College Essay Examples


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The metaphors used in Nicholas Howe’s “Writing Homes: High Street,” A. O. Scott’s “007 Is Back, and He’s Brooding,’ and Tanya Barrientos’ “Se Habla Espanol,” all help each author to communicate to the reader the impact of each statement. Each has its own use of literary tools to communicate their central theme, which is political, cultural and related to entertainment. It is metaphors that allow authors to describe their thoughts for the reader in a meaningful way.  While each author uses metaphors, they apply the literary tool in different ways to describe their stories. One of the greatest challenges an author faces – besides, probably, of coming up with a writing idea – is communicating the thought they have in their head to the reader. By using metaphors, the author begins to make connections between the feelings they have and the topic they are writing about, and this helps generate in the reader a better idea of what the material means. Because authors don’t have images, besides the odd picture in some books, it is these metaphors that help create an image and emotional understanding in the minds of the reader. But this essay will also make reference to other forms of figurative language used in each piece, sometimes coinciding, with the metaphors. These are allegories and allusions. In this essay, I will outline some of the metaphors used in the three pieces mentioned above and convey what these authors were trying to accomplish and what meaning each metaphor offers the average reader.

Each of the three authors use metaphors to set the tone of their short pieces. The tool is used from the get-go to quickly grab the reader`s attention and provide an idea of what the author is talking about. The following three paragraphs will highlight the uses of metaphors to draw up images in the reader`s mind, which they can automatically relate to and gain an emotional idea of what the author is describing. The introductions lead as an example of each piece’s theme, and provide an example of the broader content. These following three paragraphs explain the way in which the authors open their stories to the reader and sets the tone to which the rest of each piece follows. The following paragraphs will compare the use of allegory and allusion.

In “Writing Home: High Street,” there is a considerable amount of description used by Howe. Using metaphors allows the writer to draw comparisons, which is most directly related to the metaphors. A metaphor is “A comparison made by referring to one thing as another,” (Rhetoric). Howe is describing a street at a neighbourhood in which he lives. He knows this street well, as he has lived there for many years, so it is an ideal topic for him to write about and draw upon references. Because the reader has likely never been to this street, he needs to draw on comparisons that nearly everyone would know in order to convey the meaning he is attempting to accomplish, and, which he does very well. Right off the bat, Howe compares High Street as running through Columbus, Ohio, “as a spine.” This comparison not only gives the reading an idea of the size of the street – a spine is a pretty long and significant bone in the human body – but it also gives some significance to the spine: the bone allows a person to stand, so this street must be pretty significant to the city of Columbus. We have the significance of the street understood thanks to this metaphor, but what is the attitude towards the street among locals? Howe says the street is described as being like an “English town.” This gives the street some flavour as “the high street.” Howe uses metaphors not only to describe the physical significance of the street, but also the emotional qualities that it possesses, as they relate to Howe.

In “007 Is Back, and He’d Brooding,” Scott, like Howe, uses metaphors to draw comparisons to the reader about the nature of his idea. But Scott is much more pop-culture associated. By his very nature, being a film critic for the New York Times, Scott is used to using much more catchy phrases and those that would capture a large cross-section of society. From the outset, Scott describes the type of James Bond that is conveyed in the newest edition of the series “Quantum of Solace:” he describes 007 as being “the Harry Potter of British intelligence.” This statement is not only shocking – to compare a crime fighting, world saving, sweet talking stud to a geeky-looking boy – but it also tells the reader that this isn’t your everyday Bond. This type of metaphor allows how to take a somewhat different approach to movie reviews, which often make more cliché comparisons. The new style grabs the reader’s attention, and this is because the metaphor played a role at creating an image in the readers’ minds by using Harry Potter as a comparison. Howe makes it perfectly clear that this James Bond is a different man as he goes on to say that 007 has “evolved over time through changes in casting, geopolitics, sexual mores and style of dress.” Right off the bat, the reader is made aware (through the use of metaphor), that this Bond isn’t the same Sean Connery that their grandmother drooled over many years ago.

In “Se Habla Espanol,” Barrientos uses metaphor to describe the cultural context in which the main character finds herself. She compares herself to the stereotypical American, “Forget the dark skin. Ignore the obsidian eyes. Pretend I’m a pink-cheeked, blue-eyed blonde whose name tag says ‘Shannon.'” Automatically, on the first page, the reader is given the context in which the main character finds herself. The reader knows from the caparison of the main character that the essay is about culture. Immediately, the reader pictures the Guatemalan girl in a room full of the stereotypical-looking American. Metaphor is almost a necessary tool for the author to use, because without drawing comparisons between her parents culture (which is the culture people assume she belongs to) and the United States’ culture, the reader won’t have an understanding of her situation and the struggles she faces with stereotypes.

