Metaphorical representation of fire in newspaper articles

Over the last years our planet has been exposed to various major catastrophic natural disasters which have had a significant effect on the social life and people themselves. In this paper, I would like to focus on the Australian fire disasters represented by the written media in English-speaking countries. The motivation for the choice of this country lies in the fact that this current phenomenon of fires rose global interest by the written media due to its scale and global environmental effect.

The newspapers which will be taken for consideration are The Guardian, The Age, The Daily Telegraph, The Sydney Morning Herald and The New York Times. Based on a qualitative analysis, this paper will explore the metaphoric representation of the bushfires in the compiled newspaper discourse. The main metaphoric themes discerned are BLOOD, MONSTER, ATOMIC BOMB, SEA OF FLAMES.

Conveying experiences through language often involves comparisons and thus a metaphor is a useful tool. One type of evaluative resource, the use of figurative language and repeated patterns of metaphorical usage is of interest for newspaper analysis since it is often used in intangible and even insidious ways in persuasive argument.

The results show that metaphors are widely used in shaping news reports about significant wildfires and that their use affects the way people reason and perceive the phenomenon and their relation to it. Just as is the case with many other features of language, metaphors bond people in a joint state of meaning creation.

Keywords: natural disasters, newspaper discourse, metaphoric representation, fire