The political impact of metaphors
  • ISSN 2210-4070
  • E-ISSN: 2210-4097
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When people talk about politics, they often employ metaphors, sometimes in extended sequences, in which a metaphorical idea is referred to across a larger segment of discourse (e.g., talk about political debates as wars, boxing matches, or games of chess). Empirical studies from psychology indicate that, at least in some cases, metaphors can have great persuasive value. My primary claim in this article is that many political metaphors in discourse are often understood as instances of allegory. Allegories refer to extended metaphors in which an entire narrative introduces and elaborates upon a metaphorical source domain to present a rich symbolic understanding of people and events. I describe several notable instances of political allegory and go on to suggest that people can readily interpret many of these allegories via ‘embodied simulations’ by which they imagine themselves participating in the very actions referred to in the language. These embodied simulations are automatic and sometimes tap into enduring allegorical themes that have symbolic value within different cultural communities.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): allegory; conceptual metaphor; fiction; poetry; psychology
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