LITERARY DEVICES Copyright © 2007 by Jay Braiman World Wide Web. mrbraiman. com Literary devices refers to specific facets of literature. in the sense of its cosmopolitan map as an art signifier which expresses thoughts through linguistic communication. which we can acknowledge. place. construe and/or analyze. Literary devices jointly comprise the art form’s constituents ; the agencies by which writers create intending through linguistic communication. and by which readers gain apprehension of and grasp for their plants. They besides provide a conceptual model for comparing single literary plants to others. both within and across genres.

Both literary elements and literary techniques can justly be called literary devices. Literary elements refers to particular identifiable features of a whole text. They are non “used. ” per Se. by writers ; they represent the elements of storytelling which are common to all literary and narrative signifiers. For illustration. every narrative has a subject. every narrative has a scene. every narrative has a struggle. every narrative is written from a peculiar point-of-view. etc. In order to be discussed lawfully as portion of a textual analysis. literary elements must be specifically identified for that peculiar text.

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Literary techniques refers to any specific. calculated buildings or picks of linguistic communication which an writer uses to convey significance in a peculiar manner. An author’s usage of a literary technique normally occurs with a individual word or phrase. or a peculiar group of words or phrases. at one individual point in a text. Unlike literary elements. literary techniques are non needfully present in every text ; they represent deliberate. witting picks by single writers. “Literary terms” refers to the words themselves with which we identify and designate literary elements and techniques.

They are non found in literature and they are non “used” by writers. Fable: Where every facet of a narrative is representative. normally symbolic. of something else. normally a larger abstract construct or of import historical/geopolitical event. Lord of the Flies provides a compelling fable of human nature. exemplifying the three sides of the mind through its sharply-defined chief characters. Alliteration: The repeat of harmonic sounds within close propinquity. normally in back-to-back words within the same sentence or line. Adversary: Counterpart to the chief character and beginning of a story’s chief struggle.

The individual may non be “bad” or “evil” by any conventional moral criterion. but he/she opposes the supporter in a important manner. ( Although it is technically a literary component. the term is merely utile for designation. as portion of a treatment or analysis of character ; it can non by and large be analyzed by itself. ) Anthropomorphism: Where animate beings or inanimate objects are portrayed in a narrative as people. such as by walking. speaking. or being given weaponries. legs. facial characteristics. human motive power or other apelike signifier. ( This technique is frequently falsely called personification.

) • The King and Queen of Hearts and their playing-card courtiers comprise merely one illustration of Carroll’s extended usage of theanthropism in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Blank poetry: Non-rhyming poesy. normally written in iambic pentameter. • Most of Shakespeare’s duologue is written in clean poetry. though it does on occasion rime. Fictional character: The people who inhabit and take portion in a narrative. When discoursing character. as distinguishable from word picture. expression to the indispensable map of the character. or of all the characters as a group. in the narrative as a whole.

• Rather than concentrate on one peculiar character. Lord assembles a series of brief sketchs and anecdotes affecting multiple characters. in order to give the reader the broadest possible spectrum of human behaviour. Golding uses his chief characters to stand for the different parts of the human mind. to exemplify mankind’s internal battle between desire. mind. and scruples. • Word picture: The author’s means of conveying to the reader a character’s personality. life history. values. physical properties. etc. Besides refers straight to a description thereof.

• Atticus is characterized as an about impossibly virtuous adult male. ever making what is right and leaving faultless moral values to his kids. Climax: The turning point in a narrative. at which the terminal consequence becomes inevitable. normally where something all of a sudden goes awfully incorrect ; the “dramatic high point” of a narrative. ( Although it is technically a literary component. the term is merely utile for designation. as portion of a treatment or analysis of construction ; it can non by and large be analyzed by itself. ) • The narrative reaches its flood tide in Act III. when Mercutio and Tybalt are killed and Romeo is banished from Verona.

Conflict: A battle between opposing forces which is the driving force of a narrative. The result of any narrative provides a declaration of the struggle ( s ) ; this is what keeps the reader reading. Conflicts can be between single characters. between groups of characters. between a character and society. etc. . and can besides be strictly abstract ( i. e. . conflicting thoughts ) . • • • The struggle between the Montagues and Capulets causes Romeo and Juliet to act irrationally one time they fall in love. Jack’s precedences are in struggle with those of Ralph and Piggy. which causes him to interrupt away from the group.

