Analogy, simile and metaphor all designate a comparison between things essentially or generically different but strikingly alike in one or more pertinent aspects.
Analogy is the general term since the simile and the metaphor are kinds of analogies: it is, however, usually restricted in its application to a comparison which brings out the analogy (for this sense see LIKENESS) between two things for the sake of elucidating something hard to understand.
- God cannot be described except by analogy
- the supreme example of analogy in English is Pilgrim’s Progress. This overwhelms us with direct analogy, that is to say, the personification of allegory
A simile is an imaginative analogy used largely for the sake of literary effect by carrying over the emotion aroused by one image or idea to the other with which it is compared. A simile (for example, “fishing is at best almost as unpredictable as New England weather,” “blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax, her cheeks like the dawn of day,” “a job full of more headaches than a case of bourbon”) is often brief but it characteristically indicates (as by the use of like, as, so) that comparison is intended.
- of the simile, we say that two essentially unlike things are explicitly compared . . . and we are to understand that, though some likeness is suggested between the two, the likeness is not literally intended
A metaphor differs from a simile in not stating explicitly that it is an analogy: it therefore imaginatively identifies one object with another (as in “a heart of stone,” “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,” “the moon was a ghostly galleon”) and ascribes to the first one or more of the qualities of the second or invests the former with emotional or imaginative associations attached to the latter.
- though by metaphor we point to objects and convey emotions, what we chiefly do is to convey knowledge by forging new symbols that are themselves patterns of meaning