Archive for the ‘Style Guide’ Category

Figures of Speech Part II

January 2nd, 2010 in Style Guide


An allegory is a long story with a moral. In an allegory characters are moral qualities or abstract ideas personified and the incidents have a spiritual meaning.

Notable examples of allegory are: Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and Spenser’s Fairy Queen


Personification is a special kind of metaphor. In personification, inanimate objects and abstract ideas are spoken of as if they were persons or human beings. For example, in the personification ‘The moon veiled her face’, we personify the moon; that is we speak of it as if it were a human being capable of acting.

Examples are given below:

So I stared at the night and she stared back solemnly at me. (Here we personify the night.)
Opportunity knocks at the door but once. (Here we personify the abstract idea opportunity.)
‘The moon doth with delight.
Look round her when the heavens are bare.’


An apostrophe is a form of personification. In an apostrophe, the writer addresses some inanimate thing or an absent person as if it were present.
Examples are given below:

‘O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?’
‘O solitude, where are thy charms,
That sages have seen in thy face?’
Fare daffodils! We weep to see you haste away so soon.

Figures of speech based on contrast or difference


The figure of speech Oxymoron refers to a phrase which appears to be contradictory in nature. Examples are: bitter sweet, ostentatious simplicity, cruel kindness etc.

Note how oxymoron is used to effect in the following examples:

King James was the wisest fool in Christendom.
Life is bitter sweet.
His honor rooted in dishonor stood.
And faith unfaithfully kept him falsely true.