Figures of similarity figures of similarity
The Figures of Similarity are simile, metaphor, personification, allegory, and certain forms of synecdoche. It’s helpful to understand the features that are important to them all.

Figures of speech founded on similarity

From English Composition and Rhetoric by Alexander Bain:

I. The intellectual capacity to recognize similarity is a prime inventive power of the mind. 

A. This power of like to recall like varies in different individuals.
B. This fact is shown by the great abundance of comparisons that occur to some men; for example, the great poets.
1. Homer, speaking of the descent of Apollo from Olympus, says,
He came like night.

2. He describes the eloquence of Ulysses with the help of a similitude:

Soft as the fleeces of descending snows,

The copious accents fall with easy art;

Melting they fall, and sink into the heart!


II. The tracing of resemblances among the objects and events of the world is a constant avocation of the human mind.

A. In science, general notions are classed together on the basis of some feature that they possess in common. 
B.  For instance, we identify a great number of objects on the property of roundness, all else being different.
C.  Some sciences are expressly styled “comparative,” such as Comparative Anatomy and Comparative Grammar. 
1. The purpose of the Comparative Anatomy is to find out the points of community or likeness in the structure of animals.
2. The purpose of Comparative Grammar is to show the similarities occurring in the midst of diversities of languages.


III. Reasoning is often based on the similarity or identity of two or more things.

A.  A comparison is often intended to serve for an argument, as well as for an illustration.
B.  When we infer that the men now alive will die, it is because of their likeness in constitution to those that went before them.
C.  This is called reasoning by analogy.


IV. In compositions addressed to the Understanding — description, narration, and exposition — similitudes are used of to make the subjects more intelligible.

A.  If, for some reason or other, a subject is difficult to grasp, one way of assisting the mind is to bring forward something of the same kind that we already understand.
1.  Our knowledge of the familiar throws light upon the unfamiliar object.
a. Thus, the action of the heart, which is concealed from our view, may be made intelligible by comparison to a pump for supplying water to a town.
b. An event in ancient history may be illustrated by something that has happened in more recent times.
c. A man's character is brought home to us, when likened to that of some one that we already know.
d. We often make subjects mutually illustrative through their community of nature; thus painting and poetry, as fine arts, elucidate each other.
B.  A resemblance is not a figure of speech unless the things compared be different in kind.
1.  The comparison of Napoleon to Caesar is not a figure.
a. The comparison is literal and not figurative.
b. The subjects are of the same kind.
2.  The comparison of a great conqueror to a destructive conflagration, or a tempest, is a figure.
a. The things compared are different in nature.
b. However, they are sufficiently similar to render the one illustrative of the other.


V. In compositions addressed to the Feelings — oratory and poetry — resemblances are sought out to give greater intensity or impressiveness to the meaning.

For this purpose, the comparison should be to something that excites the feelings more strongly than the thing compared.
A.  Thus, Sir Philip Sidney, in endeavoring to give a lively idea of the rousing effect of the ballad of Chevy Chase, says,
 It stirs the heart like the sound of a trumpet.

B.  Chaucer’s description of the Squire contains several comparisons intended to intensify feeling:
Embrouded was he, as it were a mede,
All full of freshe floures white and rede;
Singing he was, or floyting all the day;
He was as freshe as is the moneth of May.

C.  The following simile from the Odyssey is calculated to give a more lively sense of the speaker’s sentiment of veneration:
I follow behind, as in the footsteps of a God.

D.  Aristotle uses metaphor to elevate the virtue of justice:
 Justice is more glorious than the Eastern Star

E. An example of a simile elevating a common subject to a poetic character, occurs in Tennyson’s description of the miller in “Enoch Arden.”
Him, like the working bee in blossom dust,
Blanched with his mill, they found.


VI. Many comparisons have a mixed effect, partly assisting the understanding, and partly giving rise to feeling.

Demosthenes likened the statesmanship of politicians such as his rival Æschines to old sores in the body, which erupt when a body’s general health happens to be disturbed.


VII. Besides enabling us to picture an object vividly, original comparisons cause an agreeable surprise.

A.  Delightful comparisons are often used in poetry and in the more poetical forms of descriptive and narrative composition.
The pleasant’st angling is to see the fish
Cut with her golden oars the silver stream,
And greedily devour the treacherous bait
So we angle for Beatrice...
— Shakespeare

B.  When comparisons have no other effect than the pleasure of surprise, they are often termed fanciful.
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies
— Byron

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