A conceit is an extended metaphor that is used to structure a text. The example Foster cites is John Donne’s “The Flea,” a poem structured around the flea-as-metaphor for sexuality. It might be difficult to distinguish between a central symbol and a conceit, as both could appear throughout a text. In order to identify a conceit, look for signs that this metaphor is what is fundamentally structuring the text, as opposed to simply being a major element.
Conceit Term Timeline in How to Read Literature Like a Professor
The timeline below shows where the term Conceit appears in How to Read Literature Like a Professor. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 25: It’s My Symbol and I’ll Cry If I Want To
...are not always so straightforward. In John Donne’s “The Flea,” the flea functions as a conceit (or extended metaphor), symbolizing sex. Because this metaphor is repeated throughout the poem, structurally uniting... (full context)