Raymond Carver's "Are These Actual Miles?" Q&A

Raymond Carver's Are These Actual Miles? Q & A
Raymond Carver, an American writer, published his first collection of short-stories in 1976 entitled Will You Please Be Quiet, Please!. These short-stories were originally written between 1960-1974, and were written during the period that Carver termed as "Bad Raymond Days." Raymond Carver was an alcoholic, but he got sober after he was hospitalized three times from June 1976 to February or March of 1977 due to his alcoholism. 

Are These Actual Miles? is a prime example of Carver's literary style; he is known for his minimalist fiction and stories depicting the realities facing the American working class. This short story was most likely written in 1971. 

Who is narrating the story?

This story is narrated by a third party; however, the narrator chooses to make Leo the prime focus of the day. This is evident in the first line of the story: "Fact is the car needs to be sold in a hurry, and Leo sends Toni out to do it" (583). 

What is the main conflict of the story?

The main conflict of the story is bankruptcy. Just like other mid-century Americans, Leo and Toni have fallen prey to consumerism, and lived so far above their means that they are now faced with
losing everything. "But there were some big parties back there, some fine travel. To Reno and Tahoe, at eighty with the top down and the radio playing. Food, that one of the big items. They gorged on food. He figures thousands on luxury items alone" (586). On Monday, they are to appear in bankruptcy court to hear their fate. The convertible is the last luxury item that they have, everything else has been repossessed by their creditors, "The portable air-conditioner and the appliances, new washer and dryer," were taken back a few weeks before (585-6). The only reason the car hasn't been repossessed is because Toni went back to selling after the kids were in school and paid off the car within a year (keep in mind they have only had the car for three years). Leo fears that if they keep the car, either the court will take it or one of their creditors will put a lien on it (the letter of intention to file bankruptcy had been mails the day before)(583). Leo blames Toni and Toni blames Leo for their current predicament. The man that Toni ends up selling the car to, sees bankruptcy as the ultimate embarrassment: "he'd rather be classified a robber or a rapist than a bankrupt" (588). 

Toni grew up poor, so when she became an adult she never wanted to be poor again; thus, explaining her hustler spirit. "Toni would go to the grocery and put in every-thing she saw. 'I had to do without when I was a kid,' she says. 'These kids are not going to do without'...she joins all of the book clubs. 'We never had books around when I was a kid..."(586). Was it her fault that they were now losing everything? It is unclear, but as the saying goes "it takes two to tango."    

What is the story's time-frame?

This story takes place over twelve or so hours. It begins around 4pm ("Toni dresses up. It's four o'clock in the afternoon" (583)),and ends at dawn the next morning ("He looks at the bedroom door, outlined now in the faint outside light" (590)). 

How is Toni described?

When he first met Toni he was overtaken by how smart and personable she was, "she used to sell children's encyclopedias door to door. She signed him up, even though he didn't have kids" (583). She was always a go-getter, and a great saleswoman. Toni is "a tall woman with a small high bust, broad hips and thighs" (584). 

How is Leo described?

Leo worked six days a week at the fiber-glass plant, while Toni was at home with the kids. He was the sole breadwinner until Toni went back to work after the kids were old enough to go to school. She no longer needed to rely on him financially. He is an average man, "he scratches a pimple on his neck" (584) while Toni oozes charisma, there seems to be an apparent mismatch between them, at least physically. Leo is stressed, and nervous about their upcoming court date, and is also desperate to sell the convertible before it is taken from them; "this deal has to be cash, and it has to be done tonight" (583). Leo feels emasculated, his wife is having to sell the car because she is a better salesman than he is, plus "it's her car, they call it her car, and that makes it all the worse" (584). He is supposed to be the man of the house, the provider, and the protector; but, he has failed at his husband and fatherly duties. 

What function does Ernest Williams play?

Ernest Williams is a sort of moral pillar, he is their neighbor and seemingly knows everything that is going on. "Once, last winter, during the holidays, when Toni and the kids were visiting his mother's, Leo brought a woman home. Nine o'clock the next morning, a cold foggy Saturday, Leo walked the woman to the car, surprised Ernest Williams on the sidewalk with a newspaper in his hand. Fog drifted, Ernest Williams stared, then slapped the paper against his leg, hard" (584). Slapping the paper against his leg was Ernest Williams way of showing his disapproval and criticism of Leo, and it had the desired affect on Leo as he still hunches his shoulders in shame and/or guilt. "Ernest Williams turns the hose in their direction. He stares at them through the spray of water. Leo has an urge to cry out a confession" (584). 

