Definition of Analogy

An analogy is a figure of speech that creates a comparison by showing how two seemingly different entities are alike, along with illustrating a larger point due to their commonalities. As a literary device, the purpose of analogy is not just to make a comparison, but to provide an explanation as well with additional information or context . This makes analogy a bit more complex than similar literary devices such as metaphor and simile . Analogy is an effective device in terms of providing a new or deeper meaning to concepts through the artistic use of language.

For example, the analogy  nose is to olfactory as ear is to auditory makes a comparison between parts of the body that are related to certain senses and the words to describe the senses themselves. “Olfactory” refers to the sense of smell, which is related to “nose.” “Auditory” refers to the sense of hearing, which is related to “ear.” Of course, the writer could use the analogy  nose is to smell as ear is to hear for a similar comparison. However, the description words of olfactory and auditory create a deeper meaning and sense of the relationship between these parts of the body and the senses.

Common Examples of Analogy

Many people are introduced to analogy as a form of word relationship that demonstrates the associations between two object or concept pairs on the basis of logic or reasoning. The phrasing for these analogies is generally “(first word) is to (second word) as (third word) is to (fourth word)” or “baby is to adult as kitten is to cat.” Here are some common examples of verbal analogies:

  • blue is to color as circle is to shape
  • eyes are to sight as fingers are to touch
  • cub is to bear and calf is to cow
  • sand is to beach as water is to ocean
  • glove is to hand as sock is to foot
  • ripple is to pond as wave is to ocean
  • words are to writing as notes are to music
  • fish are to aquariums as animals are to zoos
  • fingers are to snapping as hands are to clapping
  • petal is to flower as leaf is to tree

Famous Examples of Analogy

Think you haven’t heard of any famous analogies? Here are some recognizable examples of this figure of speech by well-known writers and speakers :

  • That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet ( William Shakespeare )
  • And I began to let him go. Hour by hour. Days into months. It was a physical sensation, like letting out the string of a kite. Except that the string was coming from my center. (Augusten Burroughs)
  • It has been well said that an author who expects results from a first novel is in a position similar to that of a man who drops a rose petal down the Grand Canyon of Arizona and listens for the echo. (P.G. Wodehouse)
  • Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. (Mary Schmich)
  • Confession is good for the soul only in the sense that a tweed coat is good for dandruff – it is a palliative rather than a remedy. (Peter De Vries)
  • Withdrawal of U.S. troops will become like salted peanuts to the American public; the more U.S. troops come home, the more will be demanded. (Henry Kissinger)
  • People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within. (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross)
  • A nation wearing atomic armor is like a knight whose armor has grown so heavy he is immobilized; he can hardly walk, hardly sit his horse, hardly think, hardly breathe. The H-bomb is an extremely effective deterrent to war, but it has little virtue as a weapon of war because it would leave the world uninhabitable. (E.B. White)

Examples of Analogy by Thomas Carlyle

Thomas Carlyle was a British writer, historian, philosopher, and mathematician of the 19th Century. His writings often featured analogies that have since appeared in standardized tests of advanced placement English, among others. Carlyle’s analogies are thought-provoking as comparisons and valuable for analysis. Here are some examples:

  • Under all speech that is good for anything, there lies a silence that is better. Silence is deep as Eternity; speech is shallow as Time.
  • No great man lives in vain. The history of the world is but the biography of great men.
  • It has been well said that the highest aim in education is analogous to the highest aim in mathematics, namely, to obtain not results but powers, not particular solutions, but the means by which endless solutions may be wrought.
  • What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books.
  • Music is well said to be the speech of angels; in fact, nothing among the utterances allowed to man is felt to be so divine. It brings us near to the infinite.
  • The block of granite which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak becomes a stepping-stone in the pathway of the strong.
  • Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness, and its power of endurance – the cheerful man will do more in the same time, will do it better, will preserve it longer, than the sad or sullen.
  • Show me the man you honor, and I will know what kind of man you are.

Difference Between Analogy, Metaphor, and Simile

Analogies, similes, and metaphors are all figures of speech used to create comparisons between different entities. These literary devices are often confused with each other, though they can be distinguished. A simile utilizes the words “like” or “as” to make a comparison. A metaphor uses figurative language to compare two things by stating that one is the other. An analogy creates a comparison with the intent of explanation or indicating a larger point.

Here are some examples to help differentiate between these three literary devices:

  • Memory is to love what the saucer is to the cup.– This is an analogy . It explains the abstract relationship between memory and love by making a comparison between the tangible and familiar relationship between a cup and saucer. Though these entities are different in terms of abstract concepts and tangible items, they are alike in the sense that a saucer holds and supports a cup as memory holds and supports love. This analogy provides an interesting image of the relationship between memory and love through the artistic comparison to the saucer and cup.
  • Memory and love are like a saucer and cup. –This figure of speech is a Simile . The presence of the word “like” is the basis of the comparison.
  • Memory and love are a saucer and cup. –This is an example of a Metaphor . The language used in this metaphor is figurative in the sense that the reader knows that memory and love are not literally a saucer and cup. Instead, the example is making a comparison by linking them directly–that one is the other.

Analogy, simile, and metaphor are all useful and related literary devices for writers to make comparisons. The intention of these devices and their wording is what differentiates them from each other.

Writing Analogy

Overall, as a literary device, analogy functions as a means of comparing entities and enhancing the clarity of one entity through connection with the other. This is effective for readers in that analogies create imagery and a deeper understanding of concepts. Therefore, this can enhance the meaning and understanding of a literary work or theme by using artistic language to present ideas in a new way.

There are two primary types of analogy:

  • Identification of identical relationships: Like the word relationships featured above, Greek scholars utilized analogies as direct illustrations of similar relationships between word pairings. These analogies identify identical word relationships based in logic and for the purpose of reasoned argument . They also enhance connections for readers between the meanings of words and concepts.
  • Identification of shared abstraction: This type of analogy creates comparisons between two things that appear unrelated but share an attribute or pattern. The purpose of these analogies is to utilize a reader’s current knowledge of something familiar and connect it to an abstract idea so that it is more concrete in comparison.

Writers benefit from incorporating analogies into their work for the purpose of explaining and connecting ideas for their readers. It’s important for writers to understand that an effective analogy is one in which the comparison is logical and easily understood. An analogy that made an unreasonable or illogical comparison would be an improper use of the literary device.

Types of Analogy: Literal and Figurative

There are two types of analogy. One is literal and the other is figurative. In literal analogy, the comparison is literal, as one thing is stated to be similar to the other. It is used for persuasion in an argument. However, the figurative analogy is based on some features and properties. It mostly occurs through metaphors and similes. Both of these figures of speech are used in figurative analogies.

Types of Analogy in Writing

Analogy occurs at two levels in writing. The first one is the comparison of relationships. Two things are set side by side and their relationship is identified through the use of similes. The second analogical writing is about abstract ideas as two ideas are compared with each other by setting them side by side.

Use of Analogy in Sentences

  • Searching for a chicken in Granma’s soup is like searching for a turtle in the ocean.
  • Abbie’s like a squeaky mouse when she’s on the stage.
  • Water is to the lake as lava is to the volcano.
  • Pedals are to the bicycle as oars are to the boat.
  • Flow is for water as the break is for solid.
  • Drive : Steer :: Live : Breathe (A few analogies used for critical thinking are written in this form)

Examples of Analogy in Literature

Analogy is an effective literary device as a method of creating comparisons and developing meaning. Here are some examples of analogy and the way it enhances the significance of well-known literary works:

Example 1: There is no Frigate like a Book by Emily Dickinson

There is No Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – This Traverse may the poorest take Without oppress of Toll – How frugal is the Chariot That bears the Human Soul –

Example 2: Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

In this stanza , Thomas utilizes several literary devices, including metaphor and simile. As a whole, these lines create an analogy for death. “The dying of the light” signifies death, and that moment is compared to both blindness and sight. This creates a deeper meaning as the poet calls for “rage” against this moment to fight against blindness towards the unknown and the clarity of vision that comes with death.

Example 3: A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers by Henry David Thoreau

This world is but a canvas to our imaginations.

In this analogy, Thoreau compares the world to a canvas in terms of human imagination. To a degree, Thoreau could have created a more abstract comparison by stating that the world is but a canvas, which would have implied creativity, art, beauty in nature, and so on. Instead, he provides the added context of imagination. This allows for clarity as to what Thoreau is trying to convey to his readers, yet the analogy is still comprised of artistic and figurative language.

Synonyms of Analogy

Like other literary devices, it has close synonyms such as likeness, similarity, resemblance, or similitude could prove its synonyms.

Related posts:

  • Importance of Analogy and How to Write with Examples

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Become a Writer Today

What is an Analogy? Explained With 10 Top Examples

What is an analogy? Read our guide with top examples and in-depth explanations so you can wrap your head around this literary device.

Literary devices make your prose more colorful and vivid, allowing the reader to make associations. What is an analogy? An analogy compares two seemingly unlike things to help draw a conclusion by highlighting their similarities. Unlike other comparisons, like similes and metaphors, an analogy gives more detail about the comparison to help the reader understand it better. 

While there are many different types of analogy to study, the best way to understand this and other figures of speech is to consider examples. After reading a few analogies, you will be better equipped to spot them or write your own. And when you have finished here, check out our comparison article, simile vs metaphor .

What is An Analogy?

What are the benefits of using an analogy, analogy examples, 1. a name is a rose from romeo and juliet, 2. life is a shadow from macbeth, 3. the crowd is like a fisherman in “a hanging”, 4. life is like a box of chocolates from forrest gump, 5. pulling out troops is like salted peanuts from henry kissinger, 6. the futility of a new author from cocktail time, 7. the mystery of life in let me count the ways, 8. the push for freedom is like summer’s heat in “i have a dream”, 9. a needle in a haystack, 10. rearranging deck chairs on the titanic, 11. the matrix’s pill analogy, 12. harry potter and the sorcerer’s stone, what is the opposite of an analogy, what is an example of an analogy, what is the simple definition of analogy, what are 5 examples of analogy, what is another word for an analogy.

Top analogy examples to study

An analogy compares two concepts, usually to explain or clarify an idea. Writers use analogies to help people understand complex or abstract topics by relating something abstract to the familiar or concrete. They also use them as a type of literary device to improve the readability of their works.

By highlighting similarities, a writer helps readers see how one thing works or behaves by comparing the characteristics of abstract ideas to more familiar ideas. As a result, a concept or idea becomes easier to understand and even more memorable.

For example, a news reporter could employ this word analogy: “The presidential race for 2024 is like a chessboard…” Teachers use different types of analogies to demonstrate a concept to a student. For this reason, analogy tests often form part of standardized tests in any good English curriculum.

Analogies work in the real world too! For example, if a running coach wants to explain how a runner can run faster, they could use an analogy like “Pump your arms like a train” to help people understand how they should use their arms and legs to run faster. You might also be interested in learning  what is tautology .

Examples of analogies exist in classic literature, the latest books, movies and TV shows. Here are a few:

Romeo And Juliet

Often, analogies compare abstract concepts to something you can touch and feel. There are several examples of analogy in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In this analogy, the playwright compares someone’s name to a rose. The rose retains its sweet smell no matter how it is named, as does the person, regardless of his name. Read our guide to the best books of classic literature .

“If you want my final opinion on the mystery of life and all that, I can give it to you in a nutshell. The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination. But the combination is locked up in the safe.”

Life is a difficult concept to understand, making it a favorite topic for people who write analogies. In Act V of Macbeth, Shakespeare creates an analogy example by comparing a person’s life, and its brevity, to a fleeting shadow:

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more. It is a tale  Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”

Because life is so fleeting, this analogy works. The reader can see the shadow flitting about on the stage, then disappearing, reminding the reader how short life really is. You might also find these  headings and subheadings examples  helpful.

Some analogies take a little more time to explain yet still compare unlike things to make a point. For example, in his essay entitled  A Hanging  George Orwell describes the crowd gripping a man as they lead him to the gallows. The analogy is the comparison to the way a man would hold a slippery fish:

“They crowded very close about him, with their hands always on him in a careful, caressing grip, as though all the while feeling him to make sure he was there. It was like men handling a fish which is still alive and may jump back into the water. But he stood quite unresisting, yielding his arms limply to the ropes, as though he hardly noticed what was happening.”

This analogy is also an example of a simile because it uses the word “like” to make the comparison. However, because it extends beyond just one statement but has a complete description and explanation, it brings more imagery to the reader’s mind and thus is an analogy. Read our guide to the  best satirical authors .

Forrest Gump

Some analogies are short and sweet, rather than taking up an entire literary work. In the movie Forrest Gump, both the title character and his mother refer to life as a “box of chocolates.” In one of the most famous figures of speech from this movie, Forest says:

“My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Though this is a simple statement, it is an example of an analogy. The reader has probably experienced the feeling of grabbing chocolate and wondering what flavor it is, so this is a good analogy. But, like life, that box of chocolates always has the potential to give you the unexpected. You might also be wondering,  what is point of view?

Though technically a historian and not a literary genius, Henry Kissinger was famous for many of his analogies. One of his most commonly quoted is this:

“Withdrawal of U.S. troops will become like salted peanuts to the American public; the more U.S. troops come home, the more will be demanded. This could eventually result, in effect, in demands for unilateral withdrawal.”

This quote comes from a  memorandum Kissinger sent to President Nixon  regarding the conflict in Vietnam. He warned the president that bringing troops home a little at a time would create demand for more withdrawal, just like eating tasty peanuts makes you want to eat more. 

Writing a book is definitely challenging, especially when doing so for the first time. This fact is the source of one famous analogy in literature. In  Cocktail Time , P.G. Wodehouse compares a new author to someone performing an impossible task:

“It has been well said that an author who expects results from a first novel is in a position similar to that of a man who drops a rose petal down the Grand Canyon of Arizona and listens for the echo.”

Clearly, expecting to hear an echo from a rose petal at the Grand Canyon is foolishness. Thus, based on this analogy, the logical argument that expecting to see significant returns from a first novel is also foolish. You might also be wondering  what is a split infinitive .

In his novel  Let Me Count the Ways , Dutch author and journalist  Peter De Vries  compares life and a safe. He writes:

In this analogy, the safe can’t be unlocked. Similarly, the mystery of life is something people can’t fully understand.

I Have A Dream

Speechwriters who are good at their jobs often use analogies to make their words more memorable. In his famous speech, “I Have a Dream,” Martin Luther King, Jr., makes an analogy between the anger of African-Americans and the heat of summer in this quote:

“This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.”

Just like the heat of summer is unquenchable, the frustration of those facing endless prejudice cannot be quenched. Yet when freedom comes, it is like the relief of the cool autumn breeze. This quote is still used today when people remember the famous civil rights activist.

Finding a needle in a haystack is a nearly impossible task. This catchphrase or analogy example is often applied to tasks that seem out of reach. For instance, one common analogy says:

“Finding a good man is as easy as finding a needle in a haystack.”

This analogy indicates it is nearly impossible to find a “good man.” Though unfair to the male gender, it does make its point through the use of analogy. Most people can picture digging through the hay to find a needle, but to no avail, which makes the analogy work.

This analogy does not come from any famous literary work or speech but from a well-known historical moment. The sinking of the Titanic was one such event. Sometimes people, when talking about something futile, will say:

“That’s as useful as rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”

Since the Titanic was a doomed vessel, the futility of the effort is seen in this use of figurative language. The phrase can apply to any effort that would not matter because the result is a failure, like the sinking of the infamous ship. Check out our metonymy examples .

In The Matrix , there is a famous scene where Morpheus presents the red pill/blue pill analogy to Neo. The analogy is a turning point in the movie where Neo has to pick which path he wants to go down. The red pill represents embracing the uncomfortable truth and becoming aware of the real world he lives in. The blue pill represents choosing the familiar and comfortable path where he can remain in his world, oblivious to the dark reality he suspects.

“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone

J.K. Rowling uses analogies throughout her works, often to give insight into the minds and personalities of the characters. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone , Professor Dumbledore speaks to Harry and imparts some of his famous wisdom.

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

In this analogy example sentence, he suggests that while having dreams and aspirations are important, it’s just as important to be grounded and present in the current moment. The analogy aims to show Harry that he should balance his ambition and reality and become mindful in the midst of the chaos that he lives in. It also encourages Harry to let go of regrets and become fully present in his life as it is today.

