Metaphorical analysis creates an image in the audience’s mind. We typically understand a metaphor as one thing that represents another. In the text, Osborn mentions about the five functions, the process of how rhetoric, including metaphor, has influence on the audience. Within the five functions, the rhetoric would manipulate people’s mind, unify, stimulate them to participate in the activity, and make its specific parts universally well known. These functions would be related with each other and make a circle throughout the history. There are two pieces to a metaphor; the first is is called tenor, which essentially is the concept and how we (the audience) understand it. The other piece is the vehicle, this takes something that is difficult to understand and makes it concrete.

For instance, in the song “Snakes,” Bastille utilizes the animal to symbolize anxieties. In this track the snakes are a metaphor representing the concerns that torment Dan Smith (the lead singer). Because snakes are typically something to be feared (similar to anxieties) we can assume that the “snakes” act also as a simile. A simile compares two items that are already similar, which makes it easier to connect with the text. I mean, no one wants to be chased by snakes!

Snakes are biting in my heels

The worries that refuse to let us go

I’ve been kicking them away

And hoping not to let them take control

Dan Smith explains the “worries” that are consistently chasing him and not wanting them to take over his life. The song begins with him repetitively saying, “Ooh, I’m not ready.” He is not ready for his mind to be tainted with negative thoughts. The first time I listened to this, I made an instant connection to one having a panic attack. Having experienced panic attacks in the past, I know that I felt a wave of anxiety that washes all over you until you are flooded with it. The time it takes consuming you, you are filled with dread and you truly are not ready. 

In the intermezzo, a man’s voice says, “Come on, boys. Let’s go tear this place apart!” I understood this to be the “snakes” speaking, ready to take control of Dan’s mind. They are just about to infiltrate his mind with anxiety.

Yes, it’s easier to bury

My head in the sand sometimes

And I know, I know, I know

It’s not the right way to go

But I pray for the ground to swallow me whole

It is a struggle to deal with problems head-on and much easier to avoid and refuse to deal with them altogether. Dan is absorbed in his insecurity that he will not be ready to face his problems as they arise. Note how he explains that the “days feel dark” and he fears turning on the television due to things that add to his worries. (I am sure we can all relate to that at the moment.)

Ooh, I’m not ready

Drink to escape their bites

Show me distraction

Even for just one night

Bastille tells of constantly trying to avoid these fears and anxieties that chase and bother them daily. Dan tries other attempts to take his mind off of what is bothering him the most. He turns to various “distractions” like alcohol, partying, or even burying himself in people. He continues by admitting that these tactics for evading his problems won’t fix them but he still hopes to disappear. Bastille understand that these snakes will always chase them for as long as they are alive. They discuss understanding that things would be easier if they didn’t care at all.

However, is that really a life worth living?


Osborn, Michael. “The Trajectory of My Work with Metaphor” (2009): 79-87. Southern Communication Journal Vol. 74

Smith, Dan. Bastille. “Wild World”. Produced by Dan Smith & Mark Crew. Retrieved 2016-09-15. Virgin Records Ltd 2016.



6 thoughts on “Snakes

  1. Liz, I love that you analyzed this song. I also have a consistent presence of anxiety and panic attacks in my life, this song really spoke to me. Do you think in this song that he is running from snakes, but is also the snake himself? Obviously we know that snakes (real snakes) really do burry themselves in the ground and in the song “My head in the sand sometimes – And I know, I know, I know – It’s not the right way to go – But I pray for the ground to swallow me whole” he is like the human embodiment of anxiety (snake). Also, the reference to “swallow me whole” could be another nod to snakes because most do swallow their prey whole. Just thoughts! All I can say is well done, this post a clear and easy to understand.
    – Bree

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is the beauty of music! We can bring our own experiences and interpret songs differently despite the lyrics being the same. As Bree and Macy said, your post is well done. I love how you tied in your experiences of anxiety to this song. It totally makes sense. I also like how you ended your post with a rhetorical question. Good stuff!

    Just my thoughts, no criticism: When I first read the lyrics, the snakes for me represented “doubt”. As a kid growing up, I always doubted myself and would let those “snakes eat me whole”. Those thoughts of doubt and negativity would shape me into being so pessimistic and down. That “Come on, boys. Let’s go tear this place apart!” phrase made me think of those thoughts overwhelming me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think you did a good job of breaking it all down, this is something a lot of us in the class would be able to relate to, whether it be anxieties we have because of school, or ones other may obtain through life in general.

    Liked by 1 person

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