Compare and contrast of imagery and figurative language between "The Bet", by Chekhov, and "By the waters of Babylon" by VincentI have to write a compare/contrast essay about the differences and...

Compare and contrast of imagery and figurative language between "The Bet", by Chekhov, and "By the waters of Babylon" by Vincent

I have to write a compare/contrast essay about the differences and similarities of some of the uses of imagery and figurative language in "The Bet", and "By the Waters of Babylon". I have a main idea but I need some more examples and suggestions please

Thanks so much, any help is appreciated

Asked on by sparxx1010

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Very interesting question. One of the things you will definitely want to focus on is how the figurative language used in "By the Waters of Babylon" reflects the speaker and his understanding of the world he is in. As this story is written in the first person, we see everything from John's point of view, and he uses similes and metaphors that reflect the importance of nature to his worldview:

I tried to think of my knowledge, but it was a squirrel's heap of winter nuts. There was no strength in my knowledge anymore and I felt small and naked as a new-hatched bird - alone upon the great river, the servant of the gods.

The language that John uses then, is entirely fitting for his character - it reflects the primeval society he is from. Obviously he uses images that he is familiar with to describe himself in this quote, reflecting the small size of his knowledge and then how vulnerable he feels seeing the sights that he is now confronted with.

"The Bet", on the other hand, is told in limited third person perspective, which means we have an omniscient narrator who chooses to tell us the story from the point of view of one character - the banker. The use of language is much more focused on creating vivid descriptions and evoking the almost Gothic imagery created with the man locked up for so long:

At the table a man unlike ordinary people was sitting motionless. He was a skeleton with the skin drawn tight over his bones, with long curls like a woman's, and a shaggy beard. His face was yellow with an eathy tint in it, his cheeks were hollow, his back long and narrow, and the hand on which his shaggy head was propped was so thin and delicate that it was dreadful to look at it. His hair was already streaked with silver, and seeing his emaciated, aged-looking face, no one would have believed he was only forty.

Note how the picture of the man who has stowed himself away for so long is created. A metaphor is used to describe him as a skeleton, and the description draws a harsh portrait of a man who has been isolated for so long and has aged prematurely. We see a man who has experienced and perhaps suffered more than many men of his age, and who has aged greatly as a result.

Hope that helps to get you started!

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