How does Toni feel about Leo?

Toni feels resentful towards Leo, which comes out in a passive aggressive comment: "'You look fine,' he says. 'You look great. I'd buy a car from you anytime.' 'But you don't have money,' she says, peering into the mirror. She pats her hair, frowns. 'And your credit's lousy. You're nothing.'" (583). I would call this a Freudian Slip-"a slip of the tongue that is motivated by and reveals some unconscious aspect of the mind" (Merriam-Webster). She then tries to justify her comments by saying that she was only teasing, but her comments were in fact hostile. Betty W. Phillips, Ph.D., Psychology states it best in her article Teasing: Just Joking?: "Hostile teasing, picking, biting humor or sarcasm too often are insults poorly disguised as humor. They also are "double bind" communications which cause confusion, frustration, personal pain and anger in the recipient. The disguised message runs as follows. 'I'm making fun of you and belittling you, but it's only humor. I don't really mean what I just said. There's something wrong with you when you don't accept my statements at face value as teasing even though my words are in fact critical and hostile.'" She believes that he is worthless, "You take it out, you'd be lucky to get three, four hundred and we both know it. Honey, you'd be lucky if you didn't have to pay them" (583); he has already failed, so it is up to her to fix things. 

Did Toni cheat on Leo?

I'm not sure, it certainly appears that she did, but she could have just been trying to get back at him by letting him believe that she had. She ends up going out with the sales manager for a drink and dinner in order to close the deal, or so she wants him to believe. Toni calls twice, the first time is at around 10pm, and the second call is not long after the first and she tells him that she was able to sell the car for $625. Leo calls the restaurant just after Toni hangs up on him for the second time that night and finds that the restaurant had already closed. A little while later, a car slows down in front of the house but then speeds away. The phone rings about three hours later, but there is only a dial tone (588). Was that Toni and the sales manager? Who knows, but it is very suspicious; either way she wants to punish him. She came home at dawn and she is drunk and groggy. She grins at Leo when she comes in and he "cocks his fist" she tells him to "go ahead," after a moment she lunges at him and tears his shirt down the front and screams "Bankrupt!...you son of a bitch" (588-9). She goes into the bedroom and passes out on the bed, Leo undresses her and when he gets to her underwear, he "looks at them closely under the light, and throws them into a corner" (589). He is certainly suspicious of her. Leo then notices that the convertible has pulled into the driveway, he goes out to find a man in a white linen suit had left Toni's makeup bag on the porch. Leo opened the door and the man said to him: "I have to go. No offense. I buy and sell cars, right? The lady left her makeup. She's a fine lady, very refined" (589). The man saying to Leo "no offense" leads me to believe that she did in fact sleep with him. 

Why does Leo keep repeating "Monday"?

When Toni leaves, Leo yells after her "Things are going to be different!...We start over Monday. I mean it" (585). This is an act of desperation on his part, he wants her to believe him, but he is still trying to convince himself that things are going to be different. Leo tells the sales manager "Monday" (589), meaning Monday will change everything, he and Toni will have a fresh start. He doesn't need anyone feeling sorry for him, because this chapter is about to come to an end and they will live happily ever after. 

What are Blue Chip stamps?

Blue Chip stamps are a type of loyalty program that was popular in the 1960s. Customers would purchase items at participating stores, which were usually grocery stores, gasoline stations, and pharmacy chains, and they would be given a number of stamps proportional to their purchase. Customers would take these stamps and place them in a book, in order to, eventually redeem them at a special redemption store for items like: lawn furniture, dining tables, table ware, etc. Today, loyalty cards have taken the place of these stamps. 

Why are their kid's staying with Leo's mother?

I believe that they are staying with their grandmother, because Leo is embarrassed by his current predicament and doesn't want his kids to see him as the broken-down man that he has become. Leo even reflects on a time when he was a kid, his dad pointed out a beautiful house and admiringly told his son that the house belonged to Finch, he had been in bankruptcy "at least twice" (585). His father was in awe of the fact that the man was able to have this beautiful house even though he was unable or unwilling to pay his bills. Leo also wanted to protect some of his children's items (i.e. their bikes) from the court, so he took them to his mother's house for safe keeping (585). 

