Metaphor Analysis

1003 Words Jun 23rd, 2012 5 Pages
Metaphor Analysis
The Sea and Dry Land

In his Preface to the play, Bolt informs the reader his main metaphors are the sea and dry land, to suggest the supernatural order vs. the human order. The sea is formless, vast, and unpredictable. The land is security, home, order, what is known. Thomas More paradoxically clings to the safety of law and land but finds himself swept by his religious faith out to sea. Bolt did not want a purely naturalistic play, he says, and the metaphors are a way to add scope and philosophic depth, as in a poem.

Thomas More is a home-loving man with his house and family in Chelsea and their well-ordered ways. In addition, he is a lawyer who believes in the law as the safeguard of the citizens: “The law is a
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43).

Politicians are compared to boats on the ocean. Cromwell says of More, “There’s a man who raises the gale and won’t come out of the harbor” (Act Two, p. 119). He has raised a storm of controversy but tries to remain safe. More predicts that when Wolsey falls, “the splash would swamp a few small boats like ours” (Act One, p. 35). When King Henry visits More at Chelsea he pilots a new warship down the Thames, The Great Harry, literally exemplifying a threatening ship of state bearing down on the little domestic garden.

Metaphors of the Self

Related to the water imagery for the supernatural order are images for the conscience or self, a person’s integrity. “As a water spaniel is to water, so is a man to his own self” (Act Two, p. 123). A water spaniel is attracted to the water; it is his element, just as a man’s self or soul is the element he must swim in. More explains to his daughter that when a man takes an oath, “he’s holding his own self in his own hands. Like water” (Act Two, p. 140). If he opens his fingers then, breaking the oath, he has lost his self. When Norfolk appeals to their friendship to get More to change his mind, More says, “only God is love right through, Howard, and that’s my self” (Act Two, p.122). More identifies his essential nature with the mysterious ways of the sea, the supernatural forces, though he tries to cling to the land as long as he can.

Animal Metaphors