Literary devices are techniques and tools used by writers to convey meaning, create a particular mood or tone, and enhance the overall effect of their writing. We use these literary devices in creative writing such as literature and poetry. These are also used in non-fiction works and other types of communication. We have compiled a huge life of 75 literary devices for you.
Alliteration is a literary device that involves using the same sound or letter at the beginning of multiple words in close proximity. It is utilized to make writing sound musical and to stress particular words or phrases. The repeated sound can be a consonant or a vowel sound.
Example: She sells seashells by the seashore.
Each word in the sentence starts with the repetition of letter “s”. It creates a musical and rhythmic effect in the sentence. This repetition also helps to emphasize the words and draw attention towards them. Alliteration is commonly used in poetry, slogans, and advertising to create a catchy and memorable effect.
Allusion is a literary device where the author makes a reference to something like a person, place, event, or artwork without directly naming it. The author expects the reader to know what they are referring to. Writers do this to make their writing richer by drawing on shared cultural knowledge or by making connections and associations between different works of literature.
For example, a writer may mention Julius Caesar to talk about power or politics. Or they may use a famous work of literature like Shakespeare’s Hamlet to add more meaning to their own characters or themes.
Allusions can be direct or indirect. A direct allusion is when the reference is made explicitly, like “He was a real Romeo, always chasing after the ladies.” An indirect allusion is more subtle and requires the reader to connect the dots between the text and the alluded-to reference, like “Her smile was like the Mona Lisa’s, enigmatic and mysterious.”
Allusions can be found in different types of writing such as poems, plays, novels, and essays. Allusion can make the work of writers more meaningful and thought-provoking.
Ambiguity is a literary device where a writer uses of language or words that have multiple meanings or interpretations. Ambiguity creates a sense of uncertainty or mystery in the writing. It may force readers to engage more actively in order to understand meaning of text.
The example of ambiguity is the famous riddle,
- “What is black and white and red all over?”
The answer, “A newspaper,”
Here, the word “red” shows different meanings (which can mean both the color red and the past tense of “read”).
Ambiguity can be used deliberately by writers to create a sense of uncertainty or to leave interpretations open to the reader. However, excessive use of ambiguity can be frustrating or confusing for readers. The writers should maintain a balance between clarity and complexity in their use of language.
Anachronism refers to a technique in literature that employs an element that is inconsistent with the time period or context of the narrative. This may include a historical object, a character, a language, or an event that did not transpire during that specific era.
For instance, imagine a tale set in medieval Europe where characters speak using modern-day slang or utilize modern technology; this would undoubtedly be an example of anachronism. Similarly, in a historical fiction novel set during the American Revolution, if a character is portrayed riding a motorcycle, it would also be deemed an anachronism.
Writers can use anachronism intentionally or unintentionally. Sometimes, writers use anachronism to add humor or satire to their work or to highlight the differences between different time periods.
The writers should be aware of the use of anachronisms. Its excessive usage can detract from the authenticity of a story and take readers out of the narrative. However, a well-placed anachronism can add an unexpected twist or bring a playful element to the story, and even provide an opportunity for commentary or satire.
An analogy is a literary device that involves drawing a comparison between two things in order to clarify or explain something. Analogies can be useful for helping readers understand complex or abstract concepts by comparing them to something more concrete or familiar.
For example, the phrase “life is like a box of chocolates” from the movie Forrest Gump is an analogy that compares the unpredictable nature of life to the unpredictability of a box of assorted chocolates. Another example of an analogy might be comparing the structure of an atom to a miniature solar system, with the nucleus at the center and electrons orbiting around it like planets around the sun.
Analogies can be used in a variety of ways in literature. They can help to illustrate complex ideas or emotions, create vivid imagery, or add depth and richness to descriptions. Analogies can also be used to create humor or irony, by comparing two things that are seemingly dissimilar in unexpected ways.
It is important for writers to choose analogies carefully and thoughtfully, and to ensure that the comparison they are making is both accurate and appropriate for the context of the text. When used effectively, analogies can be a powerful tool for engaging and enlightening readers.
Anaphora is a literary device that involves the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences. This repetition can create a sense of emphasis, rhythm, or momentum in a text, and can help to unify a piece of writing or highlight a particular idea or theme.
For example, Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech is known for its use of anaphora, with the repeated phrase “I have a dream” emphasizing King’s vision for racial equality and justice. Another example of anaphora might be the repetition of the phrase “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” at the beginning of each paragraph in Charles Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities.
Anaphora can be used in a variety of ways in literature. It can be used to create a sense of urgency or excitement, to build suspense or anticipation, or to emphasize a particular message or idea. Anaphora can also be used to create a sense of unity or coherence in a text, by repeating key phrases or ideas throughout a piece of writing.
Anastrophe is a literary device that involves the inversion of the typical word order in a sentence. In anastrophe, words are rearranged in a way that deviates from the normal subject-verb-object order of English sentences, in order to create a particular effect or emphasis.
For example, in the famous opening line of Yoda’s dialogue from Star Wars, “Powerful you have become, the dark side I sense in you,” the subject and verb are inverted, with “you” coming after “powerful,” and “the dark side” coming after “become.” This inversion creates a sense of emphasis on the unusual word order, and helps to highlight the importance of Yoda’s message.
Anastrophe can be used in a variety of ways in literature. It can create a sense of emphasis or urgency, by placing important words or phrases at the beginning or end of a sentence. Anastrophe can also be used to create a particular rhythm or flow in a text, by changing the normal order of words and creating a sense of variation or contrast.
It is important for writers to use anastrophe carefully and thoughtfully, and to ensure that the unusual word order they are using is appropriate for the context and message of the text. When used effectively, anastrophe can be a powerful tool for creating memorable and impactful writing.
In literature, an antagonist is a character or force that opposes the protagonist, or main character, in a story. The antagonist can take many forms, including a person, group, or organization, as well as abstract concepts like fear, guilt, or injustice.
The antagonist is typically portrayed as an obstacle that the protagonist must overcome in order to achieve their goals or complete their journey. The conflict between the protagonist and antagonist is often the driving force of the story, and can create tension, suspense, and drama.
Examples of antagonists in literature include characters like Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series, who opposes the protagonist Harry Potter at every turn, and Captain Ahab in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, who becomes obsessed with hunting down the titular whale and ultimately meets his demise as a result.
While the antagonist is often seen as a villain or antagonist, they can also be more complex and nuanced characters. Some antagonists may have sympathetic motivations or be fighting for what they believe is right, even if it is in opposition to the protagonist. This complexity can create a more layered and interesting story, and can force the protagonist to confront their own beliefs and values in order to succeed.
Ultimately, the antagonist is a crucial element of any story, as they provide a source of conflict and tension that drives the plot forward and challenges the protagonist to grow and change.
Antithesis is a literary device that involves the use of contrasting ideas, words, or phrases within a sentence or paragraph to create a sense of balance or tension. Antithesis often involves parallelism, where the structure of the contrasting ideas or phrases is similar or identical.
For example, in William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, Juliet famously declares, “My only love sprung from my only hate! / Too early seen unknown, and known too late!” This use of antithesis creates a sense of balance and contrast within the lines, highlighting the conflict between the two opposing forces of love and hate.