The cultural theme that is expressed in “Se Habla Espanol,” is common with the cultural metaphors that are used in “Writing Home.” While “Se Habla Espanol” compares the culture of various cultures in their current context: “The Spanish language was supposedly the glue that held the new Latino community together. But in my case it was what kept me apart.” Throughout the essay, Barrientos discusses the differences between her parents’ culture and the American one in which she finds herself. “Writing Home,” compares both the United States — in which it is set — and other countries of current and past times: Not only is this accomplished as in the “English town,” reference, as mentioned before, but also within America’s past. For example, Howe refers to the “car culture of the American heartland.” Automatically, this brings to the reader’s mind the Model T Ford cars of the 1920s, a truly American vehicle that represented, “The flavour of the United States in the first part of the 20th Century,” (Bryant). The ruggedness and of a the old Model T parked in front of wheat field or a drive-thu A&W come to mind, making Howe successful at communicating his image into the mind of the reader and capturing the essay’s flavour. The flavour of each aspect of every street needs to be tasted by the reader. “007 is Back, and He’s Brooding,” uses metaphors to highlight the culture that has been created by action films and by the Bond series itself… of babes, explosions and technology.


Each essay falls into the category of allegory. The use of metaphors are so frequent and on the same theme that they are, when taken as a whole, an allegory that makes a comparison to a broader situation. In “Writing Home: High Street,” the Columbus street is a representation of the entire city: “Its character shifts long its length to reflect the surrounding area: the old downtown with government and commercial offices; the rehabbed gallery district; an amorphous university community; quiet residential neighborhoods with wood-frame houses from the early twentieth century.” This depicts a deeper meaning, a political one about the poor planning of the development on the street. In “Se Habla Espanol,” Barrientos compares throughout her essay the cultural differences between her parent’s culture, from which she was uprooted when she was an infant, and the American society that she was raised in. A method used to communicate each culture is by relaying the stereotypes that are placed upon her, capturing a deeper meaning. For example, Barrientos describes being Spanish as “being poor … waiting table and cleaning hotel rooms. It meant being left off the cheerleading squad and receiving a condescending smile from the guidance counselor when you said you planned on becoming a lawyer or a doctor.” In “007 Is Back, and He’s Brooding,” is an allegory for every action flick and it is most often compared to former Bond flicks. While the allegory in “007” isn’t as obvious, Scott is making a point that the current Bond film follows many of the Bond clichés; however, it also captures some less stereotypical qualities. He makes reference to the stereotypes in former 007 movies, such as the technology, explosions, women and sex. But the allegory reaches further, drawing on examples of other well-known action flicks: “Does every hero, whether Batman or Jason Bourne, need to be so sad?” The allegory in Scott’s piece reaches beyond just 007 and into the broader world of action films, making a statement that many follow the same formula.

All three pieces use allusion to describe their central theme. “Allusion connects the content of a text with the larger world,” (Author’s Craft). In “Writing Home,” Howe uses various images from history and geography to help describe the condition in which the Columbus street finds itself and the transition it has taken throughout history. He makes reference to the way in which the street represents a “changing America.” “Different moments from the past have left their traces along the street, and they can be read like geological striations or the pentimento of an artist’s canvas.” In “Se Habla Espanol,” Barrientos compares the geological cultures, using this form of allusion to draw on her central theme of dealing with stereotypes: “I came to the United States in 1963 at age 3 with my family and immediately stopped speaking Spanish … my parents (a psychology professor and an artist) wholeheartedly embraced the notion of the American melting pot.” In “007 is Back, and He’s Brooding,” Scott draws on a comparison of past Bond films with the latest: “The first chase, picking up exactly where the 2006 ‘Casino Royale’ left off, is speedy and thrilling, but the other action set-pieces are a decidedly mixed bag, with a few crisp footraces, some semi-coherent punch-outs and a dreadful boat pileup that brings back painful memories of the invisible car Pierce Brosnan tooled around in a few movies ago.”

All three authors are extremely talented at their craft and they have the literary tools at their disposal. Much like vocabulary, the more literary devices a writer uses, provides them with a greater way of communicating their ideas. Many authors draw on the devices so they can find a way to communicate the idea they have in their head and paint a clear picture for the reader.

Works Cited
History of Ford Motor Company. (N.D.). Byrant University.

Metaphor. (N.D.). Brigham Young University.

Author’s Craft (N.D.) UDL Editions by CAST.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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