Literary devices are essential tools that writers use to add depth, creativity, and meaning to their works. These devices allow authors to convey their thoughts and ideas in a more engaging and memorable manner. In this article, we will explore literary devices that start with the letter ‘A’.
23 Literary Devices That Start with ‘A’
Literary devices are powerful tools that enable writers to enhance their storytelling and evoke specific emotions in readers. From alliteration and allegory to anthropomorphism and analogy, these devices shape the language and structure of literature, making it more engaging, memorable, and thought-provoking. By understanding and appreciating the multitude of literary devices available, both writers and readers can deepen their understanding of the written word and explore new realms of creativity and expression.
1 – Alliteration
Alliteration is a literary device that involves the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of neighboring words in a sentence or phrase. It is often used to create rhythm, emphasize certain words, or enhance the overall musicality of a piece of writing.
For example, “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” is an alliterative phrase where the ‘p’ sound is repeated. Another example could be “Sally sells seashells by the seashore,” where the
Another example, in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, the line “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” uses alliteration to emphasize the contradictory nature of the world.
2 – Allegory
Allegory is a literary device where characters, events, or symbols represent abstract ideas or moral qualities. It allows writers to convey complex ideas in a more accessible and engaging way.
For example, George Orwell’s novel “Animal Farm” is an allegory that uses animals on a farm to represent different political ideologies and satirize the corruption of power. This story allows readers to reflect on the dangers of totalitarianism and the importance of individual freedom.
3 – Anachronism
Anachronism is the intentional or unintentional placement of a person, event, or object in a time period where it does not belong. This device is often used for artistic or comedic effect.
For example, in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, the character of Brutus says, “Peace! Count the clock.” However, mechanical clocks did not exist during the time the play is set, making it an anachronism.
4 – Anthropomorphism
Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics or behaviors to animals, objects, or abstract concepts. It helps readers connect and relate to non-human entities.
A popular example of anthropomorphism is found in A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, where the animals in the Hundred Acre Wood exhibit human-like qualities and emotions.
5 – Assonance
Assonance is a literary device that involves the repetition of vowel sounds in nearby words, particularly in poetry or prose. It is used to create a musical or rhythmic effect, adding depth and beauty to the language.
One example of assonance is the phrase “fleet feet sweep by sleeping geese” where the long “ee” sound is repeated in the words “fleet,” “feet,” and “sleeping.” This repetition of vowel sounds creates a melodic quality and adds a sense of harmony to the sentence.
In Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Raven, the repetition of the long “o” sound in the words “Lenore” and “Nevermore” creates a haunting and melancholic effect.
6 – Atmosphere
Atmosphere refers to the overall mood or feeling evoked in a literary work. It is created through descriptive language, setting, and tone.
In Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, the bleak and desolate moorland setting contributes to the dark and mysterious atmosphere of the story.
7 – Apostrophe
Apostrophe is a literary device where the writer directly addresses an absent person, an abstract concept, or an inanimate object. It adds emotional depth and intensity to the writing.
In William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, the line “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” is an apostrophe, as the speaker addresses the subject of the sonnet directly.
8 – Antagonist
An antagonist is a character or force that opposes the protagonist in a story. They create conflict and tension, driving the plot forward.
In Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series, Professor Moriarty serves as the main antagonist, constantly challenging Holmes with his criminal activities.
9 – Antithesis
Antithesis is the use of contrasting concepts, words, or sentences within a parallel grammatical structure. It creates a sense of balance and emphasizes the contrast between ideas.
In Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, the famous opening line “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” presents an antithesis to highlight the stark differences in the novel’s setting.
10 – Archetype
An archetype is a universally recognized symbol, character, or theme that appears across different cultures and time periods. It represents a fundamental human experience or trait.
Examples of archetypes include the hero, the mentor, and the trickster. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Frodo Baggins embodies the archetype of the reluctant hero on a perilous quest.
11 – Allusion
Allusion is a reference to a well-known person, place, event, or work of literature. It adds depth and layers of meaning to the text, assuming the reader’s familiarity with the referenced material.
