8 May 2013

Metaphors in American Literature

Commentary about metaphors used by Anne Bradstreet and by Jonathan Edwards.

In order to establish the metaphors used by Anne Bradstreet and Jonathan Edwards I have selected the excerpts in which they showed the figurative language.

A. Bradstreet poem The Author to Her Book contains an extended metaphor because it goes along the text. We can see how she intentionally controlled the imagery through the poem which related her book to the birth of a child. The vehicle is her fatherless child. In this way she calls the attention to her authorship without help of men, she apologizes for the “ill-formed offspring of the feeble brain” (line 1). It is a recognised strategy to show true humility and modesty expected from a honorable woman. In line 2 “Who after birth didst by my side remain” the tenor can be interpreted as the delay of her publication and “My rambling brat should mother call” (line 8) as it were a spoiled child, justifying that is going to be published by her brother.

In her elegy On My Dear Grandchild Simon Bradstreet she uses the figurative language of flowers to express the beginning and end of a life in a short time. And also to enhance the deception for an almighty God. One example of the vehicle is in line 3 “three flowers” and the tenor are the children who died. In this sense the flowers are something extremely beautiful and pure which died suddenly because of the natural cycle of life.

J. Edwards sets out the rhetorical strategies to give a new set of images that were very familiar in his time. But, how? Eliciting emotional responses to sermons, they are an example of eloquence partly because it is filled with tension and suspense 2. He communicated his ideas in a language of sensory experience. Producing an impression in their minds. In the first extract from Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God we can identify the vehicle “bitter and poisonous fruit” (line 6) with the tenor of the sin if we go to the imagery of Adam and Eve in the paradise. A second metaphor is extended along the vehicle of “great waters” (line 78), “floods of God's Vengeance” (line 82) which tenor would talk about the abysm which follows God's wrath. Following the metaphorical structure of the text, there is only one way of “holding the waters back” and it is with conversion and God's help.
(397 words)

2Gibert, Teresa. American Literature to 1900. Editorial Universitaria Ramón Areces: Madrid, 2009. Page 82.

By Pilar The Moon

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