The use of metaphors in Nelson Mandela's autobiography and their relation to his social roles

Felekidou, Despoina (2014) The use of metaphors in Nelson Mandela's autobiography and their relation to his social roles. MRes thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This dissertation presents a study of figurative language, metaphor in particular, in Nelson Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom (2013 [1994]). Nelson Mandela is undoubtedly a symbol of the struggle for justice, dignity and equality all around the world, but he is also famous for the way he handles language. The study focuses on metaphorical linguistic expressions broadly related to the conceptual domains of war/destruction, religion and nature/environment. The first hypothesis is that expressions which are related to the domain of war/destruction are encountered the most during the narration of the first years of his activity (early adulthood and especially when he went underground, created Umkhonto we Sizwe and joined the communist party) and decrease in frequency as he grows older (expressly during his imprisonment and then when he was released and became the president of South Africa). The second hypothesis is that the frequency of metaphorical expressions connected with the domains of religion and nature/environment remains stable during the narration of his lifetime. The third and final hypothesis is that the frequency of the use of such metaphorical expressions is influenced by the social roles that the leader adopted in each part of his life. His life was eventful and turbulent and the social roles he carried out were numerous.
In order to provide evidence for my hypotheses, I carried out a close reading of the autobiography in order to find all the relevant expressions and then proceeded to a qualitative and quantitative analysis. Based on Emmott’s typology of ‘split selves’ in narrative, I analyzed Mandela’s character, outlined the different social roles he adopted in his lifetime, and established the extent of the mapping between the metaphorical expressions and these social roles. Indeed, my first hypothesis, concerning the frequency of metaphors from the conceptual domain of war/destruction was verified; as for the data for metaphors related to religion and nature/environment, the results gave a more complex picture and can be explained by Mandela’s experiences at specific times in his life. Finally, my third hypothesis was also broadly confirmed, as the frequency of metaphors can be seen to match to the examined social roles.

Item Type: Thesis (MRes)
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: metaphor, metaphor analysis, Nelson Mandela, social roles, rhetoric, narrative analysis, split selves theory
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Supervisor's Name: Anderson, Dr. Wendy and Emmott, Dr. Catherine
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Miss Despoina Felekidou
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-6373
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2015 10:31
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2015 12:15

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