An often-cited example of the metaphysical conceit is the metaphor from John Donne's "The Flea," in which a flea that bites both the speaker and his lover becomes a conceit arguing that his lover has no reason to deny him sexually, although they are not married:
When Sir Philip Sidney begins a sonnet with the conventional idiomatic expression "My true-love hath my heart and I have his", but then takes the metaphor literally and teases out a number of literal possibilities and extravagantly playful conceptions in the exchange of hearts, the result is a fully-formed conceit.
The paradoxical pain and pleasure of lovesickness is often described using oxymoron, for instance uniting peace and war, burning and freezing, and so forth. But images which were novel in the sonnets of Petrarch became clichés in the poetry of later imitators. Romeo uses hackneyed Petrarchan conceits when describing his love for Rosaline as "bright smoke, cold fire, sick health"; and Shakespeare parodies such conceits in Sonnet 130: "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun."
Recent literary critics have used the term to mean simply the style of extended and heightened metaphor common in the Renaissance and particularly in the 17th century, without any particular indication of value. Within this critical sense, the Princeton Encyclopedia makes a distinction between two kinds of conceits: the Metaphysical conceit, described above, and the Petrarchan conceit. In the latter, human experiences are described in terms of an outsized metaphor (a kind of metaphorical hyperbole), like the stock comparison of eyes to the sun, which Shakespeare makes light of in his sonnet 130: "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun."
An example from popular culture is the way many cartoons feature animals that can speak to each other, and in many cases can understand human speech, but humans cannot understand the speech of animals. This conceit is seen, and sometimes exploited for plot purposes, in such films as Over The Hedge, the Balto series, and Brother Bear.
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