Senior Honors Theses

Publication Date

Fall 2014

School

College of Arts and Sciences

Major

English

Keywords

Metaphor, Gatsby, Philosophy of Language, Aristotle, Owen Barfield, Symbols

Disciplines

Literature in English, North America | Modern Literature | Philosophy of Language

Abstract

The common definition of metaphor as a “comparison between two things that does not include the words ‘like’ or ‘as’” has, in the recent decades, lost the respect of serious students of language. Originating in Aristotelian thought, this “Comparison Theory” of metaphor is oversimplifying and therefore inadequate. By using examples to outline these inadequacies, a more accurate, more robust view of metaphor emerges. Far from being a mere literary flourish, the concept of metaphor—especially as metaphor is identified as the means through which symbols function—is at the very base of the general process of meaning conveyance through language.

In order to conduct a fruitful discussion of metaphor in its true scope, a close analysis of a single metaphor from Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, “her voice is full of money,” is given. In light of the shortcomings of The Comparison Theory, analysis of the power of a single metaphor to draw connections throughout a work will shed light on the necessity for a study of metaphor that reflects the continuity-building aspects of metaphor. Discussions of metaphor that attempt to define the phenomenon by isolating the context of terms run against the process of association and synthesis by which metaphor functions. Therefore, a fruitful study of metaphor is necessarily one that analyzes metaphor across contexts, as this thesis does.

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