Figurative Language In The Battle Royal, By Ralph Ellison

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Authors use figurative language to express nuanced ideas, those that beggar literal description. Such language provides the author an opportunity to play with his reader’s imagination and sense. A piece of literature that uses figurative language is more intriguing and engaging than a writing that aims only to explain. Ralph Ellison’s use of figurative language in “The Battle Royal” paints a powerful and unique story of oppression and the struggle for self-discovery. His juxtaposition of literal and figural language gave the story a dream like quality, all while creating a profound and vivid image. Symbolism was one of the most common and effective figurative languages that were used in the novel. Symbolism gave Ellison the freedom to add double levels of meanings to his work: a literal one that was straight forward and a symbolic one whose meaning was far profounder than the literal one. For example, the quote “live with your head in the lion’s mouth” is a symbol. While one might not notice the symbol, the lion symbolizes the wealthy white supremacists and the head symbolizes the blacks. However, a symbol’s interpretation differs from one individual to another, depending on the understanding or familiarity of the context. The theme of this story, which was blindness, identity and supremacy, was greatly emphasized by Ellison’s use of figurative language, especially symbols. In the story, Ralph Ellison uses the blindfold as a symbol of oppression as well as blacks’ struggle for equality and an ironic symbol of individuality and insight. In the story, Ellison uses blindfold as a symbol of oppression. Before the fight commenced, the blacks were obligated to wear the blindfold. Even though it was against their will, they did it anyway... ... middle of paper ... .... In his life the restriction by the whites didn’t stop or discourage him from following his dream, which made him unique and outstanding. He was capable of thinking for himself, even though the whites had tried to “guide” him like the other blacks. Throughout the novel, Ralph Ellison used symbols to tell his story in a powerful and vivid way. He was successful in using literally devices that engaged and entertained his audience. The blindfold was a symbol of oppression as well as blacks’ struggle for equality and an ironic symbol of individuality and insight. Generally, the novel was able to deliver an important message about societies’ struggle for dominance on one hand; and a way of making oneself free from such brutal treatment. It clearly showed that respect for one another; and one’s identity is the only way of solving conflicts and a way to live in peace.

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