10 Literary Devices That Use Comparison

Literary devices that compare things help us understand one thing by relating it to something else. These devices make descriptions clearer and more vivid. Here are some common literary devices that compare things:

1- Simile

A simile compares two different things by using the words “like” or “as.” It shows how one thing resembles another. It helps to portray a clearer picture in the mind of the readers.

Example: He eats like a bird.

Example in literature

“Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel

“Her face was like a porcelain plate.”

This simile depicts the character’s face equal to porcelain plate, which imports it being very smooth, pure and unimprenable. The contrast demonstrates the crystal transparent reflection of her delicate beauty and conveys the innuendos of her fragility, which might be subtly inclined aid to visually perceive.

See also: Simile vs Metaphor

2- Metaphor

A metaphor directly states that one thing is another, helping to draw a stronger connection between two ideas.

Example: Time is a thief.

Example in literature

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

“The townspeople are the caterpillar in a cocoon, waiting to break out.”

By using analogy, the inhabitants of that town are equated to the caterpillar in the cocoon. The question raises is whether they are presently in a transformation period which may signify that things may change and they may potentially develop. The metaphor reflects the social and moral aspects of the town changing over the course of this novel. The town witnesses a number of changes, starting off as an innocent, unengaged community and ending up as a new, self-governing people.

3- Analogy

An analogy makes a comparison between two things for the purpose of explanation or clarification. It is more detailed than a simile or a metaphor.

Example: Just as a sword is the weapon of a warrior, a pen is the weapon of a writer.

Example in literature

“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green

“You can love someone so much…But you can never love people as much as you can miss them.”

Here, the analogy makes a comparison between loving someone and missing them. It highlights that the intensity of someone can be stronger and more dominant than even the feelings of love when one is not there. It adds emotional depth to the characters’ relationships and highlights the consequences of loss and separation.

4- Personification

Personification gives human traits to non-human or inanimate objects. This can also be seen as a type of comparison, comparing qualities of a person to something non-human.

Example: The wind whispered through the trees.

“1984” by George Orwell

“The clock struck thirteen.”

The writer extends human ability into clock. It is unnatural as clocks are not capable of doing such action. Striking thirteen is not just an indirect way to personify the clock, but also to highlight the novel theme of classically useless and oppressive time mode by implying that time works in awe-inspiring manner in a totalitarian regime.

5- Hyperbole

Hyperbole uses extreme exaggeration to make a point or show emphasis. It compares the actual situation to something much more dramatic to highlight real feelings or effects.

Example: I have told you a million times.

Example in literature

“The Adventures of Pinocchio” by Carlo Collodi

“He cried so much that his tears filled the room to the brim.”

The use of hyperbole amplifies the volume of Pinocchio tears, compelling him to think that the reason must be the great depth of his feeling or repentance. The overtones statement upgrades the scene emotional weight and stress the fact of his acts and situations that he finds himself.

6- Allegory

An allegory is an extended metaphor where characters, events, and details within a story can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically moral, political, or spiritual.

Example in literature

“Animal Farm” by George Orwell

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

The quote represents the corruption and hypocrisy of politics following the Russian Revolution, which was electrified by the author’s personal experience. In that comparison, it reveals that all animals have the equal quality, and it is just a myth but in the real life of Soviet that someone (pigs) misinterpreted the quality to use it as upper class and the heroes are like those Soviet leaders.

7- Allusion

An allusion is a brief and indirect reference to a person, place, thing, or idea of historical, cultural, literary, or political significance. It does not describe in detail the person or thing to which it refers. It is just a passing comment.

Example: He was a real Romeo with the ladies.

Example in literature

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot

“No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be.”

Here, the writer depicts the speaker, Prufrock, the way that was the prince of Denmark. By such a comparison Prufrock shows his emotions which tell us about his passivity and passenger-ship, which contrasts him with the tragic and decisive Hamlet’s figure.

8- Symbolism

Symbolism uses symbols, be they words, people, marks, locations, or abstract ideas to represent something beyond the literal. It often compares and connects deeper meanings with everyday objects.

Example in literature

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us.”

The use of green light is symbolism of Gatsby’s hopes and dreams regarding the future that will be mainly with Daisy. Through the image of a physical light Daisy’s dock it reminds Germans that an attainable, ideal that they are pursuing, is impossible.

9- Juxtaposition

Juxtaposition places two elements close together or describes them together, to highlight contrasts or similarities. This comparison often aims to create surprise or irony.

Example: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Example in literature

“A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

Dickens underlies the open chapter of the novel by the grouping of contrasts depicting the society of two countries during the French Revolution. The point is that it’s the extremes—the rich and the poor, peace and the conflict, hopes and the despair which people lived with.

10- Synecdoche

Synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versa. This form of comparison allows an entire idea or concept to be expressed by something much smaller.

Example: “All hands on deck.”

Example in literature

“Moby Dick” by Herman Melville

“Ahab and all his boat’s crew seemed asleep but the Parsee.”

In the novel, Melville employs tactic of synecdoche in several instances, like crew referred to as boat, or boat and its parts stand for the ship. 

This usage suggests the scene more vividly by comparing the part (the boat’s crew) to the whole (everyone aboard the ship). It focuses on the microcosm within the macrocosm of the Pequod.

Final Words

These devices enrich writing by making connections that are easy to understand or that add depth to the description. By using similes, metaphors, analogies, personifications, and hyperboles, writers can create memorable and engaging content that resonates with their readers.

Literary Devices That Compare Things
Literary Devices That Compare Things

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