What does the guy mean when he says, "Between friends, are these actual miles?" (590).

The man is asking if the odometer is correct, probably because the mileage is lower than he would expect it to be for a three-year-old car. Mechanical Odometers could be easily manipulated by consumers (If you have ever watched the movie Matilda then you might remember Matilda's father reversing the mileage on one of his cars), this is done to increase it's market value. This was a huge issue for consumers before they became digital, the last car to have a mechanical odometer was a Pontiac Grand Prix in 2003. The man just wanted to know if he had been cheated or not. 

Is Leo suicidal?

At one point in the story, Leo seems to be detached from reality, "he should to the the basement, stand on the utility sink, and hang himself with his belt. He understands he is willing to be dead" (586). He thinks about suicide, but he doesn't actually want to go through with it. 

What is the significance of the glasses that have playing cards printed on them?

Leo and Toni gambled with their lifestyle and lost, metaphorically speaking. At one point, their life was good and fun, but now lady luck has turned sour. 

What is the meaning of Leo's dream about the gray-haired woman?

"He shivers for a time and thinks of going to bed, though he knows he will dream of a large woman with gray hair. In the dream he is always leaning over tying his shoelaces. When he straightens up she looks at him, and he bends to tie again. He looks at his hand. It makes a fist as he watches" (587). No matter what he does it is not good enough. He is not good enough, and the realization of that makes him angry. This old woman makes him feel the exact same way that his wife makes him feel, inadequate. 

What is the symbolism of Toni's stretch marks?

"He runs his fingers over her hip and feels the stretch marks there. They are like roads, and he traces them in her flesh. He runs his fingers back and forth, first one, then another. They run everywhere in her flesh, dozens, perhaps hundreds of them" (590). Her stretchmarks are the equivalent of their relationship, they are the road map of their past and the roadway to their future. 

Raymond Carver's Are These Actual Miles? Q & A Sources

Ode- Definition and Examples

What is an Ode?

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, an ode is "a poem in which a person expresses a strong feeling of love or respect for someone or something," and is often associated with lyrical poetry.

Odes were traditionally accompanied by music and dance, but over time that stopped.

The earliest English odes known to us are Epithalamion and Prothalamion written by Edmund Spenser.

Triadic Structure: Strophe, Antistrophe, and Epode

Traditionally, an ode is comprised of three main parts: the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode. In Greek tradition, a chorus is used to give commentary on the actions throughout the play or poem.

In an ode, the strophe ("the turn") is the first half of the debate or argument set forth by the chorus. It is usually two or more lines that are repeated in a unit.

The antistrophe ("the turn back") is the other half of the debate or argument that was set forth in the strophe. It is used to further explore the topic, and complicates the given issue so much that the character is confused about what the right course of action is.

The Strophe and the antistrophe are always in the same meter, but the epode is often in a slightly different meter.

The epode is where the chorus delivers the final summary line of the poem.


Ode by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ode On A Distant Prospect of Eton College Thomas Gray
Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood by William Wordsworth
An Ode for Him by Robert Herrick
Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats
Ode on Melancholy by John Keats
Ode on the Poetical Character by William Collins
Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats
Ode to Bill by John Ashbery
Ode to Evening by William Collins
Ode to Psyche by John Keats
Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley
The Progress of Poesy by Thomas Gray
The Bard by Thomas Gray
 Alexander's Feast by Alexander's Feast
Ode on the Death of Duke Wellington by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Pindaric Ode

This form of ode was developed by Pindar, a Greek professional lyricist of the 5th Century BC. Pindar formulated his odes by using the Triadic Structure, which was first introduced to us by Stesichorus (7th and 6th Century BC). It is important to envision this type of ode as if it were a Greek play. The strophe is where the chorus sets forth the argument that will be discussed during the poem. The chorus is split up equally between the strophe and the antistrophe. The strophe chorus will move from right to left as they recite the two or more repeated lines; they stop once they reach the center of the stage. Next, the antistrophe deliver their lines while moving from left to right until they meet up with the strophe at the center of the stage. The last line of the poem is the epode or the summary line, which is in a different meter. The chorus all recite this last line together.

