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Literature/Simile Recognition


Hi Tue. Are there two similes in the following cases? I would be really grateful if you make me certain with them.

1.Haste me to know’t, that I, with wings as swift
As meditation or the thoughts of love,
May sweep to my revenge.
(Two VEHICLES for the same TOPIC? i.e. as swift as meditation / as swift as the thoughts of love)

2.That these men, -- carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,
Being nature’s livery, or fortune’s star, -- their virtues else, -- be they as pure as grace,
As infinite as man may undergo, --
Shall in the general censure take corruption from that particular fault.
(as pure as grace & as infinite as man may undergo)

3.  What a piece of work is man! In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god!
(Man ... like an angel & Man .... like a god)

4.  Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny.
(as chaste as ice & as pure as snow)

5. Is there a simile, as a figure of speech, in this extract?

He grew unto his seat; And to such wondrous doing brought his horse
As had he been incorps’ d and demi-natur’ d with the brave beast


Similes, like metaphors, are *figures of speech*, with the operative term being "figure". Similes as well as metaphors are about literary *imagery*, which is what we call "figures" in this context. So in order for a comparison to be a simile, it must consist of some kind of figure; i.e. some kind of image or object.

1. Meditation and thoughts of love are neither really images nor objects, so I wouldn't call this a simile.

2. Same thing here; the comparisons are mere abstractions and superlatives. Not similes.

3. Angel and god are a form of figures, so yes, these are similes.

4. Caste as ice and pure as snow are similes, yes, since ice and snow are objects.

5. This is not a comparison, but a hypothetical situation; the meaning is "as IF" he had been incorps'ed and demi-natur'ed with the horse. So this is not a simile.

So, only number 3 and 4 are similes.

- Tue Sorensen


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Tue Sorensen


I am an authority on the complete works of Shakespeare, and can answer any questions relating to his plays, poetry and life. I specialize in interpretation, double-meanings and translation into modern language.


I was a top-rated Allexperts expert on this same subject several years ago.

Former member of the Danish Shakespeare Society, as well as an active participant in the scholarly SHAKSPER mailing list.

Three years of studying English literature at the University of Aarhus, Denmark

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