This short story "Transients In Arcadia" by O.Henry is saturated in figurative language. I need to interpret the three examples of figurative language I have chosen below. Can you please help me to identify which form of figurative language one of these quotes represents and explain how it relates to the characters and/or the theme?
1) “At every strange footstep the guests turn an anxious ear, fearful lest their retreat be discovered and invaded by the restless pleasure-seekers who are forever hounding nature to her deepest lairs” (Henry 1).
2) “But at dinner was Madame's glory at its height. She wore a gown as beautiful and immaterial as the mist from an unseen cataract in a mountain gorge. The nomenclature of this gown is beyond the guess of the scribe” (Henry 2).
3) “Below the balcony the sweltering city growled and buzzed in the July night. Inside the Hotel Lotus the tempered, cool shadows reigned, and the solicitous waiter single-footed near the low windows, ready at a nod to serve Madame and her escort” (Henry 4).
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One example of a striking use of figurative language in the short story ‘Transients in Arcadia’ by O Henry can be seen in the first few lines of the story. First, the author paints a picture for us, the readers, almost like painting a set. Look in this extract for mood, for colour, for comfort and for images :
It is deep and wide and cool. Its rooms are finished in dark oak of a low temperature. Home-made breezes and deep-green shrubbery give it the delights without the inconveniences of the Adirondacks. One can mount its broad staircases or glide dreamily upward in its aerial elevators, attended by guides in brass buttons, with a serene joy that Alpine climbers have never attained.
Ask yourself if this is a hotel you would like to stay in if you were hot, thirsty, hungry, stressed and exhausted? And if so, then why? The ideas of coolness and the mention of mountains and freezing exotic foreign scenery join with the title to give a feeling of comfort and bliss - but the important question is whether this is an illusion, and whether such heights of luxury and expense in our lives are sustainable. Like the figurative language in the next paragraph, perhaps this idyll, enhanced by the mention of fresh, cool brook trout, is just a mirage? The word ‘transients’ implies that nothing is permanent and that we are just ‘passing through,’ yet surely this blissful place of rest is somewhere we would all like to stay for ever? Likewise, in literary tradition, ‘Arcadia’ is a place apart, a place of sanctuary or escapism, where there is no stress, only beauty and ease. However, dangerously, such places often have no rules for everyone can do as they like. Is this realistic? The figure of an ‘oasis in the desert’ is illustrative of a sanctuary from life’s worries and stress, but usually travellers have to leave the cool green oasis to travel on their way through the desert to get to the other side. After first painting the picture of such secret bliss, the author then goes on to describe how awful it would be if hordes of other people discovered this marvellous retreat and came trooping in noisily to wreck it’s silence and charm. His description of the diners evokes alarm and disquiet in the reader as it is a sharp contrast with the cool calmness of the inital description, for few readers will identify with the cheap trippers.It is natural human selfishness to presume that we alone are deserving, and others are not.
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