Antithesis can be used in a variety of ways in literature. It can create a sense of tension or opposition, emphasizing the differences between two ideas or concepts. It can also create a sense of balance or symmetry, by pairing contrasting ideas in a way that creates a satisfying structure or rhythm.
In addition to being used in individual sentences or phrases, antithesis can also be used on a larger scale to create a sense of contrast or opposition between different characters, themes, or storylines in a work of literature. This can create a complex and nuanced story that explores multiple perspectives and ideas.
Overall, antithesis is a powerful literary device that can be used to create contrast, tension, and balance within a work of literature, and can help to highlight important themes and ideas.
An aphorism is a concise statement that expresses a general truth or moral principle in a memorable and pithy way. An aphorism can take many forms, including a proverb, a saying, a maxim, or a quotation.
Aphorisms are often used to convey wisdom or insight in a succinct and memorable way. They are commonly found in literature, philosophy, and everyday conversation, and can be used to convey a range of ideas and values.
Some famous examples of aphorisms include:
- “Actions speak louder than words.” (Proverb)
- “All that glitters is not gold.” (Proverb)
- “Know thyself.” (Maxim)
- “The unexamined life is not worth living.” (Quotation from Socrates)
Aphorisms can be used in a variety of ways in literature. They can be used to highlight important themes or ideas, provide insight into a character’s personality or worldview, or to create a memorable and impactful line of dialogue.
When used effectively, aphorisms can be a powerful tool for conveying complex ideas in a concise and memorable way. They can also provide a sense of cultural continuity and connection, as many aphorisms have been passed down through generations and across cultures.
Apostrophe is a literary device in which a writer or speaker addresses a person, place, thing, or idea that is not present or is unable to respond. The apostrophe is used to give voice to an absent entity, and to express strong emotions or feelings towards it.
For example, in William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, Mark Antony speaks directly to the dead body of Caesar, saying “O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth, / That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!” This use of apostrophe allows Antony to express his grief and anger towards Caesar’s assassins, and to give voice to his own emotions.
Apostrophe can be used in a variety of ways in literature. It can be used to create a sense of intimacy or connection between the speaker and the absent entity, as well as to express strong emotions or feelings towards it. It can also be used to convey a sense of longing, nostalgia, or regret.
Apostrophe is commonly used in poetry, where it can be used to create a sense of heightened emotion and lyrical intensity. It can also be used in drama and other forms of literature, where it can be used to create a sense of dramatic tension or to highlight important themes and ideas.
Overall, apostrophe is a powerful literary device that allows writers to give voice to absent entities and to express strong emotions and feelings towards them. When used effectively, apostrophe can create a sense of intimacy and connection between the speaker and the absent entity, and can help to convey complex ideas and emotions in a memorable and impactful way.
An archetype is a universal symbol, image, or theme that is present across cultures and throughout history. Archetypes are deeply rooted in the human psyche, and are often associated with universal human experiences such as birth, death, love, and transformation.
Archetypes can take many forms, including characters, symbols, settings, and plots. Some common archetypes include:
- The hero: A courageous and determined character who is on a quest or journey to achieve a goal.
- The mentor: A wise and experienced character who guides and supports the hero on their journey.
- The trickster: A mischievous and unpredictable character who disrupts the established order and often has a transformative effect on the other characters.
- The shadow: A dark and often sinister character who represents the protagonist’s repressed or negative aspects.
- The mother: A nurturing and supportive figure who provides emotional sustenance and guidance to the hero.
Archetypes are often used in literature and other forms of art to convey deep and universal themes and ideas. They can be used to create a sense of familiarity and connection between the reader or viewer and the work of art, as well as to explore complex human experiences and emotions.
Overall, archetypes are a powerful tool for writers and artists, allowing them to tap into universal human experiences and emotions in order to create impactful and meaningful works of art. By using archetypes, writers and artists can create works that resonate with audiences across cultures and throughout history, and that continue to inspire and move people for generations to come.
Assonance is a literary device that involves the repetition of vowel sounds within a series of words or phrases. It is often used in poetry and other forms of literature to create a musical or rhythmic effect, and to draw attention to particular words or ideas.
Assonance can occur within a single word or between multiple words. For example, the phrase “fleet feet sweep by sleeping geese” contains the repeated “ee” sound in “fleet,” “feet,” “sweep,” and “sleeping,” creating a sense of musicality and rhythm.
Assonance is often used in conjunction with other literary devices, such as alliteration and rhyme, to create a sense of unity and coherence within a piece of writing. It can also be used to emphasize particular words or ideas, or to create a specific mood or tone.
Overall, assonance is a powerful tool for writers and poets, allowing them to create works that are both musical and meaningful. By using assonance, writers can draw attention to particular words or ideas, and can create works that are both aesthetically pleasing and emotionally impactful.
Asyndeton is a literary device that involves the omission of conjunctions (such as “and,” “or,” or “but”) between a series of words, phrases, or clauses. It is often used in literature and rhetoric to create a sense of speed, urgency, or excitement.
By omitting conjunctions, asyndeton creates a sense of connection and momentum between the words or phrases. For example, the phrase “I came, I saw, I conquered” uses asyndeton to create a sense of power and determination, emphasizing the rapid sequence of actions.
Asyndeton can also be used to create a sense of surprise or contrast, by breaking the expected pattern of conjunctions. For example, the phrase “She was smart, talented, beautiful, a force to be reckoned with” uses asyndeton to create a sense of surprise, emphasizing the unexpected absence of a conjunction between “beautiful” and “a force to be reckoned with.”
Overall, asyndeton is a powerful tool for writers and speakers, allowing them to create works that are both fast-paced and impactful. By using asyndeton, writers can create a sense of unity and momentum within a piece of writing, while also emphasizing particular words or ideas for greater effect.
Bildungsroman is a literary genre that focuses on the personal growth and development of a protagonist, usually from childhood to adulthood. The term “Bildungsroman” is German for “novel of education” or “novel of formation.”
The Bildungsroman genre often involves a journey or quest of self-discovery, as the protagonist encounters various challenges, learns from their experiences, and ultimately gains a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them. The protagonist typically undergoes a transformation, both in terms of their worldview and their place in society.
Some notable examples of Bildungsroman include “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens, “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, and “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte.
Overall, Bildungsroman is a powerful literary genre that allows writers to explore themes of personal growth, self-discovery, and the complex journey of becoming an adult. By following the protagonist on their journey of self-discovery, readers can gain insight into their own experiences and struggles, and can be inspired by the protagonist’s resilience and growth.
Cacophony is a literary device that involves the use of harsh or discordant sounds, often for the purpose of creating a sense of dissonance or tension. The term “cacophony” is derived from the Greek word “kakophonia,” which means “bad sound.”
Cacophony can be created through the use of harsh consonant sounds, such as “k,” “g,” and “t,” or through the repetition of similar sounds or words. For example, the phrase “clammy hands clutched the crumbling cliffs” uses cacophony to create a sense of tension and unease, emphasizing the harsh “c” and “cl” sounds.
Cacophony is often used in literature to convey negative emotions or ideas, such as anger, violence, or chaos. It can also be used to create a sense of contrast or irony, by juxtaposing discordant sounds with more pleasant or harmonious elements.
