Some figurative language is known as imagery. Figures of speech, such as similes, metaphors, idioms and personification are all examples of imagery. A composer uses imagery in order to link two ideas and to create a vivid or life-like image in their audience's mind. Remember that, as they are figurative, they are not meant to be taken literally.
A simile occurs when a composer compares a subject to another that is not usually linked. Often the word 'like' or 'as' combines the two subjects:
'The school students ran around the playground like a pack of wild animals'.
'The day was as hot as beef vindaloo.'
The best way to find a simile in a text is to ask yourself whether or not two unlike things are being compared. You will need to be able to:
Recognise a simile
State what is being compared
Explain the literal meaning of the simile
Here is an example:
Tanya waited patiently in line for her ice-cream. The day was very hot and she had run from the house as soon as she heard the familiar tune of the ice-cream van. The soles of her feet were burning but the smooth texture of the vanilla ice-cream was like a cooling breeze, making the wait worthwhile.
The simile in text one is '...the vanilla ice-cream was like a cooling breeze'.
The composer has compared the ice-cream to a breeze. These two things are not usually linked.
The literal meaning of this simile is that the ice-cream cooled Tanya down.
Metaphors are like similes in that two subjects that are not usually linked are linked. Metaphors are different in that, rather than a simple comparison, a metaphor states that the two subjects are the same or equal. The effect of this is to give one object the attributes of the other.
'The school students were a wild pack of animals'.
In this example, the school students are given the attributes of a 'wild pack of animals'. The literal attributes that are being given to the students are that they are noisy...