things. (e.g. school is a prison, the students are the prisoners and the teachers the wardens.) Related to a metaphor, but not quite the same. This is comparing parts, where a metaphor looks more at a whole.

These are all called literary devices, and are used greatly in the English world, a lot of the time without people realizing it. They are often used in essay and commentary writing, and high school teachers love it when you can identify them.

They are used in all kinds of works, and there are even several in this post. I wrote them in by accident, and they’re rather deceptive. They sneak in when you least expect it.


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