Pindar's odes were often written for a specific occasion and make reference to personal situations and events that would have been well understood at the time, but readers of our time are left clueless. Pindar's odes were imitated by some, most notable are: The Progress of Poesy and The Bard, written by Thomas Gray in 1757.

The literary form known as Pindarics was introduced by Abraham Cowley when he published his work Pindarique Odes, in 1656. His odes were irregularly rhymed and the lines and stanza varied in lengths. He chose to do this as a way of paying homage to Pindar, but not to imitate his exact writing style. Some examples are: Alexander's Feast by John Dryden, Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood by Williams Wordsworth, Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ode on the Death of Duke Wellington by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats.  

Horatian Ode

This form of ode was developed by Horace, a Latin poet of the 1st Century BC, and is comprised of stanzas with two or four lines. Horace's odes are more intimate and reflective than other ode practitioners. He would address his odes to friends, and would be about friendship, love, and the art of poetry writing. Horace adapted the Greek meter of Pindar, so that the meter was more standardized; this caused his odes to become more detached and deliberate, which in turn created a more elegant ode. Horace's tone is more sober and contemplative with a touch of irony and humor than his predecessor Pindar, whose odes tended to be more impassioned. 

Horace's ode form inspired Andrew Marvell's Horatian Ode Upon Cromwell's Return From Ireland, written in 1650.   

Sapphic Ode

This form is named for the ancient Greek lyric poet Sappho (625 BC-570 BC). There are only fragments of her poems left now, but her meter is quite distinct. Her style was introduced to Greek and Roman poets by Horace, who regularly used Sapphics in his odes. In Modern times, Sapphics have been used by poets such as Ezra Pound. The form is comprised of any number of stanzas, but each stanza had four lines. 

Traditionally, Saphhics used a quantitative meter, which mirrored how ancient Greeks spoke; "syllables were either long or short, depending on vowel length and ending sound" (Sapphic: Poetic Form). 

The Saphhic style is made up of trochees and dactyls. A trochee is a metrical foot that contains one stressed syllable followed by one unstressed one. A dactyl is a metrical foot that contains one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed ones. Each stanza in sapphic meter is structured as follows:

2 trochees / 1 dactyl / 2 trochees
2 trochees / 1 dactyl / 2 trochees
2 trochees / 1 dactyl / 2 trochees
1 dactyl / 1 trochee

This form allows for a variant: two stressed syllables replace both the second foot and the last foot of each line.

The meter of this form, with its inherent starts and stops, creates overwhelming emotion when read aloud, which is intensified by the words chosen. 

"Ode." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.
"What Are Strophe and Antistrophe in Literature?." Classroom Synonym. Amber Hathaway. Web. 17 Oct. 2016. <http://penandthepad.com/strophe-antistrophe-literature-2350.html>

"Pindaric ode". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 17 Oct. 2016 <https://www.britannica.com/art/Pindaric-ode>.

"Horatian ode". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 18 Oct. 2016 <https://www.britannica.com/art/Horatian-ode>.

Wikipedia contributors. "Sappho." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 Oct. 2016. Web. 13 Oct. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sappho&oldid=744203895>.

"Sapphic: Poetic Form." Poets.org. Poets. September 24, 2004. Web. 18 Oct. 2016. <https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/sapphic-poetic-form>.

Picture Attribution
Bust of the lyric poet Pindar. Roman copy from original of the mid-5 century B.C. Napoli, Museo Archeologico Nazionale. Photo: Stas Kozlovsky. Place: Exhibition at Coliseo (Rome, Italy). Time of photo: 8th June 2006
Horace Sculture: By D.N.R. (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Sappho Bust: photographed by Marie-Lan Nguyen in 2011. The bust was photgraphed at the Palazzo dei Conservatori, Hall of the Geese

Elegy- Definition and Examples

What is an Elegy?

An elegy is a type of poem that laments the death of public figure, a friend, or loved one. In Modern times (16th Century to present) , elegies can be written in any meter.

In Classical literature, elegies were poems that were any poems written in elegiac meter (or elegiac couplets); the first line is in dactylic hexameter and the second line is in dactylic pentameter. In classical literature, elegies were not restricted to lamenting death.

Dactylic Hexameter- It is commonly called the "heroic hexameter." Strictly, it is made up of six feet. Each foot would be a dactyl (a long and two short syllables). In classic literature, a spondee (two long syllables) could be substituted for the dactyl's in the first four feet. The fifth foot is usually a dactyl. The sixth foot can be either a trochee (a long then short syllable) or a spondee.

