Sai Gopal- Metaphor and Film

Continuing on from the introduction, Whitttock in the book first goes about explaining the concept of metaphors.

The author does so by by first trying to distinguish between the concepts of analogy and metaphor. He says that analogies form the basis of metaphors. He coins the phrase, similitude in dissimilitude to explain it.

He clarifies by saying that in case of analogies, the connections between the subject and the parallel case are accepted literally. However in case of metaphors, the connections between the tenor and the vehicle are understood figuratively.

He then tries to place the birth of metaphors in human experience. He says that metaphors are born at the frontier of human existence at the place where language with its inadequacies and our mental framework of classifications with its restrictions encounter unassimilated experiences.

He then goes about tracing the history of metaphors. He goes back to the period where metaphors were distrusted especially after the manifold works of metaphysical poets. The distrust was due to the fact that metaphors yoked together heterogeneous objects together. There was also the fear that some of the figurative meanings generated by metaphors could be illusory. The fear was that due to such meanings we could lose our grip on reality. While the author cheekily quotes Wallace Stevens by saying that reality is a cilche from which we escape by metaphor, he addresses this argument. The author argues that metaphors adjust our customary ways of thinking and contemplate fresh aspects and perspectives on the subject that are brought to light by metaphors.

The author then gives a few examples to the reader to identify metaphors in poems. He then goes on distinguish symbols from metaphors. While the author does say that the connections and the understanding of the said connections are the same in both the cases, the vehicle gains greater status in case of symbols.

He then goes on to say what are the uses of metaphors. He primarily lists six different uses. They are namely, decoration, emotional effect, concision, naming the unnamed, naming the unnamable and eliciting the reader’s own creativity.

He also lists out the principal forms by which metaphors are generated. He lists them out by recognising the fact that an exhaustive list i close to impossible and that his list is not the be all and end all. The forms are explicit comparison, identity assertion, indentity implied by substitution, juxtaposition, metonymy, synecdoche, objective correlation, distortion, rule disruption and parallelism.

Whittock, Trevor. “Concept of Poetic Metaphor.” Metaphor and Film. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. Print.


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