Monday, November 28, 2011
Why We Use Metaphors : EDM 310 Class Blog
Metaphors are commonly used in the English language to represent something else, perhaps of a controversial or taboo nature. Political cartoons use a range of metaphors in their humor; they depict situations or viewpoints using simpler elements or images. It may be easier to make a statement that could be offensive by using a less offensive means. Literature and history are rich with metaphors, as we continue to use them to tell the human story in a symbolic or subtle way.
In literature, two classics based on metaphors about change are The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, and Animal Farm by George Orwell. Each delineates the changes or alterations that the human condition offer the main characters, and the slow descent into a deep human abyss. With undertones of insanity, chaos, rebellion, oppression, and the darkness of the human mind, these classics offer a glimpse into the human spirit as it absorbs and rejects its world and society.
The Trojan Horse, a gift given by the Greeks to Troy as a peace symbol to end the war, is a good example of a historical metaphor. The Greeks won the war, but the name "Trojan Horse" implies a secret tactic to sabotage something given in the form of a gift. Even computer language today reflects the lesson learned in the Old World, naming a particularly nasty information-destroying virus that can wreak havoc once opened as a friendly email "Trojan Horse"!
When metaphors are presented to us in a story or an event, our brain must work harder to comprehend what is being told through storyline or text. The obvious can be overwhelming, so metaphors can ease the raw nature of life, and sometimes even soften the proverbial blow. On the other hand, some metaphors are chosen for their ferocity. As a modern statement presented in artistic form, Pink Floyd's Album, "The Wall", is the mother lode of literary metaphorical assignment. It is a modern interpretation of what is wrong with the parental, governmental, and educational systems of today's world, seen and told through the eyes of a young man, and stands as a terrific cinematic example of metaphor. As long as humans write their stories, metaphors will be serve a great purpose in representing them.