The Cocktail Party

The Cocktail Party Metaphors and Similes

"Let the genie out of the bottle" (Metaphor)

After all the other guests have left in the first act and Edward is talking to the Unidentified Guest, the guest tells him, " approach the stranger/Is to invite the unexpected, release a new force,/Or let the genie out of the bottle." He uses this metaphor to describe the fact that their new acquaintanceship is perhaps unlocking a way for Edward to figure out what he wants, as a genie is typically tasked with granting the wishes of the person who conjures him.

"Don't strangle each other with knotted memories" (Metaphor)

After accepting Edward's request to have Lydia sent back to him, the Unidentified Guest advises Edward to look only to the future and uses this metaphor to describe the ways that being nostalgic will only lead them to "strangle each other."

"A beetle the size of a man" (Metaphor)

In the course of their breakup, Celia becomes disappointed in Edward and compares him to a "beetle the size of a man." In this way, she disparages him for not having more courage or more of an interior life. Indeed, she continues that this man-sized beetle (Edward) has "...nothing more inside it than what comes out/When you tread on a beetle."

"You look like a little boy" (Simile)

Later, Celia uses a disparaging simile to describe Edward's limitations, saying, "You look like a little boy who's been sent for/To the headmaster's study; and is not quite sure/What he's been found out in." She describes his guilt, and the fact that he faces it not like a man, but like an easily intimidated schoolboy.

"The python, the octopus" (Metaphor)

Just at the end of Act 1, Lavinia returns home, and Edward immediately regrets his choice to summon her. He suggests that as soon as he sees her, he becomes the monster that she believes him to be, and intones the names of the monsters, metaphorical stand-ins for himself. "The python. The octopus," he says, "Must I become after all what you would make me?"