Charles Lamb: Essays

Charles Lamb: Essays Metaphors and Similes

"I am quick at detecting these summer clouds in Bridget." (Metaphor)

In "Old China," Elia notices Cousin Bridget's expression sour as he pontificates on the china he recently purchased. With the term "summer clouds," Lamb draws a metaphor which likens Bridget's developing expression to the accumulation of storm clouds that come on an afternoon summer day, a prelude Bridget's discussion of how privilege had spoiled them.

"One would not, like Lear, 'give every thing.'" (Simile)

In "A Dissertation Upon Roast Pig," Elia lists a variety of animals he loves to eat that he could gladly give up, but says that "like Lear," he could not give up everything. The simile here is Lamb referencing Shakespeare's King Lear, who split up most of his kingdom between his three daughters. Elia could not give up everything like Lear did, since he couldn't give up that sweet roasted pig.

"Night's wheels are rattling fast over me." (Metaphor)

Elia beings the conclusion of his essay "The South-Sea House" by drawing this metaphor of night riding over him as if it were in a carriage. It's a very creative way of saying that he is getting sleepy and needs to finish writing for the night.

"The best of story-tellers and surgeons, who mends a lame narrative almost as well as he sets a fracture, alone could do justice to it." (Metaphor)

In "Ellistoniana," Lamb likens great storytellers to surgeons. One aspect of this metaphor is clearly explained, that both can fix things that are otherwise in terrible shape. But there's a second level to the metaphor, as surgery is often considered a virtuosic form of medicine, meaning that a great storyteller isn't someone who can just make a story better, but actually work some magic to make it whole.

"The Old Year being dead, and the New Year coming of age, which he does, by Calendar Law, as soon as the breath is out of the old gentleman’s body." (Metaphor)

An extended allegory in "Rejoicings Upon the New Year’s Coming of Age" beings with this metaphor where the Old Year is depicted as breathing his final breath as an old man. It builds a fantastical conceit, in which the days of the year are imagined as actual people with distinct characters.