Dactylic Pentameter- Is made up of a stressed (or long) syllable followed by two unstressed (or short) syllables. This meter sequence is repeated five times.

Elegy Examples

Duineser Elegien by Rainer Maria Rilke
In Memory of W.B. Yeats by W.H. Auden
O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray
When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd by Walt Whitman
Lycidas by John Milton
Adonais by Percy Bysshe Shelley
To An Athlete Dying Young by A.E. Houseman
My Father Moved Through dooms of Love by E.E.Cummings
Graveyard in Nantucket by John Quaker
Elegy For Jane: My Student Thrown by a Horse by Theodore Roethke
Elegy XIX. To His Mistress Going to Bed by John Donne
An Elegy upon the Death of the Dean of Paul's Dr. John Donne by Thomas Carew

What is an Elegy? Sources

Allegory-Definition and Examples

What is an Allegory Definition and Examples

An Allegory is a literary device that is used to create a complex, multi-layered narrative. A writer will use material objects, people, and/or actions to express abstract ideas, situations, or events.

Allegories come in a variety of forms, but the most common are fable, parable, apologue, and satire.

In Modern times, allegory is used to discuss politics ad historical events.

Plato, Cicero, Apuleius, and Augustine were known to use Allegories, but the device did not flourish until the Middle Ages where it was found in sustained narratives.

Examples of Allegorical Literature

The most influential Allegory from the Medieval period is Le Roman de la Rose (this link will take you to the poem's text, but it is in French). This poem is attributed to Guillaume de Lorris, but virtually nothing is known about him.

Absalom and Achitophel by John Dryden (example of a satirical allegory)

Animal Farm by George Orwell (this allegorical narrative is disguised as a fable)

Beloved by Toni Morrison

The Divine Comedy by Dante

Everyman it is unknown who authored this morality play

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe

The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne

What is an Allegory Definition and Examples Sources

Conceit- Definition and Examples

What is a conceit?

According to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a conceit is an elaborate or strained metaphor. The Encyclopedia Britannica elaborates on that definition by explaining that a conceit is a "figure of speech, usually a simile or metaphor, that forms an extremely ingenious or fanciful parallel between apparently dissimilar or incongruous objects or situations" (Britannica). Conceits are supposed to stun the reader with their cleverness and wit. A comparison becomes a conceit when a writer takes the comparison to extremes by forcing the reader to admit that two things are similar when in actuality they are not at all alike.

A good example of this is John Donne's The Flea:

"Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, nay more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed and marriage temple is;" (lines 10-13)

Donne compares the flea to a marriage bed. The flea takes the blood from the lover and the beloved and mixes them in it's belly to make a baby. He is saying that since their blood already lives together within the flea, they are already bound to each other. The cliche blood is thicker than water springs to mind; blood is more binding than a marriage certificate, so they are already married in his mind, thanks to the flea.

Use of Conceits in Renaissance Poetry

Conceits were especially popular among Renaissance Poets. Conceits were commonly used to show how much one lover suffered at the hands of his beloved by composing a series of exaggerated comparisons between her and some physical object. 

An example of this can be found in Edmund Spenser's Epithalamion:

"Her goodly eyes lyke Saphyres shinning bright,
Her forehead yvory white,
Her cheekes lyke apples which the sun hath rudded,
Her lips lyke cherryes charming men to byte,
Her brest like to a bowle of creame uncrudded,
Her paps lyke lyllies budded,
Her snowie necke lyke to a marble towre,
And all her body like a pallace fayre," (Epithalamion, lines 171-178)

My interpretation of the above lines 

Her eyes are like sapphires,
her forehead is as white as ivory, 
her cheeks are as red as ripened apples, 
her lips are like cherries, 
her chest is as creamy white as un-curdled cream, 
her breasts or nipples (paps) are like lilies that in the early stages of blooming, 
her neck is as white as a marble tower, 
and her body is like a beautiful palace

William Shakespeare offers us another example of a Renaissance conceit, in Sonnets 130:

"My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head." (lines 1-4)

This sonnet is considered to be an anti-Petrarchan sonnet, because of the language chosen to describe one's beloved; here Shakespeare describes his mistress in less than flattering terms, in a Petrarchan sonnet the mistress would be as beautiful as the most beautiful objects. Shakespeare likens his beloved in the following ways:

Her eyes are not at all like the sun, meaning either dull and lifeless or dark and dim.
Her lips are no where near as red as coral.
Her breasts are a dull grayish brown color (dun).
Her hair is as black and wiry as black wires.