An antithesis highlights the differences between two contrasting ideas. For example, the analogy “Man plans, and God laughs” shows how we can strive and work towards a goal, only for God or fate to intervene and uproot our best plans. For further reading on a similar subject, check out our post on examples of metaphors in literature .

FAQs About What is an Analogy

An example of an analogy is “Hope is the lighthouse that stands tall amidst the stormy seas of despair.” The analogy emphasizes the idea that hope can help us navigate through the storms of life, guiding us toward a better future and helping us persevere in the face of challenges.

An analogy is a comparison between two things that are alike in some way, often used to help explain something or make it easier to understand.

1. Her laughter was music to his ears. 2. Time is money. 3. He is a shining star in the world of science. 4. The classroom was a zoo during the group activity. 5. Life is a journey with its share of twists and turns.

A related term for analogy is comparison. A comparison is a way of describing the similarities or differences between two things in order to better understand them.

analogy examples for essay

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analogy examples for essay

Analogy Definition

What is an analogy? Here’s a quick and simple definition:

An analogy is a comparison that aims to explain a thing or idea by likening it to something else. For example, a career coach might say, "Being the successful boss or CEO of a company is like being an orchestra conductor: just as the conductor needs to stand up front where everyone— even the musicians in the back row—can see him, a good CEO needs to make sure he or she is visible and available to all of the company's employees." The career coach is not saying that CEOs are exactly like orchestra conductors in every way. Rather, comparing CEOs to conductors through analogy allows the coach to articulate an important leadership quality in a memorable way.

Some additional key details about analogies:

  • Analogy has different meanings in the context of different academic fields. For instance, someone studying logic would say that analogy is "an inference that, if two things are similar in some ways, they must also be alike in others." A cognitive scientist or a lawyer would have a different definition altogether. Despite the term's broad usage, this guide will focus solely on the literary definition of analogy summarized above.
  • Analogy is closely related to metaphor and simile . Sources vary in how they define the relationship between these terms, but most can agree that metaphor and simile are types of analogy.

Analogy Pronunciation

Here's how to pronounce analogy: uh- nal -oh-jee

Analogy Explained

Developing a richer understanding of one thing by comparing it to another is the basic idea behind analogy. Far more than simply an illustrative or explanatory technique, analogies are fundamental to the way people think. The writer Douglas Hofstadter even went so far as to say that analogy is "the core of cognition," suggesting that the most fundamental tool we have for understanding the world is the ability to make comparisons between things.

What Makes an Analogy

Analogies can be broken down into two elements: the target and the source . The target is the unknown concept—the thing that the analogy seeks to explain—while the source (also referred to as the analog ) is the known concept, or the thing used to explain the target.

For example, if you've ever seen the Disney movie Shrek , you may remember the phrase "ogres are like onions." In a memorable scene, the ogre (Shrek) tries to explain something about the true nature of ogres to his non-ogre friend by saying:

"Ogres are like onions... Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. You get it? We both have layers."

Shrek creates an analogy comparing the source (something familiar and known, in this case an onion) to the target (something mysterious and unknown, in this case ogres). His goal is to reveal something about ogres (the unfamiliar target ) by showing that he's not so different from onions (the familiar source ) . Not all analogies are as cut-and-dry as this one, but Shrek's comparison is a good example of the basic structure of analogies. Keep in mind, it's perfectly acceptable to analyze analogies without talking about targets and sources—but these terms can be helpful in understanding the structure of analogies, especially with more complicated examples.

Analogy, Metaphor, and Simile

Analogy, metaphor and simile are all similar in that they all have to do with making comparisons. But there's some debate about the precise nature of the relationship between these three concepts. There are two main camps in this debate:

  • The first camp believes that metaphor and simile are types of analogies.
  • The second camp believes that metaphor and simile are not types of analogies, but distinct tools that can be used to articulate analogy.

Camp 1: Metaphors and Similes are Types of Analogies

Members of this camp see analogies as a broader category into which metaphors and similes fit. They would say that metaphors are implicit analogies, while similes are explicit analogies. In other words, metaphors implicitly perform the function of analogy—pointing out similarities between two different things—by saying that something is something else. For example, "Juliet is the sun." People in the first camp would argue that the metaphor "Juliet is the sun" is a type of analogy because it operates by making an implicit comparison, such as "Juliet and the sun are similar; just like the sun, Juliet is radiant and fills Romeo's days with light." Meanwhile, first-campers would say that the simile "Juliet is like the sun" is also a type of analogy because it draws a comparison explicitly by saying that something is like something else in some respect: "Juliet is beautiful like the sun."

Camp 2: Metaphors and Similes are Tools for Making Analogies

The second camp, however, would say that the metaphor "Juliet is the sun" does not count as analogy. Instead, they would say that the metaphor is being used as a tool to support the distinct and overarching analogy between a woman and the sun. Similarly, second-campers would say that the sentence "Juliet is beautiful like the sun" is a simile which supports the overall analogy comparing Juliet to a celestial body.

The second camp argues that analogy is distinct from metaphors and similes. It argues that analogy is a rational type of argument or explanation—that analogy is the actual conceptual comparison being made. In contrast, it argues that metaphor and simile are figures of speech —that is, they are literary devices or tools whose purpose is to describe something with figurative language rather than to explain or argue something.

However, this distinction can start to seem fuzzy when you start to ask where "describing" ends and "explaining" begins. When Romeo says that "Juliet is the sun," isn't he—in addition to describing her beauty— e xplaining to the reader his love for Juliet by comparing it to the sun?

Summing up the Camp 1 and Camp 2 Debate

It's not necessarily the case that one camp's view is better or more proper than the other, but the first camp's definition of the relationship between analogy, metaphor, and simile is more common—if only because it's not as rigid as the second camp's definition. That said, you only need to know that there are these competing definitions, and then be able to say why you think a given example is an analogy, simile, or metaphor based on the definition you think best fits each term.

Analogy Examples

Analogy in shakespeare's romeo and juliet.

In this example from Act 2 Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet , Juliet Capulet puzzles over the main obstacle in her love for Romeo Montague: the Capulet and Montague families are rivals. She creates an analogy comparing Romeo to a rose, reasoning that just as the "sweetness" or loveliness of a rose is entirely independent of its name, the "perfection" she sees in Romeo is independent of—and not at all compromised by— his name and family:

’Tis but thy name that is my enemy. Thou art thyself, though not a Montague. What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part Belonging to a man. O, be some other name! What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other word would smell as sweet. So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d, Retain that dear perfection which he owes Without that title.

Analogy in Shakespeare's As You Like It

The melancholy character Jaques crafts the following analogy in Act 2 Scene 7 of As You Like It . In one of the most famous lines from all of Shakespeare, Jaques compares the world to stage, and each individual to an actor playing a part that changes with age.

All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms. Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon's mouth...

Jaques concludes his speech by describing the remaining three "parts" or "seven ages": those of the Just Leader, The Silly Old Man who thinks he's still young, and the Truly Old Man who's as helpless as a baby. Using this analogy to compare "the world" to "a stage," and by extension "life" to "a play," allows Jaques to point out what he sees as a fundamental aspect of both real and theatrical experience: performance. These lines function as a particularly powerful analogy when read aloud in the theater, because they simultaneously demand that audience members confront the ways in which they're performing their own lives, remind them of their own mortality, and collapse the traditional boundary between actors on the stage and the audience watching them.

Analogy in Robert M. Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

In Chapter 26 of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance , the narrator attempts to describe his philosophical world view by drawing an analogy between knowledge and a train.

The narrator's concept of "Quality" refers to a holistic, balanced manner of existing in the world. The narrator believes that in modern life, we often fail to achieve Quality because we create an artificial distinction between an artistic, "Romantic" way of living life—being "in the moment," not stopping to analyze or reflect on things—and a scientific, "Classical" way of living life which involves analyzing how pragmatic things (like technology) work. Through the analogy of the Train, the narrator argues that both the Classical and Romantic modes of thought are necessary to living a balanced life in pursuit of Quality:

In my mind now is an image of a huge, long railroad train...In terms of the analogy, Classic Knowledge, the knowledge taught by the Church of Reason, is the engine and all the boxcars. All of them and everything that’s in them. If you subdivide the train into parts you will find no Romantic Knowledge anywhere. And unless you’re careful it’s easy to make the presumption that’s all the train there is. This isn’t because Romantic Knowledge is non-existent or even unimportant. It’s just that so far the definition of the train is static and purposeless...The real train of knowledge isn’t a static entity that can be stopped and subdivided. It’s always going somewhere. On a track called Quality...Romantic reality is the cutting edge of experience. It’s the leading edge of the train of knowledge that keeps the whole train on the track... The leading edge is where absolutely all the action is. The leading edge contains all the infinite possibilities of the future. It contains all the history of the past. Where else could they be contained?...At the leading edge there are no subjects. No objects, only the track of Quality ahead, and if you have no formal way of evaluating, no way of acknowledging this Quality, then the train has no way of knowing where to go.

Just as a train can't exist without its engine, its boxcars, or its lead locomotive, so too—the narrator argues—Quality cannot be pursued without applying both Classical and Romantic knowledge in a balanced way. This is a long and, obviously, complex example of analogy.

Analogy in Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger

The White Tiger tells the story of Balram Halwai, a self-made entrepreneur who (somewhat illegally) works his way up from the bottom rungs of the social ladder in Indian society. In Chapter 5, Balram introduces the analogy of the Rooster Coop to explain how members of the Indian elite repress the poor:

The greatest thing to come out of this country in the ten thousand years of its history is the Rooster Coop. Go to Old Delhi, behind the Jama Masjid, and look at the way they keep chickens there in the market. Hundreds of pale hens and brightly coloured roosters, stuffed tightly into wire-mesh cages, packed as tightly as worms in a belly, pecking each other and shitting on each other, jostling just for breathing space; the whole cage giving off a horrible stench – the stench of terrified, feathered flesh. On the wooden desk above this coop sits a grinning young butcher, showing off the flesh and organs of a recently chopped-up chicken, still oleaginous with a coating of dark blood. The roosters in the coop smell the blood from above. They see the organs of their brothers lying around them. They know they’re next. Yet they do not rebel. They do not try to get out of the coop. The very same thing is done with human beings in this country.

Balram uses the concrete, ordinary image of a rooster coop to explain the invisible but cruel forces constraining India's poor from making social progress. Not only does he use the rooster coop as an analog for his country, but he also uses it to justify his own behavior throughout the novel.

Why Do Writers Use Analogies?

Writers, and people in general, use analogies for a wide variety of reasons:

  • To explain a new, unfamiliar concept in relatable and easy-to-understand terms.
  • To help the reader make a new, insightful connection between two different entities.
  • To appeal to the reader's sense of reason or logic when proving a point.

The anthropologist Mark Nichter once said (using an analogy) that "a good analogy is like a plow which can prepare a population's field of associations for the planting of a new idea." In other words, analogies pull together information and knowledge we have already stored to create novel combinations, which become the foundation for new ideas.

Other Helpful Analogy Resources

  • The Wikipedia Page on Analogy: A very wide-ranging yet thorough explanation of analogy and its varied uses across disciplines.
  • The Dictionary Definition of Analogy: A basic definition and etymology of the term—it comes from the Greek analogia meaning "proportion."
  • Analogy in action: An interesting article from Entrepreneur Magazine entitled, "4 Leadership Lessons Learned From Orchestra Conductors."
  • Analogy on Youtube: The "Ogres are like Onions" scene from Disney's Shrek .

The printed PDF version of the LitCharts literary term guide on Analogy

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What Is an Analogy? Analogy Meaning and 100+ Analogy Examples

You may be wondering what an analogy is. While the concept is long gone from the SAT test, analogies are still used a great deal in everyday life. We’ll explore what an analogy is and give you some analogy examples in this article.

Table of Contents

What Is an Analogy?

An analogy is a comparison of two things in which one idea or concept is compared to something entirely different. While the two things might be totally different, the analogy compels the readers to realize their association. Sometimes, the analogy provides a comparison between two similar things, one of which might be hidden. The analogy gives a reader a way to understand the hidden thing by picturing the more common thing.

According to Merriam-Webster , an analogy is a comparison of two unlike things based on the resemblance of a particular aspect.  See the following example:

Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get. – Forrest Gump

In this case, Forrest Gump is comparing life to a box of chocolates.This exact comparison is considered a simile as we’ll get to in the next section.

In this post, we will learn about different types of analogy and their examples. So, without delay let’s get started.

Where Does the Word “Analogy” Come From?

The word analogy comes from the Greek word analogia. The word is made of the prefix ana and suffix logos . Ana means “again,” “upon,” or “back,” while the word logia means “ speech,” “word,” or “ratio. ” Together the word means something similar to “proportion.”

What Are the Different Types of Analogy?

The following literary devices qualify as analogies. Let’s learn about them one-by-one.

A metaphor is a figure of speech that makes an implied or hidden comparison between two things that are not related, but share common characteristics . For example, “He is the black sheep of the family, ”

Here the black sheep phrase is used to indicate a person who is considered worthless by other people in that family. However, it does not mean the person is actually black or sheep.

A metaphor compares two subjects without using words such as “as,” “like,” etc. Since metaphors declare one thing is another, they are regarded as an intense form of an analogy.

Like a metaphor, this analogy also creates a comparison between two things. However, it uses connecting words such as “as” or “like.” While it’s not as strong as a metaphor, it still lets the reader understand the similarity between two things and make a new cognitive link.

Your voice is as sweet as sugar.

A parable is generally a fictitious short story that illustrates an educational lesson or principle. Some of the popular fables that are parables include:

  • The Fox and The Crow – Aesop
  • The Lion and the Mouse – Aesop
  • The Tortoise and the Hare – Aesop

Like a parable, allegory is also a story in which characters act as symbols. These symbols can be interpreted to explain a moral truth or a historical situation.

Animal Farm by George Orwell is a perfect example of Allegory.


Exemplification uses various examples to add more information to a general idea. It is a relationship between a sample and what that sample refers to.

Example from Wikipedia : “For instance, when a patch of green paint is used as a colour sample. The sample refers to green by possessing it and thus being referred to by the word denoting it. The sample  exemplifies  green, it stands for it, and in this way  exemplification is a mode of reference.”

Analogy Examples in Everyday Use

  • Time is money, so spend it wisely.
  • His brother is sly like a fox.
  • She is as busy as a bee nowadays.
  • She is as light as a feather.
  • Socks are just the gloves of the feet.
  • She found it under a blanket of sand.
  • There is a garden on his face.
  • The new parents have stars in their eyes.
  • He is living in a bubble.
  • Finding the right person is like finding a needle in a haystack.
  • My father is my rock in hard times.
  • Talking to her is like talking to a brick wall.
  • Last night I slept the sleep of the dead.
  • I would be pleased to meet your better half.
  • My brother is as strong as an ox.
  • He was as quiet as a church mouse.
  • Always see the problem as a speed bump, not a roadblock.
  • He was quick like a bunny.

Analogy Examples in Literature

The analogy has a significant role in literature. Authors use it to make a comparison between similar or dissimilar things, to help readers imagine places and characters, and to suggest a more profound significance . Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato also fostered analogy in literature, calling it a shared abstraction. Check out some classic examples of analogies in literature.

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet. So Romeo would were he not Romeo called.”

In the above lines of the play, you can notice Shakespeare used the analogy to equate Romeo to a rose’s sweetness.

The House in Paris by Elizabeth Bowen

“Memory is to love what the saucer is to the cup.”

Bowen’s novel The House in Paris also uses analogy smartly in various places. For example, in the above phrase, the writer used the analogy to compare a cup and saucer’s relationship with love and memory.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage.” 

In Act 5 of his tragic play Macbeth, William Shakespeare used the analogy to compare life to a passing shadow.

Let Me Count the Ways by Peter De Vries

“If you want my final opinion on the mystery of life and all that, I can give it to you in a nutshell. The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination.”

In the above example of analogy, Vries compares the universe to a safe which can’t be unlocked.

