Pedagogy of the Oppressed Metaphors and Similes

Pedagogy of the Oppressed Metaphors and Similes

False Generosity

The concept of generosity on the part of those oppressed is a central theme of the book which he situates as “false generosity.” Here the concept is presented in a metaphorical image that is nevertheless quite stark in its clarity. The imagery characterizes oppressors as predators feasting on the very inequality which both affords them their generosity and the luxury of being so.

"The generosity of oppressors is nourished by an unjust order, which must be maintained in order to justify that generosity."

The Sadism of the Oppressor

The author compares the fundamental consciousness of an oppressive mind with the perverse qualities of sadistic relationship that attempts to implicate a malevolent need to control others as an expression of benign protection.

“Sadistic love is a perverted love—a love of death, not life.”


Banking is a central extended metaphor in the text in relation to the process of education. Under this symbolic guise, education is a commodity. Within the construct of this metaphor:

“knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing.”


The author notes that liberation is easier said than done. Not just within the context of oppression, but as an act of evolution. The person who is successful in being liberated is not the same person who was oppressed. The very act of this evolution is situated metaphorically:

“Liberation is thus a childbirth, and a painful one.”


The author defines materialism as the essence of all oppression. When every aspect of life is reduced to the transactional level having become synonymous with being and so subsequently:

“Money is the measure of all things, and profit the primary goal.”

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