Man-versus-nature is an of import struggle in The Old Man and the Sea. Context: Conditionss. including facts. social/historical background. clip and topographic point. etc. . environing a given state of affairs. • Madame Defarge’s actions seem about sensible in the context of the Revolution. Creative licence: Hyperbole or change of nonsubjective facts or world. for the intent of heightening significance in a fictional context. • Orwell took some originative licence with the historical events of the Russian Revolution. in order to clear up the ideological struggles. Dialogue: Where characters speak to one another ; may frequently be used to replace for expounding.

• Since there is so small stage way in Shakespeare. many of the characters’ ideas and actions are revealed through duologue. Dramatic sarcasm: Where the audience or reader is cognizant of something of import. of which the characters in the narrative are non cognizant. • Macbeth responds with incredulity when the Wyrd sisters call him Thane of Cawdor ; ironically. unbeknownst to him. he had been granted that rubric by king Duncan in the old scene. Exposition: Where an writer interrupts a narrative in order to explicate something. normally to supply of import background information.

• The first chapter consists largely of expounding. running down the family’s history and depicting their life conditions. Figurative linguistic communication: Any usage of linguistic communication where the intended significance differs from the existent actual significance of the words themselves. There are many techniques which can justly be called nonliteral linguistic communication. including metaphor. simile. exaggeration. personification. onomatopoeia. verbal sarcasm. and oxymoron. ( Related: figure of address ) • The poet makes extended usage of nonliteral linguistic communication. showing the speaker’s feelings as colourss. sounds and spirits.

Foil: A character who is meant to stand for features. values. thoughts. etc. which are straight and diametrically opposed to those of another character. normally the supporter. ( Although it is technically a literary component. the term is merely utile for designation. as portion of a treatment or analysis of character ; it can non by and large be analyzed by itself. • The baronial. virtuous male parent Macduff provides an ideal foil for the nefarious. childless Macbeth. Prefiguration: Where hereafter events in a narrative. or possibly the result. are suggested by the writer before they happen.

Boding can take many signifiers and be accomplished in many ways. with changing grades of nuance. However. if the result is intentionally and explicitly revealed early in a narrative ( such as by the usage of a storyteller or flashback construction ) . such information does non represent boding. • Willy’s concern for his auto foreshadows his eventual agencies of self-destruction. Hyperbole: A description which exaggerates. normally using extremes and/or superlatives to convey a positive or negative property ; “hype. ” • The writer uses exaggeration to depict Mr.

Smith. naming him “the greatest homo being of all time to walk the Earth. ” Iambic pentameter: A poetic metre wherein each line contains 10 syllables. as five repeats of a two-syllable form in which the pronunciation accent is on the 2nd syllable. • Shakespeare wrote most of his duologue in iambic pentameter. frequently holding to set the order and nature of words to suit the syllable form. therefore induing the linguistic communication with even greater significance. Imagination: Language which describes something in item. utilizing words to replace for and make centripetal stimulation. including ocular imagination and sound imagination.

Besides refers to specific and repeating types of images. such as nutrient imagination and nature imagination. ( Not all descriptions can justly be called imagination ; the key is the entreaty to and stimulation of specific senses. normally ocular. It is frequently advisable to stipulate the type of imagination being used. and see the significance of the images themselves. to separate imagination from mere description. ) • The author’s usage of ocular imagination is impressive ; the reader is able to see the island in all its alcoholic. colourful luster by reading Golding’s elaborate descriptions.

Irony ( a. k. a. Situational sarcasm ) : Where an event occurs which is unexpected. in the sense that it is someway in absurd or mocking resistance to what would be expected or appropriate. Mere happenstance is by and large non dry ; neither is mere surprise. nor are any random or arbitrary happenings. ( Note: Most of the state of affairss in the Alanis Morissette vocal are non dry at all. which may really do the vocal ironic in itself. ) See besides Dramatic sarcasm ; Verbal sarcasm. Metaphor: A direct relationship where one thing or thought replacements for another.