Analogy Examples

Analogies play an essential role in writing to explain something important by comparing two different things that have some common traits. However, in verbal and word analogies, they are more like logic puzzles. The word or verbal analogies also compare two different things, but they do so by breaking them into parts to notice how they are related .

See the following examples of word analogies.

Moon :night :: sun :day

When you read the above analogy aloud, it says the moon is to night as the sun is to day.

Let’s have a look at some more word analogies.

  • Pencil :write :: scissors :cut
  • Apple :fruit :: carrot :vegetable
  • Football: field :: tennis :court
  • Hot :oven :: cold refrigerator
  • Cow :mammal :: snake :reptile
  • Turtle :crawl ::frog :hop
  • Bow :arrow ::bat :ball
  • Raft :river ::ski :snow
  • Pretty :ugly :: smile: frown
  • Bedroom :sleeping :: Kitchen :cooking
  • Football :field :: tennis :court.

Analogies used to be a section in the SAT exam , but they were removed in 2005 since these questions were criticized for being irrelevant to success in a college or work environment.

So these are some analogy examples. We hope they improve your understanding of an analogy.

What is a false analogy?

An analogy compares two premises for what they both have in common. A false analogy implies a link between two premises based on what those two premises have in common. In other words, if two objects have one attribute in common, then they must have other attributes in common.

An easy false analogy example is:

Bob and Mark both drive sedans. Bob is a doctor so therefore Mark must also be a doctor.

Analogies and false analogies can both be used in an argument, but where the analogy would be derived from a fact, a false analogy would be based on a hypothesis. Whereas an analogy would be used as a rhetorical device in favor of a winning argument, a false analogy would be a misleading deduction based on the speaker’s lack of insight.

Classic Analogies

Classic analogies are known for their powerful imagery and ingenuity. False analogies are often dismissed for their obvious lack of logic and imagination. Classic analogies are often found in literature.

In his play, “Romeo and Juliet”, Shakespeare would of often use analogies to have his characters put into words the feelings they would otherwise not know how to express. In the famous balcony scene in “Romeo and Juliet”, Juliet is caught trying to persuade herself not to hide her feelings from her lover, as Romeo hears her saying

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet”.

Juliet is thus establishing a comparison between her lover’s name and that of a rose’s. She does so through an analogy: she compares her lover’s name to that of a rose’s , so she can find them both beautiful, yet completely devoid of meaning.

Had she used a false analogy, she would have had to compare her lover’s features to that of a rose’s, in order to win the argument. She would have had to compare Romeo’s hair to a rose’s petals and his feet to a rose’s stalk and her entire argument would have collapsed.

Just because Romeo’s name sounds as sweet as that of a rose’s, that doesn’t mean that Romeo would need to shares any of his other qualities with a rose. Had she built from a premise of them sharing the same beautiful sounding name, she would have reached a false conclusion, as that sweet loving sound is the only link between them.

The fact that her Romeo and a rose could be called by any other name is the only comparison she needs. The reason she picked a rose is that she needed a subject completely unrelated to her Romeo. She needed an analogy to get her point across. She got one.

100 Examples of Word Analogy

Below are 100 examples of anlaogies.

1. Rose is to flower as blue is to color 2. Father is to mother as uncle is to aunt 3. Puppy is to dog as kitten is to cat 4. In is to out as up is to down 5. Hearing is to ear as seeing is to eye 6. State is to country as country is to continent 7. Rock is to mountain as sand is to beach 8. Cover is to book as pillowcase is to pillow 9. Captain is to ship as pilot is to airplane

10. Snowflake is to snow as raindrop is to rain 11. Mother is to child as cub is to bear 12. Hat is to head as gloves are to hands 13. Penny is to dime as $1 bill is to $10 bill 14. Key is to a lock as combination is to a safe 15. Big is to little as wide is to narrow 16. Canoe is to ship as car is to bus 17. White is to black as day is to night 18. Chair is to sit as bed is to lay down 19. United States is to Washington DC as Albany is to New York

20. Meow is to cat as bark is to dog 21. Beach hat is to summer as earmuffs are to winter 22. Cheering fans are like squawking turkeys 23. Waiting for a special day is like watching grass grow 24. Homeruns are to baseball as touchdowns are to football 25. Colorful leaves are to autumn as buds are to spring 26. Vacation is to fun as workdays are to drudgery 27. Ants are to beetles as sparrows are to crows 28. Recycling is to ecology as dumping is to pollution 29. A full moon is like a glow-in-the-dark frisbee

30. A furnace is to heat as an air-conditioner is to cool 31. A compliment is to an insult as a smile is to a scowl 32. Babe Ruth is to baseball as Michael Jordan is to basketball 33. Flying a kite without wind is like sledding without snow 34. Assembling furniture with no instructions is like driving in the dark with no headlights 35. Uninvited guests are like ants at a picnic 36. Reading a good novel is like going on an adventure 37. Words are to sentences as numbers are to equations 38. A solution to a problem is like a cure to an illness 39. Math is to numbers as English is to letters

40. Paper is to origami as clay is to sculpture 41. Coach is to a team as a conductor is to an orchestra 42. A bullseye is to archery as a hole in one is to golf 43. Dermatologist is to doctor as orthodontist is to dentist 44. Arborist is to tree as veterinarian is to animal 45. Keys are to piano as strings are to guitar 46. Commercials are to television as ads are to magazines 47. Trophy is to achievement as souvenir is to vacation 48. Breakfast is to morning as dinner is to evening 49. Heroes are courageous as cowards are afraid

50. Verses are to greeting cards as lyrics are to songs 51. Robin is to bird as poodle is to dog 52. Run is to jog as walk is to amble 53. Panes are to windows as shingles are to roofs 54. Eraser is to pencil as stain remover is to carpet 55. Gift wrap is to gift as mailing envelope is to package 56. Bland is to spicy as white bread is to jalapeno 57. Pumpkin is to orange as pine tree is to green 58. Tree is to forest as person is to crowd 59. Pitcher is to baseball as quarterback is to football

60. Black cat is to Halloween as reindeer is to Christmas 61. Broccoli is to vegetable as apple is to fruit 62. Monopoly is to board games as Old Maid is to card games 63. Garages are to cars as stables are to horses 64. Pediatricians are to children as veterinarians are to pets 65. Drumsticks are to drummers as paintbrushes are to painters 66. Icing on a cake is like sprinkles on ice cream 67. A kangaroo’s pouch is like a mother’s baby carrier 68. Lose is to find as fail is to succeed 69. Sickness is to health as poverty is to riches

70. Education is to teacher as healthcare is to doctor 71. Tan is to brown as pink is to red 72. Old-fashioned is to modern as Model T Ford is to Tesla 73. Quaint is to village as fast-paced is to city 74. Goalie is to hockey team as catcher is to baseball team 75. Seamstress is to fabric as carpenter is to wood 76. A nail is to a hammer as a screw is to a screwdriver 77. Trout is to fish as finch is to bird 78. Knee is to leg as elbow is to arm 79. Polite is to rude as generous is to stingy

80. Driver is to car as pilot is to airplane 81. East is to west as north is to south 82. Trial is to courtroom as wedding is to banquet hall 83. Flower is to bouquet as a charm is to a charm bracelet 84. Fish is to fin as bird is to wing 85. Crossword is to puzzle as mystery is to novel 86. Mason is to brick as painter is to paint 87. Grazing is to sheep as snacking is to people 88. Wound is to painful as hive is to itchy 89. The Nutcracker is to ballet as Carmen is to opera

90. Earrings are to ears as bracelets are to wrists 91. Article is to newspaper as show is to television 92. Skiing is to winter as surfing is to summer 93. Lanes are to bowling as courts are to tennis 94. Ovens are for baking as toasters are for toasting 95. Bear is to mammal as crocodile is to reptile 96. Spain is to Europe as Venezuela is to South America 97. Clock is to time as thermometer is to temperature 98. Worm is to soil as sandworm is to sand 99. California is to west coast as Florida is to east coast 100 Trowel is to gardening as a glue gun is to crafting

What Is An Analogy And Types Of Analogy


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analogy examples for essay

Analogy: Definition & Meaning (with Examples)

Cover image for analogy article

Analogy is one of the most common types of literary devices. It's also one of the hardest to understand because it's similar to other types of figurative language. Today, we're going to dive into the meaning of analogy with in-depth explanations and examples.

What is an analogy

Analogy Definition: What Is an Analogy?

Let's start with the dictionary definition of an analogy. According to Merriam-Webster, an analogy is "a comparison of two otherwise unlike things based on a resemblance of a particular aspect."

We use analogies all the time in speaking and fields like history and science. They help us illustrate a point that might be hard to comprehend. For example, we might make an analogy between the Trail of Tears of U.S. History and the Jewish Diaspora of World History. In biology, you might discuss the analogous relationship of bat wings and bird wings.

As a literary device, however, analogy's meaning has more nuance that separates it from other types of rhetorical devices. Let's look at the literary meaning of analogy in more detail in the next section.

Analogy Meaning

What is a literary analogy

As a rhetorical device, analogy compares two unlike things with the purpose of both illustrating a comparison and explaining it. You aren't just trying to show a similarity when you use an analogy. You are also trying to make a point about this similarity.

Analogies can be useful to explain complex concepts by comparing them to a familiar idea. Analogies also help paint a picture in a reader's mind and add emphasis to important ideas in writing.

Let's take a look at a popular example of an analogy from the movie Forrest Gump . In the movie, Forrest says that his mother always told him, "Life is like a box of chocolates—you never know what you're gonna get."

If Forrest just said that life was like a box of chocolates, we would wonder what the similarity is. What point is he trying to get across? It might be that life is sweet or that life is a gift from someone who loves you. But then he explains that we never know where life will take us or what circumstances we will fall into. We don't know until we get there; we can't see the future.

He's not just painting a picture about life. He's making a point about the uncertainty of life and the many twists and turns it takes. This analogy goes further and illustrates the entire premise of the film. Forrest goes from being a boy in leg braces to an international ping pong champion to a dad. No one could have predicted that!

Analogies look similar to other types of figurative language. So, what's the difference?

Analogy vs. Metaphor

Metaphor vs analogy

A metaphor is a figure of speech that shows a likeness between two otherwise different things. The point of a metaphor is comparison. For example, we can say, "the kids were a bunch of monkeys today." We are comparing kids to monkeys.

An analogy not only compares but explains. "The kids were a bunch of monkeys today, climbing all over the furniture, running all over the house, and shrieking."

As you can see, an analogy might feature a metaphor, but it goes further in making a point. This is also different from an extended metaphor. An extended metaphor continues to use a comparison to illustrate similarities of two objects. An analogy requires some explicit explanation to make its point.

Analogy vs. Simile

Metaphor vs simile

A simile is a type of metaphor, but it uses "like" or "as" to draw comparisons. Just like with a metaphor, an analogy might use a simile to compare two things, but then the analogy goes on to explain the idea behind it.

The Forrest Gump quote is an example of this. The part of the quote, "Life is like a box of chocolates," is a simile. The next part of the quote that tells how life and a box of chocolates are related is what makes this quote an analogy.

Many analogies use similes and metaphors to make comparisons, but it is not required.

Analogy vs. Allusion

Metaphor vs allusion

Another figurative language element that is easy to confuse with analogy is allusion.

Allusion is a mention of a person, place, or thing that is considered common knowledge. It's often a reference to a famous person or event or a well-known story, like fairy tales, myths, or religious parables.

Allusion is a way to compare two things. Let's look at an example:

  • "The books on the top shelf were forbidden fruit."

Forbidden fruit refers to the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in the Bible. This is an allusion. We can draw enough conclusions from this allusion to understand what the books represent.

Allusions can be part of analogies, too. Remember, where allusions compare, analogies explain:

  • "If the library was Eden, the books on the top shelf were forbidden fruit. They opened my eyes to a world beyond the life I had always known."

All of these are useful types of figurative language. The difference lies in the purpose. If the goal is to explain an idea or get a specific point across, it's an analogy.

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Analogies, Idioms, and Clichés

Sometimes analogies become so well-known that they become part of our everyday lexicon. Idioms are phrases that don't make sense literally, but they do make sense figuratively. Overused idioms can become clichés.

An example of an analogy that is a cliché is "she's as blind as a bat." It's a very overused comparison. Use ProWritingAid's Clichés Report to help identify the clichés and idioms in your writing. While some common analogies might help you get your point across, some can actually hinder your writing's clarity, especially to non-native speakers.

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Analogy Examples

You probably hear or read analogy examples all the time—they're a common rhetorical device. Today, we'll take a look at some analogy examples from everyday sentences and literature.

Examples of Analogy in a Sentence

Humans love figurative language, and we create analogies in our everyday speech. Here are some examples.

  • Ordering clothes online is like playing the lottery. Some fit great, and some are a complete waste of money when they don't even go over your head!
  • His voice was warm honey on toast, sweet and comforting and familiar.
  • She thought the sound of babies crying was as annoying as fingernails on a chalkboard. Babies definitely weren't for her.

Can you create any analogies?

Examples of Analogy in Literature

Analogy is a powerful rhetorical device. Here are some famous examples of analogy in literature:

  • "All the world’s a stage / And all the men and women merely players / They have their exits and their entrances / And one man in his time plays many parts / His acts being seven ages."— As You Like It , William Shakespeare
  • “I can admire the perfect murderer—I can also admire a tiger—that splendid tawny-striped beast. But I will admire him from outside his cage. I will not go inside . . . . That is to say, not unless it is my duty to do so. For you see, Mr. Shaitana, the tiger might spring . . . .”— Cards on the Table , Agatha Christie
  • "Memory is to love what the saucer is to the cup."— The House in Paris , Elizabeth Bowen

Tips on How to Write an Analogy

How to create an analogy

When you're writing an analogy to express an idea, it's important to keep two things in mind. First, make sure that at least one of the two things you're comparing is familiar and easy to understand. An analogy should make your point clear to the reader, not leave them confused! Animal or nature imagery, allusions to well-known tales, and everyday objects are good things to use in your analogies.

Secondly, make sure that your comparison is clear without much explanation. If you compare a shy, demure princess to a tiger, you need to explain what specific aspects of the princess and the tiger are similar. Is she ferocious when her loved ones are attacked? Does she prefer to spend time alone outdoors and seethe when caged?

If it takes too many sentences to explain the analogy, try using different imagery that is simpler to understand.

Different Types of Analogy

There are two main types of analogy. These are based on how closely related the two things being compared are.

Literal analogy vs figurative analogy

Literal Analogy

The first type of analogy is a literal analogy. When two things are very closely related, we compare them with literal analogies. These are the types of analogies commonly used in science. Literal analogies can help scientists draw comparisons or make a logical argument.

For example, a virologist might compare the viral structure of two different viruses. If the virus has a similar structure and similar symptoms to another, they are analogous. This will help them theorize that the second virus can be treated similarly to the first.

Literal analogies don't have to be just for science! If you're a baker, you might know that you can make a cheesecake out of either cream cheese or mascarpone. As an analogy, we can say that mascarpone is a lot like cream cheese. They both have high fat content, are very soft, and are not aged.

Literal analogies are the type you might see on standardized tests. They used to feature on the SAT and looked like this: A:B::C:D. You can read literal analogies as "A is to B as C is to D."

Here's a simple example:

  • Night is to sleep as morning is to wake .

Standardized tests would have one or more of the words blank, and you had to determine the connection in the analogy. How are they connected?

Figurative Analogy

A figurative analogy makes a comparison between two or more things that aren't necessarily that similar at first glance. The analogy focuses on making a comparison based on a specific aspect of the unrelated things. This is called shared abstraction .

Take a look at the following analogy:

  • "Giving candy and coffee as appreciation gifts is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. It's not actually fixing the issues that are causing low morale, like low pay, long hours, and micromanaging."

If the Titanic is sinking, it's pointless to rearrange deck chairs. Likewise, this quote suggests spending money on little gifts is pointless because it's not addressing the real issues at hand that are causing employee dissatisfaction.

No one is suggesting that low morale at a company is the same thing as the hundreds of lives lost on the Titanic. The shared abstraction is doing something pointless in the face of a disaster.

Should You Use Analogies in Your Writing?

Analogies are powerful literary devices because they create an image in the reader's mind while making a point in a deeper way than a metaphor. Remember, an analogy compares two objects with the purpose of explaining a deeper idea. A literal analogy compares two very similar objects, while a figurative analogy relies on shared abstractions.

