Literary Devices that Start with I

There are several literary devices that start with the letter “I”. These literary devices have been proved to be particularly influential and effective. These literary devices, such as imagery, irony and isocolon offer authors a means to convey complex ideas, evoke emotions and captivate their readers.

Whether you are a writer seeking to enhance your storytelling or a reader looking to uncover the magic within the pages of a book, understanding these “I” devices is essential to appreciating the art of literature.

1- Iamb

An iamb is a metrical foot in poetry containing one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, as in “delight.” The da-DUM rhythm creates a rising cadence. Iambic meter was commonly used in ancient Greek and Roman poetry and remains popular today.

Examples in literature

“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth

I wan- / -dered lone- / -ly as / a cloud

The aforesaid example is in iambic pattern. The stress has been given on the second syllable of each foot (pair of syllables), which create an unstressed or stressed rhythm. This regular alternation of syllables is helpful to establish a smooth and natural flow in the poem.

“Paradise Lost” by John Milton

Of Man’s / First Dis- / obedi- / -ence, and / the Fruit

In paradise lost, each line consists of five iambs. This structure is commonly used in the epic poetry. It creates a sense of balance and musicality in the verse.

2- Iambic Pentameter

Iambic pentameter is a line of verse consisting of five consecutive iambs, creating a rhythmic unit with five weak/strong stress patterns. In English poetry, iambic pentameter mimics natural speech patterns and was commonly used in Shakespearean plays, as well as more modern verse dramas and poems.

Examples in Literature

“Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats’s

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk

Ketas has used the iambic pentameter in the aforesaid poem to express a sense of languor and longing. The regular rhythm mimics the slow dreamy quality of the speaker’s experience. Each line consists of five iambs, which create a musical and contemplative tone.

Paradise Lost” by John Milton

Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste

The poem has been written predominantly in a blank verse. It is a form of unrhymed iambic pentameter. The aforesaid narrative demonstrates that how the iambic rhythm creates a majestic and quality effect. It is compatible with an epic that explores the fall of man from grace.

3- Idiom

An idiom is an expression whose meaning cannot be deduced solely from the definitions of the individual words. Idioms rely on figurative language, metaphorical meanings, and cultural knowledge to be understood. They add color to language.

Example: “Break a leg” meaning to wish someone good luck rather than actually injure their leg.

Examples in Literature

“Animal Farm” by George Orwell

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

The idiom has used in the context of caution against premature optimism. The literal meaning is about not to estimate the number of baby chickens before they are actually born. However, figuratively, it warns against assuming success before it is guaranteed. Orwell uses this idiom to highlight the characters unrealistic hopes in the story.

“As I lay dying” by William Faulkner

I’m just a dirty shirt to be spit on and drawn through a ring and thrown away.

In the aforesaid content, the idiom “drawn through a ring” has been used to describe a sense of being manipulated or treated unfairly. The literal meaning of drawing a shirt through a ring does not make a sense but it conveys a feeling of being mistreated and overlooked

4- Illusion

An illusion is a misleading false impression or deceptive appearance of reality. Writers may use illusions to build tension between what seems to be true versus the underlying truth. Literary characters or societies often cling to illusions that authors ultimately shatter.

Example: In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby creates an idealized illusion of wealth and sophistication that masks his misery and loneliness.

Examples in Literature

“Macbeth” by William Shakespeare

Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand?

Macbeth is agonized by the illusion of a floating dagger which he perceives as a sign that he should commit a murder. The dagger is an illusion of his own guilt and inner confusion. It serves to illustrate his descent into madness and the blurred lines between reality and his own perceptions.

“The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.

In the opening line, Gregor turning into an insect seems like a strange and terrifying dream. The sudden and inexplicable metamorphosis creates a disorienting and unsettling atmosphere in the story.

5- Imagery

Imagery refers to vivid sensory details and linguistic descriptions intended to appeal to one or more of the five senses – sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. Imagery creates dynamic mental images and sensory texture for readers. Metaphorically rich poems often contain substantive imagery.

Example: The sights, sounds, smells of the beach recreated textually through vivid imagery.

Examples in Literature

“I Wandered Lonely as a cloud” by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils.

In the poem, the poet has used imagery to evoke a clear visual image of a field of golden daffodils. The daffodils are swaying and dancing in the breeze. The reader can imagine the scene and feel the sense of beauty and serenity.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

The Radley house had always inspired a mild interest in me, but when the twilight came and met Atticus, it took on a spooky metamorphosis one hot afternoon.

The passage discloses the use of imagery to create a sense of mystery and fear. The fear and mystery are associated with the Radley house. The use of ‘spooky metamorphosis‘ allows the reader to visualize the changing appearance and atmosphere of the house.

6- Imperative Sentence

The imperative mood expresses direct commands, orders, instructions, demands, or requests as imperatives. Imperative sentences use the base form of the verb without a visible subject. Imperatives like “Do this!” or “Don’t go there” demonstrate authority and urgency.

Example: Just do it.