Overall, cacophony is a powerful tool for writers, allowing them to create works that are both aesthetically impactful and emotionally resonant. By using cacophony, writers can create a sense of tension, dissonance, or discord, and can draw attention to particular words or ideas for greater effect.
Catharsis is a literary device that involves the emotional release or cleansing that a character undergoes during the course of a story. The term “catharsis” comes from the Greek word “katharsis,” which means “purification” or “cleansing.”
In literature, catharsis often occurs when a character experiences a strong emotional response to a traumatic event or revelation, and is able to process and overcome that emotion through some form of release. This release may take the form of a physical action, such as crying or screaming, or it may be more symbolic, such as a change in the character’s perspective or behavior.
The concept of catharsis is often associated with the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, who believed that the purpose of tragedy was to create a sense of emotional release or purification in the audience. According to Aristotle, the emotional experience of tragedy allowed the audience to process and overcome their own negative emotions, leading to a greater sense of catharsis and emotional balance.
Overall, catharsis is a powerful literary device that can help to create a sense of emotional depth and resonance in a story. By allowing characters to experience and overcome their emotions, writers can create works that are both meaningful and transformative for readers.
Characterization is a literary device that refers to the way in which an author creates and develops characters in a story. Through characterization, authors can provide readers with information about a character’s appearance, personality, backstory, and motivations, allowing readers to form a deeper understanding of the character and their role within the story.
There are two main types of characterization: direct and indirect. Direct characterization involves the author explicitly describing a character’s traits or qualities, while indirect characterization involves revealing information about a character through their actions, dialogue, and interactions with other characters.
Authors can also use various techniques to create and develop characters, such as physical descriptions, internal monologues, and relationships with other characters. For example, a character who is described as tall and muscular may be seen as physically strong, while a character who frequently makes sarcastic remarks may be seen as having a sharp wit.
Effective characterization is essential for creating compelling and memorable characters that readers can relate to and care about. By using a range of techniques to create and develop characters, authors can bring their stories to life and create works that resonate with readers on a deep and emotional level.
Chiasmus is a literary device that involves the repetition of words or phrases in reverse order. It is a type of parallelism, in which the structure of a sentence or phrase is mirrored or reversed. This creates a sense of symmetry and balance, and can be used to emphasize a point or create a memorable phrase.
An example of chiasmus is the famous quote by John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” In this example, the words “country” and “you” are repeated in reverse order, creating a sense of balance and symmetry in the sentence.
Chiasmus is often used in speeches and other forms of persuasive writing, as it can help to emphasize key points and make them more memorable to the audience. It can also be used in poetry and other forms of creative writing to create a sense of rhythm and balance.
Overall, chiasmus is a powerful literary device that can be used to create memorable and impactful writing. By repeating words or phrases in reverse order, writers can create a sense of symmetry and balance in their writing, and emphasize key points in a memorable way.
Climax is a literary device that refers to the point in a story where the conflict or tension reaches its highest point. It is the moment of greatest intensity, where the fate of the characters and the outcome of the story are in the balance.
The climax is typically the turning point in the story, where the protagonist faces their greatest challenge and must make a critical decision or take decisive action to resolve the conflict. It is often the most memorable and emotionally impactful moment in a story, and can have a significant impact on the reader’s experience.
For example, in William Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet,” the climax occurs when Romeo kills Juliet’s cousin Tybalt in a fit of rage. This action sets in motion a chain of events that leads to the tragic ending of the play.
The climax of a story is often preceded by rising action, where the tension and conflict build gradually, and followed by falling action, where the consequences of the climax are explored and the story begins to wrap up.
Overall, the climax is a crucial element of storytelling, as it provides a moment of high drama and tension that drives the narrative forward and engages the reader’s emotions.
Comic relief is a literary device that refers to the inclusion of humorous elements or scenes in a work of literature or drama that are intended to provide a temporary break in tension or drama. It is often used to lighten the mood and provide relief from the seriousness or intensity of the story.
Comic relief can take many forms, such as a funny character, a humorous situation, or witty dialogue. It is most commonly used in tragic or dramatic works, where the inclusion of comedic elements can help to balance out the heavier themes and emotions.
For example, in William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet,” the character of the gravedigger provides a moment of comic relief in the midst of the play’s darker themes of death and revenge. His humorous banter and wordplay with Hamlet provides a break in the tension and adds a lighter touch to the play.
Comic relief is also commonly used in film and television, where it is often used to break up the tension in action or drama movies, or to add humor to sitcoms and other comedic shows.
Overall, comic relief is an important literary device that can help to balance out the serious or intense themes of a work of literature, and provide a moment of levity and humor for the audience.
Connotation refers to the emotional or cultural associations that a word carries beyond its literal definition. It is the secondary meaning of a word or phrase, often shaped by personal experiences, cultural context, or societal norms.
For example, the word “home” has a positive connotation for many people, evoking feelings of comfort, safety, and belonging. On the other hand, the word “house” may have a more neutral connotation, simply referring to a physical structure where one lives.
Connotation can also vary depending on the context in which a word is used. For instance, the word “snake” can have a negative connotation when used to describe a person who is sneaky or deceitful, but a positive connotation when used to describe a powerful and transformative symbol in mythology or literature.
In literature, authors often use connotation to create mood and tone, and to convey a deeper meaning beyond the literal definition of a word or phrase. By carefully choosing words with specific connotations, authors can manipulate the reader’s emotional response to a character or situation, and create a more nuanced and complex portrayal of their story.
Overall, connotation is an important literary device that can add depth and complexity to language and literature, and allow authors to convey complex emotions and ideas beyond the literal meaning of words.
Consonance is a literary device that refers to the repetition of consonant sounds within a phrase or sentence, often at the end of words. Unlike alliteration, which repeats initial consonant sounds, consonance repeats consonant sounds in any part of the word, creating a musical or rhythmic effect.
For example, the phrase “pitter-patter” contains consonance, as the “t” and “r” sounds are repeated in both words. Another example is the phrase “all’s well that ends well,” where the “l” sound is repeated at the end of each word.
Consonance is often used in poetry and other forms of literature to create a musical or rhythmic effect, and can also be used to reinforce the meaning or mood of a particular passage. It is sometimes used in combination with other literary devices, such as rhyme or alliteration, to create a more complex and layered effect.
Overall, consonance is an important tool in the writer’s toolbox, allowing writers to create memorable and impactful phrases, and to add musicality and rhythm to their work.
Deus ex machina
Deus ex machina is a literary device that refers to a sudden, unexpected resolution to a story that is often seen as contrived or artificial. It is a Latin term that translates to “god from the machine,” and originated in ancient Greek theater, where actors playing gods would be lowered onto the stage by a crane to resolve the plot.
In literature, a deus ex machina occurs when an author introduces an improbable or unexpected event or character to resolve a seemingly unsolvable problem or conflict in the story. This device is often used as a shortcut to resolve complex plot lines or to provide a quick and easy ending, but can also be seen as a lazy or unsatisfying solution.
For example, in a story about a detective trying to solve a murder, a deus ex machina might occur if the murderer suddenly confesses to the crime without any explanation or reason, rather than the detective solving the mystery through careful investigation and deduction.
