What are some types of figurative language in The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling?

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One type of figurative language that Rudyard Kipling uses throughout The Jungle Book is anthropomorphization. This means endowing animals with human characteristics. At one point or another throughout the story, all of the animals act in ways that seem human. Their social organization, such as in the Pack Council, is...

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One type of figurative language that Rudyard Kipling uses throughout The Jungle Book is anthropomorphization. This means endowing animals with human characteristics. At one point or another throughout the story, all of the animals act in ways that seem human. Their social organization, such as in the Pack Council, is shown as paralleling that of humans. From the beginning, Kipling has the animals speak as humans do, when he presents a conversation between the “chief,” Father Wolf, and Tabaqui the jackal.

Descriptive figurative language abounds in the book. Kipling frequently uses both similes and metaphors. Simile is comparison of unlike things for effect, using “like” or “as,” while metaphor is direct comparison. He says that Bagheera the Black Panther has markings “like the pattern of watered silk” and that his voice is “as soft as wild honey dripping from a tree….” In describing what Mowgli learned from Father Wolf, Kipling uses a metaphor ash He compares the knowledge need to survive in the jungle to “business” in an urban setting: “Father Wolf taught him his business…,” and then uses a simile to say it is as valuable “as the work of his [a businessman’s] office….”

Later, when a herd of cattle goes over the edge of a ravine, Kipling uses another simile, comparing them to rocks:

the torrent of black horns, foaming muzzles, and staring eyes whirled down the ravine just as boulders go down in floodtime….

Kipling also uses imagery throughout. Rather than rely exclusively on visual images, he includes extensive descriptions of many different environments within the jungle, building up vivid images with intricate details that appeal to the senses. He incorporates similes and metaphors within them. The description of the monkeys’ Lost City in “Kaa’s Hunting” is one good example.

But the walls were made of screens of marble tracery—beautiful milk-white fretwork, set with agates and cornelians and jasper and lapis lazuli, and as the moon came up behind the hill it shone through the open work, casting shadows on the ground like black velvet embroidery.

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The Jungle Book is an animal fable, so it's inevitable that figurative language predominates over factual description. In the real world, animals don't talk, so it makes sense for Kipling to use figurative language to bring his enchanted story world to life. Numerous examples of such language are to be found in the book. As well as the excellent examples provided in the previous answer, I briefly want to highlight a couple more that I find particularly effective.

The first is a reference to Shere Khan, whose mighty roar "filled the cave with thunder." This is an example of metaphor. The tiger's roar doesn't literally fill the cave with thunder, of course, but that's the whole point of the metaphor: it alerts us to a similarity between Shere Khan's powerful roar and a rumble of thunder. Then we have Kipling's vivid description of the eyes of Bagheera, the panther, which are said to be "as hard as jade-stones." This is a simile, a figure of speech that compares two completely distinct objects using the words "like" or "as."

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The Jungle Book contains many examples of figurative language from the very first page, in both the prose and the songs. In order to spot figurative language, a reader should ask “Is this really, literally true?” This will identify types of figurative language such as similes, metaphors, and hyperbole.

Similes are comparisons between two different things, usually using “like” or “as.” An example is the description of Mother Wolf’s eyes when she confronts Shere Khan in order to protect Mowgli: “Mother Wolf shook herself clear of the cubs and sprang forward, her eyes like two green moons in the darkness, facing the blazing eyes of Shere Khan” (page 8). Her eyes are not literally moons, and they do not orbit her head like the moon orbits the Earth, but this description creates a vivid image of Mother Wolf’s eyes, large and round with anger.

Metaphors are similar to similes, but do not use “like” or “as.” An example from “The Song of Mowgli” is when he sings “I am two Mowglis” (page 87). Literally, he is only one Mowgli. However, he says this to express an inner conflict. Part of him feels drawn to the jungle, and the other part of him feels drawn to human society. He is confused, and these two desires seem like two different Mowglis living inside him.

Hyperbole: This is when exaggeration is used to make a point, as when Tabaqui the jackal says “For such a mean person such as myself, a dry bone is a good feast” (page 3). A dry bone is not really a good feast for anyone, but Tabaqui means to show that he is so poor and needy that he can find sustenance from food others find worthless.
 
There are also other types of figurative language, such as onomatopoeia, when a word is written to represent a sound, as when Father Wolf wakes up from his sleep. “'Augrh!’ said Father Wolf. ‘It is time to hunt again’” (page 2). The word “Augrh” is not a real English word, but is meant to sound like a wolf yawning as he wakes and stretches.
 
There are many other examples of figurative language. To find it, simply look for language that isn’t literally true or is very colorful!
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