Examples in literature

“Lord of the flies” by William Golding

Listen all of you. Me and my hunters, we’re living along the beach by a flat rock. We hunt and feast and have fun.

In the above context, the imperative ‘listen all of you’ is used to issue a direction to the group of boys. It emphasizes the authority and leadership of the speaker who is trying to assert control and establish rules in their new and chaotic environment.

“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

Pray, Lizzy, what are you doing? All this is exceedingly shocking. You must not doubt me.

Here the ‘pray’ has been used to make a request. It is a polite and formal way to ask Lizzy for paying attention and not doubt the speaker. The use of imperative in the sentence reflects the manners and social norms of the time.

7- Implied Metaphor

An implied metaphor suggests a metaphorical comparison or substitution between two things obliquely through juxtaposed descriptions rather than explicit “is like” correlational words. Implied metaphors skip the usual metaphor structure, demanding readers infer the symbolic meaning.

Example: “The classroom was a zoo” implies the children are wild animals rather than directly stating it.

Examples in literature

“Animal Farm” by George Orwell

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

The implied metaphor in the animal farm is that the animals represent various classes in the society. They are said to be ‘equal’. It is implied that some have more power and privilege, which highlights the social and political inequality.

“As you like it” by William Shakespeare

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.

In the aforesaid passage, Shakespeare uses the implied metaphor of the world and compare it with a stage. He suggests that the life is like a theatrical performance. He implies that people play different roles in their lives just as actors play characters on the stage.

8- In Medias Res

In medias res is Latin for “into the middle of things.” It refers to opening a story by plunging into the middle of the action or a key conflict rather than beginning at the chronological start. This grabs attention while background info can be filled in later.

Example: Homer’s Odyssey begins years into Odysseus’s journey home from Troy.

Examples in literature

“The Iliad” by Homer

“The Iliad” begins in medias res with the Greeks and Trojans already in the midst of a long and brutal war. The story does not start with the origins of the conflict but plunges the reader right into the action. It begins with a quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon.

“Paradise Lost” by John Milton

It is an epic poem that starts with Satan and the fallen angels in the Hell. The narrative begins in the midst of their punishment and scheming rather than recounting the events leading up to their rebellion.

9- Inciting Incident

The inciting incident is the pivotal event, decision or action that introduces the central conflict of a story while disrupting the protagonist’s status quo. This key incident acts as the catalyst that sets the rest of the events in motion by forcing the main character to confront their conflict.

Example: In Harry Potter, Harry receiving his acceptance letter to Hogwarts introduces the magic world and his new calling, which sets the entire series in motion.

Examples in Literature

“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

The inciting incident in this classic novel is when Mr. Bingley arrives in the neighborhood. His presence stirs excitement and anticipation especially among the Bennet sisters and sets off a chain of events that drive much of the story’s romance and drama.

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s

The inciting incident in this novel occurs when Jay Gatsby, who has been pining for Daisy Buchanan for years, decides to throw extravagant parties in the hopes that she will attend one of them. This decision to reconnect with Daisy sets the story’s events in motion and leads to the tragic climax of the novel.

10- Induction

Induction refers to a process of reasoning that draws generalized inferences from the observation of particular facts, examples, and evidence. Inductive reasoning moves from specific details to broad conclusions and theories by finding patterns and making logical assumptions.

Example: Aristotle used inductive reasoning to derive scientific theories from empirical observations.

Examples in Literature

“A Study in Scarlet” by Arthur Conan Doyle

The novel begins with the induction of Dr. John Watson as he meets Sherlock Holmes and moves into 221B Baker Street. This initial induction sets up the dynamic between Watson and Holmes, which establishes the foundation for their legendary detective partnership.

“The Fellowship of the Ring” by J.R.R. Tolkien’s

The epic begins with the induction of Frodo Baggins and the One Ring. The induction describes the peaceful life in the Shire. It introduces the characters and reveals the significance of the Ring, such as setting the stage for the epic quest that follows.

11- Inference

An inference is a conclusion reached based on contextual clues, implications, reasoning, and personal assumptions rather than directly stated evidence. Readers draw inferences by “reading between the lines” and deducing implicit meanings beyond what is literally on the page.

Example: Based on Aunt Polly’s concern for Tom Sawyer, we can infer that she loves him deeply, even though it is never stated.

Examples in literature

“Lord of the flies” by William Golding

The creature was a party of boys, marching.

In the aforesaid context, the readers must make an inference that the ‘creature’ is not a literal monster but a group of boys. This demonstrates how the story uses the boy’s fear and imagination to create the idea of a monstrous being. The inference here is crucial for understanding the theme of the descent into savagery.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

Maycomb was a tired, old town.

The text directly demonstrates that Maycomb is a tired old town. The readers can get inference that the town may be stagnant, resistant to change and perhaps steeped in to the traditional values. This inference helps set the atmosphere and social context of the story.

12- Innuendo

An innuendo is an indirect, subtle hint, insinuation, or intimation expressing an additional, often derogatory meaning beyond the literal words through implication. Innuendos indirectly point to scandalous suggestions or gossipy connotations without direct reference.