While deus ex machina can be a useful tool in certain situations, it is generally frowned upon in modern literature as it can be seen as a cop-out or a failure of the author to resolve the story in a satisfying and logical manner. Instead, authors are encouraged to find more natural and believable ways to resolve conflicts and bring their stories to a close.
Dialogue is a literary device that refers to a conversation between two or more characters in a work of literature. It can be used to reveal character, advance the plot, provide information, and add to the overall atmosphere and tone of the work.
For example, in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby,” the following dialogue occurs between the characters Daisy and Gatsby:
“‘You remind me of a—of a rose, an absolute rose. Doesn’t he?’ She turned to her husband. ‘What do you think?’ ‘Creepy,’ he said.”
This dialogue reveals several things about the characters and the situation. It shows that Daisy is trying to flatter Gatsby by comparing him to a beautiful and desirable object, but her husband Tom is dismissive and critical of Gatsby. The contrast between Daisy’s romanticized view of Gatsby and Tom’s negative reaction creates tension and conflict between the characters.
Dialogue can also be used to reveal the personalities and motivations of the characters, as well as to convey information and advance the plot. In well-written dialogue, each character should have a unique voice and style of speaking, which helps to create a sense of realism and depth in the story.
Diction refers to the author’s choice of words and phrases in a literary work. It is an important literary device that can help convey the tone, mood, and theme of a piece of writing. The choice of words can also have an impact on the reader’s interpretation and understanding of the work.
For example, in William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet,” the character Hamlet’s use of complex and intellectual language reflects his educated and thoughtful nature. On the other hand, the character of the gravedigger speaks in a more simple and colloquial manner, reflecting his lower social status and more practical outlook on life.
In addition to the level of formality, diction can also involve the connotations of words and the author’s use of figurative language such as metaphors and similes. By carefully choosing their diction, an author can create a certain tone or mood in their work, whether it be serious, humorous, or emotional.
For example, in Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise,” she uses powerful and uplifting language to convey her message of resilience and strength in the face of adversity:
“I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.”
The repetition of “I rise” creates a sense of momentum and determination, while the use of powerful imagery such as “the dream and the hope of the slave” conveys the historical and cultural significance of the poem’s message.
An elegy is a type of poem that is used to mourn or commemorate the death of someone or something. It is often characterized by its melancholic tone and its use of imagery and symbolism to convey the emotions and thoughts of the speaker.
As a literary device, an elegy often uses figurative language such as metaphors, similes, and personification to convey the emotions of the speaker. It may also use allusions to historical or mythological figures or events to create a sense of grandeur or to add depth to the poem’s themes.
One famous example of an elegy is John Milton’s “Lycidas,” written in memory of his friend Edward King. The poem uses pastoral imagery to convey a sense of loss and mourning, and it also makes allusions to classical mythology to add depth to its themes of death and rebirth.
Another example of an elegy is “In Memoriam A.H.H.” by Alfred Lord Tennyson, which is a long poem written in memory of Tennyson’s friend Arthur Henry Hallam. The poem is structured as a series of short lyrics, each expressing a different emotion or thought about the loss of Hallam. It uses a variety of literary devices, including imagery, allusion, and repetition, to create a sense of emotional depth and to convey the complexity of grief.
In literature, an ellipsis is used to indicate the omission of a word or words, which are unnecessary to convey a complete thought. It’s usually represented by three dots (…) and can be used in various ways to create different effects.
Examples of ellipsis in literature:
- “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 spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
In this example, the ellipsis is used to indicate a series of contrasts and opposites, building up to a dramatic conclusion.
- “To be, or not to be… that is the question.” – William Shakespeare, Hamlet
The ellipsis here is used to create a pause in Hamlet’s famous soliloquy, emphasizing the gravity of his decision and adding to the emotional intensity of the scene.
Here are some more examples of how ellipsis can be used:
- To create suspense or build tension:
Example: “The door slowly creaked open, and inside… nothing.”
- To indicate a trailing off or a pause in speech or thought:
Example: “I don’t know, I was just thinking… maybe we should take a break.”
- To indicate an intentional omission of information:
Example: “She had been through a lot lately… more than anyone should have to endure.”
- To indicate a change in tone or thought:
Example: “I know I said I wouldn’t go… but maybe just this once.”
- To indicate a hesitation or uncertainty in speech:
Example: “I don’t know if I should tell you this… but I heard that he’s leaving.”
Enjambment is a poetic device that involves running one sentence or clause into the next line of a poem without a pause or punctuation mark. This creates a sense of flow and continuity, as the meaning of the sentence is carried over to the next line.
For example, consider the following lines from William Wordsworth’s poem, “The Solitary Reaper”:
Behold her, single in the field, Yon solitary Highland Lass! Reaping and singing by herself;
In these lines, the sentence “Behold her, single in the field” is carried over to the next line without any pause or punctuation, creating an enjambment. This technique creates a sense of continuity, linking the description of the woman to the next line where she is shown to be reaping and singing by herself.
Enjambment can also be used to create tension or surprise in a poem, as the meaning of a sentence may not be immediately clear until the following line. It can also be used to control the pace and rhythm of a poem, as the reader is forced to continue on to the next line without a natural pause.
Epiphany is a literary device that refers to a sudden realization or insight that occurs in a character’s mind, often leading to a significant change in their perspective or behavior. The term is derived from the Greek word “epiphaneia,” meaning “manifestation” or “appearance,” and is often associated with a moment of clarity or enlightenment.
Epiphanies can occur at any point in a story, but they are often used to mark a turning point or climax in a character’s development. They can be subtle or dramatic, and may involve a character discovering a new truth about themselves, their situation, or the world around them.
One famous example of an epiphany in literature is the ending of James Joyce’s short story “The Dead,” where the main character, Gabriel Conroy, experiences a sudden realization about the true nature of his relationship with his wife. As he watches snow falling outside, Gabriel is struck by the idea that he has been living his life “unmindful of the past, present and future,” and that he has failed to understand the depth of his wife’s feelings for a past lover. This realization leads to a profound sense of loss and a reevaluation of Gabriel’s identity and relationships.
Epiphanies can be powerful tools for character development, as they allow characters to confront their own flaws and biases and to see the world in a new light. They can also be used to create a sense of resolution or closure at the end of a story.
In literature, an epithet is a descriptive word or phrase that is used to characterize a person, place, or thing. It is a type of literary device that helps to add color and depth to descriptions and can be used to create a more vivid and memorable image of a character or object in the reader’s mind.
Epithets can be used in a variety of ways. They can be positive or negative, depending on the author’s purpose. For example, a character might be described as “brave” or “wise” to emphasize their positive qualities, while another might be described as “deceitful” or “cruel” to highlight their negative traits.
Epithets are often used in epic poetry, where they help to create a more formal and elevated style of writing. Homer’s “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” are famous examples of epic poetry that make extensive use of epithets. In these works, characters are often referred to using descriptive phrases such as “swift-footed Achilles” or “rosy-fingered Dawn.”
Epithets can also be used in more modern forms of literature, such as novels and short stories. They can help to add depth and nuance to characters and settings, and can be used to create a more vivid and memorable reading experience for the audience.
A euphemism is a word or phrase that is used to substitute a harsh or unpleasant word or phrase. It is a form of linguistic expression that is meant to soften the impact of a message, and to make it more socially acceptable or less offensive.