Shakespeare portrays his beloved in a more realistic way; instead of with the rose-colored glasses that Petrarch always described his beloved. 

Use of Conceits by Metaphysical Poets

The Metaphysical poets of the 17th Century chose to use conceits in a more intricate and intellectual way. Commonly, they used conceits to set up an analogy between one entity's spiritual qualities and an object of the physical world. This analogy would occasionally control the whole structure of the poem (Britannica).

An example of how Metaphysical poets used conceits can be found in John Donne's A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning:

"If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th' other do.

And though it in the center sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home" (25-32)

Here Donne uses a conceit to compare the two lover's souls to a draftsman's compass. Each leg of the compass represents one lover's soul. One soul is the grounded one that creates a fixed point. The other soul may wander away, but is always connected to the other. The moving soul orbits the fixed soul. The fixed soul supports the wandering soul. They are two halves of a whole; without one, the other would not be able to function properly.

"conceit". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 17 May. 2016

Donne, John. "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning." The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Vol. B The Sixteenth Century/The Early Seventeenth Century. 8th ed. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: Norton, 2006. 1275-6.

Donne, John. "The Flea." The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Vol. B The Sixteenth Century/The Early Seventeenth Century. 8th ed. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: Norton, 2006. 1263.

Shakespeare, William. "Sonnets 130." The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Vol. B The Sixteenth Century/The Early Seventeenth Century. 8th ed. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: Norton, 2006. 1074.

Spenser, Edmund. "Epithalamion." The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Vol. B The Sixteenth Century/The Early Seventeenth Century. 8th ed. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: Norton, 2006. 907-916. 

Picture Attribution

"compass" by Vivek Raj. Creative Common's License. I have not altered the picture in any way other than scaling it down so that it would fit alongside my content. 

Simile- Definition and Examples

What is a simile?

A simile is a figure of speech in which two unlike things are compared using the connecting words like or as to form the comparison. A simile is similar to a metaphor, but are often considered cliches.

Simile Examples

She is like a rose.

They are like two peas in a pod.

The house is as white as snow.

Her skin looks like leather.

She is like an angel.

Her voice is as soothing as a melody.

He embraced her like she was dying.

They live each day like it is going to be their last.

His smile is as toothy as a beaver's.

He laughs like a hyena.

Her love is like the heavens, never-ending.

He was as blind as a bat.

"Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what your're going to get." (From: Forrest Gump)

They were as busy as bees.

The body-builder is as strong as an ox.

Are there any famous literature examples of a simile?

"The late afternoon sky bloomed in the window for a moment like the blue honey of the Mediterranean."
-The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

"A shudder, like the leathern eyelid of a lizard, flickered over the intensity of his gaze..." 
-To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

"Lyke as a huntsman after weary chace"
-Amoretti: Sonnet 67 by Edmund Spenser

Metaphor- Definition and Examples

What is a Metaphor?

A metaphor is a literary device that is used to make an implicit, implied, or hidden comparison between two things that are unrelated but share some common characteristics. A metaphor differs from a simile in the way that it is formed; simile's use like or as to develop a comparison, whereas a metaphor does not. 

A simile states that A is like B
A metaphor states that A is B or B is A 

A simile asserts* a similarity of the two objection in a comparison. 
A Metaphor asserts the two objects in a comparison.
(Columbia Encyclopedia 6th edition) 

A metaphor is sometimes used as a way to give readers a fresh perspective or understanding of the things being compared.

What is an Extended Metaphor?

An extended metaphor is a literary device that is used to make an implicit, implied, or hidden comparison between two things that continues throughout a series of sentences, a paragraph, or a few lines of a poem. 

What is a Mixed Metaphor?

A mixed metaphor is a literary device that uses a succession of incongruous* comparisons. It is often used to parody the metaphor itself.

Other Types of Metaphors 




Commonly Used Metaphors in Everyday Speech

night owl

early bird

life is a journey

music to one's ears

clear skies

that was a breeze

a heart of gold

busy as a bee

fly like a bird

light of my life

What are some famous examples of a metaphor?

