The following are some examples of figurative language used in "The Scarlet Ibis":
Simile involves the comparison of two things that are essentially different. In “The Scarlet Ibis”, in the first paragraph, the writer, James Hurst, uses this type of figurative language. He writes that:
…but the oriole nest in the elm was untenanted and rocked back and forth like an empty cradle.
The author is using simile to show that the empty oriole nest, although rustically made of twigs, paper, and such, is akin to (in its present state) an empty cradle. Simile here conveys the message of emptiness as concerns fragile birds and their nests and fragile babies and their cradles.
Metaphor involves comparing people, places and/or things that are unalike. This is shown quite clearly in the last paragraph of “The Scarlet Ibis” when the brother falls on the dead younger brother (Doodle) and relates that:
I lay there crying, sheltering my fallen scarlet ibis from the heresy of rain.
In this passage, the boy Doodle is compared to the fiery red bird the scarlet ibis. Doodle has bled to death. His body violently broke down as he tried to run with all his heart to keep up with his brother who chose to run away from him.
Hyperbole is when a writer uses exaggeration as a literary tool. This exaggeration is meant to convey deep feelings. A writer uses hyperbole to make a point in a more dramatic way. In “The Scarlet Ibis”, hyperbole is evident in this line:
There is within me (and with sadness I have watched it in others) a knot of cruelty borne by the stream of love...
Here, Hurst does not simply write that we can be mean to those we love. He uses the above line to show this sentiment more intensely, with the heightened language employed. This hyperbole allows the reader to really understand what Doodle’s brother is feeling.