Euphemisms can be used in a wide variety of contexts, from polite conversation to political discourse. For example, instead of saying that someone has died, one might use the phrase “passed away” or “passed on”. In the context of war, the phrase “collateral damage” is often used to refer to civilian casualties, while in the workplace, the term “downsizing” is often used as a euphemism for laying off employees.
Euphemisms can serve a variety of purposes. They can be used to avoid offending someone, to avoid a taboo topic, or to convey a message in a more indirect or subtle way. They can also be used for humorous effect, as in the phrase “vertically challenged” to refer to someone who is short.
However, euphemisms can also be used to conceal the true nature of a situation, or to downplay the severity of a problem. For example, the phrase “enhanced interrogation techniques” has been used as a euphemism for torture, while the term “ethnic cleansing” is often used to refer to genocide.
A flashback is a literary device in which an earlier event or scene is inserted into the narrative of a story, interrupting the present action. It is a technique often used to provide background information about a character, setting, or plot element, and can help to create a deeper understanding of the story and its themes.
Flashbacks can be used in a variety of ways, including to:
- Reveal a character’s past experiences and how they have influenced their current situation or behavior
- Provide context for a current event or situation in the story
- Build suspense or tension by foreshadowing future events
- Create irony or dramatic irony by revealing information that the reader or audience knows but the characters do not
- Show the evolution of a relationship between characters over time
Flashbacks can be presented in a variety of formats, including as a character’s memory, a dream sequence, or a narration of past events. They can be used to varying degrees of length and detail, from a brief mention to a full chapter or more.
In literature, a foil is a character who contrasts with another character, typically the protagonist, in order to highlight certain qualities or traits. By presenting two contrasting characters side by side, the author can emphasize their differences and bring greater depth to the story.
For example, in William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet,” the character of Hamlet is a brooding, philosophical prince who is consumed by grief and a desire for revenge. His foil is the character of Laertes, who is impulsive, passionate, and quick to take action. While Hamlet is paralyzed by his own thoughts and doubts, Laertes is driven by his emotions and his desire for justice.
Throughout the play, Laertes serves as a foil to Hamlet, highlighting the contrast between their personalities and motivations. This is most evident in the final act of the play, when the two characters engage in a fencing match that leads to their mutual destruction. While Hamlet hesitates and overthinks his moves, Laertes attacks with ferocity and determination, demonstrating the very qualities that Hamlet lacks.
In this way, the foil serves to highlight and reinforce the qualities of the protagonist, showing them in a different light and providing greater depth and complexity to the story.
Foreshadowing is a literary device used by authors to hint at future events or developments in the plot. This is often done through the use of subtle clues, hints, or suggestions, which can be picked up by attentive readers and used to predict or anticipate what might happen later in the story.
For example, in George Orwell’s novel “Animal Farm,” the animals on the farm gradually become more and more oppressed by their human owner, Mr. Jones. This sets the stage for a rebellion led by the pigs, who eventually take over the farm and establish their own government. However, early in the book, there are several instances of foreshadowing that hint at the eventual downfall of the pigs and their oppressive regime. For example, the pigs begin to adopt human-like behavior, such as walking on two legs and wearing clothing, which suggests that they are becoming more like their former oppressors. Additionally, the pigs begin to use propaganda and manipulation to control the other animals, which foreshadows the corruption and abuse of power that will occur later in the story.
By using foreshadowing, authors can create a sense of anticipation and tension in the reader, while also providing a deeper layer of meaning and complexity to the story. This can help to keep the reader engaged and invested in the narrative, while also providing a greater sense of satisfaction and closure when the story reaches its conclusion.
Free indirect speech
Free indirect speech, also known as indirect discourse or free indirect style, is a literary technique in which the narrator temporarily adopts the point of view and language of a character, without explicitly signaling the shift from third-person narration to direct speech.
This technique allows the reader to experience the character’s thoughts and feelings in a more immediate and personal way, without disrupting the flow of the narrative. By blending the voice of the character with that of the narrator, free indirect speech can also create a sense of ambiguity or uncertainty about the character’s motives or intentions, adding depth and complexity to the story.
For example, consider the following passage from Jane Austen’s “Emma”:
“Emma could not resist. ‘I cannot see you acting wrong, without a remonstrance. How could you be so unfeeling to Miss Bates? How could you be so insolent in your wit to a woman of her character, age, and situation?—Emma, I had not thought it possible.'”
Here, the narrator adopts the voice and perspective of Emma, allowing the reader to experience her thoughts and emotions in a more direct way. The use of indirect speech also creates a sense of ambiguity about Emma’s true feelings towards the character of Miss Bates, as she simultaneously criticizes her behavior while expressing surprise at her own harshness.
Free indirect speech is a powerful tool for writers, allowing them to create complex and nuanced characters, while also maintaining control over the narrative voice and structure.
Hyperbole is a literary device that uses exaggeration to create emphasis or effect in a text. It is often used in literature and poetry to make a point or to create a humorous effect. Hyperbole is an extreme form of exaggeration that is not meant to be taken literally, but rather to convey an intense emotion or sentiment.
Examples of hyperbole include:
- “I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse!”
- “He’s as tall as a skyscraper!”
- “I’ve told you a million times not to do that!”
- “I’m dying of boredom!”
- “The weight of the world is on my shoulders!”
In each of these examples, the speaker is exaggerating to make a point or to create an effect. The use of hyperbole can add drama, humor, or emphasis to a text and can make it more engaging for the reader.
Imagery is a literary device that uses sensory language to create mental images and evoke emotion in a reader’s mind. It is a technique used by writers to make their writing more vivid and descriptive, and to engage the reader’s senses. By using imagery, a writer can paint a picture in the reader’s mind, allowing them to see, hear, feel, taste, or smell what is being described.
Examples of imagery include:
- “The sun was a fiery ball in the sky, casting a warm glow over the horizon.”
- “The smell of freshly baked bread wafted through the air, making my mouth water.”
- “The sound of waves crashing against the shore filled my ears, drowning out all other noise.”
- “The soft, velvety petals of the rose brushed against my skin, releasing a sweet fragrance.”
- “The taste of the ripe, juicy peach exploded in my mouth, sending shivers down my spine.”
By using sensory language to create vivid mental images, a writer can transport the reader to another place and time, and make them feel as though they are experiencing the scene firsthand. This makes the writing more engaging and memorable, and can leave a lasting impression on the reader.
Irony is a literary device that involves the use of words or situations in a way that is opposite to their intended or expected meaning. It creates a discrepancy between what is said or done and what is meant, often leading to an unexpected outcome. Irony is commonly used in literature to create humor, emphasize a point, or provide social commentary.
There are three main types of irony: verbal, situational, and dramatic. Verbal irony occurs when a speaker says something but means the opposite. Situational irony happens when an event occurs that is contrary to what was expected. Dramatic irony occurs when the audience or reader knows something that the characters do not, leading to tension or anticipation.
For example, in William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, there is dramatic irony when the audience knows that Juliet is not actually dead, but Romeo thinks she is and kills himself. This creates a tragic outcome that could have been avoided if Romeo had known the truth.
Another example of irony can be seen in Jonathan Swift’s satirical essay “A Modest Proposal,” in which he proposes that the poor Irish should sell their children as food to the wealthy English. The proposal is presented in a serious and straightforward manner, but it is intended to draw attention to the absurdity of the English treatment of the Irish.
