Metaphoric Expressions and Their Relation to the Coherence and Unity of Literary Texts

Mina Abbasi Bonabi, Hasan Iravani


The paper is an attempt to investigate the underlying discoursal functions of metaphors in terms of their contribution to the creation of discoursal coherence in literary text-type. Metaphoric expressions are not ornamental aspects of speech. Rather they are necessary parts of language. In other words, metaphors are not additional linguistic elements which are imposed on ordinary language. Rather metaphors are a necessary part of language and hence they can be considered the core elements of the texts developing and elaborating the topic of the texts. Following this line of thinking, the aim of this paper is to illustrate in which ways the metaphoric expressions used within a text are core elements and how they contribute to the development and elaboration of the topic of the text in literary text-type. We speculate that metaphors within a text, being core elements, are coherently linked to each other on the one hand and to the topic of the text on the other hand. In this paper, we want to find out how the metaphoric expressions used in the literary texts contribute to the establishment of local coherence and enhance the unity of the text in literature text-type. In other words, we are interested to explore how this relatedness increases the unity of the text and establishes the coherence of the whole text in this text-type. It is of special interest to find out in which ways the contribution of metaphoric expressions to the coherence and unity of the text produce literary effect in literature texts. For this purpose a literature text (a poem by Andrew Marvell) has been selected as our data to be analyzed in terms of the use of metaphors within the text and their relations to the coherence and unity of the text. Through the analysis of our data, we found out that in literature text-type, metaphoric expressions are coherently related to each other and these coherent connections among metaphors and their relation to the topic of the text create the literary effect in literature texts. We also investigated the degree of metaphoric force of metaphoric elements in our analyzed text. We found out that in literature text-type the metaphors have strong metaphoric force and this metaphoric force is created not only by new metaphors but also by the strategic uses of some conventional metaphors.We concluded that metaphor being a necessary and core part of a text may contribute to fulfill different functions in different texts. In the case of literary texts, metaphors, in addition to fulfilling other functions, enhance the unity of the text and by doing so produce literary effect of the text. Besides, on the basis of the analysis of our data, we also suggest that appearance of metaphors in specific instances of language use is not a matter of text. Rather metaphors directly evolve from the discourse elaboration process.



Coherence and unity, conventional metaphors, new metaphors, metaphoric force, strategic use of metaphors

Full Text:



Candlin, C. and Lotfipour- Saedi, k. (1983). Processes of discourse. Journal of Applied Language Studies 1(2), 103-310.

Gibbs, R. and Cameron, L. (2008). The social- cognitive dynamics of metaphor performance. Cognitive Systems Research 9, p: 64- 75.

Fairclough, N. (2010). Critical Discourse Analysis, Longman UK.

Halliday, M.A.K. (1985). An introduction to Functional Grammar, London: Edward Arnold.

Halliday, M.A.K & Hasan` R. (1976). Cohesion in English. London: Longman.

Halliday, M.A.K. Hasan` R. (1990) Language, Context and Text: Aspects of Language in a Social Semiotic Perspective Oxford university Press. Oxford

Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1999) Philosophy in the Flesh. Basic Books,Newyork.

Lotfipour- Saedi, K. (1989). Analyzing Literary discourse: Implication for literary translation. A paper presented at the first Tabriz University Conference on translation. Iran Tabriz University.

Lotfipour- Saedi, K. (1992). Analysing Literary Discourse: Implications for Literary Translation’Meta 37/2 P: 193-203.

McGlone, M. S. (2007) ‘What is explanatory value of a conceptual metaphor’Language and Communication.27 p. 109-126

Schnitzer, M.L.,& Pedreira, M.A. (2005). A neuropsychological theory of metaphor` Language Science.27 p. 31-49.

Tendahl, R.W., & Gibbs, J. (2008) ‘Complementary perspective on metaphor: Cognitive linguistics and relevance theory’ Journal Pragmatics. 40, p.1823-1864.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.