Allusions and metaphors in A lickpenny lover by O. Henry.

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Allusions and metaphors in “A lickpenny lover” by O. Henry.

O. Henry’s language is very rich and full of great quotations, allusions and metaphors. I’ll try to analyze some from his story “A lickpenny lover” in my essay. All the metaphors will be presented in order of appearance in the story.

First of all, it seems interesting to me how author describes Masie telling us that she had “a brain that was as secretive and wary as that of a Maltese cat”. Probably it sends us to Rudyard Kipling’s story called “The Maltese cat”. The story is about a polo match set in British colonial India, told from the point of view of one of the ponies, a gray named The Maltese Cat. The match is between a team from “The Archangels” and one from “The Skidars”. The Archangels are from a British (almost certainly) Cavalry regiment, whose members are well-to-do: The Skidars are a “poor but honest native infantry regiment”, whose British officers probably had little to live on beyond their pay. After an epic struggle, the Skidars are victorious. The Maltese cat is the main hero of this story, she helps the team to win because of her great wisdom and skills, which are described in a short quotation: “That's because we play with our heads as well as our feet”. This is my point of view, of course I’m not sure about this connection, but it seems to me very probable.

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Next characters that we meet in “A lickpenny lover” are mythological. They are Hebe and Minerva. These names were given to Masie to describe her appearance and manners as they may seem to the reader from the first look. In Greek mythology, Hebe is the goddess of youth; she was the cupbearer for the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus, serving their nectar and ambrosia. In the sculpture, Hebe is expressed as a young beautiful girl with a flower wreath on her head and a silver cup in her arm. I guess that author compares Masie with this mythological character ...

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