Metaphor: Activity

Analysing metaphor in political discourse

Attached to this page are some extracts of a 2016 speech delivered by David Cameron after the UK voted to leave the European Union. For each extract, you will be asked to do two things:

1) Work out what metaphor is being used. What is being understood in terms of what?

2) Comment on why you think that metaphor is used. What purpose does it serve? What kind of meaning does it carry, in the wider context of the political situation in which the speech took place?

You will see on the handout that one example has been done for you.

Extension 1

Using the same metaphor structures (e.g. TIME IS MONEY, DOWN IS BAD, etc.) that you found in David Cameron's speech, write a new section of the speech. You could then swap with a partner and analyse each other's writing in terms of metaphor.

Extension 2

Find a different political text - a speech or campaign leaflet, for example. Does this use any of the same metaphors that you found in David Cameron's speech? What comparisons could you make between the use of metaphor in the two texts? You could also:

  • compare the use of metaphor across two different political parties
  • compare a politican's use of metaphor pre/post-election
  • investigate a fictional politican's (e.g. a character from 'House of Cards') use of metaphor and examine whether this has any similiarities to a non-fictional politician

Further reading


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