Simile Examples and Video: Keeping Similes Simple
A Simile Compares Two Unlike Things Using "Like" or "As"
Traditionally the items being compared share some form of characteristics. Therefore, whenever we are teaching or learning similes it is best to keep it simple before analyzing or introducing classical poetry. Always get your basics down first.
Some Basic Comparisons:
Notice how the following common similes share a simple characteristic;
He is as stubborn as a mule (mules are known to be stubborn - therefore, he is also stubborn)
He is as strong as an ox (an ox is known to be strong - therefore, he is also strong)
She is as sharp as a tack (a tack is of course sharp - here sharp means smart or dresses well - therefore, she is sharp)
She swims like a fish (fish obviously know how to swim - therefore, she is a great swimmer)
Once you have a basic understanding of similes you can move on to more complex comparisons. Complex similes are known to truly compare two UNLIKE things.
For example, in Emily Dickinson's "Nature XXVI" the opening verse reads as follows;
There came a wind like a bugle;
- The word "like" is the first clue that this is a simile.
- What are the two items being compared? "Wind" and "bugle."
- Initially, it seems that the wind and the bugle have nothing in common other than moving air.
- This poem is basically describing an approaching storm. A bugle is an instrument similar to a trumpet. When wind approaches it is known to howl or swish—to make a sound. Dickinson is using the bugle as a sensory detail for us to "hear" the wind.
Basic Definition of a Simile
A simile is a comparison of two things that have something in common, but are really very different.
Here is another example, although it is cliché:
Life is like a stage.
- Life is compared to a stage - two different things, it would seem.
- However, in life we have to perform well. Our family, friends and peers are our constant audience. Our personal and professional performance is almost always up for review. Thus, life is like a stage.
- Get it?
Tip, if you ever get stuck on trying to figure out what a simile means, always analyze and determine what the characteristics of the objects are - then try to make the connection.
Remember, it must compare using LIKE or AS - otherwise it's a METAPHOR.
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© 2011 Marisa Hammond Olivares