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Metaphor in Walden

Metaphor Examples in Walden:


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"its Augean stables never cleansed..."   (Economy)

For his fifth labor, Hercules has to clean the stables of Augeas, said to house the most cattle in the country and to have never been cleaned. Thoreau continues to use the Herculean metaphor to stress the poor and troubled situations that such people have been born into and struggled with their whole lives.

"The twelve labors of Hercules..."   (Economy)

The ancient Greek hero Hercules was tasked with twelve labors that were thought to be impossible to accomplish. Thoreau makes this metaphorical comparison to emphasize the seriousness of the struggles he sees his neighbors enduring in order to build up the case, and the need, for his claims about transcendentalism and self-reliance.

"Saint Vitus' dance..."   (Where I Lived, and What I Lived For)

The term Saint Vitus’s dance has historically served as another name for the disease Sydenham's Chorea. This disease can result from childhood contact with streptococcus and is characterized by involuntary and uncontrollable bodily movements. Thoreau uses it here to emphasize the hurry with which people work and live, as if incapable of sitting still. This metaphor characterizes the obsession with work as a disease.

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