The Letters of Abelard and Heloise Metaphors and Similes

The Letters of Abelard and Heloise Metaphors and Similes

Fig tree

Abelard wants to emphasize his teacher’s incapability of teaching him something new, by comparing him to a tree which produces no fruit and telling Heloise that he was ‘’ like the fig tree in the Gospel, or the old oak to which Lucan compares Pompey.’’


The fragility of beauty is highlighted by comparing it with a flower touched by sickness. Physical beauty can wither away and die just as easy as a flower which can die in hours and remain just a shell of once it was. In order to emphasize the fragility of beauty, Abelard asks ‘’ what is beauty but a flower which may be blasted by the least fit of sickness? ‘’


Heloise compares those who Abelard teaches as being swine who are presented with something they can’t understand. In Heloise’s opinion, Abelard is wasting his time trying to teach others about religion, thinking of them as being unworthy. In one of her letters to him, Heloise tells Abelard that he ‘’ pearls of the Gospel before swine when he speaks to those who are filled with the good things of this world’’.

Memory supplies the place of a mistress.

Even though they are apart, for Abelard this doesn’t mean that can’t continue to love Heloise. For him, his memories of her are alive and seem to replace her for Abelard who subconsciously knows that he will never meet Heloise again.

The heart of man is a labyrinth whose windings are very difficult to discover.

In order to accentuate the nature of a man’s heart, Heloise compares it to a labyrinth that is almost impossible to understand. For her, Abelard’s heat remains an unknown territory which she can’t fully comprehend.

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