Irony is a powerful literary device that can be used to convey complex ideas and emotions. It can also add depth and nuance to a work of literature, making it more engaging and thought-provoking for readers.
Juxtaposition is a literary device that involves placing two contrasting things side by side in order to highlight their differences. This can be done with characters, settings, ideas, or any other element of a story. The purpose of using juxtaposition is to create a contrast that emphasizes a particular point or theme.
For example, in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby,” the author juxtaposes the lavish lifestyle of the wealthy characters with the poverty and despair of the lower classes. This contrast highlights the theme of the corrupting influence of wealth and the emptiness of the pursuit of materialism.
Another example of juxtaposition can be found in William Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet.” The characters of Romeo and Tybalt are juxtaposed as they represent two opposing forces – love and hate. This contrast is used to emphasize the theme of the destructive power of hatred and the transformative power of love.
In both of these examples, juxtaposition is used to create a contrast that helps to highlight an important theme or message in the story.
Litotes is a figure of speech that uses negative phrasing to express a positive statement, often in a subtle or understated way. It is a form of understatement that relies on the use of a double negative or a negation of the opposite to emphasize a point.
For example, saying “she’s not unkind” is a litotes that actually means “she’s kind”. Similarly, “I’m not unhappy” could mean “I’m happy” or “it’s not bad” could mean “it’s good”.
Litotes is often used in literature to create a sense of understated irony, to express humility, or to soften the impact of a statement. It is also used in everyday language, particularly in English, where it is a common rhetorical device.
One famous example of litotes can be found in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, when Mark Antony says of Brutus and his fellow conspirators, “They are honorable men.” The use of litotes here emphasizes the irony of the statement, given that the conspirators had just killed Caesar in an act of betrayal.
Metaphor is a literary device that refers to a comparison between two unlike things that share a common characteristic or quality. It creates a direct comparison by describing something as if it is something else. Metaphors are often used in literature to help readers understand and visualize complex ideas or emotions.
Here’s an example of a metaphor:
“The world is a stage.” In this metaphor, the world is being compared to a stage, with people acting out their lives like actors on a stage. The common characteristic between the world and a stage is that both involve people performing and playing different roles.
Metaphors can be found in a wide range of literary works, including poetry, novels, and plays. They can be used to create vivid imagery, convey abstract ideas, and evoke emotions in the reader. A well-crafted metaphor can add depth and richness to a piece of writing and can help the reader to better understand the message the author is trying to convey.
Metonymy is a figure of speech that involves the substitution of the name of one thing with another thing that is closely associated with it. In other words, it is a type of metaphor where a word is replaced with another word or phrase that is closely linked with it in context.
For example, when we say “The White House issued a statement,” we are using metonymy because we are referring to the U.S. government, which is closely associated with the White House.
Another example of metonymy is when people refer to the news media as “the press.” Here, “the press” is being used as a substitute for the journalists and news organizations that make up the news media.
Metonymy is often used in literature to create a deeper, more nuanced meaning or to make a concept more memorable or interesting for the reader.
In literature, mood refers to the emotional atmosphere or feeling that a work of literature creates in the reader. It is the overall emotional tone or ambiance of a text that sets the reader’s emotional response to the story. Mood is achieved through the author’s choice of words, descriptions, setting, and theme.
For example, in Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the mood is one of suspense, fear, and anxiety. The description of the setting and the narrator’s thoughts and actions contribute to this mood. The use of dark and ominous imagery, such as the “vulture eye” of the old man, helps to create a sense of unease in the reader.
Similarly, in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby,” the mood is one of nostalgia, longing, and disillusionment. The author’s use of vivid descriptions of the setting and characters, such as the grandeur of Gatsby’s mansion and the longing in his eyes as he gazes across the water at the green light, creates a dream-like atmosphere that evokes a sense of loss and sadness.
In both examples, the mood plays an important role in creating a deeper emotional connection between the reader and the story, and in conveying the author’s intended themes and messages.
A motif is a recurring element, image, symbol or theme that appears throughout a literary work, and helps to develop the work’s overall theme or message. A motif can be a word, an object, a symbol or an idea, and it may be repeated throughout the work or only appear a few times.
Motifs are used to enhance the depth and meaning of a story, and to create a sense of unity and coherence. They can add emotional depth to a work, and help to unify different parts of the text. They can also help to reinforce a particular message or theme that the author wishes to convey.
Some common motifs in literature include light and dark, journeys, love, betrayal, and death. For example, in Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth,” the motif of blood is used to symbolize guilt and the consequences of one’s actions. The repeated appearance of blood throughout the play underscores the tragedy of Macbeth’s actions and the consequences that he must face.
In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” the motif of the green light that shines across the water serves as a symbol of Gatsby’s unattainable dream of winning back his lost love, Daisy. The repeated appearance of the green light throughout the novel underscores the theme of the American Dream and the impossibility of achieving it.
Motifs can be subtle or obvious, and their significance may only become apparent upon repeated readings or analysis. By repeating certain images, ideas or symbols throughout a literary work, authors can create a sense of coherence and unity, and deepen the reader’s understanding of the work’s overall message or theme.
The narrator is the voice that tells a story or conveys information to the reader. They can be a character within the story or an external voice that is not part of the story. The narrator’s perspective and level of involvement can have a significant impact on the reader’s understanding and interpretation of the story.
There are several types of narrators, each with its own characteristics and limitations. A first-person narrator is a character in the story who refers to themselves as “I” and can only describe events and experiences that they witness or participate in. A third-person narrator is not a character in the story and can provide a more objective view of the events and characters. A third-person limited narrator focuses on the thoughts and feelings of one character, while a third-person omniscient narrator knows the thoughts and feelings of all characters.
The choice of narrator can have a significant impact on the story’s tone, mood, and overall impact. A first-person narrator can create a sense of intimacy and immediacy, while a third-person narrator can provide a more detached and objective view of events. The narrator’s reliability or unreliability can also shape the reader’s understanding of the story and its characters.
In some cases, the narrator may be an unreliable or ambiguous presence, leaving the reader uncertain about the truth of the story. Alternatively, the narrator may be a highly reliable and authoritative source of information, providing the reader with a clear and accurate account of events. Ultimately, the narrator plays a crucial role in shaping the reader’s experience of the story and its characters.
Onomatopoeia is a literary device where a word is used to imitate a sound that it describes. The word itself creates or mimics the sound of the thing it is describing, making the reader better understand and visualize the scene or action in the text. This device is commonly used in poetry, but it can also be used in prose.
Examples of onomatopoeia include words like buzz, crackle, hiss, moo, meow, chirp, rustle, and pop. Here are a few examples of how onomatopoeia can be used in literature:
- The bees buzzed around the flowers in the garden.
- The leaves rustled in the wind.
- The thunder rumbled in the distance.
- The fire crackled and popped as it burned.
- The cat meowed loudly for its food.
Onomatopoeia can add depth and sensory appeal to a piece of writing. It helps to create a more vivid and immersive experience for the reader, allowing them to hear the sounds of the story in their mind as they read.
