Literary Devices: Adage Examples in Literature

What is Adage?

An adage is a short and concise statement that expresses a general truth or a piece of wisdom gained through experience. Adages are often used to convey advice, moral lessons, or common sense observations about life or human nature. They are also known as proverbs, aphorisms, or sayings, and are usually passed down through generations by word of mouth.

Adages are a popular literary device that writers use to add depth and meaning to their works. They can be used to introduce a theme, provide commentary on a character’s actions, or emphasize the message of the story. Adages can also be used in everyday conversation to provide advice or wisdom to others.

Common Examples of adages include:

  • “A penny saved is a penny earned”
  • “Actions speak louder than words”
  • “All’s fair in love and war”
  • “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”
  • “You can’t judge a book by its cover”
  • “Honesty is the best policy”
  • “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”

Adages are used to convey complex ideas in a simple and memorable way. They are often rooted in cultural traditions and can reflect the values and beliefs of a society. As such, they can be a valuable tool for understanding the perspectives and worldviews of different cultures and communities.

Adage Examples in Literature

These are some examples of adages in literature:

  1. “All’s fair in love and war.” – This adage is a popular saying that means anything goes when it comes to love and war. It is used in various literature pieces, including John Lyly’s play, “Euphues and His England.”
  2. “Actions speak louder than words.” – This is a well-known adage that emphasizes the importance of deeds over promises. It is used in various literary works, including Shakespeare’s play “King Henry VI, Part 2.”
  3. “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” – This adage means that you shouldn’t form an opinion based solely on appearances. It is used in Harper Lee’s novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
  4. “A penny saved is a penny earned.” – This is a popular adage that means it’s better to save money than to spend it frivolously. It is used in Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanac.”
  5. “The early bird catches the worm.” – This adage means that those who are proactive and get things done early will have an advantage over those who procrastinate. It is used in William Camden’s “Remaines of a Greater Worke Concerning Britaine.”
  6. “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” – This adage means that if there are rumors or signs of something happening, there is probably some truth to it. It is used in various literary works, including Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel, “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”
  7. “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” – This adage means that those who keep moving and exploring will not accumulate too many burdens or responsibilities. It is used in Robert Frost’s poem, “A Rolling Stone.”
  8. “Honesty is the best policy.” – This adage means that it is better to be truthful and straightforward in your dealings with others. It is used in various literary works, including Miguel de Cervantes’ novel, “Don Quixote.”

In “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Atticus Finch tells his daughter Scout, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” This is a variation of the adage “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

In William Shakespeare’s play, “Hamlet,” Polonius advises his son Laertes, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.” This is a variation of the adage “Neither a borrower nor a lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend.”

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, “The Scarlet Letter,” the narrator states, “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” This is a variation of the adage “What is done in the dark shall come to light.”

Use of Adage in Sentences

“Actions speak louder than words.” This adage means that what people do is more important than what they say. Example: “I don’t believe he’s sorry for what he did. Actions speak louder than words.”

“A penny saved is a penny earned.” This adage means that saving money is just as important as earning it. Example: “I’m trying to save up for a vacation. A penny saved is a penny earned.”

“All’s fair in love and war.” This adage means that in certain situations, anything goes, even if it’s not ethical. Example: “He lied to her to win her over. All’s fair in love and war, I guess.”

“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” This adage means that you shouldn’t assume something will happen before it actually does. Example: “I’m excited about my job interview tomorrow, but I know not to count my chickens before they hatch.”

“There’s no place like home.” This adage means that there’s no place better than your own home. Example: “I love traveling, but after a few weeks, there’s no place like home.”

“Honesty is the best policy.” This adage means that telling the truth is always the best option. Example: “I made a mistake, but I know honesty is the best policy, so I’m going to admit it.”

“Time heals all wounds.” This adage means that given enough time, emotional pain will eventually fade away. Example: “I was heartbroken when we broke up, but time heals all wounds, and now I feel better.”

“You can’t judge a book by its cover.” This adage means that appearances can be deceiving, and you shouldn’t make assumptions based on them. Example: “I thought he was unfriendly at first, but I learned you can’t judge a book by its cover.”

Functions of Adage

Adages, also known as proverbs or sayings, serve various functions in language and literature. Some of the common functions of adages include:

Conveying Wisdom and Advice

Adages are often used to provide guidance, wisdom, or advice to the readers or listeners. They express a general truth or a moral lesson that can be applied to various situations in life. For example, “a stitch in time saves nine” is an adage that advises people to take action promptly to avoid more significant problems later.

Enhancing Communication

Adages are a useful tool to enhance communication between people who speak different languages or come from different cultures. They convey meaning in a concise and straightforward manner, making it easier for people to understand and remember the message.

Creating Imagery

Adages can be used to create vivid imagery in literature or language. They can help the reader to imagine a situation or a character by using a few words that convey a lot of meaning. For example, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” creates an image of a child who resembles their parent in behavior or personality.

Expressing Cultural Values

Adages are often rooted in cultural traditions and can reflect the values and beliefs of a society. They are a way to express the culture’s attitudes towards life, morality, and social norms. For example, “honesty is the best policy” reflects the value placed on honesty in many cultures.

Creating Unity

Adages can create a sense of unity among people who share common values or experiences. They can serve as a common reference point and create a sense of shared understanding. For example, “blood is thicker than water” is an adage that emphasizes the importance of family ties and can create a sense of solidarity among family members.

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