"a package, wrapped in fine white linen and tied with tape, about and about and about, like a mummy" (Simile) (pg. 84)
This simile is used to describe the letters Roland and Maud find at Seal Court, in Christabel's former bedroom. The simile offers a vivid visual image of how tightly wound and wrapped the letters are, but it also offers symbolic hints about what the letters will mean. A mummy is a remaining trace of someone who has died, and this is also what the letters come to represent. Also, in the same way that a mummy can make it clear in a jarring way that someone who has long been dead had a real, significant experience, the letters will serve to make Christabel and Ash seem much more "real," not just distant and remote figures from the past.
"Roland felt wakeful and misplaced, as though he was in an art gallery or a surgeon's waiting room" (Simile ) (pg. 51)
This simile describes Roland's feelings the first time he visits Maud's apartment. The two comparisons he makes seem quite unalike: an art gallery is presumably a place someone visits for pleasure, in order to experience beauty and creativity, while a surgeon's waiting room is an unpleasant place to be. However, especially given Roland's self-consciousness about his class origins and income, an art gallery could also be an unsettling place. Both places are spaces he would feel tense and unsure how to behave, and these similes capture his awkwardness when he enters Maud's personal space.
"He had research assistants, in fluctuating numbers, whom he despatched like Noah's doves" (Simile) (pg. 28)
This simile is used to describe how Professor Blackadder makes use of his research assistant by comparing him to a Biblical figure. The comparison highlights Blackadder's authority and power in his role as an expert; he can be compared to a Biblical figure in charge of saving humanity and all the animals. The simile also shows that Blackadder views his research assistants as subservient, and existing mainly to do his bidding.
"his own huge ignorance, a grey mist" (Metaphor) (pg. 7)
This metaphor is used at the very start of the novel, when Roland is trying to figure out who the woman Ash addressed his letters to might be. Even though Roland has studied Ash for years, he still feels self-conscious about all the things he does not know. The metaphor of the mist shows what is frustrating about that lack of knowledge: it prevents Roland from being able to see clearly, or understand some of the clues he tantalizingly finds. Part of Roland's character development over the course of the novel comes from him learning to mitigate his ignorance by reaching out to others for help, and also by gaining more self-confidence about his instincts as a researcher.
"an hour ago, there had been no poems, and now they came like rain" (Simile) (pg. 475)
This simile is used to describe the burst of creativity Roland experiences after he surprisingly receives multiple job offers. The simile shows that the creative impulse Roland feels is organic, and cannot be controlled; like the weather, it happens whenever it happens, whether that timing is convenient or not. When Roland was fixating on job offers and willing them to come, he heard nothing, but once he let go and immersed himself in the quest, he got the responses he wanted. The outburst of creativity, and the comparison to a sudden shower of rain, show that Roland's ability to worry less about controlling things will benefit him, and help him to do better work in the long run.
Possession Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Possession is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.