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Figurative language is an necessary characteristic of poetry, though it is also used in the prose as well. Figurative language is exclusive from the literal language because it does not imply what is being said. The employment of figurative language in poetry is what makes a poem lovely and meaningful.
"Rolling in the Deep" is a song written by Adele, and it is an about a failed relationship between the poet and her boyfriend. Adele extensively utilizes figurative language in the form of literary devices (metaphors, personification, symbols, idioms, and hyperboles) to convey her emotions regarding the lessons she has learned from her failed relationships.
The first line of the song makes use of the symbol “fire” which signifies revelation, illumination, pain, anger, aggression and a revengeful. By using the symbol of fire, Adele conveys that her experience with her boyfriend has enlightened her and it has brought her out of the "dark." Darkness signifies ignorance and deception. Also, fire here means her anger on being deceived by her boyfriend. Fire is a potent symbol and using it right at the beginning of the song instantly sets the mood of the poem that is, aggressive and revengeful. This is evident by the rest of the song where Adele keeps on repeating that her boyfriend would wish that he had never met her.
In this song, Adele extensively makes use of the idioms. For example, the line "Go ahead and sell me out, and I'll lay your shit bare" employs two idioms simultaneously. "Sell me out" means to deceive and what Adele is implying here is that her boyfriend has betrayed her. But this does not weaken her at all as the very next idiom in the same line "I'll lay your shit bare" shows her threatening tone and her plan to take revenge on her boyfriend. This refers to the symbol of fire that is in her heart. "I'll lay your shit bare" means that Adele is threatening her boyfriend that she would expose him.
Other idioms used in the poem are "crystal clear" and "reap what you sow." Crystal clear implies that after being deceived, Adele now knows who her boyfriend was and he is not what she perceived him to be as it is after the betrayal that she can see his actual personality. Furthermore, telling her boyfriend to reap what he showed again shows Adele’s threatening and vengeful plans to make her boyfriend pay for what he did.
The literary device known as hyperbole is also used repeatedly in the poem. Hyperbole is used to exaggerate to amplify the impact of words and it has been used very effectively in the song. For example, Adele threatens her boyfriend that she will leave with "every piece" of him. This shows the intensity and exaggeration of her anger and vengeance. Similarly, "turn my sorrow into treasure gold" is another hyperbole that can be understood to imply various things. For instance, this may mean that Adele is telling her ex-boyfriend in a threatening tone that now he should turn her sorrow into treasure gold by playing the way she has chosen for him.
In addition to that, it can also mean to imply that her bad experience and separation with her boyfriend has done her good because now she is the sorrow and the suffering and pain have made her strong. Now she is better equipped to deal with people in future and save herself from being deceived. Furthermore, by the line "you had my heart in your hand," Adele is emphasizing the intensity of trust that she had put in her boyfriend and the control that he could have exercised over her heart if he was sincere enough. Moreover, the intensity of hurt and anger, which her boyfriend has caused her to go through after deceiving her, is shown by the exaggeration in the line "There's a fire in my heart reaching a fever pitch." Hence all of these exaggerations—hyperboles—together have a strong impact on the audience about the feelings of the singer.
The refrain is another literary device that is often used in the songs. It is the repetition of a phrase, line or lines. There are two lines in this song that are repeatedly used to emphasize the different feelings in the poem in different stanzas. For instance, “You’re gonna wish you had never met me," right after the line "we could have had it all" reminds the audience that Adele is neither seeking any reconciliation nor is she in any state of reverie. Similarly, "Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep," also reminds the audience that she is adamant on taking the revenge and making her ex-boyfriend cry like he made her cry.
Adele has also employed the literary device of personification in the song. For example, when she says that the fire is bringing her out of the dark, she has personified the symbol of fire because literally, a fire cannot ‘bring' one out of the dark. Similarly, while speaking of the love that was once there between her and her boyfriend, she personifies the "scars of our love" as they sometimes "remind" her of that love, and sometimes those scars of their love leave her breathless. Love, in poetry, is often personified as a concrete and independent entity to stress upon the powers it has on people.
In addition to the above mentioned literary devices, metaphorical phrases have also been used in the song. For instance, the line "But you played it with a beating" refers to the betrayal that Adele faces at the hands of her ex-boyfriend. The heart cannot be "played" with a "beating." By using the metaphor in this line, Adele implies that her ex-boyfriend played with her heart by using her blind love and trust to deceive her.
Also, "played with a beating" refers to the way a child plays with a toy by beating it without any emotional attachment or kindness. Furthermore, “Throw your soul through every open door” is also used metaphorically because one cannot literally through one's soul. This line implies that Adele is asking her boyfriend to jump on every opportunity, through every open door and continue to look for whatever he is trying to find as he did before and betrayed her by going after other girls. This is obviously not intended as a friendly advice, as is evident by the tone, but she is challenging him to do so while she is bent upon making him pay for what he did by taking her revenge so that he can "reap" what he sowed.
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