Definition of Simile:
A simile is a figure of speech in which one thing is compared to another, much different thing using “like” or “as.” A simile is a type of direct metaphor in that the tenor—the object being described—and the vehicle—the object being compared to—are always explicit. Similes are often used to help create vivid imagery by linking mundane things with more vibrant sensory experiences. They can also be employed to help develop symbolic relationships between characters or objects and more lofty concepts.
Examples of Simile in Literature:
“In the eastern sky there was a yellow patch like a rug laid for the feet of the coming sun”
—Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage
Crane’s description of a spot of color in the sky as a rug for the sun upon which to lay out its feet paints a relaxed, domestic visual image which contrasts with the protagonist’s more immediate experience of the Civil War.
“Her father had inherited that temper; and at times, like antelope fleeing before fire on the slope, his people fled from his red rages.”
—Zane Grey’s “Riders of the Purple Sage”
The comparison of humans to antelopes creates the sense that people, on instinct, sought to get away from the oncoming “red rages” of the protagonist’s father. The visual image of an antelope’s running away also helps contribute to the overall scenery of the story, which is set in rural Utah and feature huge swathes of open space and a variety of animals.
“It was Françoise, motionless and erect, framed in the small doorway of the corridor like the statue of a saint in its niche.”
—Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way
This simile serves to note the virtues of Françoise, who is admired by the protagonist. By likening Françoise to a “statue of a saint,” the narrator ascribes Francoise a bit of the holiness of the surrounding saints.