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their entrances and their exits; 
-William Shakespeare's As You Like It (Jaques- Act 2, Scene 7)

She is all states, and all princes, I.
-John Donne The Sun Rising

And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
-William Shakespeare Sonnet 35, line 4

What are some examples of an Extended Metaphor

And witnessed exultation--
Faces that used to curse me, scowl for scowl,
Shine and lift up with passion of oblation,
Seraphic for an hour; though they were foul.
-Wilfred Owen Apologia Pro Poemate Meo, lines 13-16

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimmed. 
Buy thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:  
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. 
-William Shakespeare Sonnet 18  

Through the pregnant universe rumbles life's terrific thunder,
And Earth's bowels quake with terror; strange and terrible storms break,
Lightning-torches flame the heavens, kindling souls of men, thereunder:
Africa! Long ages sleeping, O my motherland, awake!

Right so your selfe were caught in cunning snare
Of a deare foe, and thralled to his love:
In whose streight bands ye now captive are
So firmely, that ye never may remove.
-Edmund Spenser Amoretti: Sonnet 71 


Side Notes

*Assert- state a fact or belief confidently and forcefully
*Incongruous- strange because of not agreeing with what is usual or expected

"Metaphor." Online Etymology Dictonary. 22 Apr. 2016. <http://etymonline.com/index.php?term=metaphor&allowed_in_frame=0>.

"Metaphor." Literary Devices: Definition and Example of Literary Terms. 22 Apr 2016. <http://literarydevices.net/metaphor/>.

Wikipedia contributors. "Metaphor." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 Apr. 2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphor>.

Juxtaposition- Definition and Examples

What is a juxtaposition?

A juxtaposition occurs when two or more ideas, images, places, or characters-along with their characteristics or actions-are placed side by side, in order to compare and contrast them. This literary device helps to add a vividness to a given image, idea, place, or character. 

What are some examples of a juxtaposition?

Saint vs. Sinner: 

A kindly, older nun was on her way to a parishioner's home to offer comfort during a trying time when she was robbed at gunpoint by a gruff man dressed in dark clothes. 

Heaven vs. Hell:

Heaven is an idealized place where all the good people go; whereas, hell is a dark, tortuous place that people go to if they have sinned. Desirable versus Undesirable.

Nature vs. Colonization:

The wind was gently blowing the limbs of the great oak tree just outside our little cottage. The sky was a light blue with little puffy clouds scattered here and there. It was a peaceful place. One day, I was watching a beautiful little bird feeding her young when I heard the engine of a large machine. I began to panic, not knowing what was happening. Then, all of a sudden, I saw the massive yellow machine as it bulldozed all of the great oaks in it's path. The smoke from the machine filled the air and my lungs. I could hear the voices of men yelling to one another, and even laughter. The smoke cleared a bit and I saw that the tree that I had just been watching was now on the ground, the nest and the baby birds were now laid broken and dead on the ground next to the tree.

Death vs. a newborn baby

The hospital is a mecca of happiness and sadness. In one wing of the hospital, you could hear the labored screams of mothers bringing their babies into the world, and then if they are lucky, you will hear the crying of the babies as they are born. This new life brings with it love and hope for a better tomorrow. On the other side of the hospital, is the trauma center. Here, people are crying because their loved ones are injured or dying. There is hope, but that hope can be taken away in an instant.

What are some famous literary examples of a juxtaposition?

John Milton's Paradise Lost. God and Satan are compared and contrasted

Charles Dicken's A Tale of Two Cities
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way-in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only" (1).   
Antigone- Antigone vs. her father King Creon

William Shakespeare regularly uses juxtaposition in his plays:

Othello- Desdemona vs. Iago
The Merchant of Venice- Portia as a man vs. as a woman
Macbeth- Lady Macbeth vs. Macbeth
Romeo and Juliet- compares Juliet appearance with that of an Ethiopian.

The Tempest- compares the storm with Prospero

What are some modern examples of a juxtaposition?

Twilight Saga- Vampires vs. Werewolves

Beautiful Creatures series: Light Casters vs. Dark Casters

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1993. 
"Juxtapose." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2016. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/juxtapose>.
"Juxtaposition." Literary Devices: Definitions and Examples of Literary Terms. 19 Apr. 2016. <http://literarydevices.net/juxtaposition>.