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  • Literary Terms

When & How to write an Analogy

  • Definition & Examples
  • When & How to write an Analogy

How to Write an Analogy

You should use analogies in your writing when you want to show strong support by comparison. Here are some examples of how to use them:

Normal Sentence:

He ran incredibly fast in the race.

With Analogy:

In the race, he ran with the grace and speed of a cheetah—smooth, flawless, and natural, as if he had been raised running across the plains of Africa.

Those two are very close.

Those two unlikely friends are surprisingly close, like a shark and its cleaner fish—though they have different qualities and purposes, it is clear that neither could survive without the

Although analogies are useful and essential devices, they can be surprisingly difficult to use effectively! You don’t want to make comparisons to just anything, or your writing may start to look sloppy and careless. Here are some examples of poor analogies to show you the kinds of common mistakes you should try to avoid:

Poor Analogy : He ran as fast as a cheetah in the race.

Why It’s Poor : Wait, there was a cheetah in the race? No, of course not. That phrase is a dangling modifier . So just move it to the beginning, as in the sentence above (“In the race, he ran…”).

Poor Analogy : On that warm summer day, we went down to the beach, where the sand was as white as snow.

Why It’s Poor : The author has done so much to show the reader that the setting is a warm, sunny beach in summer. But the word “snow” completely undermines that by bringing up images of cold, grey winter. Rather than improving  the imagery, the analogy actually works against it.

When to Use Analogy

Analogies can be an extremely powerful addition to your writing, so experiment! Using analogies is a really useful skill for improving your powers of logic, reasoning, and writing, and the best way to learn it is to practice.

When you experiment with analogies in your writing, keep the following principles in mind:

  • Make sure it’s clear what aspect(s) of the two objects you want to compare.
  • Draw an analogy to something concrete , ideally something that people can actually visualize in their minds. If you’re trying to explain an abstract idea, it doesn’t help to compare it to another abstract idea, but it might help a lot if you compare it to something tangible!
  • If you’re using analogies in creative writing, make sure they’re suited to the setting ! If the story is set on a boat, try to use analogies having to do with water or islands. Remember the example with the sand and the snow. In that case, the problem was that the setting was all wrong – snow doesn’t belong on a warm, sandy beach!

List of Terms

  • Alliteration
  • Amplification
  • Anachronism
  • Anthropomorphism
  • Antonomasia
  • APA Citation
  • Aposiopesis
  • Autobiography
  • Bildungsroman
  • Characterization
  • Circumlocution
  • Cliffhanger
  • Comic Relief
  • Connotation
  • Deus ex machina
  • Deuteragonist
  • Doppelganger
  • Double Entendre
  • Dramatic irony
  • Equivocation
  • Extended Metaphor
  • Figures of Speech
  • Flash-forward
  • Foreshadowing
  • Intertextuality
  • Juxtaposition
  • Literary Device
  • Malapropism
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Parallelism
  • Pathetic Fallacy
  • Personification
  • Point of View
  • Polysyndeton
  • Protagonist
  • Red Herring
  • Rhetorical Device
  • Rhetorical Question
  • Science Fiction
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
  • Synesthesia
  • Turning Point
  • Understatement
  • Urban Legend
  • Verisimilitude
  • Essay Guide
  • Cite This Website

What Is Analogy and How to Use It in Your Essay


Table of contents

  • 1 Types of Analogies
  • 2 How Does Analogy Compare and Enhance Writing?
  • 3 Metaphor and Simile: Cornerstones of Analogy (What This Greek Word Means?)
  • 4 Crafting Effective Analogies Eight Steps Guide
  • 5 Polishing Your Writing Style With Analogy Examples

Analogy is a literary technique that compares related or unrelated concepts, events, or notions to one another. Before writing an analogy, you should know that this concept can implement other literary devices like metaphors or allegories.

This article sets the stage for exploring the diverse landscape of analogical writing.

As you progress, you will also:

  • Define examples of analogies and discover how they elevate your essay-writing skills.
  • You will learn how analogy enhances essay writing and why it can help you improve your style.
  • Examine and master the use of metaphor and simile.
  • Master an eight-step PapersOwl guide to learn how to craft effective analogies quickly.

Before we proceed with practical examples and dive deep into theory, let’s start with the analogy definition.

Definition of Analogy in Writing

An analogy in essay writing represents a description that compares this to that by simplifying a certain idea. What you compare may have or may not have similarities. The use of comparative language is common for an analogy. One may encounter phrases like “experienced like an old dog” or “writing essays as a busy working bee.” An analogy general idea can be made between what a young child can do and what modern computers can generate. You can compare and persuade. Likewise, a  persuasive essay author can provide an analogy between a youngster and artificial intelligence.

Analogy’s purpose is to draw comparisons and a more detailed image with a clearer description. When an unknown concept is represented, literal analogies bring more clarity. When you are asked to create a connection between unrelated concepts, analogies become helpful. When you encounter metaphors, similes, or allegories, it indicates their practical use.

Types of Analogies

Speaking of types of analogies in writing, one should focus on various types of relations.

  • Analogies that identify identical relationships . These analogy examples are most common as they talk about related concepts. It is like Los Angeles to the United States or guitar to piano. By learning how to write an analogy, one can see the relation between the same country or the musical instrument analogy.
  • Analogies that identify shared abstraction. An analogy of figurative language stands for shared abstractions comparing something unrelated. It aims to find commonalities or patterns that make sense. Such cases can compare learning a foreign language to watering seeds that grow into flowers as time passes. Since it is the journey, not the destination, it helps to understand the abstractive language.
  • A relation of a certain part to something whole analogy . It is a comparison of two sets of the same object or two parts of the same concept.
  • Cause-and-effect relation analogy. It speaks of causes like the lack of water, which causes dehydration.
  • Source to product. Think about the wood and the piano manufacturing common analogies.
  • Object and a clear purpose. This one can talk about books and reading or water and swimming.
  • Comparison of typical characteristics. If something is essential for an object, it becomes the source of the analogy between them.
  • Coming from something general to specific parts. You can make an analogy by offering a good detective book by comparing two or more things.
  • Metaphors and Allegories. These elements of an analogy in poetry add creativity and literary power, like being tired as a dog or feeling hungry like a wolf.

Tip: Using literal analogies can enhance your writing by building a strong connection between concepts. For example, when you need to provide a  literature analysis essay assignment, you use the creativity and imagination of the author by seeking analogies, among other things.

How Does Analogy Compare and Enhance Writing?

The most important element of using analogy examples in your essay is its enhancement. From clarity to a better description, it offers a mental bridge to the readers. If something in an essay is obscure or complex, an analogy makes it easier to understand demanding concepts.

  • Creating Vivid Mental Images.

An analogy compares things and shows a way to help people understand things. When we compare raising children to building a house brick after brick, we receive an instant mental image. Similarly, adding creative writing to an essay helps to enhance the emotional state of things.

  • Simplifying Complex Concepts.

Analogy examples help to simplify things that are overly complicated and demanding. It can be used in engineering or healthcare when a certain action is compared to what people know in practice. Likewise, comparing chemical aspects of work to cooking or culinary and human taste can help to simplify things. It is a practical example that gives people more accessible things they can easily connect with.

  • Using Analogy to Influence and Convince.

An analogy compares marketing and business writing concepts when the main purpose is to motivate customers. The same is true when the author has to convince. Think about social or environmental causes where cause-and-effect rhetorical devices can become a turning point for readers. A good comparison with a logical argument can help inspire and simplify things, even in marketing. Due to their explanatory nature, analogies are common in  argumentative writing essays or school debates.

  • Rhetorical Devices and Analogy.

Most analogies represent rhetorical devices, as we should use at least one type of comparison. Still, it does not work the same way as similes or metaphors that deal with resemblance aspects. A correct example will seek parallels between things that are not obvious or connected in one way or another. When used for an essay assignment, it will add rhetoric to help readers determine what common qualities can be established based on what is not apparent at first glance.

  • Analogy in Different Genres.

When you are asked to use examples of analogies for a school essay, the trick is to determine the main purpose and use it correctly. It means that using an analogy in a detective story is not the same as using it for marketing purposes. The same applies when an author must classify different objects for analogy in literature. Likewise, a problem-and-solution analogy can be used in education or to deliver a similar concept. If we choose history books, we can provide old and modern analogies that help us understand historical concepts more clearly.

Metaphor and Simile: Cornerstones of Analogy (What This Greek Word Means?)

Metaphors and similes represent the main cornerstones of the use of an analogy. Take a quick look at several  academic essays related to social or literary subjects, and you will most definitely encounter at least one case. Writers use metaphors to compare something or use them for a specific effect. The tricky part is that a simile is a special sub-category of a metaphor, which shows that most similes are parts of metaphors, yet not the other way around. Let’s identify each case!

A metaphor (from the Greek word “to transfer”) represents a figure of speech that aims to compare things to achieve a specific rhetorical effect. A good example would be saying that the world is a stage or that people in love represent an endless ocean of love. Of course, metaphors are not meant to be taken literally!

A typical simile will create a different type of comparison by implementing the words “like” and “as” in writing. The most famous example of a simile in writing would be the phrase “Life is a beach.” One can spot it by using a direct comparison. It must be used with caution or have an additional explanation. Remember that examples of an analogy should show and explain things, which is why a simile or a metaphor can be used.

  • Identifying the Main Differences.

Summing up regarding distinctions for writing analogies, we receive the following five rules:

  • A simile aims to show that something is like some other object.
  • A metaphor literary device uses poetical writing to say something is another thing.
  • The purpose of analogy is to offer an additional explanatory point, not merely show.
  • Metaphors and similes can work for an enhancement effect when using an analogy in essay writing.
  • A simile is a special subgenre of metaphors, yet not all metaphors are similes.

Crafting Effective Analogies Eight Steps Guide

Making an analogy efficient and fitting always comes down to the practical clarity of a certain description. Depending on the genre, start by analyzing your target audience to make things more accessible. If there’s a concept, think about the main elements and see what is most relevant.

  • Analyze the Target Concept. Start with a proper analysis of the main concept that you outline in your essay. If you are dealing with medical practices, do not create analogies that do not fit. Keep within high morals and be sensitive. If you are composing a reflective essay, some types of analogy can be related to your past or certain experiences from your life. These should help people understand you in a better way.
  • Choosing the Concept for Explanation . When you seek diverse types of analogies, think about a concept that can be used for explanatory purposes. It means that you may use historical books or comparisons to certain movies or events that have taken place before. For example, you may consider comparing a business deal to Boston’s Tea Ceremony or woodworking to learning how to play guitar well.
  • Highlight Relevant Similarities. Although analogies in literature are always about seeking similarities, not all will remain clear to your readers. Therefore, one should focus on relevant similarities and highlight them the best way you can. If you state that our world is like a theater where all of us are merely actors, it should not come out of the blue but have an explanation as you quote William Shakespeare’s words.
  • Forming the Basis of the Analogy. Before you add it to your essay, think about making an introduction. An analogy never comes on its own because it requires a special paragraph that highlights it and leads to an emotional climax. Once you have got what is an example of an analogy, add more analytical writing or an explanatory sentence to help your readers see your point more clearly.
  • Illustrating the Analogy with Real-World Situations. An analogy sentence that does not make sense will not work. The trick is to help people connect and see how your example can be used in practice. When you say that working at Tesla corporation was like surviving Arizona’s heatwave, most Americans will be able to relate to that.
  • Adapting the Analogy to Audience Knowledge. When your analogy is overly complex and relates to engineering or law essay writing, you may not achieve success with that. Remember to adapt your comparison to the level of your target audience. The key is to make things accessible and ensure that you are understood.
  • Ensuring Natural Fit and Relevance. It is best to use your analogy in the middle of a paragraph. This way, you can add a special introduction and make it fit naturally. It should fit within a relevant paragraph, making it apparent to avoid using analogies as the final sentence. More space is essential since you must add transition words in an essay.
  • Weaving Analogies into the Narrative. Use an analogy to show and explain a certain concept or idea. Use the same narrative tone if your essay is written this way. Adjust your writing accordingly if you use an explanatory or argumentative tone.

Polishing Your Writing Style With Analogy Examples

Coming up with a good analogy may seem challenging, especially when you must get the essay done at the last minute or when you are unsure about the emotional power of your writing. Using an analogy in writing helps you improve things and add clarity, even to the most complex subjects. Refer to the eight-step writing guide above before you start, and don’t forget to double-check existing analogy types! Lastly, remember the importance of balancing active and passive voice as you explain and use various literary devices to enhance your writing further.

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analogy examples for essay

Analogy — Definition and Examples

Daniel Bal

What is an analogy?

An  analogy  is a comparison made to show how two things are similar for explanation or clarification. Although the things compared are physically different, the analogy identifies how they are figuratively similar.

Think of analogies as an extension of a metaphor or simile.

People use analogies to link unfamiliar ideas with common ones, making complex or abstract ideas easier to understand.

What is an analogy

Analogy examples

It is common to use analogies to make comparisons in the English language. The following is an example analogy comparing a warrior's sword to a writer's pen:

Just as a sword is the weapon of a warrior, a pen is the weapon of a writer.

A warrior uses his sword as a weapon, while a writer's weapon is their words written with their pen.

In the next example, the analogy is comparing a book to a rollercoaster:

That book was a rollercoaster of emotion.

The book's plot had many emotional highs and lows, making it feel like you rode the ups and downs of a rollercoaster.

Analogy examples in literature

Analogies are commonly used in literature. A famous example can be found in  Romeo and Juliet  by William Shakespeare:

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, / by any other word would smell as sweet. / So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called.”

Analogy example - Romeo and Juliet

This analogy is saying a rose would smell the same even if it were called something different; therefore, Romeo's name does not define him.

Another example from literature is found in George Orwell's  Animal Farm:

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

In Orwell's analogy, the pigs have become that which they fought against (man).

The House in Paris  by Elizabeth Bowen contains this analogy:

Memory is to love what the sauce’r is to cup.

Like a saucer holds a cup, a memory holds onto love.

Analogy in poetry

Types of analogies.

An analogy can be both a literary device and a rhetorical device, depending upon its use.

As a rhetorical device, word analogies are often found on standardized tests. This assesses the test taker's ability to identify various relationships.

When writing a word analogy as a rhetorical device, colons stand in for words. Analogies written in this way use pairs of words to make a logical argument. Consider the following example:

Stove is to kitchen as bed is to bedroom

Stove : kitchen :: bed : bedroom

How to write an analogy

There are a variety of types of rhetorical verbal analogies that identify different kinds of relationships:

Analogy vs. metaphor vs. simile

A metaphor is a figure of speech used to compare or suggest a similarity between two items, whereas a simile is a comparison that uses the words "like" or "as." While metaphors and similes help writers show instead of tell, an analogy provides explanation or clarification.

Consider the following example comparing thoughts to a storm:

Metaphor : His thoughts were a storm.

Simile : His thoughts were like a storm.

Analogy : His thoughts were like a storm causing chaos.

Writers can use metaphors and similes to create analogies; however, not all metaphors and similes are analogies.

Analogy vs. metaphor and simile

Learn more about  difference between metaphors, similes, and analogies .

Analogical arguments

Analogical reasoning is any thinking that involves an analogy. It compares something new with something known. Argument by analogy is a way to inform, persuade, or explain, such as in the following examples:

The new movie is supposed to be similar to the one that came out last summer, so it too is probably dull.

Not everyone had a computer in their homes 20 years ago, but most of them do now; therefore, one can expect the same of virtual reality.

The new planet is the same distance from its star as the Earth is from the sun, meaning it could support life.

False analogy

The Value of Analogies in Writing and Speech

Chris Stein/Getty Images

  • An Introduction to Punctuation
  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

An  analogy  is a type of  composition  (or, more commonly, a  part  of an  essay  or  speech ) in which one idea, process, or thing is explained by  comparing  it to something else.

Extended  analogies are commonly used to make a complex process or idea easier to understand. "One good analogy," said American attorney Dudley Field Malone, "is worth three hours' discussion."

"Analogies prove nothing, that is true," wrote Sigmund Freud, "but they can make one feel more at home." In this article, we examine the characteristics of effective analogies and consider the value of using analogies in our writing.

