Metaphor As Figure of Speech

“a skittle of milk”

The metaphor, “skittle of milk,” is very effective. The inclusion of the detail of, “milk,” is particularly effective. The white colour of the milk reflects the purity and innocent mind of the persona. Highlighting that Duffy is in her youth and is inexperienced. The comparison of milk bottles to skittles is also effective. It reminds us of games played at school highlighting how innocent the poet was. This shows how enjoyable school was for the persona which helps draw in the reader into the poem through these common experiences.

OPINION – Personally I feel that I could relate to this as I am familiar with the primary school environment. I feel Duffy’s use of the metaphor quite compelling.

“The classroom glowed like a sweetshop.”

The simile, “The classroom glowed like a sweetshop,” is comparing the class, what would be for a child , a colourful place: to a sweetshop. This creates a very positive about the classroom. The word, “glowed,” creates a very warm, colourful and comfortable atmosphere.

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It reflects the enthusiasm and delight that appeared on the children’s faces when they entered the room. They were thrilled and excited to be there. A sweetshop is usually the best place in the world to a child, and being there would create an excitement amongst friends. This emphasises how much the children loved being there and how magnificent this classroom was.

OPNION – Reading this simile aroused my senses fully and let my mind remember how amazing sweet shops really were as a child, therefore developing my understanding of how much the young Carol Ann Duffy enjoyed her classroom.

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This is a really clever way of connecting with the reader.

“Brady and Hindley faded, like the faint, uneasy smudge of a mistake.”

The simile, “Brady and Hindley faded, like the faint, uneasy smudge of a mistake,” is very effective. The child murderers Brady and Hindley were horrifying and faded when they were alive. During Duffy’s childhood every single child would have been petrified of them. Their presence would have been felt due to the extensive media coverage of their crimes at the time. By saying, “faded like the faint, uneasy smudge of a mistake,” Duffy is suggesting the children were able to put them to the back of their minds when in the classroom. This emphasises the nurturing environment, “Mrs Tilscher loved you,” and the security felt in the class. This lets us know the teacher was a very protective and caring person, making the children feel no need to be insecure or afraid.

OPINION – This is a very clear demonstration of the comforting environment many people experience in primary school. It’s also a very clever way of highlighting how much certainty the persona has that the teacher loves her, she feels welcome and important.

“Laugh of a bell”

The personification of the bell emphasises the positive experience the narrator has of school. The words, “running child,” demonstrate the sense of freedom and amusement children felt in primary school. It suggests keenness and eagerness of school emphasising the positive experience. The word, “laugh,” also highlights the merriment the children felt demonstrating the positive and cheerful atmosphere of the poem. However, the bell may also be a clever symbol that change awaits the poet and starts to include the sense of the poem within the poem. But, because the bell is being swung by a child it contrasts the bell which signifies lunch or break demonstrating the sense of freedom and joyous mood of the poem.

OPINION – I feel that through this use of personification Duffy really sets the positive atmosphere of the poem and sucks in the reader through the arousal of our senses.

“inky tadpoles changed from commas into exclamation marks.”

The metaphor, “inky tadpoles changed from commas into exclamation marks,” is very effective in getting the reader aware of the passage of time. The function of the exclamation mark is to highlight alarm and show that something unfamiliar is about to change. Of course Duffy here is referring to puberty and the beginning of adolescence. The word, “inky,” also reminds me of ink wells at school and how they spread across your page. This links to the unknown boundaries Duffy is about to experience. When tadpoles develop into frogs they is no resemblance between them. This relates to Duffy changing physically and shows signs of loss of innocence.

OPINION – Duffy’s use of this metaphor has dramatic impact and allows the reader to relate to it as it is a part of life that everyone experiences.


“grey bags of my lungs”

The metaphor, “grey bags of my lungs,” is comparing the colour grey to the condition of her lungs. The word “grey” suggests something rotten, decayed, dirty and something that has a disgusting appearance. Next the word “bags” makes me think of something pathetic, deflated and something that is useless. This is effective in describing the conditions of medusa’s lungs – they are not very healthy, they aren’t functioning properly and are wasting away. This is because of her depression and how she is wasting away.

OPINION – Personally I think Carol Ann Duffy’s use of the metaphor is very effective in conveying the state of her internally. It also arouses my sympathy towards medusa – it must be difficult dealing with her depression.

“bullet tears in my eyes”

The metaphor, “bullet tears in my eyes,” is comparing the power of her look to a bullet. The word, “bullet,” conveys something dangerous and harmful. Gives the sense that something is deadly. Next the word, “tears,” is reflecting Medusa’s emotions and suggests that she is vulnerable. But Medusa has no weakness as her tears (eyes) are deadly hence they are being compared to a, “bullet.” This reflects the power of Medusa’s eyes: they are a deadly weapon and can kill at the sight of them. It also allows me to connect with the poem as I too know what being upset feels like, it’s an ordinary human emotion.

OPINION – In my opinion I think Carol Ann Duffy is very clever in revealing the fact that even though Medusa is crying she isn’t vulnerable. It links back to the condition of her, although she is depressed and heartbroken inside she isn’t weak or unable to defend herself.

“Greek God”

The metaphor, “Greek God,” is comparing the man she is deeply in love with to a Greek God. The phrase, “Greek God,” suggests the man she adores is perfect and is an Adonise, thus making him the most attractive and handsome man in all the land. It also makes him seem very powerful and heroic. He is an admirable figure to all the other men and people should aspire to be like him. The word, “perfect,” is also placed before the metaphor suggesting that Medusa’s lover has no flaw at all. However this is a contradiction to what she feels now.

Since Medusa believed this man was, “perfect,” and was a man she felt strongly in love with, she finds it difficult to accept he isn’t actually perfect. As for him betraying her and going against her, she has started to realise the harm he has clearly caused her. Clearly this demonstrates how in love Medusa felt with this man which makes it easier to understand why she is in pain and feels sorrow over what has happened.

OPINION – Personally, I think this is effective as it is easy to relate to. Everyone has that feeling, that someone special is perfect and like no other person in the world. But, in the end you are heartbroken when you find out it’s not true.

“shield for a heart”

The metaphor, “shield for a heart,” is comparing the ability of the man to express his emotion to a weapon of defence. Using the word, “shield,” suggests that the man is very defensive and isn’t capable of feeling the emotion of love. The fact he isn’t capable of this makes him quite arrogant. He is able just to go form girl to girl and not feel any regret or pain about leaving them. This image could also express that the man she is in love with isn’t open to feeling in love or is able to show it. He can’t open up and convey his emotions to other’s because he is so defensive. As well as this the image could also portray that her lover is very powerful and fearless because of his “shield for a heart.” Highlighting he is a very cold man and incapable of experiencing the feeling of real love.

OPINION – I feel that this man is totally wrong. How could someone feel no love towards or very little love towards others? It’s disappointing that Medusa felt so strongly towards this man yet he cant return any feelings.

“sword for a tongue”

This metaphor, “sword for a tongue,” is comparing a weapon capable of killing someone to the strength and power of her lover’s words. They are able to hurt someone and cause great harm like the power of a sword. It demonstrates the harshness and sharpness of his words like the sharp blade of a sword. It also once again reflects how arrogant he is because he doesn’t realise how hurtful his words are to the woman who admires him in every way.

OPINION – Duffy expresses this man’s arrogance very well. It makes me see how cruel and hurtful this man really is and personally Medusa has the right to feel that heartbroken and distraught at what’s happened to her.

“Fire spewed from the mouth of a mountain”

The personification of, “Fire spewed form the mouth of a mountain,” is a very effective image. This is showing the extent of Medusa’s power as she was able to turn a dragon into a volcano. This is creating a very violent image which is reflecting the aggressiveness of Medusas’ acts on innocent creatures. Carol Ann Duffy, also uses the word “spewed” to highlight Medusa is so hurt and angered by what has happened to her. It creates a feeling of disgust within the reader. It also dramitifies everything that has happened to Medusa and once agai9n conveys her feeling of fury.

OPINION – I feel sympathy towards Medusa at this point. She has been betrayed by the man she adored and was deeply in love with which has caused her to go on a killing spree of killing innocent creatures.


“He looked magnificent; a tall, white mute beneath the winter moon.”

Within stanza one there is a constant repetition of the letter ‘m’. This alliteration is a soft sound and creates an eerie atmosphere within the poem. It also creates an eerie feeling within the reader. This quiet sounding alliteration coupled with the single word sentence, “Midnight,” has a dramatic impact and sets a ghostly and frightening scene. The word choice of, “Midnight,” also emphasises the setting was late, and dark and was potentially a threatening time to be wondering around alone. This is an excellent way of setting the sinister tone of the stanza leading up to the first unusual theft.

