What is a good extended metaphor I can use to compare this life lesson with that is described below? Sometimes it seems as if life prevents us from achieving our goals by throwing unexpected...

What is a good extended metaphor I can use to compare this life lesson with that is described below? 

Sometimes it seems as if life prevents us from achieving our goals by throwing unexpected obstacles on the adventurous journey of success.

Asked on by jasonj92

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lsumner's profile pic

lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

The poem "Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes is an excellent example of an extended metaphor. The mother compares her life to a worn, torn, broken-down stairway. She speaks to her son in a deep, rich, resonant voice, proclaiming that "life for me ain't been no crystal stair." The mother proclaims that she has made it through life, even though she has had obstacles to face. She is an overcomer, an achiever, a mother who insists that her son not stop climbing, inspite of the splinters he may have to face.

Mother To Son

by Langston Hughes

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time 
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps.
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now—
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

accessteacher's profile pic

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

Posted on

Actually, if you look at your scenario closely, you can see that you are already using an extended metaphor to describe the situation. One of the most common metaphors that we use all the time, not just in literature but also in every day speech, is the way that we compare life to a journey or some kind of quest, with an end goal, and various obstacles that we encounter and must face on the way. The phrase you give of "the adventurous journey of success" seems to suggest this extended metaphor. You can imagine this any way you want to, with someone trying to reach the top of a mountain, or to rescue the beautiful princess from the tower, or going through harsh terrain to reach their goal. Either way, however it is packaged, the extended metaphor of a journey or quest seems to me to be most appropriate in this case. You might want to consider how John Bunyan uses exactly the same strategy in his allegory of the Christian life in Pilgrim's Progress, which is compared to exactly this extended metaphor.

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