An analogy is "reasoning or explaining from parallel cases." Put another way, an analogy is a comparison between two different things in order to highlight some point of similarity. As Freud suggested, an analogy won't settle an argument , but a good one may help to clarify the issues.

In the following example of an effective analogy, science writer Claudia Kalb relies on the computer to explain how our brains process memories:

Some basic facts about memory are clear. Your short-term memory is like the RAM on a computer: it records the information in front of you right now. Some of what you experience seems to evaporate--like words that go missing when you turn off your computer without hitting SAVE. But other short-term memories go through a molecular process called consolidation: they're downloaded onto the hard drive. These long-term memories, filled with past loves and losses and fears, stay dormant until you call them up. ("To Pluck a Rooted Sorrow," Newsweek , April 27, 2009)

Does this mean that human memory functions exactly like a computer in all ways? Certainly not. By its nature, an analogy offers a simplified view of an idea or process—an illustration rather than a detailed examination.

Analogy and Metaphor

Despite certain similarities, an analogy is not the same as a metaphor . As Bradford Stull observes in The Elements of Figurative Language (Longman, 2002), the analogy "is a figure of language that expresses a set of like relationships among two sets of terms. In essence, the analogy does not claim total identification, which is the property of the metaphor. It claims a similarity of relationships."

Comparison & Contrast

An analogy is not quite the same as comparison and contrast either, although both are methods of explanation that set things side by side. Writing in The Bedford Reader (Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008), X.J. and Dorothy Kennedy explain the difference:

You might show, in writing a comparison and contrast, how San Francisco is quite unlike Boston in history, climate, and predominant lifestyles, but like it in being a seaport and a city proud of its own (and neighboring) colleges. That isn't the way an analogy works. In an analogy, you yoke together two unlike things (eye and camera, the task of navigating a spacecraft and the task of sinking a putt), and all you care about is their major similarities.

The most effective analogies are usually brief and to the point—developed in just a few sentences. That said, in the hands of a talented writer, an extended analogy can be illuminating. See, for example, Robert Benchley's comic analogy involving writing and ice skating in "Advice to Writers."

Argument From Analogy

Whether it takes a few sentences or an entire essay to develop an analogy, we should be careful not to push it too far. As we've seen, just because two subjects have one or two points in common doesn't mean that they are the same in other respects as well. When Homer Simpson says to Bart, "Son, a woman is a lot like a refrigerator," we can be fairly certain that a breakdown in logic will follow. And sure enough: "They're about six feet tall, 300 pounds. They make ice, and . . . um . . . Oh, wait a minute. Actually, a woman is more like a beer." This sort of logical fallacy is called the argument from analogy or false analogy .

Examples of Analogies

Judge for yourself the effectiveness of each of these three analogies.

Pupils are more like oysters than sausages. The job of teaching is not to stuff them and then seal them up, but to help them open and reveal the riches within. There are pearls in each of us, if only we knew how to cultivate them with ardor and persistence. ( Sydney J. Harris, "What True Education Should Do," 1964)
Think of Wikipedia's community of volunteer editors as a family of bunnies left to roam freely over an abundant green prairie. In early, fat times, their numbers grow geometrically. More bunnies consume more resources, though, and at some point, the prairie becomes depleted, and the population crashes. Instead of prairie grasses, Wikipedia's natural resource is an emotion. "There's the rush of joy that you get the first time you make an edit to Wikipedia, and you realize that 330 million people are seeing it live," says Sue Gardner, Wikimedia Foundation's executive director. In Wikipedia's early days, every new addition to the site had a roughly equal chance of surviving editors' scrutiny. Over time, though, a class system emerged; now revisions made by infrequent contributors are much likelier to be undone by élite Wikipedians. Chi also notes the rise of wiki-lawyering: for your edits to stick, you've got to learn to cite the complex laws of Wikipedia in arguments with other editors. Together, these changes have created a community not very hospitable to newcomers. Chi says, "People begin to wonder, 'Why should I contribute anymore?'"--and suddenly, like rabbits out of food, Wikipedia's population stops growing. (Farhad Manjoo, "Where Wikipedia Ends." Time , Sep. 28, 2009)
The "great Argentine footballer, Diego Maradona, is not usually associated with the theory of monetary policy," Mervyn King explained to an audience in the City of London two years ago. But the player's performance for Argentina against England in the 1986 World Cup perfectly summarized modern central banking, the Bank of England's sport-loving governor added.
Maradona's infamous "hand of God" goal, which should have been disallowed, reflected old-fashioned central banking, Mr. King said. It was full of mystique and "he was lucky to get away with it." But the second goal, where Maradona beat five players before scoring, even though he ran in a straight line, was an example of the modern practice. "How can you beat five players by running in a straight line? The answer is that the English defenders reacted to what they expected Maradona to do. . . . Monetary policy works in a similar way. Market interest rates react to what the central bank is expected to do." (Chris Giles, "Alone Among Governors." Financial Times . Sep. 8-9, 2007)

Finally, keep in mind Mark Nichter's analogical observation: "A good analogy is like a plow which can prepare a population's field of associations for the planting of a new idea" ( Anthropology and International Health , 1989).

  • False Analogy (Fallacy)
  • Information Processing Theory: Definition and Examples
  • 30 Writing Topics: Analogy
  • Understanding Analogy
  • Metaphor Definition and Examples
  • Simile Definition and Examples
  • 501 Topic Suggestions for Writing Essays and Speeches
  • The Power and Pleasure of Metaphor
  • Definition and Examples of the Topoi in Rhetoric
  • Practice in Using Metaphors and Similes
  • Using Similes and Metaphors to Enrich Our Writing (Part 1)
  • Organizational Metaphor
  • The Gold Standard
  • Visual Metaphor
  • AP English Exam: 101 Key Terms
  • Liquidity Trap Defined: A Keynesian Economics Concept

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75+ Analogy Examples [in Sentences]

  • Figurative Language
  • Updated on Nov 12, 2023

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Analogy is a rhetorical device that says one idea is similar to another idea, and then goes on to explain it. They’re often used by writers and speakers to explain a complex idea in terms of another idea that is simpler and more popularly known.

This post contains more than 75 examples of analogies, some of which have been taken from current events to give you a flavor of how they’re used in real-world writing, some from sayings of famous people, and some are my own creation. They’ve been categorized into two types:

  • Analogies with proportionate relationship
  • Other analogies

To get the most of these examples, notice how unlike the two things being compared are and, in the second type, how the explanation goes.

(Note: Comments that go with examples are in square brackets.)

More resources on analogy:

  • What is analogy and how to write its three types?
  • People often confuse analogy with metaphor and simile. Learn how metaphor, simile, and analogy differ

1. Analogies with proportionate relationship

1 . What past is to rear-view mirror, future is to windshield.

2 . What Colorado is in the canyon, Jack is in exams. Both run through the stretch quickly.

3 . What Honda Accord is to cars in 2021, Internet Explorer is to web browsers in 2021. Microsoft did well to finally pull the plug on its browser.

4 . What Monday morning is to me, regular vaccines is to my dog. We both don’t look forward to them.

5 . I’m as uncomfortable in taking a swim as a lion is in taking a climb to a tree.

6 . What dredging machine is to small earthwork, sledgehammer is to cracking walnuts.

7 . I’m as jittery facing a potentially hostile audience as an old man facing a snowstorm.

8 . My father is attracted to jazz as much as iron filings are attracted to magnet. Come what may, he’ll find a way to attend a performance in the town.

9 . Loan sharks are feasting on poor villagers by extracting exorbitant interest rates, in much the same way as vultures feast on carcass.

10 . Famished, we patiently waited for the freshly baked pizza and, when it arrived, pounced on it like grizzly bears pounce on salmons.

Here are few analogies by famous writers and public figures:

11 . As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff is bad for you. Elizabeth Gilbert

12 . MTV is to music as KFC is to chicken. Lewis Black

13 . He is to acting what Liberace was to pumping iron. Rex Reed on Sylvester Stallone

14 . Armstrong is to music what Einstein is to physics and the Wright Brothers are to travel. Ken Burns

15 . Super Bowl Sunday is to the compulsive gambler what New Year’s Eve is to the alcoholic. Arnie Wexler

16 . He was to ordinary male chauvinist pigs what Moby Dick was to whales. Robert Hughes on Pablo Picasso

17 . College football is a sport that bears the same relation to education that bullfighting does to agriculture. Elbert Hubbard

18 . Football is to baseball as blackjack is to bridge. One is the quick jolt; the other the deliberate, slow-paced game of skill. Vin Scully

19 . It has been said that baseball is to the United States what revolutions are to Latin America, a safety valve for letting off steam. George Will

20 . The sound byte is to politics what the aphorism is to exposition: the art of saying much with little. Charles Krauthammer

21 . Ricardo Montalban is to improvisational acting what Mount Rushmore is to animation. John Cassavetes

22 . To be an American and unable to play baseball is comparable to being a Polynesian and unable to swim. John Cheever

23 . Freedom of the press is to the machinery of the state what the safety valve is to the steam engine. Arthur Schopenhauer

24 . The Christian Coalition has no more to do with Christianity than the Elks Club has to do with large animals with antlers. Garrison Keillor

25 . If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seed must grow. Rachel Carson

26 . The president of the United States bears about as much relationship to the real business of running America as does Colonel Sanders to the business of frying chicken. J. G. Ballard

2. Other analogies

27 . More books and tuitions don’t translate into more learning just as a fire hose in place of water dispenser doesn’t translate into more drinking capacity.

28 . Although online trolling is rampant, few thoughtful and well-meaning comments also get posted. How to go about responding to them? Propagate helpful comments by retweeting, liking, or leaving your reply. Ignore the trolls. This is quite similar to how we fan or extinguish a fire. Pour gasoline, and it’ll propagate. Starve it of oxygen, and it’ll die.

29 . Entrepreneurs who are working on projects such as generating energy through fusion reaction, the method that powers our sun, and inter-planetary travel are furrowing a new path. That’s like driving on an alien terrain full of surprises with no taillight to follow.

30 . It’s not easy building a business from scratch. That’s why most entrepreneurs after exiting their first company rather invest in other ventures. It’s easier to pour gasoline on a fire than starting a new fire.

31 . Do you want to work on the fringes, do odd jobs? Or do you want to join an organization and make impact? You can remain a pirate or join a navy. Choice is yours.

32 . When the leak in the pipe was repaired, I was surprised at the high flow of water. It meant that the pipe was leaking for months and got detected only when it burst, stopping the flow completely. In much the same way, bad habits creep into our lives almost imperceptibly, with us hardly noticing it till they culminate in a mishap.

33 . Depression is like the common cold. You don’t realize how underappreciated breathing is until you have a cold, and your nose is stuffed, and all you want to do is be able to take a deep breath. That’s what it feels like to have depression. I just want to be able to breathe again. I just want to feel okay. Source

34 . When I think about the effect of software, I equate it to water. Both are basic necessities. Both defy borders and generally go where they want to go. Both need to be protected and both need to be understood. They are critical resources that will always be central to success, and it is readily apparent when either is absent. We easily understand what it is like to be thirsty, and many are finding out what it is like to be digitally unaware. Both are extremely uncomfortable. Source

35 . The vaccine situation in India is like arranged marriage. First, you’re not ready, then you don’t like any, and then u don’t get any. Those who got are unhappy thinking may be the other one would have been better. Those who did not get any are willing to get anyone. Source

36 . Money is like manure. If you spread it around, it’s useful, and everything around you starts greening. If you leave it lying in a pile, it starts stinking quite quickly. Source

37 . Time for negotiations and beating around the bush is over; we need to take hard steps now. It’s time to give up scalpel and bring in hammer.

38 . We all want precise, quick, actionable solutions to solve the challenges life throws at us. However, answers to life’s challenges don’t come in bullet points. Such answers are hazy and often come in paragraphs.

39 . Ever had gum stuck on your hair. Icky, isn’t it. That’s what sight of a centipede or an earthworm does to me.

40 . While reading, a reader needs to slow down somewhat to comprehend a sentence that lacks parallel structure. Don’t we slow down when we encounter a speed bump on an otherwise smooth road? [Comment: I’ve used this and the next analogy in my post on parallelism. If you can think of a compelling thing to compare with, analogies aren’t difficult to pull off.]

41 . Just as you need two straight lines to even consider the concept of parallel lines, you need two elements in a sentence to even consider the concept of parallelism in a sentence.

42 . While their mother was away, the two leopard cubs escaped wild dogs by remaining standstill, camouflaging perfectly with the rocks in the background. Clearly, the two cubs, barely two months old, had been learning only what matters in the real world – escaping predators and hunting. In contrast, we humans learn myriad of subjects in school and college, of which only a tiny portion matters in the real world.

43 . Like the deadly fog that envelopes the region, affecting normal life for many days, global warming has emerged as the envelope of the entire planet, wreaking untold harm on the earth’s inhabitants.

44 . People gain wisdom little by little through experience, but that’s highly inefficient. You can gain wisdom much faster by learning from others’ mistakes, by receiving advice from mentors, and by reading books which have documented every possible human success and failure. Isn’t that akin to filling a bucket by a dripping tap when you can fill it much faster by opening the tap fully.

45 . You may have the required qualification and skills for a job, you may have mentors to guide you every step of the way, and you may have the best colleagues. But all this means nothing if you’re in the wrong job. It’s like having the best vehicle for a journey and friendliest co-passengers, but heading in a direction different from your destination.

46 . Government has invested so much of taxpayer’s money into the state-owned airline but to no avail. It hasn’t shown profits in nearly ten years. Is it any different from spraying fertilizer on weeds and deadwood?

47 . Trying ten pilot projects to zero in on our new product is quite resource heavy. Instead, we should try maximum 2-3 pilots based on a strong hypothesis. We can’t waste bullets through shotgun fire; we need sniper fire.

48 . None of your business ideas have worked so far because you haven’t thoroughly tested key assumptions in your business model. You’re in a way constantly shooting in the dark, hoping to find the target.

49 . You should stay in this project for few more weeks and complete it. Otherwise, your successor might get the credit for the completed project even though you’ve done bulk of the work. You’ll lay the eggs that others will hatch.

50 . With his skills, he’ll be better suited in marketing than in sales. You can’t put a square peg in a round hole.

51 . The fish asked the two passing subadult fish, “How’s the water?” The two subadult fish quizzically ask each other, “What’s water?” Like the fish don’t know what water is because it’s such an indistinguishable part of their life, we don’t see our frailties because they’re such an indistinguishable part of our lives.

52 . In the division of business empire between the feuding siblings, the sister got the steady cash-generator of a company. The others landed less attractive assets. That was like the sister skimming the cream and leaving double-toned milk for the brothers.

53 . He performed so well in the interview that he topped the exam despite poor performance in the written test. Imagine Usain Bolt winning 100-meter dash despite starting the race ten meters behind others.

54 . Industries such as online retail have such thin margins that an odd adverse event may turn a quarter from profit to loss. Life in the wild for predators is no different. A timely kill, or lack of it, can be the difference between fasting and feasting.

55 . By the time court ordered a stay on demolition order of the municipal body, the building was razed down. That was like conducting a successful organ transplant but failing to save the patient.

56 . Our program helping students boost their brain power didn’t take off. Our program helping struggling students did much better though. Isn’t it easier to sell aspirin than vitamin?

57 . When the leak in the pipe was repaired, I was surprised at the high flow of water. It meant that the pipe was leaking for months and got detected only when it burst, stopping the flow completely. In much the same way, bad habits creep into our lives almost imperceptibly, with us hardly noticing it till they culminate in a mishap.

58 . Public companies can find it challenging to reinvent themselves and make breakthrough progress because of constant pressure to keep short-term results clean. That’s why sometimes companies go private, Dell being an example, to discover their mojo away from the pressures a public company faces. I did something similar as an individual. For a year, I retreated from most time-wasters and social activities, tried multiple things, and found the career path I wanted to take.

59 . The marketing head proposed six marketing channels to pursue to increase brand awareness, possibly playing safe. Throw enough spaghetti against the wall and some of it will stick.

