Literary Devices that Start with V

List of literary devices that start with V.

1- Verbal Irony

Verbal irony occurs when the intended meaning of a statement differs drastically from its literal meaning. It conveys a meaning opposite to the words actually said.

Example: In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet declares that Mr. Bingley is “the handsomest young man that ever was seen!” The exaggerated exuberance highlights her ironic blindness to his faults.

Examples in Literature

Here are some examples of verbal irony in literature.

1- “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare:

In Act 1, Scene 1, Mercutio says, “O calm, dishonorable, vile submission!”

Mercutio uses verbal irony when he criticizes Romeo for being too calm and submissive. In reality, Romeo is deeply in love and has been anything but calm, but Mercutio is mocking him.

2. “1984” by George Orwell

In the dystopian novel, the Ministry of Truth is responsible for propaganda and altering the historical records. The irony lies in the name as the purpose of ministry is to manipulate and control the truth.

The use of “Ministry of Truth” is ironic, because it represents the opposite of what it claims to be. It highlights the deception of the government.

3. “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry

“You cut off your hair and sold it to buy me a gift, but I sold my watch to buy you a chain for your pocket watch.”

The statement of Della is ironic, because both characters sacrifice their most prized possessions to buy gifts for each other. Their gifts are now useless, which make the act of giving itself ironic.

4. “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant

The story revolves around a woman who borrows a beautiful necklace to wear at a party but loses it. She replaces it with a new one and returns it to the owner only to discover it was a cheap imitation.

The irony here is that her desire for materialism and to impress others leads to her downfall. She spends years paying off debts for a necklace that was worthless.

5. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“Water, water, every where, nor any drop to drink”

the aforesaid line from the novel is ironic, because the mariner is stranded at sea with saltwater all around, but he is dying of thirst. Actually, the irony lies in the abundance of undrinkable water, which emphasizes the mariner’s suffering and the cruelty of his punishment.

2- Verisimilitude

Verisimilitude refers to the appearance or feeling of being real, genuine, and true to life. Works of fiction achieve verisimilitude by portraying characters, dialogues, and settings in a believable way.

Example: The verisimilitude of human behavior and speech in Shakespeare’s works greatly contributes to the seeming reality of his plays.

Examples in Literature

Let’s some examples of verisimilitude in literature.

1- “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.”

In this opening line, the writer sets the stage for the novel with a statement, that reflects the societal norms and expectations of the time. This sentence contain verisimilitude, which presents a universal truth that resonates with the reality of the early 19th-century English society. The concept that wealthy bachelors were often seen as eligible candidates for marriage is a reflection of the social norms and values of that era. Using this sentence, Austen immediately immerses the reader in the world of her characters, which make it feel authentic and true to life.

2- “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

“Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it.”

‘Harper Lee’ creates a sense of verisimilitude. He describes the town of Maycomb as both old and tired. This description immediately sets the stage for the story and conveys a sense of the history of the town and the weariness of its residents. The choice of words makes Maycomb feel like a real place with a rich history and it helps the reader to visualize and believe in the town’s existence.

3- Vernacular

Vernacular refers to everyday language spoken by ordinary people in a particular region or country. Using local vernacular in literature helps create regional authenticity.

Example: Mark Twain utilized Missouri regional vernacular in the dialogues of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to realistically capture the dialects.

Examples in literature

Here are a couple of examples of vernacular in literature.

1- “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain

“Well, there’s five niggers run off to-night up yonder, above the head of the bend.”

The writer employs vernacular to capture the authentic speech of the people in the American South, during the mid-19th century. The use of terms like “niggers” and the colloquial expression “up yonder” reflects the dialect and language of the time and place. The use of vernacular helps the write to create a vivid sense of the characters and their surroundings, which make the narrative feel rooted in the culture and language of the Mississippi River region.

2- “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker

“I got to talk to somebody, she say. Can’t imagine what life would be like if I couldn’t tell him.”

The character Celie uses vernacular speech that reflects the dialect and linguistic characteristics of the rural African American community in the early 20th century. The phrases, “I got to talk to somebody” and “Can’t imagine what life would be like” enumerates the vernacular of the time and place. This use contributes to the novel’s authenticity and the depth of the characters’ voices.

4- Verse

Verse refers to poetic composition as opposed to prose writing. The poetic lines have meter, rhythm, and often rhyme. Example: Shakespeare’s sonnets utilize iambic pentameter verse to explore philosophical themes.