Oxymoron is a literary device that brings together two contradictory terms in order to create a meaningful phrase. It is often used for emphasis or to create a dramatic effect. The word “oxymoron” comes from the Greek words “oxys” meaning “sharp” and “moros” meaning “dull”.
Examples of oxymoron include:
- Jumbo shrimp
- Living dead
- Pretty ugly
- Awfully good
- Open secret
- Virtual reality
- Deafening silence
- Act naturally
- Wise fool
These examples all bring together two contrasting terms that create a vivid and memorable image in the reader’s mind. The use of oxymoron can be particularly effective in poetry or prose that deals with complex or contradictory themes.
A paradox is a statement or situation that appears to be self-contradictory or absurd but in reality, it holds a hidden truth. Paradoxes are often used in literature to create an element of intrigue or challenge the reader’s expectations. They can also be used to bring attention to the complexity of a theme or to highlight the paradoxical nature of human existence.
One famous example of a paradox is the statement “less is more.” On the surface, it seems contradictory, as “less” and “more” are opposites. However, the statement can be interpreted to mean that simplicity and clarity can often be more effective than complexity and excess.
Another example of a paradox is the classic time travel paradox, in which a person goes back in time and changes something that affects their own existence, such as preventing their parents from meeting. This paradox creates a logical inconsistency that cannot be resolved, as it questions the very fabric of cause and effect.
In literature, paradoxes can add depth and complexity to characters and themes. For example, in Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet,” the titular character states “I must be cruel only to be kind.” This paradoxical statement reveals Hamlet’s inner conflict between his desire for revenge and his sense of duty to do what is ultimately best for those around him.
Parallelism is a literary device where the writer uses a series of words or phrases with similar grammatical structure and length to emphasize and draw attention to an idea or concept. It is also known as parallel structure or parallel construction.
Example: Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech “I Have a Dream” is an excellent example of parallelism: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”
In this excerpt, King repeats the phrase “I have a dream” to emphasize his message of hope and equality, while also using parallel structure in the phrases “rise up and live out” and “sons of former slaves and sons of former slave owners” to highlight the importance of unity and brotherhood.
Parataxis is a literary device in which coordinating conjunctions are used to link phrases or clauses in quick succession, without the use of subordination. This creates a simple and direct style of writing or speech. Parataxis is often used in poetry, where the brevity of the lines lends itself to a quick, staccato rhythm.
An example of parataxis can be found in William Carlos Williams’ poem “The Red Wheelbarrow”:
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
Here, the poet uses short, simple phrases with coordinating conjunctions (“so much depends upon,” “glazed with rain water”) to create a sense of immediacy and clarity. The paratactic structure emphasizes the simplicity and importance of the image presented, while the line breaks provide a sense of pause and emphasis on each phrase.
Personification is a literary device in which an inanimate object, animal or abstract idea is given human-like qualities or attributes. This is done in order to make the object or idea more relatable, and to add depth and emotion to the writing.
Examples of personification include:
- “The wind howled in the night” – In this sentence, the wind is personified as it is given the human-like quality of being able to howl.
- “The sun smiled down on us” – The sun is personified here as it is given the human-like quality of being able to smile.
- “The flowers danced in the breeze” – Here, the flowers are personified as they are given the human-like quality of being able to dance.
Personification is commonly used in poetry and prose, and is often used to create vivid and memorable images in the reader’s mind. By attributing human-like qualities to objects or ideas, writers can create a sense of familiarity and empathy in their readers, allowing them to connect with the text on a deeper level.
Point of view
Point of view (POV) is a literary device that describes the perspective from which a story is told. It refers to the person or entity that narrates or tells the story, and the vantage point from which they view the events that unfold.
There are three types of point of view:
- First Person Point of View: This is when the narrator is a character in the story and refers to themselves as “I” or “we.” In first person point of view, the reader only has access to the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of the narrator.
Example: “I woke up to the sound of the rain pouring down outside. I knew it was going to be a dreary day.”
- Second Person Point of View: This is when the narrator addresses the reader directly as “you.” Second person point of view is not commonly used in fiction writing but is often used in instructional or self-help books.
Example: “You woke up to the sound of the rain pouring down outside. You knew it was going to be a dreary day.”
- Third Person Point of View: This is when the narrator is not a character in the story and refers to characters as “he,” “she,” or “they.” Third person point of view can be further divided into two subcategories:
a. Third Person Limited: In this type of narration, the narrator is not a character in the story and only has access to the thoughts and feelings of one character.
Example: “John woke up to the sound of the rain pouring down outside. He knew it was going to be a dreary day.”
b. Third Person Omniscient: In this type of narration, the narrator is not a character in the story and has access to the thoughts and feelings of all the characters in the story.
Example: “John woke up to the sound of the rain pouring down outside. He knew it was going to be a dreary day. Meanwhile, Sarah was already up and ready to face the day, despite the bad weather.”
Polysyndeton is a literary device in which conjunctions (such as “and,” “or,” or “but”) are used repeatedly in quick succession, often with no commas, even when the conjunctions could be removed. It is the opposite of asyndeton, which is the omission of conjunctions between phrases or clauses.
Here’s an example of polysyndeton:
“I ate pancakes and bacon and eggs and toast and orange juice for breakfast.”
In this sentence, the conjunction “and” is used repeatedly to connect all of the items the speaker ate for breakfast. The use of polysyndeton creates a sense of accumulation or buildup, and can give the sentence a sense of urgency or excitement.
In literature, a protagonist is the central character or leading figure in a story, often referred to as the hero or heroine. The story revolves around this character, and their actions and decisions drive the plot forward.
The protagonist is usually portrayed as having strengths and weaknesses, and they often face challenges and obstacles that they must overcome in order to achieve their goals. In some cases, the protagonist may also undergo a significant transformation or character development throughout the course of the story.
Examples of protagonists in literature include Harry Potter in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and Santiago in The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
A pun is a form of wordplay that exploits multiple meanings of a term, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect. It usually involves a play on words that sound similar but have different meanings, or on words with multiple meanings. Puns can be used to add humor or wit to a sentence or a conversation, or to create a memorable phrase or catchphrase.
For example, “Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana” is a classic pun that plays on the multiple meanings of the words “flies” and “like”. Another example is “I’m reading a book on anti-gravity. It’s impossible to put down.” This pun exploits the multiple meanings of the phrasal verb “put down”, which can mean “to stop reading” or “to place something on a surface”.
Red herring is a literary device that is used to distract the reader or audience from an important issue. It involves introducing a false clue or character that misleads the reader or audience and leads them away from the real solution or plot point. Red herrings are often used in mystery, suspense, and thriller genres to throw the reader off the trail of the real culprit or solution.
For example, in the classic mystery novel “Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie, the detective Hercule Poirot is presented with multiple suspects who each have a motive for committing the murder. However, the real solution involves a complex plot involving multiple people, and the murderer turns out to be someone who was not initially suspected. Throughout the novel, Christie uses various red herrings to throw the reader off the trail of the real culprit, including false clues and misleading character traits.
Repetition is a literary device that involves repeating a word, phrase, or sentence for emphasis or emphasis on a particular idea or theme. It is commonly used in poetry, prose, speeches, and song lyrics to create rhythm and enhance the meaning of a text.
