Comparison (literature)

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The comparison is a word figure that is generated by the approach or contrastive comparison of two objects or images in order to increase the clarity and effectiveness of a thought.

Like the metaphor , the comparison is based on the similarity that is given in a common third ( tertium comparationis ); therefore there is also the definition of the metaphor , which has been in use since Quintilian, as "abbreviated comparison". In contrast to the metaphor, the comparison is based on a direct equation of its relata, which is achieved through a comparison particle (“how”, “as”).

Examples: "She is beautiful like the young morning." "She is faster than him."

If the similarity on which the comparison is based is conventional ("brave as a lion"), the older rhetoric spoke of a similitudo (modern: analogy ); it is non-conventional, of a dissimilitudo . A narrative continuation of a comparison creates a simile . Frequent comparisons in literature and poetry are those of animals and people, of natural objects and moral objects, of persons and moral objects, of natural objects and art objects, from large to small or from small to large ( synekdochetic comparison).

Furthermore, a distinction can be made between two types of comparisons. On the one hand, there are homogeneous comparisons that are to be made between comparison variables that are to be localized in one and the same realm of reality. An example of this is the comparison “Anna is as smart as Sarah” . Both benchmarks are to be assigned to one and the same realm of reality. On the other hand, a distinction is made between heterogeneous comparisons in which the comparative variables come from different areas of reality. With the example "He sleeps like a marmot" it is made clear that a comparison is made between two variables which are to be assigned to different areas of reality (human, animal world).


  • Mireille Schnyder: The world's miraculous dispositions. On the importance of metaphor and comparison in German and Persian poetry of the 17th century (Dissertation Zurich 1991) German literature from the beginnings to 1700 Volume 13; Bern 1992. ISBN 3-261-04545-0 .
  • Frederike Eggs: Comparisons and Comparisons - Implications of Linguistics for Language Didactics In: Becker, Tabea and Peschel, Corinna (Ed.): Controlled and uncontrolled acquisition of grammar . Hohengehren 2006