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A figure of speech in which two vastly different objects are likened together
with the help of similes or metaphors.
Garrett West
What exactly IS a conceit?
Derived from the Latin term for concept.
A conceit is a complex, fanciful metaphor which is known to be strained due
to the comparison of two very unlike objects.
Famous with 16
and 17
century poets, conceits were found to become too
conceited and gave way to more practical writing.
Conceits are used in everyday speech, although you might not notice them.
Theyre used to describe two different concepts, objects, or ideas to express
thoughts or feelings.

Conceit develops a comparison which is exceedingly
unlikely but is, nonetheless, intellectually

Two lovers with the two legs of a draftsmans compass

Love is like an oil change

The war veteran's smile was a rainbow in the desert.

Being near her in the stuffy ballroom was a trip down a water slide.

The tears dripping down my lover's face were acid wearing away my fortress.

She was a thief and the way in which she softly bat her eyelashes a skeleton key

In these examples, the attempt to compare two noticeably
unrelated objects makes the comparisons conceits.
The conceits in real life may give
complex ideas and emotions an air of
simplicity by comparing them to simple
day-to-day objects.
This outlines the difference between metaphors and conceits. Conceits are a
type of metaphor, but metaphors are a figure of speech in which a word or
phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.
Conceits use items that would not be considered related in a normal sense, but
are related subconsciously in the readers mind through heavier thought.

The best way to identify conceit is to first understand the passage, then analyze
what the author is attempting to convey.
An example
The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table
-T.S. Elliot

This is only part of a longer poem, and is an excellent example of a simple
conceit. Here, Elliot is comparing the evening to a medicated patient.
An example Sonnet XCVII: How like a
Winter hath my Absence been

How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December's bareness everywhere!
And yet this time remov'd was summer's time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burthen of the prime,
Like widow'd wombs after their lords' decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem'd to me
But hope of orphans and unfather'd fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And thou away, the very birds are mute;
Or if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.
-William Shakespeare.