• Shakespeare frequently uses light as a metaphor for Juliet ; Romeo refers to her as the Sun. as “a rich gem in an Ethiop’s ear. ” and as a lone dove among crows. Temper: The ambiance or emotional status created by the piece. within the scene. Mood refers to the general sense or feeling which the reader is supposed to acquire from the text ; it does non. as a literary component. refer to the author’s or characters’ province of head. ( Note that temper is a literary component. non a technique ; the temper must hence be described or identified. It would be wrong to merely province. “The writer uses temper.

” ) • The temper of Macbeth is dark. murky and cryptic. making a sense of fright and uncertainness. Motif: A repeating of import thought or image. A motif differs from a subject in that it can be expressed as a individual word or fragmental phrase. while a subject normally must be expressed as a complete sentence. • Blood is an of import motive in A Tale of Two Cities. looking legion times throughout the novel. Onomatopoeia: Where sounds are spelled out as words ; or. when words depicting sounds really sound like the sounds they describe. • Ouch! EEK! Clang! Oxymoron: A contradiction in footings.

• Romeo describes love utilizing several oxymorons. such as “cold fire. ” “feather of lead” and “sick wellness. ” to propose its contradictory nature. Paradox: Where a state of affairs is created which can non perchance be. because different elements of it cancel each other out. • In 1984. “doublethink” refers to the paradox where history is changed. and so claimed to hold ne’er been changed. • A Tale of Two Cities opens with the celebrated paradox. “It was the best of times. it was the worst of times. ” Parallelism: Use of similar or indistinguishable linguistic communication. constructions. events or thoughts in different parts of a text.

Personification ( I ) : Where inanimate objects or abstract constructs are apparently endowed with human self-awareness ; where human ideas. actions. perceptual experiences and emotions are straight attributed to inanimate objects or abstract thoughts. ( Not to be confused with anthropomorphism. ) Personification ( II ) : Where an abstract construct. such as a peculiar human behaviour or a force of nature. is represented as a individual. • The Greeks personified natural forces as Gods ; for illustration. the God Poseidon was the personification of the sea and its power over adult male. Plot: Sequence of events in a narrative.

Most literary essay undertakings will teach the author to “avoid secret plan sum-up ; ” the term is hence seldom utile for response or critical analysis. When discoursing secret plan. it is by and large more utile to see and analyse its construction. instead than merely recapitulate “what happens. ” Point-of-view: The individuality of the narrative voice ; the individual or entity through whom the reader experiences the narrative. May be third-person ( no storyteller ; abstract narrative voice. omniscient or limited ) or first-person ( narrated by a character in the narrative or a direct perceiver ) .

Point-of-view is a normally misused term ; it does non mention to the author’s or characters’ feelings. sentiments. positions. prejudices. etc. Though it is written in third-person. Animal Farm is told from the limited point-of-view of the common animate beings. unaware of what is truly go oning as the hogs bit by bit and secretively take over the farm. Writing the narrative in first-person point-of-view enables the reader to see the soldier’s fright and uncertainness. restricting the narrative to what merely he saw. idea and felt during the conflict.

Supporter: The chief character in a narrative. the 1 with whom the reader is meant to place. The individual is non needfully “good” by any conventional moral criterion. but he/she is the individual in whose predicament the reader is most invested. ( Although it is technically a literary component. the term is merely utile for designation. as portion of a treatment or analysis of character ; it can non by and large be analyzed by itself. ) Repeat: Where a specific word. phrase. or construction is repeated several times. normally in close propinquity. to stress a peculiar thought.

• The repeat of the words “What if…” at the beginning of each line reinforces the speaker’s confusion and fright. Setting: The clip and topographic point where a narrative occurs. The scene can be specific ( e. g. . New York City in 1930 ) or equivocal ( e. g. . a big urban metropolis during economic difficult times ) . Besides refers straight to a description thereof. When discoursing or analysing puting. it is by and large deficient to simply place the clip and topographic point ; an analysis of puting should include a treatment of its overall impact on the narrative and characters.