60 . When the company decided to disband the post because of inadequate work, the person-to-be-effected justified its continuance, citing the important functions the post served. Ask a man whose job is to shoo flies about the importance of his job, and he’ll say that he is saving humanity. We all think ours is the most important job.

61 . People underestimate how quickly they can become an expert in a field if they keep on improving and keep putting in the hours on their skill. It’s like how fast money multiplies when it accrues interest in a bank.

62 . If your content features on the second page of search result on Google, no one is going to find it. That’s like a murderer hiding a dead body at a place where no one can detect it.

63 . Just like one should cross a stream where it is shallowest, a company should enter that segment of a market where it has some advantage or where competition is less.

64 . Just as people don’t heed to health warning prominently displayed on cigarette packets and smoke, people don’t learn basic workplace skills despite knowing that lack of these skills affect their chance of landing a good job.

65 . The businessman, who hoodwinked several unsuspecting people with his suave manners and forged pedigree, was finally arrested. What many thought to be a promissory note turned out to be a dud cheque.

66 . Just as a cautious businessman avoids investing all his capital in one concern, so wisdom would probably admonish us also not to anticipate all our happiness from one quarter alone. Sigmund Freud

67 . Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. Winston Churchill

68 . It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part; the rest are lost in the multitude. Voltaire

69 . A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity, and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon, and by moonlight. Robertson Davies

70 . It is with narrow-souled people as with narrow-necked bottles: the less they have in them, the more noise they make in pouring it out. Jonathan Swift

71 . Adversity has the same effect on a man that severe training has on the pugilist: it reduces him to his fighting weight. Josh Billings

72 . The lights of stars that were extinguished ages ago still reach us. So it is with great men who died centuries ago, but still reach us with the radiations of their personalities. Kahlil Gibran

73 . As the internal-combustion engine runs on gasoline, so the person runs on self-esteem: if he is full of it, he is good for the long run; if he is partly filled, he will soon need to be refueled; and if he is empty, he will come to a stop. Thomas Szasz

74 . I don’t like nature. It’s big plants eating little plants, small fish being eaten by big fish, big animals eating each other. It’s like an enormous restaurant. Woody Allen

75 . The human mind treats a new idea the same way the body treats a strange protein; it rejects it. Peter B. Medawar

76 . I go to books and to nature as a bee goes to the flower, for a nectar that I can make into my own honey. John Burroughs

77 . Trickle-down theory – the less than elegant metaphor that if one feeds the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows. John Kenneth Galbraith

78 . A man should live with his superiors as he does with his fire; not too near, lest he burn; not too far off, lest he freeze. Diogenes

79 . We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come. Joseph Campbell

80 . Relationships are hard. It’s like a full-time job, and we should treat it like one. If your boyfriend or girlfriend wants to leave you, they should give you two weeks’ notice. There should be severance pay, and before they leave you, they should have to find you a temp. Bob Ettinger

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Part Six: Evaluating Inductive Logic

Chapter Fifteen: Arguments from Analogy

Arguments that make their point by means of similarities are impostors, and, unless you are on your guard against them, will quite readily deceive you. —Plato
Analogies decide nothing, that is true, but they can make one feel more at home. —Sigmund Freud, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis

Correct Form for Arguments from Analogy

  • The Total Evidence Condition (1): Relevant Similarities
  • The Total Evidence Condition (2): Irrelevant Dissimilarities
  • The Special Character of Arguments from Analogy

Arguments from analogy declare that because two items are the same in one respect they are the same in another. As Freud notes, they can make you feel at home—and for that reason they can be especially persuasive.

During World War I, the Socialist Party distributed leaflets to recent draftees, urging them to oppose the draft. The draft, they contended, violated the constitutional amendment against involuntary servitude. Oliver Wendell Holmes, chief justice of the Supreme Court, argued that they did not have the right to circulate the leaflets during wartime. The right to free speech, he asserted, “would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.” Since in both cases “the words used . . . create a clear and present danger,” he concluded, the right to free speech did not protect the Socialists in expressing ideas that might harm the war effort. The argument begins with something familiar—of course we don’t have the right to falsely shout fire in a theater—and invites us to conclude the same about something less familiar—under certain circumstances we don’t even have the right to explain to others our interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. (Holmes is often quoted as calling it “a crowded theater.” He didn’t, though it is probably what he had in mind.)

Arguments from analogy are almost always enticing because, by their very nature, they use two of the quick-and-dirty shortcuts in reasoning described in Chapter 1. By beginning with the familiar, they exploit our dependence on the vividness shortcut; and by presenting similarities between the familiar and the unfamiliar, they take advantage of our dependence on the similarity shortcut. They are custom-made for the way our minds naturally operate. This makes us especially susceptible to them and heightens the importance of being able to evaluate them effectively.

15.1 Correct Form for Arguments from Analogy

Analogies are often used merely for rhetorical effect. Acel Moore of the Philadelphia Inquirer, for example, writes: “Writing editorials is a lot like wearing a navy blue suit and standing in a rainstorm on a cold day and wetting your pants; it may give you a warm feeling for a minute, but no one else is going to notice.” Moore doesn’t attempt to establish any conclusion based on the similarity—he simply makes note of it. Don’t jump to the conclusion that an analogy introduces an argument unless there really is—at least implicitly—a conclusion.

When there is an argument from analogy , as in the preceding free speech argument, it can typically be clarified according to the following form:

  • A is F and G.

A and B, as always, are used here as name letters. They name the two analogs [1] —that is, the two things (or classes of things) that are said to be analogous. A, the basic analog , is the one that we are presumed to be more familiar with; in the free speech argument it is falsely shouting fire in a theater. B, the inferred analog , is the thing in question, the one that the argument draws a conclusion about; in the free speech argument it is expressing ideas that might harm the war effort.

We will continue to use F and G as property letters. F is the basic similarity , the property that the two analogs share, presumably without controversy. In the free speech argument, the basic similarity is that they create a clear and present danger. And G is the inferred similarity , the property that the inferred analog is purported to have on the grounds that the basic analog has it. Is not protected by the right to free speech is the inferred similarity in the free speech argument. Here is one good way to clarify the argument:

  • Falsely shouting fire in a theater creates a clear and present danger and is not protected by the right to free speech.
  • Expressing ideas that might harm the war effort creates a clear and present danger.
  • ∴ Expressing ideas that might harm the war effort is not protected by the right to free speech..

Variations on this model are common. The basic or inferred analog, for example, will sometimes include more than one item, as in this example:

Manatees must be mammals, since whales and dolphins, like manatees, are sea creatures that give live birth, and whales and dolphins are definitely mammals.

In this case, the basic analog—the content of A —is whales and dolphins.

Likewise, either the basic similarity or the inferred similarity may include more than one property, as in this example:

Manatees must be mammals, since whales, like manatees, are sea creatures that give live birth and that nourish their young on the mother’s milk, and whales are definitely mammals.

In this example, the basic similarity—the content of F —is sea creatures that give live birth and nourish their young on the mother’s milk.

Clarifying an argument from analogy is usually a straightforward matter. It is easiest to begin by identifying the analogs—the two items that the arguer is comparing; insert the one that is not in question into the A position as the basic analog, and the one that is in question into the B position, as the inferred analog. Then insert the basic similarity—the property the two analogs uncontroversially share—into both premises as F. Finally, insert the inferred similarity into the first premise and the conclusion, as G.

Arguments from analogy are sometimes enthymemes. When there is an implicit statement, it is usually the second premise, the one that establishes the basic similarity. This is because arguers often assume, rightly, that the similarity between two analogs is so obvious that it goes without saying. Suppose I say to a friend of mine, whose son is about to enter first grade, “Since John behaves respectfully towards his parents, he will surely treat his teachers with respect.” The basic analog is John’s parents, the inferred analog is John’s teachers, and the inferred similarity is are treated with respect by John. But what is the basic similarity? We must identify a relevant trait that parents and teachers have in common, namely, that they are authority figures to John. Here is the clarified argument. (Brackets, as usual, indicate that premise 2 is implicit, but we also must supply to premise 1 the part about authority figures.)

  • John’s parents are authority figures to him and are treated with respect by him.
  • [John’s teachers will be authority figures to him.]
  • ∴ John’s teachers will be treated with respect by him.

EXERCISES Chapter 15, set (a)

For each of these arguments from analogy, identify the basic analog, the inferred analog, the basic similarity, and the inferred similarity. Then clarify it in standard clarifying format.

Sample exercise. “Expressions of shock and sadness came from other coaches and administrators following the announcement by Tulane President Eamon Kelly that the school planned to drop its basketball program in the wake of the alleged gambling scheme and newly discovered NCAA violations. Coach Jim Killingsworth of TCU said: ‘I think they should deal with the problem, not do away with it. If they had something like that happen in the English department, would they do away with that? I feel like they should have tried to solve their problems.’” —Associated Press

Sample answer. Basic analog: English department. Inferred analog: basketball program. Basic similarity: is a college program (implicit). Inferred similarity: should not be eliminated if experiencing problems.

  • The English department is a college program and should not be eliminated if it is experiencing problems.
  • [The basketball program is a college program.]
  • ∴ The basketball program should not be eliminated if it is experiencing problems.
  • In a good marriage, partners often seek counseling to help them resolve their difficulties. You’re having trouble with your boss—why should a conflict in an employer–employee relationship be treated any differently?
  • So you got tickets to the Metropolitan Opera’s production of the “Flying Dutchman”? You should try to smuggle in a flashlight and a good book. I made the mistake of going to Wagner’s “Parsifal”—that night was one of the most boring years of my life.
  • Etiquette arbiter Emily Post contended that men need not remove their hats in elevators when there are women present. She reasoned that an elevator is a means of transportation, just like a streetcar, bus, subway, or train. The only difference is that an elevator travels vertically, rather than horizontally. A man is not expected to remove his hat in other vehicles, so there is no need for him to do so in an elevator.
  • View expressed in a mid-20th century article by a professional sociologist: One attribute with which women are naturally and uniquely gifted is the care of children. Since the ill and infirm resemble children in many ways, being not merely physically weak and helpless but also psychologically dependent, it is fairly easy to conclude that women are also especially qualified to care for the sick.
  • “Suppose you had a son, a fine writer who had brought national recognition for his college newspaper and a scholarship for himself. Suppose that, in his junior year, a big-city newspaper offered him a reporter’s job with a three-year guarantee at an unheard-of salary. Would you advise him to turn down the offer of a professional newspaper job? We know the answer. And we would not think twice before urging him, begging him, to hire on with the newspaper. After all, we’d say, the reason he was in college was to start to prepare himself for a decent career in the field of his choosing. So, why all the fulmination about a star athlete’s taking the chance to make himself a cool $5 million by doing for pay what he’s been doing for free (presumably) for three years?” —William Raspberry, Los Angeles Times
  • “We feel instinctive sympathy for the defendant who pleads, ‘I tried to get a job and nobody would hire me. Only in desperation did I turn to robbery.’ Now consider the logically parallel defense: ‘I tried to seduce a woman legitimately and nobody would sleep with me. Only in desperation did I turn to rape.’ Nobody would buy that from a rapist, and nobody should buy it from a robber.” —Steven Landsburg, Forbes

15.2 The Total Evidence Condition (1): Relevant Similarities

If an argument from analogy can be loyally paraphrased in the form described above, then it satisfies the correct form condition. But for an inductive argument to be logically strong it must not only satisfy the correct form condition; it must also satisfy the total evidence condition. As with frequency arguments and inductive generalizations, there are two parts to the total evidence condition for arguments from analogy: the basic similarity must be relevant, and any dissimilarities must be irrelevant. If an argument does poorly on either one of these conditions, it should be judged no better than logically weak.

Although analogical arguments are sometimes accused of committing the fallacy of false analogy (or the fallacy of faulty analogy ), this fallacy is very much like the fallacy of hasty generalization. The existence of the named fallacy highlights the ease with which we can make mistakes in this sort of reasoning. But to accuse an argument from analogy of committing this fallacy says nothing about what has gone wrong with the argument. It is far better to explain more specifically how it is that some necessary condition for soundness has not been satisfied.

Total Evidence Condition for Arguments from Analogy

  • The basic similarity must be relevant —it must count in favor of the inferred similarity.
  • The dissimilarities must be irrelevant —any dissimilarity between the two analogs must not make the basic analog a better candidate for the inferred property.

The argument is logically weaker to the extent that it fails in either area.

15.2.1 The Relevance of the Basic Similarity

Begin your deliberations about the total evidence question by asking, Is the basic similarity relevant? The more relevant it is, the stronger the logic of the argument might be. When you consider this question, forget about the two analogs and simply consider to what extent the basic similarity counts in favor of the inferred similarity. A television advertising campaign by a dairy company shows old but cheerful citizens of the Republic of Georgia eating yogurt; they have eaten yogurt all their lives, we are told, and they are now well past the century mark—one woman is now 134! Eating yogurt, we are encouraged to believe, could do the same for us. The first step in evaluating how well this argument satisfies the total evidence condition is to ignore the two analogs (citizens of Georgia and us) and ask whether the basic similarity—eating yogurt—counts in favor of the inferred similarity—a long life. There is no special reason to think so, and the argument doesn’t help by providing one. So the logic of the argument is very weak.

More commonly an argument from analogy satisfies the condition at least to some degree. One large state university published the following story in its alumni magazine:

A preliminary appraisal of the results of a major assessment of faculty and graduate programs conducted by the Conference Board of Associated Research Councils placed our institution second in the nation among public research universities and in the top five overall. “It is gratifying to see our faculty receive this national recognition of their superior research and teaching,” said the Chancellor. Even though the study focused on graduate programs, he pointed out that the results could also be applied to the undergraduate program as well, since the two programs share the same faculty.

The university’s graduate program is the basic analog and its undergraduate program the inferred analog. The basic similarity is that the university’s excellent faculty staffs them. And the inferred similarity is that the academic programs are excellent. Is the basic similarity relevant? That is, does having an excellent faculty count toward the excellent academic programs? Of course it does. So this argument easily clears the first hurdle of the total evidence condition. But it is too soon to conclude that the argument is logically strong; there is still a second total evidence hurdle to clear.

15.2.2 Relevant Similarities and the Fallacy of Equivocation

Suppose I say, “Einstein was smart, and he was able to revolutionize physics. The physics teacher I had in high school is smart, too, so he should be able to revolutionize physics.” The basic similarity is relevant to the inferred similarity—smart is better than stupid when it comes to revolutionizing physics. But there is smart, and then there is smart. Surely my high school physics teacher is not as smart as Einstein. Doesn’t that weaken the argument? Let’s clarify it and see:

  • Einstein was smart and was able to revolutionize physics.
  • My high school physics teacher is smart.
  • ∴ My high school physics teacher is able to revolutionize physics.

Smart shows up in both premises. To ask whether my high school physics teacher is as smart as Einstein is to ask, in effect, whether the word means the same thing in each case. It is a general expression. Recalling our coverage of generality in Chapter 5, this means that it is an expression that allows for degrees (examples were fine, bald, brown, living together, incompatible, wrong, and evil ). As we saw, generality is usually unproblematic. It becomes problematic, however, when the meaning of the expression shifts from one use to the next, and when the apparent success of the argument depends on that shift. In that case, the argument commits the fallacy of equivocation; the lesson from Chapter 5 is to eliminate the ambiguity.

Let’s eliminate the ambiguity by using the reasonable-premises approach in revising premise 2; in that case it is as follows:

2. My high school physics teacher is smart, though not as smart as Einstein.

While this is probably true, we now have a major problem with the logic of the argument—namely, it no longer satisfies the correct form condition, since the basic similarity, established in premise 1, is not asserted in premise 2. (The form is now something like this: 1. A is F and G; 2. B is sort of like F ; ∴ C . B is G. ) Let’s try revising it again, this time using the reasonable-logic approach. This gives us the following:

2. My high school physics teacher is just as smart as Einstein.

This nicely fixes the logical problem, but at the cost of what is pretty obviously a false premise. Either way, the argument is unsound.

The Oliver Wendell Holmes free speech argument, presented at the beginning of the chapter, provides a weightier example of the same problem. The basic similarity, creating a clear and present danger, certainly counts in favor of the inferred similarity of not being protected by the right to free speech. But is the danger caused by the wartime expression of potentially subversive ideas as clear and as present as the danger caused by the false shout of fire in a theater? If not, doesn’t this weaken the argument? Let’s take another look at Holmes’s clarified argument.

