Martin Eden: The Use of Metaphor as a Weapon

Martin Eden is regarded as one of the most original and vital characters that the writer Jack London ever created. The name Martin Eden is taken as the title of London’s book, that was composed in the early years of -the 20th century, which is semi-autobiographical and set in San Francisco.

It is the tale of an eponymous seaman, who is impoverished and is pursuing, aggressively and obsessively, his dreams of learning and literary success. London himself was born into a family suffering hard times. He also went to sea and spent some time in San Francisco himself.

It is not surprising therefore that London floods his novel with the sea’s imagery and language. With the ocean coloring Martin Eden’s imagination, the book’s narration makes generous use of nautical metaphor. Indeed maritime literature’s conventions inform the novel’s overall structure. The words and descriptions in Martin Eden are a reflection of the sea’s impact on the book’s author, himself an experienced sailor and insatiable reader of the literature of the sea.

The author wanted the book to be an assault on the uniqueness of individuals and an attack on ambition. To help him in this exercise the book uses metaphor throughout. For example, with metaphor, London represents the frustration of writers with publishers in Eden’s speculation that when he sends off a manuscript, it is a “cunning arrangement of cogs” that is immediately set in motion to put his writing into a new envelope to be returned automatically, accompanied by

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