Example: “Her new friendship with the mayor seems rather convenient” coyly insinuates ulterior political or romantic motives.

Examples in Literature

“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

It is a truth universally acknowledged,
that a single man in possession of a good fortune,
must be in want of a wife.

This famous opening line of the novel is filled with innuendo. On the surface, it seems like a simple statement about the social expectations of the time. However, it implies that the novel will explore the pursuit of wealthy suitors by young women and the pressure to marry for financial security.

“A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee William

Blanche DuBois: “I never was hard or self-sufficient enough. When people are soft—soft people have got to shimmer and glow—they’ve got to put on soft colors, the colors of butterfly wings, and put a paper lantern over the light…”

The aforementioned monologue is filled with innuendo. Here the writer uses the imagery of softness, shimmer and glowing. It implies that she uses her physical appearance and charm to conceal her past and insecurities. The innuendo is a reflection of her complex character.

13- Internal Rhyme

Internal rhyme occurs within the lines of a verse poem, rather than just at the line endings. It rhymes words in the middle of lines with other words later in the same line to create a complex interwoven rhyme scheme. This adds musicality.

Example: “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary”

Examples in Literature

“Because I could not stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson

We slowly drove, he knew no haste; And I had put away My labor, and my leisure too, For his civility.

In this stanza, Dickinson uses internal rhyme with “haste” and “civility.” The internal rhyme contributes to the poem’s reflective and contemplative tone.

“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost

He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there is some mistake.

In these lines, Frost employs internal rhyme with “shake” and “mistake”. The internal rhyme adds a gentle and hypnotic quality to the poem, that mirrors the soothing and snow covered landscape description.

14. Intertextuality

Intertextuality refers to the way texts, especially literary works, build layers of meaning in reference and relation to other texts, through borrowing, parallels, allusions, homages, and other forms of connection. Intertextuality shows how creative works interlink.

Example: Joyce’s Ulysses includes many allusions to Homer’s Odyssey, tying the two texts together through reference.

Examples in Literature

“The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot

Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song, Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long.

Eliot alludes to the opening lines of Edmund Spenser’s poem “Prothalamion.” By referencing Spenser’s work, Eliot establishes a connection between his own modernist poem and the tradition of English poetry, which invites readers to consider both works in relation to each other.

“Ulysses” by James Joyce

Better good manners than good looks.

The line is an allusion to the English playwright William Shakespeare’s famous line, “Though he be but little, he is fierce,” from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The intertextual reference adds depth to the character Stephen Dedalus’s musings and resonates with Shakespeare’s themes of appearance versus substance.

15- Inversion

Inversion is a reversal of conventional word order, grammatical construction, perspective, imagery, or metaphor, placing concepts in an inverted, reversed order from standard usage. Inversion can add emphasis.

Example: Yoda’s inverted speech: “When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not.”

Examples in literature

“Hamlet” by William Shakespeare

This above all: to thine own self be true.

Shakespeare uses inversion to emphasize the importance of being true to oneself. The typical word order would be “To be true to thine own self.” Inversion here gives the line a memorable and poetic quality, which highlights a central theme of the play.

“Paradise Lost” by John Milton

Into the Heaven of Heavens I have presumed.

Milton employs inversion to emphasize the audacious and presumptuous nature of Satan’s actions. The conventional word order would be “I have presumed into the Heaven of Heavens.” Inversion reinforces the idea that Satan has dared to invade the holiest of places.

16- Irony

Irony is a literary device where there is incongruity or disconnect between what is stated and what is meant, what is expected to happen and what actually happens, or appearance versus reality. Dramatic, situational, and verbal irony all rely on inconsistencies, opposites, and contrasts.

Example: It is poignantly ironic that a firehouse burns down given its purpose is preventing fires.

Examples in Literature

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain

Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?

Here, in the aforesaid context, Tom Sawyer uses verbal irony when he tries to convince Huck that white washing a fence is a fun and desirable task. In reality, it is a chore he wants to avoid but he uses irony to make it seem like an exciting opportunity.

“The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde

“Algy, you’re always talking nonsense.”

Gwendolen scolds Algernon for talking nonsense. Throughout the play, both Gwendolen and Algernon are masters of witty and nonsensical dialogue. The verbal irony lies in their hypocrisy.

17- Isocolon

Isocolon refers to parallel structure where successive clauses or phrases use identical length, grammatical structure, and syntactic rhythm. The repetition creates a reinforced, symmetrical effect through using the same pattern.

Example: “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields…” (Churchill)

Examples in literature

“A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity. It was the season of light, it was the season of Darkness. It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

These are the opening lines of the novel. Dickens uses isocolon to create a series of balanced contrasts. It emphasizes the duality of the times in which the story is set. The repeated structure and rhythm help to underscore the idea of opposites and sets the tone for the rest of the narrative.

Literary Devices That Start With I
Literary Devices That Start With I

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