  • ∴ Expressing ideas that might harm the war effort is not protected by the right to free speech.

The phrase clear and present danger, like the term smart in the Einstein example, is a general term that seems to apply to a greater degree in premise 1 than in premise 2. It is plausible to suppose that this shift contributes to the apparent success of the argument, and thus that the argument commits the fallacy of equivocation. So we should revise our paraphrase of premise 2 to eliminate the ambiguity. On the one hand, we could paraphrase it to say that those who scattered the leaflets created a clear and present danger, though less clear and present than falsely shouting fire in a theater. The premise would probably be true, but we would have created the same logical difficulty described in the Einstein argument—the basic similarity is not the same in each premise. On the other hand, we could paraphrase it to say that they created a clear and present danger that is just as clear and present as falsely shouting fire in a theater. We have now satisfied the correct form condition but probably have a false premise.

The problem is one to look for whenever you are clarifying an argument from analogy.

EXERCISES Chapter 15, set (b)

For each of the arguments in set (a), answer whether the basic similarity is relevant.

Sample exercise. See sample in set (a).

Sample answer. The basic similarity (that something is a college program) has some relevance to the inferred similarity (that it shouldn’t be eliminated if it is experiencing problems), but only to a limited extent. It is relevant only insofar as there is some weak presumption in any sort of institution that a program that has been set up was set up for a good reason.

15.3 The Total Evidence Condition (2): Irrelevant Dissimilarities

15.3.1 the irrelevance of the dissimilarities.

The second total evidence question is Are there relevant dissimilarities? Preferably they are irrelevant, for the more relevant the dissimilarities, the weaker the logic of the argument. When you consider this question, forget about the basic similarity and concentrate on the two analogs. There are always innumerable ways in which they are dissimilar, but most or all of them will be irrelevant. What matters is to what extent any dissimilarity makes the basic analog a better candidate for the inferred property.

Consider, for example, the free speech argument. There are many dissimilarities. One of the activities happens in a theater, for example, while the other could happen anywhere; but this is irrelevant, since there is no reason to think that things said in a theater are less deserving of protection by the right to free speech than things said anywhere else. Or, for example, one of them is spoken aloud, while the other could be written down; but again, this is irrelevant, for there is no general reason to think that the spoken word is more worthy of free speech protection than the written word.

Some of the dissimilarities, however, are relevant. In the theater case, what is expressed is intentionally deceptive, while in the leaflet case, what is expressed seems to have been utterly sincere. This, taken by itself, certainly makes the theater case a better candidate for exemption from free speech protection, and thus it counts as a relevant dissimilarity. Furthermore, in the theater case, the action is sure to have a harmful result; but in the leaflet case, there is no assurance that anyone will pay any attention or, if they do, that they will be influenced (in fact, it was established that no one had been persuaded by the leaflet). This, too, makes the theater case a better candidate for lack of protection by the right to free speech.

In short, even if we forget that the phrase clear and present danger may be equivocal, the argument does not score well on the second portion of the total evidence condition. Its logic can be judged, at best, as fairly weak. Brilliant jurist that he was, I should note that Oliver Wendell Holmes relied, as he should have, on a good deal more than just this argument in support of his conclusion.

Let’s now return to the academic excellence argument. Here is the clarification:

  • The university’s graduate program is staffed by the university’s faculty and is academically excellent.
  • The university’s undergraduate program is staffed by the university’s faculty.
  • ∴ The university’s undergraduate program is academically excellent.

There are many dissimilarities between the graduate and undergraduate programs of any large state university. Graduate courses, for example, are usually assigned higher catalog numbers than are undergraduate courses. But this is irrelevant; catalog numbers are not like scores flashed by Olympic judges, with higher numbers going to better courses. Another difference is that in large state universities the graduate students tend to have much more exposure to the faculty than do the undergraduate students—their classes are much smaller and are more frequently taught by the regular faculty members. This is relevant, since student exposure to faculty can contribute powerfully to academic excellence. The conclusion may still be true. But even though this argument does well on the first condition, it performs badly on the second and so its logic must be considered weak.

EXERCISES Chapter 15, set (c)

For each of the arguments in set (a), do three things: ( i ) state an irrelevant dissimilarity, and explain, ( ii ) explain any relevant dissimilarities, and ( iii ) state your evaluation of the argument’s logic based on this and the previous exercise.

Sample answer. ( i ) The basketball program probably has a higher proportion of students on full scholarship than does the English department. This doesn’t seem relevant, since it doesn’t make English a better candidate for preservation in the face of difficulties. ( ii ) The most important dissimilarity is that the English department is not only an academic program, but also one that is central to the mission of the institution, while the basketball program is an athletic program and thus more peripheral to its mission. This means there is a far stronger impetus to work out English department difficulties before disbanding it. ( iii ) Though the argument is OK on the first part of the total evidence condition, it fails the second part and is logically very weak.

15.4 The Special Character of Arguments from Analogy

15.4.1 arguments from analogy as logical borrowers.

As you may have noticed, every example of an argument from analogy worked out in this chapter has been declared logically weak and thus unsound. This is not an aberration. Although not all arguments from analogy are unsound, they do establish their conclusions far less often than any other sort of argument. Plato, in the lead quotation for this chapter, calls them “impostors.” Analogical arguments, unlike any other arguments we look at in this book, have a built-in logical shortcoming.

Let’s take another look at the logical form of arguments from analogy:

  • A (basic analog) is F (basic similarity) and G (inferred similarity).
  • B (inferred analog) is F (basic similarity).
  • ∴ B (inferred analog) is G (inferred similarity).

What is the source of logical strength for such an argument? Not the correct form condition; as with every other inductive argument, satisfying this condition merely qualifies the argument for any strength that might be conferred by the total evidence condition. Not the second part of the total evidence condition; the absence of relevant dissimilarities simply means there is no evidence to undermine whatever strength it has. [2]  This leaves the first part of the total evidence condition as the sole positive source of logical strength.

How does the first part of the total evidence condition provide logical strength? By virtue of the fact that the basic similarity counts in favor of the inferred similarity. But what does count in favor of mean here? The only meaning I know is a sound argument can be offered for it. So we can now see that logically strong analogical arguments derive their logical strength from another argument—the argument that can be offered from the inferred similarity to the basic similarity. We will call such an argument (an argument from F to G —see premise 1 of the form clarified above) a background argument . Stated simply: an analogical argument’s only logical strength is borrowed from a background argument.

Any other sort of argument can, in principle, lend its strength to an argument from analogy. For example, in the preceding chapter we looked briefly at the argument Every Japanese car I’ve ever owned has been well built, so that Toyota is probably well built. It could easily be clarified as an argument from analogy, clarified as follows:

  • Every Japanese car I’ve ever owned has been a Japanese car and has been well built.
  • [That Toyota is a Japanese car.]
  • ∴ That Toyota is well built.

If the similarity is relevant in this case, it is because the background argument is a logically strong inductive generalization that goes from my experience of Japanese cars (the basic similarity) to the conclusion that Japanese cars in general are well built (the inferred similarity). The argument from analogy is logical only if this generalization works. So it borrows its logical strength from an inductive generalization.

The next passage, from Science News, provides a second example of borrowed logic in an argument from analogy.

The concept of “vintage year” took on a new meaning this week when two scientists presented the first chemical evidence that wine existed as far back as about 3500 bc. They had noticed a red stain while piecing together jars excavated from an Iranian site. They compared the stain with a similar stain in an ancient Egyptian vessel known to have contained wine. The researchers scraped the reddish residue from the jars and analyzed the samples with infrared spectroscopy. Residues from the Iranian and Egyptian jars looked alike and were full of tartaric acid, a chemical naturally abundant only in grapes. “Those crystals are a signature for wine,” says one researcher.

The argument can be clarified thus:

  • The Egyptian jar had a certain red stain and contained wine.
  • The Iranian jar had the same red stain.
  • ∴ That Iranian jar contained wine.

In this case, if the similarity is relevant it is because the background argument is a sound explanatory argument (of a sort we will cover thoroughly in the next chapter) that establishes that the red stains (the basic similarity) have properties that are best explained as caused by wine (the inferred similarity). This argument’s logical strength is borrowed from an explanatory argument.

As a final example, arguments from analogy can even borrow their logical strength from deductive arguments. Consider the validity counterexamples of Chapter 10. In that chapter we started with an inverted—and invalid—Socrates argument:

  • All men are mortal.
  • Socrates is mortal.
  • ∴ Socrates is a man.

We then offered as a validity counterexample this obviously invalid (because of true premises and false conclusion) Atlantic argument:

  • All ponds are bodies of water.
  • The Atlantic Ocean is a body of water.
  • ∴ The Atlantic Ocean is a pond.

In this way we saw that the Socrates argument was invalid. Like any validity counterexample, the reasoning can be represented as an argument from analogy, clarified as follows:

  • The Atlantic argument has a certain form and is invalid.
  • The Socrates argument has the same form.
  • ∴ The Socrates argument is invalid.

Here the relevance of the similarity depends on a deductive background argument; for the way to argue that a certain form (the basic similarity) is invalid (the inferred similarity) is by use of this valid affirming the antecedent argument, which has a self-evidently true first premise:

  • If the form of an argument is such that it is possible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false, then the argument is invalid.
  • This particular form is such that it is possible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false.
  • ∴ The argument is invalid.

In this case, the logical strength of the analogical argument is borrowed from a sound deduction.

By its very nature, then, when an analogical argument works it works on borrowed logic. The two analogs mainly serve to get in the way by providing a basis for relevant dissimilarities. It is the background argument, which ignores the analogs and is concerned solely with the basic and inferred similarities, that serves as the argument’s motor. In the end, the background argument cannot itself be some other argument from analogy, since the background argument would depend on a background argument (and so on).

There are two practical lessons here. First, if you can see what the background argument is, bring it to the foreground when you clarify the argument, abandoning the analogical form. The Toyota argument, for example, would be much easier to evaluate properly if clarified as a complex argument composed of an inductive generalization and a frequency argument (as illustrated in Chapter 14); and the Iranian jar argument, likewise, if paraphrased as an explanatory argument. Second, if you cannot see what the background argument is, you should normally resist the temptation to judge it as logically strong until you better understand the background argument. As noted at the beginning of the chapter, analogical arguments are custom-made for the way our minds work, which makes them extraordinarily persuasive. But their inherent reliance on logical borrowing also makes them very good at concealing logical defects. When a persuasive car salesman won’t let you open the hood to inspect the motor, it may be prudent to shop elsewhere.

15.4.2 Arguments from Analogy as Psychological Lenders

From a logical point of view, analogical arguments are borrowers. But from a psychological point of view, they often put other arguments deeply into their debt. They can hint as well as hide.

Look, for example, at the Iranian jar argument. The analogy between the two stains is what suggested to the researchers that the jar had once contained wine. This set in motion a research effort in which samples scraped from both jars were examined by infrared spectroscopy, revealing crystals that were “a signature for wine.” One could perhaps say that this new evidence converts the initial analogical argument from a merely suggestive one into a logically strong one, by showing just how relevant the basic similarity (same red stain) is to the inferred similarity (that it contained wine). But it would be much clearer to simply say that the background argument displaces the argument from analogy. Analogical reasoning has lent a powerful psychological boost to the research program by producing the suggestive idea. Still, any logical strength it gains from that research program is borrowed from the background argument—that is, from the explanatory argument about crystals developed by the researchers. Clarity is increased if the initial analogy drops out of any account of the logical support for the conclusion—as long as it remains as a central feature of the history of the discovery. [3]

Analogical arguments can lend a valuable psychological boost to inquiry of every sort. Consider the free speech argument. Even if you are not persuaded by the proposed analogy between shouting fire and distributing leaflets, it is certainly suggestive. In particular, it suggests that you are wrong if you think that all expressions are protected. Further, it suggests a way of reasoning about which ones are not protected—namely, by thinking about the possible dangers caused by the speech in question. If that way of reasoning succeeds, the argument from analogy gets psychological credit for suggesting it, even if it gets no logical credit for supporting it.

Nineteenth-century philosopher John Stuart Mill aptly declared that good reasoners will consider any analogical argument as a “guidepost, pointing out the direction in which more rigorous investigations should be prosecuted.” Arguments from analogy brilliantly serve a necessary function in reasoning. We would be lost without good guideposts. But we should not confuse them with destinations.

EXERCISES Chapter 15, set (d)

Fully clarify and evaluate each of the arguments from analogy. In cases where you can see the background argument, you may clarify and evaluate either the analogical argument or the background argument.

  • I’ve only seen one Hitchcock movie— Psycho. It was scary. Let’s try The Birds. I bet it will be scary too.
  • To solve our drug problems, instead of outlawing drugs we must make them as safe and risk-free and—yes—as healthy as possible. It’s like sex. We recognize that people will continue to have sex for nonreproductive reasons, whatever the laws, and with that in mind we try to make sexual practices as safe as possible in order to minimize the spread of the sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Question (investigator, to a university president): “Your administration will undertake reviews or investigations of members of your faculty without their being informed of the fact?”

A:  “I believe it’s very possible. I believe it happened in this case.”

Q:  “Do you consider that proper and appropriate?”

A:  “Personal opinion? Yes.”

Q: “Can you tell me why?”

A:  “I don’t know. Why not? I guess in an analogy, I don’t think J. Edgar Hoover, for example, ever advised everybody he was investigating that they were being investigated.”

Q:  “But he, J. Edgar Hoover, wasn’t running a university.”— Lingua Franca

  • Breceda and lifeguards up and down the beach stressed the dangers of sleeping on the beach at night. “The people who get hurt are pretty much innocent,” Breceda said. “They take a walk on the beach at Puerto Vallarta at 3 a.m. and nothing happens, and so they assume it’s OK to do it here. But a whole different situation occurs here.” In addition to the dangers posed by muggers and rapists, people sleeping on the beach also could get run over by sweepers. — Los Angeles Times (Consider the argument attributed to the people who sleep on the beach.)
  • “ Question: Surely society has a right to rid itself of a man like Ted Bundy? Answer : My main opposition to the death penalty is what it does to society. Our society kills people in cages. It is like going hunting in a zoo. In the cage they are not dangerous, but executing them is very dangerous—for us.” —I. Gray and M. Stanley, eds., A Punishment in Search of a Crime: Americans Speak Out Against the Death Penalty
  • “At their August 1945 Potsdam meeting, Truman remarked to an aide, ‘Stalin is as near like Tom Pendergast as any man I know.’ Pendergast was a Missouri machine boss who helped get Truman elected to the Senate. For some superficial reason Truman concluded that, like Pendergast, Stalin was a man one could deal with, a man of his word. ‘It led Truman to believe that Stalin would hold free elections in Eastern Europe,’ says Deborah Larson, a UCLA political scientist.” — Associated Press
  • Gerry Spence is serving as the pro bono defense attorney for an “environmental terrorist” who embedded metal plates in trees so that the bulldozers would be wrecked (and, potentially, the drivers injured). He is asked if “monkeywrenching” trees is ever justified. Spence’s sleight-of-hand answer reveals why he wins so many cases: “In most circumstances, breaking the law is improper. Now, suppose a tractor is about to run over a child. Is it improper to demolish the tractor? Suppose the tractor was going to run over something inanimate, a painting by Van Gogh that cost $32 million. Now, what about a tractor running down a tree? A 400-year-old original growth tree?” — Forbes
  • “Thoughtful and right-minded men place their homage and consideration for woman upon an instinctive consciousness that her unmasculine qualities, whether called weaknesses, frailties, or what we will, are the sources of her characteristic and a special strength within the area of her legitimate endeavor. In actual war, it is the men who go to battle, enduring hardship and privation and suffering disease and death for the cause they follow. It is the mothers, wives, and maids betrothed, who neither following the camp nor fighting in battle, constitute at home an army of woman’s constancy and love whose yearning hearts make men brave and patriotic. So, in political warfare, it is perfectly fitting that actual strife and battle would be apportioned to men, and that the influence of woman, radiating from the homes of our land, should inspire to lofty aims and purposes those who struggle for the right.” —Grover Cleveland, Ladies Home Journal, 1905
  • One philosopher, arguing that the rights of a rape victim to make decisions about her body can be more important than the right to life of a fetus, develops the following analogy: “Let me ask you to imagine this. You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist’s circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. The director of the hospital now tells you, ‘Look, we’re sorry the Society of Music Lovers did this to you—we would never have permitted it if we had known. But still, they did it, and the violinist now is plugged into you. To unplug you would be to kill him. But never mind, it’s only for nine months. By then he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you.’ Is it morally incumbent on you to accede to this situation?” —Judith Jarvis Thompson, Philosophy and Public Affairs
  • “Look round the world. Contemplate the whole and every part of it. You will find it to be like one great machine, subdivided into an infinite number of lesser machines, which again admit of subdivisions to a degree beyond what human senses and faculties can trace and explain. All these various machines and their parts are adjusted to each other with an accuracy which ravishes into admiration all men who have ever contemplated them. From this we can see that the curious adapting of means to ends throughout all nature resembles exactly, though it much exceeds, the adapting of means to ends in the things made by human beings. Since, therefore, the effects resemble each other, we are led to infer, by all the rules of analogy, that the causes also resemble, and that there is an Author of Nature who is somewhat similar to the mind of man, though possessed of much larger faculties, proportioned to the grandeur of the work which he has executed. Therefore we prove at once the existence of God and his similarity to human mind and intelligence.” —David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

15.5 Summary of Chapter Fifteen

Arguments from analogy typically contend that because two items are the same in one respect, they are the same in another respect. The basic analog is compared to the inferred analog; because they have the basic similarity in common, it is concluded that the inferred analog also has the inferred similarity.

