Jun 3, 2020 in Informative

The Role of Metaphor in Communication: Geary’s Perspective


Metaphors play the essential role in our life, as they are designed by politics, advertisers, and literary workers to enhance the productive communication among people. In particular, the metaphorical meaning is implicit in each situation we can face with in daily life, specifically in the field of emotions and feelings that are raised from time to time to get us drawn for the unusual aspects of thinking and reflections. Metaphors around us are the major instruments of facilitating the way we can share ideas and understand one another.

This paper is focused on the transitive meanings of metaphors as the powerful tools to improve speech by means of establishing the rhetorical strategies within the context of logically reasoned background. In this context, metaphors are complex built-in means to clarify the idea of a text with inter textual figurative meanings. They stand far over the boundaries of simple speech means, so they are effective to raise the emotional perception of the text or speech for the sake of the effect of building up the strong connection to what is being told.

Generally, metaphors are instrumentally valuable things, because they shape the way we understand and view the world around us and are essential for communication and thinking. This two-fold perception of metaphoric reality is an effective strategy to build up the tied connections between reality and meta-textual evidence-based notions. Metaphors are often used by politics to attract voters with the high-end speeches; on the other hand, these stylistic devices are integral parts of psychological worldview, as they help to develop the explicit understanding of the other side of reality. In advertising, metaphors play the role of devices to convey the right message to potential consumers, so that they are encouraged to buy some products or pay for some services. In any case, when used, metaphors make every text or speech more attractive and effective, on the part of its impact on the audience. 


Metaphors in Psychology

Metaphors are commonly used in psychology to expand the contextual meaning of some concepts and raise them up high to the more extensive boundaries of the in-depth meaning. James Geary is aware that metaphors are commonly used to bridge emotions and to get people inspired with the new understanding of situations, things, concepts, and other people with the new background to reality. Since metaphors are “at work in all fields of human endeavor, from economics and advertising, to politics, and business, to science and psychology, the crucial key to their successful implementation is to clarify the potentially sensibility of the audience to innovations. The open mind serves as a good background to highlight it with the new vision of reality. Metaphors are transitive tools that connect two or more situations, people or things around some similarity, based on the author’s understanding of some situation.

Psychologically, metaphors are inter contextual tools to clarify ideas more effectively. For example, such phrases as “forbidden fruit”, “red herring”, and proverbs “Let the sleeping dog lie”, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” are understandable only when they are based on the principle of similarity. Indeed, as they have effect on many situations in human life, these phrases and proverbs may have impact on developing new psychological concepts according to the set of situations that are common in life. The close relation of these metaphors to the natural world makes them extremely understandable, from the viewpoint of ordinary people, helping them to solve problems about their emotional, spiritual, and life experience. It is the way that the metaphor “through advertising surreptitiously infiltrates our purchasing decisions”. The practical change in consumers’ thinking affects their decision making, because metaphorical distinctions motivate them to do so.

Metaphors in Advertising

Metaphors are very commonly used in advertising, as they bring color and emotions towards the perception of real products and services, in terms of their connection to illogical patterns. For example, when considering the worldview of an average citizen, it is shaped with commonly shared myths and social obligations, so he or she can hardly go out of these boundaries. In truth, metaphors can help to shake their understanding of reality by means of figurative meaning and reshape it once again. This can be reached by means of visual representation and particularly with the help of advanced computer animations as progressive tools for advertising. 

For example, in one song by Elvis Presley, it is said that “her lips are like a volcano that’s hot”. If this metaphor id developed in advertising, (e.g. for the promotion of the lip stick of the intensive red color, that resembles passion similar to volcano), the product is expected to be successful at the market of cosmetics. 

Metaphors in Politics

Famous politics commonly use metaphors to make their public speeches livelier and easily understandable. The figurative meanings help them to render the implicit context of what they say. James Geary provides the most vivid example of how metaphors can improve the public speech in situation of Lincoln’s speech. It consisted only of 243 words, but the powerful impact of metaphors included in it was the basic strategic steps to attract the audience. Lincoln used the contrast between birth and death, however, indeed he was about to get the audience focused on the essentially needed rebirth of America with the tools of freedom. The effect of Lincoln’s speech was good, because he spoke in concise manner; however, he used metaphors to render the idea of liberty to be basic for human life.

Essentially, the idea of metaphorical thinking is how “our instinct not just for desiring, but for comprehending one thing in terms of another, for equating I with an other – shapes our view of the world, and is essential to how we communicate, learn, discover, and invent”. In the political context, this helps to both shake and shape the understanding of the key ideas by the audience. The effect of comprehension is good enough, so it can be used by famous orators from now and then, and not only in monologues, but in the form of discussion, where ideas are shared and emphasized empathetically. 


It goes without saying that metaphors help people to communicate and bridge gaps that are hard to be covered the other way than inclusion of metaphorical contexts. Metaphors are commonly used to highlight some concepts in psychology, advertising, and politics to inspire audience to change the way of thinking, their attitude to commonly shared values, or reshape the consumer decisions in the market. Specifically, metaphorical way of thinking is essential, when it is needed to apply the reconfiguration towards social myths and routine standards of behavior. 

To highlight the role of metaphors in human communication James Geary establishes the following premises to reach the conclusion: metaphors are relevant to situations and people; metaphors facilitate communication; metaphors fill in the emotional gaps in communication between people. Geary concludes that the role of metaphors is essential, for they are designed to “shake and reshape” the understanding of common things, people, and situations.


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