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Key Difference – Conceit vs Metaphor

Conceit and metaphor are two figures of speech that are often used in literature. A metaphor is a comparison between two unlike things. A conceit is an extended metaphor, which can be further classified in metaphysical conceits and Petrarchan conceit. This is the key difference between conceit and metaphor.

What is a Metaphor?

Metaphors are one of the most used literary devices in literature. They are used to make an indirect comparison between two unrelated entities. A metaphor does not need connecting words such as like or like a simile. It directly states that one thing is another unlike a simile, which makes the claim that one thing is like another. Therefore, it can be said that metaphors transfer the meaning from one object to another so that the second object may be understood in a new light. The term metaphor comes from Greek metaphorá, which means to transfer.

A metaphor can also make one thing become something very different by renaming it. For example, look at the metaphor in the sentence “Life is a journey.” Here, the first word life is renamed by journey.

Given below are some examples of metaphors from literature.

“Dying is a wild night and a new road.” – Emily Dickinson

 “You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.”  – Frank McCourt

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust

Difference Between Conceit and Metaphor

She is the sun that lights up the world.

What is a Conceit?

The term conceit has two meanings in literature: metaphysical conceits and Petrarchan conceits. Generally, a conceit is an extended metaphor that makes a comparison between two extremely dissimilar things

What is a Metaphysical Conceit?

Metaphysical conceits make comparisons between two very different things. This type of conceits usually used very unconventional and bold metaphors. The metaphysical poets tried to provide a complex, sophisticated and intellectual understanding of the comparison. To do this, they used images from a wide range of fields such as science, astronomy, mathematics, and trade.

For example, John Donne, one of the most well-known metaphysical poems, compares two lovers to the two legs a compass.

 “If they be two, they are two so As stiff
  Twin compasses are two;
  Thy soul, the fix’d foot, makes no show
  To move, but doth, if th’ other do.

  And though it in the center sit,
  Yet, when the other far doth roam,
  It leans, and hearkens after it,
  And grows erect, as that comes home.”Key Difference - Conceit vs Metaphor

What is a Petrarchan Conceit?

Petrarchan conceit is a hyperbolic comparison to describe a lover. This type of comparison often compares the lover to a greater and precious object such as the sun, moon or stars. For example,

“ROMEO: But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?

It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.”

– Shakespeare

What is the difference between Conceit and Metaphor?

  • Metaphor is a comparison between two unlikely things.
  • Conceit is a type of extended metaphor.
  • Conceit can either refer to a metaphysical conceit or Petrarchan conceit.