The total evidence condition has two parts. First, the basic similarity must be relevant—that is, it must count toward the presence of the inferred similarity. Second, there must not be any dissimilarities that are relevant—that is, any dissimilarity between the two analogs must not make the basic analog a better candidate for the inferred property. The argument is logically weaker to the extent that it fails in either of these two areas.

Their only positive logical strength comes from the background argument that establishes that the inferred similarity follows from the basic similarity; thus, whatever logical success analogical arguments have is borrowed. This makes it especially important to pay close attention to the first part of the total evidence condition. On the other hand, analogical arguments play an important psychological role in suggesting lines of reasoning, and so should be cultivated for that purpose.

15.6 Guidelines for Chapter Fifteen

  • Structure arguments from analogy, when it would be loyal to do so, by identifying four things—the basic and inferred analogs and the basic and inferred similarities—then inserting each into its proper place in the form. Remember that the second premise, which declares the basic similarity, is often implicit.
  • In considering whether an argument from analogy has satisfied the total evidence condition, first ask, Is the basic similarity relevant? To answer this question, look at the extent to which the basic similarity counts in favor of the inferred similarity.
  • When the basic similarity is described by a general term, consider whether its meaning shifts from one use to the next. If it shifts enough to affect the soundness of the argument, revise your clarification to eliminate the ambiguity.
  • In considering whether an argument from analogy has satisfied the total evidence condition, ask next, Are any of the dissimilarities relevant? To answer this question, look at the extent to which any dissimilarity makes the basic analog a better candidate than the inferred analog for the inferred property.
  • When you can clearly see the background argument, clarify it rather than the argument from analogy. When you cannot see the background argument, you should normally reserve final judgment about the strength of the argument’s logic.

15.7 Glossary for Chapter Fifteen

Analogs —the two things (or classes of things) that are said to be similar in an argument from analogy.

Argument from analogy —an argument that asserts that because two items are the same in one respect, they are the same in another respect. They can be represented by this form:

Background argument —an argument that shows that the inferred similarity (of an analogical argument) follows from the basic similarity—that is, an argument that shows that the basic similarity is relevant.

Basic analog —in an argument from analogy, the item that we are presumably more familiar with, which is presumably known to have both the basic and the inferred similarities.

Basic similarity —in an argument from analogy, the property that the two analogs share, presumably without controversy.

Fallacy of false analogy —the mistake of using an argument from analogy in which the basic similarity is not relevant or in which there are relevant dissimilarities between the basic and inferred analogs. Because this term says nothing about what precisely has gone wrong with the argument, it is better to explain more specifically how it is that some necessary condition for soundness has not been satisfied. Also called the fallacy of faulty analogy.

Inferred analog —in an argument from analogy, the item in question, about which the argument is drawing its conclusion.

Inferred similarity —in an argument from analogy, the property that the inferred analog is alleged to have because the basic analog has it.

  • The British usually spell it analogue . Historically, the term was analogon . ↵
  • The second part of the total evidence condition for frequency arguments operates the same way. ↵
  • To use terminology mentioned elsewhere in the text, it is important in the context of discovery, but not in the context of justification. ↵

An argument that asserts that because two items are the same in one respect, they are the same in another respect. They can be represented by this form:

1. A is F and G. 2. B is F. ∴ C . B is G.

The two things (or classes of things) that are said to be similar in an argument from analogy.

In an argument from analogy, the item that we are presumably more familiar with, which is presumably known to have both the basic and the inferred similarities.

In an argument from analogy, the item in question, about which the argument is drawing its conclusion.

In an argument from analogy, the property that the two analogs share, presumably without controversy.

In an argument from analogy, the property that the inferred analog is alleged to have because the basic analog has it.

The mistake of using an argument from analogy in which the basic similarity is not relevant or in which there are relevant dissimilarities between the basic and inferred analogs. Because this term says nothing about what precisely has gone wrong with the argument, it is better to explain more specifically how it is that some necessary condition for soundness has not been satisfied. Also called the fallacy of faulty analogy.

An argument that shows that the inferred similarity (of an analogical argument) follows from the basic similarity—that is, an argument that shows that the basic similarity is relevant.

A Guide to Good Reasoning: Cultivating Intellectual Virtues Copyright © 2020 by David Carl Wilson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Literary Analysis Essay

Literary analysis essay generator.

analogy examples for essay

Literary analysis essays offer a deeper understanding and interpretation of literary works, allowing readers to delve into the intricacies of a story, poem, or novel. Whether you’re a student or a literature enthusiast, analyzing literature can be a rewarding experience. In this article, we will explore a collection of 30+ literary analysis essay examples available in Word, Google Docs, and PDF formats. We will also discuss essential elements such as analysis paper outlines , literary devices, short story analysis, literature reviews, theses, analogies, book reviews, context, and conclusions.

1. Literary Analysis Essay Outline Example

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What is a Literary Analysis Essay?

A literary analysis essay is a critical examination and interpretation of a literary work. It involves analyzing various elements such as plot, characters, themes, and literary devices to uncover deeper meanings and insights. By dissecting the text and exploring its nuances, readers can gain a deeper appreciation for the author’s intentions and the work’s impact. A well-written literary analysis essay provides a comprehensive analysis that goes beyond surface-level observations.

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

Before we dive into the examples, let’s outline the steps involved in writing a literary analysis essay:

Step 1: Choose a literary work:

Select a literary work that you want to analyze. It could be a novel, short story, poem, or play. Ensure that the chosen work is rich in literary elements and offers ample material for analysis.

Step 2: Familiarize yourself with the work:

Read the literary work carefully, taking note of important plot points, characters, themes, and literary devices. Pay attention to the author’s writing style and the overall tone of the work.

Step 3: Develop a thesis statement:

Craft a strong thesis statement that encapsulates your main argument or interpretation of the literary work. Your thesis should be clear, concise, and debatable, providing a roadmap for your analysis.

Step 4: Gather evidence:

Collect evidence from the literary work to support your thesis statement. Look for specific examples, quotes, and literary devices that reinforce your analysis. Take note of the context in which these elements appear.

Step 5: Organize your essay:

Create an analysis paper outline to structure your essay effectively. Divide your essay into introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion . Each body paragraph should focus on a specific aspect of your analysis, supported by evidence.

Step 6: Write your essay:

Start with an engaging introduction that provides background information and introduces your thesis statement. In the body paragraphs, analyze different aspects of the literary work, providing evidence and explanations. Ensure a smooth flow between paragraphs. Conclude your essay by summarizing your main points and reinforcing your thesis .

What are some examples of literary devices?

Literary devices are techniques used by authors to enhance their writing and convey meaning. Examples include metaphors, similes, personification, alliteration, and symbolism. For a comprehensive list and explanations, refer to Literary Devices .

Are there any specific examples of short story analysis essays?

You can find examples of short story analysis essays in PDF format here . These examples provide insights into analyzing the elements of a short story effectively.

How does context impact literary analysis?

Context plays a crucial role in literary analysis as it helps readers understand the historical, social, and cultural background in which the literary work was written. It provides insights into the author’s intentions and influences the interpretation of the text.


Text prompt

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Analyze the theme of courage in a novel for your Literary Analysis Essay.

Write about the use of symbolism in a short story for your Literary Analysis Essay.

Narrative Essays

Narrative: The spoken or written account of connected events; a story

Narrative Introductions

The introduction of a narrative essay sets the scene for the story that follows. Interesting introductions—for any kind of writing—engage and draw readers in because they want to know more.

Since narratives tell a story and involve events, the introduction of a narrative quite often starts in the middle of the action in order to bring the reader into the story immediately, as shown in examples 1, 3, and 5 below. Other effective introductions briefly provide background for the point of the story—often the lesson learned—as in 4 below and the first example on the reverse side.

Below are some strategies for writing effective openings. Remember your introduction should be interesting and draw your reader in. It should make your audience want to read more. If it's a person , begin with a description of the person and then say why that person mattered. If it's an event , begin with the action or begin by reflecting back on why the event mattered, then go into the narrative.

  • "Potter...take off!" my coach yelled as I was cracking yet another joke during practice.
  • Why do such a small percentage of high school athletes play Division One sports?
  • It was a cold, rainy night, under the lights on the field. I lined up the ball on the penalty line under the wet grass. After glancing up at the tied score, I stared into the goalkeeper's eyes.
  • My heart pounds in my chest. My stomach full of nervous butterflies. I hear the crowd talking and names being cheered.
  • Slipping the red and white uniform over my head for the first time is a feeling I will never forget.
  • "No football." Those words rang in my head for hours as I thought about what a stupid decision I had made three nights before.
  • "SNAP!" I heard the startling sound of my left knee before I ever felt the pain.
  • According to the NCAA, there are over 400,000 student-athletes in the United States.

Narrative Story

  • Unified: Ensure all actions in your story develop a central idea or argument.
  • Interesting: Draw your readers into your scene(s), making them feel as if they're experiencing them first-hand.
  • Coherent: Indicate changes in time, location, and characters clearly (even if your story is not chronological).
  • Climactic: Include a moment (the climax) when your ending is revealed or the importance of events is made clear.
  • Remember the 5 W's : Who? What? When? Where? Why?
  • Write vividly : Include significant sensory information in the scene (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste) to make readers feel they are there
  • Develop " Thick Descriptions "

Clifford Geertz describes thick descriptions as accounts that include not only facts but also commentary and interpretation . The goal is to vividly describe an action or scene, often through the use of metaphors, analogies, and other forms of interpretation that can emote strong feelings and images in your readers' minds.

"The flatness of the Delta made the shack, the quarters, and the railroad tracks nearby seem like some tabletop model train set. Like many Mississippi shacks, this one looked as if no one had lived there since the birth of the blues. Four sunflowers leaned alongside a sagging porch. When the front door creaked open, cockroaches bigger than pecans scurried for cover [...] walls wept with mildew."

—from Bruce Watson's Freedom Summer

Narrative Checklist

  • Does the story have a clear and unifying idea? If not, what could that idea be?
  • If the story doesn't include a thesis sentence, is the unifying idea of the story clear without it?
  • Is the story unified, with all the details contributing to the central idea?
  • Is the story arranged chronologically? If not, is the organization of ideas and events still effective and clear?
  • Do the transitions show the movement from idea to idea and scene to scene?
  • Are there enough details?
  • Is there dialogue at important moments?
  • Is there a climax to the story—moment at which the action is resolved or a key idea is revealed?

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Supported by

wordplay, the crossword column

Starting Word That’s Often Skipped

Jeremy Newton owes us an explanation.

French schoolchildren pass through a courtyard with a colorfully painted hopscotch board.

By Sam Corbin

Jump to: Today’s Theme | Tricky Clues

MONDAY PUZZLE — In a themed crossword, constructors tend to include a revealer, a kind of breadcrumb trail that leads us definitively to the puzzle’s trick. In today’s puzzle, in contrast, Jeremy Newton seems to have scattered the entire loaf — if we’re sticking with the bread analogy — throughout his grid.

After I got the gist of Mr. Newton’s theme, it was a delight to keep discovering new dimensions of its execution. Joel Fagliano, a senior puzzle editor for The New York Times, echoed this sentiment in his commentary on what made the grid stand out. “It’s so hard to come up with a simple concept that involves multiple layers like this,” he said. Mr. Fagliano also cited today’s crossword, which he said “unfolds beautifully,” as one of his favorite Monday puzzles of the past few years. And lucky us, we get to solve it now.

Today’s Theme

Before proceeding, I should apologize: The summary of today’s column is a play on words. I’m not saying that Mr. Newton owes us an explanation — I mean that he O’s us one. Because we learn, “by following the path of O’s in this puzzle’s grid” (33A), exactly what Mr. Newton is up to.

These O’s, which “Zig or zag” (11A) — i.e. TURN — through a winding route from left to right, represent a ball in a game of MINIGOLF (18A). I was especially delighted by this game’s alliterative clue: “Popular pastime played with putters.”

Holes in MINIGOLF are often designed so that their walls can act as conduits for the ball. And here, our ball ricochets from the TEE (58A) right into the CUP (8A), scoring a HOLE-IN-ONE SHOT (33/34/35A)! Solvers of the digital version should see a whimsical completion animation of the winning putt.

Ever more the wordsmith than the athlete, I’d say working out this theme was just as thrilling as the achievement it celebrates. And according to Mr. Fagliano, it wasn’t easy to build. “Even the elegance of HOLE / IN ONE / SHOT crossing the path of O’s in three ways, that’s just a remarkable feat of construction,” he said.

Tricky Clues

12A. For my money, YO DOG qualifies as a “Slangy greeting” only when its second word is spelled just as slangily as its first: “dawg.”

31A. The diagonal line of O’s was the only thing that clued me into the fact that a “Small group of trees” couldn’t be a copse. Only GROVE worked.

56A. The entry for “Zero chance, pal!” often has a partner phrase: “No way” tends to precede NO HOW. (If you solved this entry without trouble, you have know -how.)

7D. The “Topic of a wistful breakup song” is LOST LOVE, and the Times Crossword seems to have an opinion about who sings them best: On two previous occasions, this entry was clued using Adele.

9D. Whenever a clue uses abbreviations, our entry needs to as well. “Neighbor of Arg. and Braz.” is URU, short for Uruguay.

49D. What’s one way to “Try to lighten up?” In the case of a question-marked clue, go for wit; the answer is a DIET.

Constructor Notes

I love crossword themes that use a letter to symbolize a real-world object. A few fun examples in past New York Times puzzles include stacked H’s for a ladder and a column of I’s for a spider’s thread . For years I’ve tinkered with rolling the letter O around the puzzle like a golf ball. The concept finally clicked when I noticed that an O could zigzag neatly through the answer HOLE-IN-ONE SHOT. Because this puzzle is in a 15x15 grid and not a larger Sunday grid, it seemed perfect for a MINIGOLF theme. I arranged black squares to help form the kind of winding path you might find on a minigolf course. The circle for the CUP was there from the beginning of construction. And when the grid was nearly filled, using the shaded square to represent a TEE pad seemed like the best starting point. It makes me happy that two visual mainstays of crossword puzzles — the circled square and the shaded square — are joining forces for this theme. I’m very proud to call this my first Monday puzzle for The Times! I’d heard that Mondays were traditionally tougher to make, since every answer must be clean and intuitive, and the rumors were 100 percent legit. In particular, smoothing out answers along the ricocheting path of O’s was a formidable challenge. Thank you to the puzzle team for adding a special post-solve animation to the digital version! I hope you enjoyed this Monday crossword, which I unofficially call “That’s Putting It Nicely!”

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Sam Corbin writes about language, wordplay and the daily crossword for The Times. More about Sam Corbin

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