jump to navigation

Analogies January 21, 2009

Posted by leskanturek in Analogy, Class Topics, Handout Sheets.
Tags: ,
add a comment

An analogy is a comparison between different items usually with the idea of explaining something unknown by something known. Analogies provide insight. They can suggest that some how similarities exist between things that might seem to have nothing in common.

Analogies are every where, In literature; “U-boats prowled the coast of the island like hungry sharks…”, or ”He peter-and-wolfwas a tall as a mountain and as strong as an ox”. In music, for example Prokofiev’s musical symphony for children- Peter and the wolf (Peter youtube link) . In PATW  a range of Instruments represent different characters in the story; The Duck is an oboe, Grandfather is a bassoon, the bird is a flute. Philosophy is frequently conveyed in analogies; “be like the sapling in the wind, bending but not breaking…”. For Many years people in business studied “the Art of War” by Sun Tzu and the book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi. Both books,  detailing strategies for making war on your enemies were seen as  analogies for business tactics (think hostile corporate take over’s  and getting ahead of the competition).

13987779(Above) The Book of Five Rings (Go Rin No Sho) By Miyamoto Musashi 1645

Below are three types of Analogies:

  • Logical analogies; Seek similarities between things that are different but have some trait in common. i.e.: a duck to an amphibious boat, or the branch system of a tree to the vascular system of the human body.


  • Affective Analogies: Are emotional similarities, ie: a pretty girl is like a flower or someone evil is a snake or a skunk.  A timid person is a mouse.


  • Paradoxical Analogies: Illogical combinations of images that evoke powerful emotional responses; our minds tell us no logical reason exists for these images to be together, yet since they are together we‘re forced to reconcile them. (also see class exercises).


Analogies not only are a way of explaining a  complicated phenomenon or situation in terms we are already familiar with, they also excite our creative spirit.  Here is a link to Pete Seeger’s 1967 song Waist Deep in the Big Muddy. This song was recognized  as a metaphor for the increasingly escalated war in Vietnam, so much so that CBS censored the song prior to it’s broadcast on the Smothers Brothers show.

My Favorite Analogy

Okay this might be a little self indulgent but this is a blog after all. My favorite analogy  (paradoxical  if I’m being precise) is the  “This is your Brain on Drugs ” PSA first aired in 1987. It was used as part of an anti-drug campaign  by the Partnership for a drug Free America ( a non-profit initiated by the American Association of Advertising Agencies) .  The spot invited a number of spoofs and there actually is a Fried Egg Message website.



Here is the original spot as aired.  In 1997 Rachel Leigh Cook performed in an updated version.