Examples of verse in Literature

1- “Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”

William Shakespeare employs verse to express the theme of the beauty and endurance of poetry. The sonnet consists of 14 lines. Each line has been written in iambic pentameter (five pairs of unstressed and stressed syllables) and follows the ABABCDCDEFEFGG rhyme scheme.

The use of verse in this sonnet allows a structured and rhythmical pleasing expression of the poet’s admiration for the beloved. The choice of words, the rhyme scheme and the meter all contribute to the musical quality of the sonnet.

2- “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats

“My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:

In “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats, the verse has been used to create a lyrical and introspective tone. The poem consists of ten-line stanzas. Each line is following an ABABCDECDE rhyme scheme. The use of verse in this ode allows Keats to express complex emotions and philosophical ideas while maintaining a melodious and structured rhythm.

5- Vignette

A vignette is a brief descriptive literary sketch that focuses on one moment, scene, or character to provide a focused glimpse into the narrative or setting. Example: Hemingway used vivid vignettes in his short story collection In Our Time to capture the atmosphere of 1920s Europe.

Example of vignette in literature

1- “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros

“Those who don’t know any better come into our neighborhood scared. They think we’re dangerous. They think we will attack them with shiny knives. They are stupid people who are lost and got here by mistake. But we aren’t afraid.”

The write creates the sense of community and pride that the residents of Mango Street feel about their neighborhood. The vignette captures a moment when the people from outside view the neighborhood with fear and misconceptions while the residents know the true character of their community. This short and descriptive piece creates a vivid snapshot of the neighborhood’s atmosphere and the dynamics between the residents and outsiders.

6- Villanelle

A villanelle is a poetic form defined by five tercets rhymed ABA and a final quatrain rhymed ABAA. The A1 and A2 lines repeat in an intricate, repetitive pattern.

Example: Dylan Thomas’s poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night is one of the most famous English language villanelles.

Example of villanelle in literature

1- “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

The above stanza is a well known example of a villanelle. It follows the strict structure of a 19-line poem with five tercets (three-line stanzas) and is followed by a quatrain (a four-line stanza). The key feature of a villanelle is the repetition of the first and third lines alternately as a refrain. In this poem, the refrain is “Do not go gentle into that good night” and “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

The poem explores the theme of resisting death and aging, which urges the reader to fight against the inevitable. The structure of the villanelle adds emphasis to this message, which creates a sense of urgency and determination.

7- Visual Imagery

Visual imagery uses descriptive language to represent people, places, or things in a way that engage the reader’s sense of sight. Example: Keats depicts sensuous visuals in Ode to a Nightingale, describing the “light-wingèd Dryad of the trees” amidst the forest’s “embalmed darkness.”

Example of visual imagery in literature

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.”

The writer uses the visual imagery in this aforesaid passage to create a stunning mental picture of the extravagant parties held by Jay Gatsby. The “blue gardens” evoke an image of a luxurious and enchanting setting, where “men and girls” move through the scene like delicate moths. The addition of “whisperings”, “champagne” and “stars” further enhances the sensory experience, painting a rich and opulent atmosphere.

8- Voice

An author’s voice refers to the style, syntax, diction, and perspective conveyed through their writing that allows readers to perceive a distinct personality.

Example: J.D. Salinger crafts a unique narrative voice for the cynical yet vulnerable teen protagonist Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye.

Example of voice in literature

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain

“You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter.”

In the above context, the distinctive voice of the character Huckleberry Finn comes through. The colloquial and informal language, the use of double negatives and the first person perspective all contribute to create the voice of a young, uneducated and straightforward boy from the American South. This voice adds authenticity to the character and the setting and immerse the reader in Huck’s world and perspective.

9- Volta

A volta, or turn, is a rhetorical shift or dramatic change in thought and tone within a poem. It pivots from one perspective or mood into another.

Example: The volta in John Donne’s “Death Be Not Proud” occurs when the speaker shifts from gravely meditating on death to mocking and trivializing it.

Example of volta in literature

“Sonnet” 18 by William Shakespeare

“So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

In the sonnet, the volta occurs in the final two lines. The tone of the poet declares that the beauty of the beloved shall never fade. The volta reveals a change in perspective, which emphasizes the timelessness and enduring nature of the beloved’s beauty. This shift in thought or emotion is a characteristic feature of a sonnet’s volta, which adds depth and complexity to the theme of the poem.

Literary Devices that Start with V
Literary Devices that Start with V

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