Metaphors, like all stylistic devices, can be classified according to their degree of unexpectedness. Thus, metaphors which are absolutely unexpected, that is are quite unpredictable, are called genuine metaphors. Here we can see some of them:
e.g. "She is a work of art".(p.175)
"She has all the fragrance and freedom of a
flower. There is ripple after ripple of sunlight in
her hair. She has the fascinating tyranny of
youth, and the astonishing courage of
"Divorces are made in Heaven". (p. 283)
In genuine metaphors the image is always present and the transference of meaning is actually felt. These metaphors have a radiating force. The whole sentence becomes metaphoric. The metaphors, which are commonly used in speech and therefore are sometimes even fixed in dictionaries as expressive means of language, are trite metaphors.
e.g. "My farther really died of a broken heart". (p.85)
"Love is easily killed! Oh! How easily love is killed".
"The moment is entirely in your own hands". (p.344)
Wilde's metaphors develop the reader's imagination. At the same time the author reflects his own point of view.
e.g. "Youth is the Lord of Life". (p.135)
In these four plays Wilde preaches that youth is the so called "gift of nature". It is very interesting to note, that almost all his main heroes are young people. And youth is their leading star in life. Oscar Wilde resorts to the use of his metaphors for more expressiveness and beauty of language. Their meanings are playing and understandable for any reader, of any age and any interests. They are the birds of Wilde's thoughts, sometimes sensitive and sometimes bitter, sometimes joyful and sometimes sad, but they are always wonderful. They have an excellent quality to reflect different objects, actions and, of course, people in a new meaning. They produce a dynamic character of the plot and show that Wilde is a man of genius.
Simile is the next stylistic device used by Wilde in his plays. Simile is a likeness of one thing to another.
According to Prof. Sosnovskaya V.B., Simile is the most rudimentary form of trope. It can be defined as a device based upon an analogy between two things, which are discovered to possess some features in common otherwise being entirely dissimilar.19
According to Prof. Galperin I.R. the intensification of someone feature of the concept in question is realised in a device called Simile. Ordinary comparison and Simile must not be confused. They represent two diverse processes. Comparison means weighing two objects belonging to one class of things with the purpose of establishing the degree of their sameness or difference. To use a simile is to characterise one object by bringing it into contact with another object belonging to an entirely different class of things. Comparison takes into consideration all the properties of the two objects, stressing the one that is compared. Simile includes all the properties of the two objects except one which is made common to them.20
e.g. "All women become like their mothers." (p.300)
is ordinary comparison. The words "women" and "mothers" belong to the same class of objects - human beings - so this is not a Simile but ordinary comparison.
But in the sentence:
"But she is really like a Tanagra statuette, and would be rather annoyed if she were told so". (p.175),
we have a simile. "She" and "statuette" belong to heterogeneous classes of objects and Wilde has found that the beauty of Mabel Chiltern may be compared with the beauty of the ancient Tanagra statuette. Of the two concepts brought together in the Simile - one characterised (Mabel Chiltern), and the other characterising (Statuette) - the feature intensified will be more inherent in the latter than in the former. Moreover, the object characterised, is seen in quite a new and unexpected light, because the author as it were, imposes this feature on it. Thus, Simile is an imaginative comparison of two unlike objects belonging to two different classes.
Similes forcibly set one object against another regardless of the fact that they may be completely alien to each other. And without our being aware of it the Simile gives rise to a new understanding of the object characterising as well as of the object characterised.
The properties of an object may be viewed from different angles, for example, its state, actions, manners, etc. Accordingly, Similes may be based on adjective-attributes, adverbs-modifiers, verb-predicates, etc.
e.g. "Dear Agatha and I are so much interested in
Australia. Agatha has found it on the map. What a
curious shape it is! Just like a large packing case."
"She looks rather like an orchid and makes great
demands on one's curiosity." (p.176)
"Twenty years of romance make a woman look like a
ruin; but twenty years of marriage make her something
like a public building." (p.108)
Similes have formal elements in their structure:
1. A pair of objects (for example: woman + ruin; woman + orchid; Australia + a large packing case).
2. Connective words such as: like, as, such as, as if, as though, seem, etc.
Here are some more examples of similes taken from Wilde's plays.
e.g. "She looks like an "edition de luxe" of a wicked French novel,
meant specially for the English market."(p.48)
The structure of this simile is interesting for it is sustained. This simile goes through the whole sentence. The author finds a certain resemblance of Mrs. Erlynne and an "edition de luxe" of a wicked French novel. He shows that this woman is as bright and attractive as a coloured journal.
e.g. "It is as if a hand of ice were laid upon one's heart. It is as if
one's heart were beating itself to death in some empty
This simile is the perfect work of imagination. This is an example of a simile, which is half a metaphor. Let us analyse it. If not for the structural word "as if", we could call it a metaphor. Indeed, if we drop the word "as if" and say: "a hand of ice is laid upon one's heart…", this sentence becomes a metaphor. But the word "as if" keeps apart the notions of metaphor and makes this sentence a real simile. As for the second sentence of this example, the situation is the same: if we drop the word "as if", the sentence becomes a metaphor. In other words, this example is the action that is described by means of simile.
The semantic nature of the simile-forming elements "seem" and "as if" is such that they only remotely suggest resemblance. Quite