28 Apr

In “English class” I’ve taught lessons on literary comparisons, the classic two examples of which are the simile and the metaphor.  You remember them, right?   A simile compares two things using the words “like” or “as,”  (“My luve is like a red, red rose…” Burns) while a metaphor compares two things usually with only a linking verb (“All the world’s a stage…”  Shakespeare)

Melville does a masterful job of giving us examples of similes in Chapter 134.  He is describing the whaling boats’ collision and says, “…the odorous cedar chips of the wrecks danced round and round, like the grated nutmeg in a swiftly stirred bowl of punch.”  Love it!   As if we could top that comparison, he proceeds to give us another great simile two pages later, where Ahab, speaking of himself, decrying his loss of a limb says, “Ye see an old man cut down to the stump;…Tis Ahab – his body’s part; but Ahab’s soul’s a centipede, that moves upon a hundred legs.”

Did anyone pick up any other good similes along the journey?   How about metaphors?


Posted by on April 28, 2012 in Moby-Dick



6 responses to “Comparisons

  1. Adriana @ Classical Quest

    April 28, 2012 at 10:07 am

    So glad you asked. I love this one:

    “At such times, under an abated sun; afloat all day upon smooth, slow heaving swells; seated in his boat, light as a birch canoe; and so sociably mixing with the soft waves themselves, that like hearth-stone cats they purr against the gunwale; these are the times of dreamy quietude, when beholding the tranquil beauty and brilliancy of the ocean’s skin, one forgets the tiger heart that pants beneath it; and would not willingly remember, that this velvet paw but conceals a remorseless fang.” — Chapter 114, “The Glider”

    Simile — waves like “hearth stone cats”
    Metaphors — skin, tiger heart, paw, fang

  2. Jeannette

    April 28, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Wow! I think you would have to be a “cat person” to fully appreciate that one. Lovely example, Adriana.

  3. Christina Joy

    April 28, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Sometimes I read these posts and wonder if I somehow forgot to read the novel itself. I don’t remember the centipede or the cats and tigers quotes. Wow.

    Also, I just really, really, like the word quietude. I’ve been hearing it a lot lately, and it’s becoming a favorite.

    • Christine

      April 28, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      I remember the cat quote but only because I thought, “Cats have claws in their velvet paws not fangs.” Maybe Melville’s overwhelming knowledge of whales compromised his knowledge of cats.

      • Adriana @ Classical Quest

        April 28, 2012 at 6:21 pm

        Good point.

    • Adriana @ Classical Quest

      April 28, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      Yes,”quietude” is a lovely dream.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: