Comparison is a rhetorical or literary device in which a writer compares or contrasts two people, places, things, or ideas. In our everyday life, we compare people and things to express ourselves vividly. So when we say, “as lazy as a snail,” you compare two different entities to show similarity i.e. someone’s laziness to the slow pace of a snail.
Comparisons occur in literary works frequently. Writers and poets use comparison in order to link their feelings about a thing to something they compare it with. There are numerous devices in literature that compare two different things to show the similarity between them e.g. simile. metaphor. analogy etc.
Comparison Examples in Literature
A metaphor makes a hidden comparison between two things or objects that are dissimilar to each other but have some characteristics common between them. Unlike simile, we do not use “like” or “as” to develop a comparison in a metaphor. Consider the following examples:
John Keats compares writing poetry with reaping and sowing, and both these acts stand for the insignificance of a life and dissatisfied creativity.
“All the world’s a stage and men and women merely players,”
Shakespeare uses a metaphor of a stage to describe the world and compares men and women living in the world with players.
A simile is an open comparison between two things or objects to show similarities between them. Unlike a metaphor, a simile draws resemblance with the help of words “like” or “as”. Read the following example:
This line is from short story Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.
“Elderly American ladies leaning on their canes listed toward me like towers of Pisa.”
In this line, Vladimir Nabokov compares old women leaning on their sticks to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Here the comparison made between two contrasting things creates a hilarious effect.