• The novel is set in the South during the racially disruptive 1930’s. when inkinesss were treated below the belt by the tribunals. • With the island. Golding creates a pristine. isolated and undefiled scene. in order to demo that the boys’ actions result from their ain indispensable nature instead than their environment. Simile: An indirect relationship where one thing or thought is described as being similar to another. Similes normally contain the words “like” or “as. ” but non ever. • The simile in line 10 describes the lunar occultation: “The Moon appeared ruby. like a bead of blood hanging in the sky.

” • The character’s pace is described in the simile: “She hunched and struggled her manner down the way. the manner an old mendicant adult female might roll about. ” Speaker: The “voice” of a verse form ; non to be confused with the poet him/herself. Analogous to the storyteller in prose fiction. Structure: The mode in which the assorted elements of a narrative are assembled. • The single narratives are told within the construction of the larger framing narrative. where the 29 travellers gather at the Inn at Southwark on their journey to Canterbury. stating narratives to go through the clip.

• The drama follows the traditional Shakespearian five-act secret plan construction. with expounding in Act I. development in Act II. the flood tide or turning point in Act III. falling action in Act IV. and declaration in Act V. Symbolism: The usage of specific objects or images to stand for abstract thoughts. This term is normally misused. depicting any and all representational relationships. which in fact are more frequently metaphorical than symbolic. A symbol must be something touchable or seeable. while the thought it symbolizes must be something abstract or cosmopolitan.

( In other words. a symbol must be something you can keep in your manus or pull a image of. while the thought it symbolizes must be something you can’t keep in your manus or pull a image of. ) • Golding utilizations symbols to stand for the assorted facets of human nature and civilisation as they are revealed in the novel. The conch symbolizes order and authorization. while its gradual impairment and ultimate devastation metaphorically represent the boys’ corporate ruin. Subject: The chief thought or message conveyed by the piece.

A subject should by and large be expressed as a complete sentence ; an thought expressed by a individual word or fragmental phrase is normally a motive. • Orwell’s subject is that absolute power corrupts perfectly. • The thought that human existences are basically barbarous. barbarian creatures provides the cardinal subject of the novel. Tone: The evident emotional province. or “attitude. ” of the speaker/narrator/narrative voice. as conveyed through the linguistic communication of the piece. Tone refers merely to the narrative voice ; non to the writer or characters.

It must be described or identified in order to be analyzed decently ; it would be wrong to merely province. “The writer uses tone. ” • The verse form has a acrimonious and sardonic tone. uncovering the speaker’s choler and bitterness. • The tone of Gulliver’s narrative is remarkably prosaic. as he seems to see these bizarre and absurd happenings as ordinary or platitude. Calamity: Where a narrative ends with a negative or unfortunate result which was basically evitable. normally caused by a defect in the cardinal character’s personality.

Calamity is truly more of a dramatic genre than a literary component ; a drama can be referred to as a calamity. but tragic events in a narrative are basically portion of the secret plan. instead than a literary device in themselves. When discoursing calamity. or analysing a narrative as tragic. expression to the other elements of the narrative which combine to do it tragic. Tragic hero/tragic figure: A supporter who comes to a bad terminal as a consequence of his ain behaviour. normally cased by a specific personality upset or character defect.

( Although it is technically a literary component. the term is merely utile for designation. as portion of a treatment or analysis of character ; it can non by and large be analyzed by itself. ) • Willy Loman is one of the best-known tragic figures in American literature. unmindful to and unable to confront the world of his life. Tragic defect: The individual feature ( normally negative ) or personality upset which causes the ruin of the supporter. • Othello’s tragic defect is his green-eyed monster. which consumes him so exhaustively that he is driven to slay his married woman instead than accept. allow alone confirm. her unfaithfulness.

( Although it is technically a literary component. the term is merely utile for designation. as portion of a treatment or analysis of character ; it can non by and large be analyzed by itself. ) Verbal sarcasm: Where the significance of a specific look is. or is intended to be. the exact antonym of what the words literally mean. ( Sarcasm is a tone of voice that frequently accompanies verbal sarcasm. but they are non the same thing. ) • Orwell gives this anguish and brainwashing installation the dry rubric. “Ministry of Love. ”

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