Analysis Pages

Simile in Friendship

Simile Examples in Friendship:


🔒 8

"It treats its object as a god, that it may deify both...."   ("Friendship")

In the final sentences of the essay, Emerson highlights the sanctity of friendship as a way of “deify[ing] both” friends. When the “interposed mask crumbles,” an image of temporal earthliness, friends can find strength in their own self-sufficiency built out of friendship. Using diction like “eternal” and “transcends,” Emerson indicates that friendship surpasses earthly burdens and heightens individuals to god-like figures.

"as I do with my books..."   ("Friendship")

In these final two paragraphs, Emerson imagines a friendship devoid of friends. Through simile, Emerson likens friends to books, suggesting that he looks to them but rarely uses them. In an ideal friendship, Emerson envisions an individual’s search for autonomy. Once an individual has grasped a sense of their own self, he no longer requires friendship from others because he has found a friend in himself.

"we meet as water with water..."   ("Friendship")

Here, Emerson uses a simile to state that when two people unite, their relationship should be like water meeting with water. This image of water suggests a fluid and effortless merging between two identical entities. In this context, the simile suggests the merging of two independent and self-possessed individuals who love themselves as they love the other.

"as the tree puts forth leaves, and presently, by the germination of new buds, extrudes the old leaf?..."   ("Friendship")

Through this simile, Emerson describes friendship as a continually evolving search. Just “as the tree puts forth leaves… by the germination of new buds,” so too do friends enter into each other’s lives and make their places within. As old leaves are thrust out when new ones grow, old friends depart and the process begins anew. By comparing the friendship-forming process with something he reveres above all else—nature—Emerson suggests that friendships are natural and innate.

"like the immortality of the soul..."   ("Friendship")

In this simile, Emerson compares the believability of true friendship to the supposed “immortality of the soul.” In so doing, Emerson makes clear his skepticism of the paradox of friendship. While Emerson looks to friendship fondly, he also issues a grave warning that friendship “is too good to be believed.” Continuing his lover-maiden metaphor, he explains that the lover cannot possibly know the whole truth about the maiden and instead, loves and venerates an imagined idolized version. To Emerson, the only way to prevent this unavoidable pitfall of friendship is to maintain distance from others.

"material effects of fire..."   ("Friendship")

Emerson posits that both in literary and in day-to-day speech, the qualities of friendship are similar to the “material effects of fire,” a simile that evokes a mixed sense of suddenness and contemplation. Emerson finds beauty, or “sweetness,” in all types of friendship, from its passionate to its reflective incarnations.

"an element of love like a fine ether..."   ("Friendship")

In this simile, Emerson describes “love like a fine ether.” The noun “ether” refers to a rare element believed to fill the upper regions of space or the heavens. By juxtaposing the imagery of the east winds against the ether of love, Emerson suggests that while selfishness is a corporeal trait, love is a godlike, celestial quality that inhabits the far reaches of heaven.

"chills like east winds..."   ("Friendship")

In literary and biblical symbolism, the “east winds” conjure an image of extreme frigidity and harshness. Through this opening paragraph, Emerson likens the pervasiveness of selfishness as the “east wind” that sweeps through and takes hold of society.

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