Guide to Literary Terms

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What does the metaphor "his hand is as black as the inside of a wolf's throat" by Shakespeare mean?

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This comparison between the blackness of a hand and the inside of a wolf's throat is a simile that also contains synedoche.  And, as mentioned, the blackness of the hand is a metaphor, as well.

Here is the definition of simile:  A figure of speech that makes an explicit comparison between two unlike things, using a word such as like, as, than, or resembles

The comparison between the hand and the wolf's throat is explicit and employs the word as. The synedoche, a figure of speech in which a part represents the whole, is hand as it represents the entire person who is evil.

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A metaphor is a figure of speech that uses one thing to represent something else.

In this case, the blackness of the throat is a metaphor for the evil of the hand. Wolves are ruthless predators and scavengers, black is almost always associated with evil. Combining the two images lets us know that this is a bad, bad, person.

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