OPINION – I thought this was a very effective way of setting the atmosphere of the poem. It aroused suspense within me, I felt as though a chill pumped round my body and I was eager to read on.

“A fierce chill piercing my gut.”

In the second stanza Duffy makes clever use of the metaphor, “a fierce chill piercing my gut.” This is emphasising the cold and angry nature of the character. The words, “Fierce,” and, “Piercing,” both convey an inner pain within the persona because of this violent language. Also continuing the threatening atmosphere that was created in the previous stanza. This suggests the boy is quite an aggressive person and this idea is confirmed later on in the poem. This aggression could possibly be a defensive consequence of the emotional pain he suffers inside.

The character then goes onto say,” Life’s tough.” This is a very blunt statement which has a harshness behind it. He feels as though he is teaching others a lesson from his experiences. This conveys he may have had a tough, difficult and rough upbringing making him feel like an outcast from society. Again, the harsh tone comes across from this statement showing he had no sympathy or pity toward the people he was hurting. Emphasising how cruel and callous this person really is.

OPINON – I found this metaphor to be particularly effective in revealing more about the persona in the poem. In a way it arouses sympathy towards the character because of the rough childhood he has probably experienced. However it doesn’t give him the right to harm others and cause them pain.

“a mind as cold as the slice of ice within my own brain.”

The simile, “a mind as cold as the slice of ice within my own brain,” conveys a person who is very numb to emotion and cold-hearted. It reveals that that the boy likes to think of himself as being unemotional and heatless. The internal rhyme, “slice of ice,”” starts to introduce painful images of the poem which expresses the anger and hate the character has inside him. At this point the snowman also seems to be a symbol for the cold and loneliness of the persona’s situation. The previous use of the word, “mate,” shows he craves for a companion with an ice-cold mind, which is unusual as friendship is usually associated with warmth. The boy is admitting that his brain is too full of ice that he cannot appreciate true friendship and that he is twisted inside revealing a lack of compassion.

OPINION – Personally I think Duffy has really demonstrated how sometimes people do feel when they have had a tough life and feel alienated within society. It really allows me to imagine the twisted emotion and “thrill to hurt” that goes on within this boy.

“mucky ghost”

The metaphor, “mucky ghost,” is very effective in expressing the persona’s isolation. The word, “ghost,” is very important. It creates a malevolent image emphasising the boy feels alienated. He is an invisible person who can meander through people’s homes leaving no traces. It feels as though he isn’t important and because he is an outcast he has to “steal” to prove his part in society. Ghosts are also things that are non-existent revealing that the persona might not even see himself as an ordinary person.

This idea is confirmed at the end of the poem when he says, “You don’t even understand a word im saying, do you?” Reflecting that the boy feels like no-one can understand him, he is one of a kind and will always be an outcast. By mentioning ghost this re-establishes the ominous and frightening atmosphere shown in stanza one. Symbolising the isolation this character feels and the chilling setting of the poem.

OPINION – I found the poets comparison very effective. The constant use of colours (white and blue) really vivifies the bitterness of the character and his heartless nature.

“My breath ripped out in rags.”

The metaphor, “my breath ripped out in rags,” is an aggressive image and reflects the cruelness and callousness of the persona. The word, “ripped,” highlights the violent language of the poem and has a dramatic impact on the reader making them feel the pain and chill inside the character. The alliteration and sibilance of the letter “s” again emphasises the harsh and callous nature of the boy. The line is also separated by enablement. This mimics his jerky, flustered, breathing pattern as he goes about the destruction of the snowman. The word, “rags,” is something withy no value. This echoes both the worthlessness of the persona and the worthlessness of the acts he is committing. He then says, “sick of the world.” This for me arouses sympathy as it is almost a cry for help and that he wants a better life. He cant cope anymore with the isolation and this be the real reason behind the pointless thefts ands the anger within him.

OPINION – I did feel empathy for the boy at this point in the poem as unless you know what being alienated feels like you cant understand how much internal pain it causes you. On the other hand taking it out on others is not fair and this creates dislike within me for the persona.

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Metaphor As Figure of Speech. (2016, Jun 08). Retrieved from

Metaphor As Figure of Speech

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