In T.S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land, the line “I will show you fear in a handful of dust” alludes to the line “Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall” from T.S. Eliot’s earlier poem “The Waste Land.” This allusion enhances the themes of decay and disillusionment in Eliot’s work.
12 – Anecdote
An anecdote is a short and interesting story that serves to illustrate a point or evoke an emotional response. Writers use anecdotes to engage readers and make their writing more relatable.
In Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck shares anecdotes of his experiences with his friend Jim, highlighting the bond they develop throughout their journey.
13 – Aphorism
An aphorism is a concise and memorable statement that expresses a general truth or moral principle. It is often used to convey wisdom or offer insightful observations.
One famous aphorism from Oscar Wilde is “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” This quote encapsulates the idea that despite life’s challenges, there is beauty and hope to be found.
14 – Analogy
An analogy is a comparison between two things to explain or illustrate a concept or idea. It helps readers understand complex or abstract concepts by relating them to something familiar.
In Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, he uses the analogy of cashing a check to describe the unfulfilled promises of equality for African Americans.
15 – Ambiguity
Ambiguity is the presence of multiple interpretations or meanings within a text. It allows readers to engage with the work and draw their own conclusions. Ambiguity can create intrigue and stimulate critical thinking.
In Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, the transformation of the protagonist into a giant insect is open to various interpretations, symbolizing alienation, identity crisis, or societal pressures.
16 – Allegro
Allegro is a musical term that denotes a fast and lively tempo. In literature, allegro refers to a passage or section characterized by a quick pace and energetic rhythm. It adds dynamism and excitement to the narrative.
In Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, the swashbuckling sword fights and daring escapades can be considered allegro moments, driving the plot forward with a sense of adventure.
17 – Anadiplosis
Anadiplosis is a literary device where the last word or phrase of one sentence or clause is repeated at the beginning of the next sentence or clause. It creates a connection between ideas and emphasizes certain words.
In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Mark Antony delivers the famous line, “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones.” The repetition of “the” and “them” through anadiplosis amplifies the impact of Antony’s speech.
18 – Acrostic
An acrostic is a form of poetry or writing in which the first letter of each line or paragraph, when read vertically, forms a word, phrase, or name. It adds a playful and creative element to the writing.
In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, the poem “A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky” is an acrostic where the first letter of each line spells out the name of Alice Pleasance Liddell, Carroll’s inspiration for Alice in Wonderland.
19 – Autobiography
An autobiography is a written account of a person’s life, written by that person. It provides personal insights, reflections, and experiences. Autobiographies offer a unique perspective on historical events and the human condition.
One notable autobiography is The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, documenting her life in hiding during the Holocaust and offering a poignant portrayal of hope and resilience.
20 – Aside
An aside is a dramatic device in which a character speaks directly to the audience or to another character, revealing their inner thoughts or providing additional information. It offers insight
into a character’s motivations or feelings, often creating a sense of intimacy with the audience. In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the titular character delivers several asides, sharing his doubts, fears, and contemplations with the audience, giving them a glimpse into his complex inner world.
21 – Absurdity
Absurdity is a literary device that highlights the irrational or illogical aspects of human existence. It challenges traditional notions of meaning and purpose, often using humor or irony to convey its message.
In Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot, the characters engage in nonsensical conversations and repetitive actions, reflecting the absurdity of the human condition and the futility of waiting for a higher power.
22 – Anapest
Anapest is a metrical foot in poetry consisting of two short syllables followed by one long syllable. It creates a rhythmic and upbeat pattern, often used in humorous or lighthearted verses.
In Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat, the opening lines, “The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play,” showcase anapestic meter, lending a playful and energetic tone to the book.
23 – Allegretto
Allegretto is a musical term indicating a moderately fast tempo. In literature, allegretto refers to a section or passage characterized by a brisk and lively pace. It injects momentum and excitement into the narrative.
In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the lavish parties and extravagant lifestyles of the characters are described with an allegretto rhythm, immersing readers in the vibrant energy of the Jazz Age.
More to read
- Literary Devices (A – Z List)
- Anaphoric Examples