Me Before You

Me Before You Metaphors and Similes

"Different species" (simile)

When Lou brings will to the races, she's disturbed by the way an employee speaks to Will, and describes the moment like this: "The disabled entrance is over there, the woman at the racecourse had said. As if he were a different species." The simile here expresses Lou's discomfort with the way that people tend to dehumanize Will, treating his unusual body as evidence of an unequal mind. People do often speak as if Will isn't in the room, as they would if he were a pet, which makes this an apt comparison.

Music (metaphor and simile)

After the concert she attends with Will, Lou is feeling poetic, and it's reflected in her prose. She speaks in a rush of figurative language, saying, "I hadn’t realized that music could unlock things in you, could transport you to somewhere even the composer hadn’t predicted. It left an imprint in the air around you, as if you carried its remnants with you when you went." That's three metaphors and a simile. The first metaphor, that music can "unlock" elements of oneself,
describes Lou's feeling that she has not only encountered something new but also learned about herself. At the same time, the second metaphor, that music can "transport you," describes the capacity of art to lead its audience into the unfamiliar. The third metaphor is that music "leaves an imprint in the air," implying that
Lou's experience is not only individual, since the space around her has been affected. Finally, the simile, "as if you carried its remnants," has particular resonance
because it foreshadows the experience of remembering something that is no longer present, as Lou will eventually do with Will.

Alicia's wealth and privilege (metaphor and simile)

Lou's first impression of Alicia is that "everything about her smelt of money, of entitlement and a life lived as if through the pages of a glossy magazine." This is a whirlwind sentence when it comes to figurative language, since it includes a simile and a metaphor—and the metaphor is actually a part of the simile. Let's break it down piece by piece. When Lou says that Alicia smells of money, this is a metaphor. Metaphors are always strong and visceral, especially when compared to similes, and smell imagery is also quite visceral. By combining them, Moyes emphasizes just how overwhelming the impression of Alicia's wealth is on Lou. Then Lou gets to listing the other things Alicia smells like, the last of which is "life lived as if through the pages of a glossy magazine." This is a simile rather than a metaphor, though it's an item in the metaphor list, which is a little confusing. Lou's meaning, though, is anything but confusing: Alicia is wealthy, and her lifestyle is an aspirational one.

Wrestling in a charity shop (simile)

After working for Will for a while, Lou's life starts to change and her parents consider her a bit more mature. But, as she explains it, "I felt no different. I still looked the same, still dressed, according to Treen, like I had had a wrestling match in a charity shop." This is quite a colorful simile, which reflects the fact that it's an invention of Treena's rather than Lou's. Lou isn't unimaginative, but her use of language can be somewhat cautious, since she herself is somewhat cautious and nonjudgmental. Treena is more direct and outspoken in her expression. This description of Lou's fashion sense also shows that other people, even Treena, don't quite understand her artistic side. It's clear that Treena says this without malice, but the simile implies that Lou's outfits are haphazard when they're actually planned with great care. This passage signals that Lou needs to pursue her passion in a place where she is understood.

Patrick's triathlon (simile)

When Patrick decides to do the Viking Triathlon, Lou already knows all about it. She tells us that "The Viking was spoken of with reverence, those who had competed bearing their injuries like veterans of some distant and particularly brutal war." The simile, in this case, is hyperbolic, and for that reason it's funny as well as informative. The idea of athletes acting like they've returned from war highlights the gap between a recreational event like the triathlon and a truly terrible one like war. This lets us know that the triathloners take themselves a bit too seriously, and that Lou has noticed. Her tone is a bit exasperated and a bit comic, showing that she's still unsure whether to treat Patrick's new, athletic personality as benignly silly or truly obnoxious.


Camilla's "King Canute" simile

Back when she started working as a magistrate, Camilla says in the chapter she narrates, she saw all kinds of people enter her courtroom. She recalls that "Sometimes I felt like King Canute, making vain pronouncements in the face of a tide of chaos and creeping devastation. But I loved my job." There's a metaphor here: the chaos and creeping devastation are represented as a "tide," which shows how unstoppable and strong they feel. More prominent, though, is the simile comparing Camilla to King Canute. Canute was a Medieval king of England, but he's known for a probably fictional event. According to popular legend and literature, Canute ordered the tide to stop, then pronounced kings powerless when the tide did not stop. Camilla's use of this simile shows that she is deeply afraid of being powerless, despite her in-control appearance. It also demonstrates that she comes from a different world than Lou and Treena, a more highbrow one of history and literature, since her mind jumps to English legend rather than, say, charity shops.