Repetition can take many forms, such as the repetition of a single word, the repetition of a phrase, or the repetition of an entire sentence. Some common types of repetition include anaphora, epiphora, and symploce.
An example of repetition is the famous speech by Martin Luther King Jr., where he repeats the phrase “I have a dream” throughout the speech to emphasize his vision for a better future:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'”
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”
“I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”
Rhyme is a literary device that involves the use of similar or identical sounds in two or more words, usually at the end of lines in poetry or at the end of phrases in prose. Rhyme is used to create a musical quality to the writing and can add emphasis or impact to certain words or phrases.
There are different types of rhyme including:
- End rhyme: The most common type of rhyme where the ending sounds of words in a line match with the ending sounds of words in another line. Example: “I saw a cat/ In a big straw hat.”
- Internal rhyme: Words within a line of poetry that rhyme with one another. Example: “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary.”
- Slant rhyme: Words that are similar in sound but not identical. Example: “Soul” and “all”.
- Eye rhyme: Words that look like they should rhyme but do not because of pronunciation. Example: “Love” and “move”.
Rhyme is used in poetry to create rhythm, emphasize certain words or phrases, and create a musical quality to the writing. In addition, it can be used to create a sense of closure or completeness to a poem or to connect different ideas and concepts.
Rhythm is a literary device that refers to the recurring pattern of sounds and silences in poetry and prose. It is created by the arrangement of stressed and unstressed syllables in a sentence or line of poetry. Here is an example of rhythm in poetry:
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
In this poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost, the rhythm is created by the repetition of stressed and unstressed syllables in each line. The pattern of the stressed syllables creates a rhythm that gives the poem a musical quality.
Sarcasm is a form of verbal irony that is intended to mock, criticize or ridicule something or someone. It is often characterized by a tone of voice that is opposite of the speaker’s intended meaning. Here’s an example:
Imagine a rainy day, and someone says, “Oh great, just what I needed today.” The tone of their voice suggests annoyance or frustration, but their words literally say the opposite, as rain is often seen as beneficial for plants and the environment. This is a sarcastic remark because the speaker is using irony to convey a different message than what is literally said.
Satire is a genre of literature or art that uses humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to criticize and expose societal flaws or issues. The goal of satire is often to bring about change or encourage people to think more critically about a particular subject.
For example, the television show “The Daily Show” is a satirical news program that often pokes fun at politicians and the media, using humor and irony to point out flaws in the political system and highlight the absurdities of contemporary society. Similarly, the novel “Animal Farm” by George Orwell is a satirical allegory that critiques the Soviet Union and the dangers of totalitarianism.
A simile is a figure of speech that compares two things using “like” or “as”. Similes are used to make a comparison between two things that are seemingly unrelated, but share common traits. By using similes, writers can create vivid and imaginative descriptions, which can help readers to understand the text in a more engaging and interesting way. For example, “Her eyes were like sparkling diamonds,” is a simile that compares the brightness and brilliance of a person’s eyes to the sparkle of a diamond. Another example is “He was as quiet as a mouse,” which is a simile that compares a person’s silence to the quietness of a mouse. Similes are commonly used in literature, poetry, and everyday language to add depth and color to descriptions, and to create powerful imagery that engages the reader’s imagination.
- She sings like an angel.
- His eyes sparkled like diamonds in the sun.
- The runner was as fast as a cheetah.
- Her hair was as curly as a spring.
- The clouds floated by like cotton candy in the sky.
In each of these examples, one thing is being compared to another using “like” or “as” to create a vivid image or to emphasize a particular quality or trait.
Soliloquy is a literary device that refers to a dramatic monologue spoken by a character in a play, often revealing their inner thoughts and feelings to the audience. The character speaks as if they are alone, and their words are not intended to be heard by anyone else in the scene. Soliloquies are a common feature of Shakespearean plays, and are often used to reveal the inner turmoil of a character, their motivations and their plans.
For example, in Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet”, the character Hamlet delivers several soliloquies throughout the play, including the famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy, in which he contemplates the nature of existence and the possibility of suicide. Soliloquies allow the audience to gain a deeper understanding of the character’s thoughts and feelings, and can add depth and complexity to a play.
A sonnet is a type of poem that consists of 14 lines and follows a strict rhyme scheme and meter. There are two main types of sonnets: the Italian or Petrarchan sonnet and the English or Shakespearean sonnet. The Italian sonnet is composed of an octave, or eight lines, and a sestet, or six lines, while the English sonnet is composed of three quatrains, or four-line stanzas, and a final couplet. Both types typically use iambic pentameter, which consists of ten syllables per line with a pattern of unstressed and stressed syllables.
Here is an example of an English sonnet:
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: Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimmed; And every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance or nature’s changing course untrimmed; But thy eternal summer shall not fade Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest; Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade, When in eternal lines to time thou growest: So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
This is a famous sonnet by William Shakespeare, known as Sonnet 18. In this poem, the speaker is comparing his beloved to a summer’s day, but ultimately concludes that his beloved is more lovely and everlasting than any seasonal beauty. The poem follows the traditional English sonnet structure with three quatrains and a final couplet, and uses iambic pentameter throughout.
Stream of consciousness
Stream of consciousness is a literary technique that involves presenting a character’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions as they occur, without any editing or structure. It aims to reveal the character’s innermost thoughts and feelings in a continuous flow, allowing readers to experience the character’s mind as if they were inside it. This technique often involves the use of long, uninterrupted passages of thought and can be challenging for readers to follow. An example of stream of consciousness can be found in James Joyce’s novel “Ulysses,” which uses this technique to portray the inner lives of its characters as they navigate through a single day in Dublin.
In literature, style refers to the way an author uses words and language to convey their message or story. It includes elements such as sentence structure, diction, tone, and literary devices. The style of a writer can often be recognized by their unique use of language, syntax, and the way they structure their sentences. For example, Ernest Hemingway is known for his simple, direct style that uses short, declarative sentences, while William Faulkner is known for his complex, poetic style that uses long, meandering sentences with intricate syntax. The style of a writer can greatly impact the reader’s experience and perception of the story being told.
Symbolism is a literary device used to imbue objects, actions, or characters with a deeper meaning that goes beyond their literal interpretation. Through the use of symbolism, writers can evoke emotions, convey themes, and add depth to their works. A symbol can take many forms, such as an object, color, or even a sound, and its meaning can vary depending on the context and the reader’s interpretation. For instance, a red rose can symbolize love, passion, or even blood, depending on the context. Similarly, a white dove can symbolize peace or the Holy Spirit, while a black cat can symbolize bad luck or witchcraft. Symbolism can be found in all types of literature, from poetry to novels to plays. It is often used to enhance the overall meaning and impact of a work by adding a layer of complexity and nuance.
Synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part of something is used to refer to the whole or vice versa. It’s a type of metonymy, which is a broader term for the use of one word to refer to something closely related to it.
Examples of synecdoche include:
- “All hands on deck” – “hands” refers to the entire crew or people on board the ship.
- “Nice wheels” – “wheels” refers to the entire car.
- “The pen is mightier than the sword” – “pen” represents writing or written communication, while “sword” represents military force or violence.
- “Gray beard” – “beard” represents the entire person or the old age they symbolize.
- “Check out my new threads” – “threads” refers to an entire outfit or clothing.
In each of these examples, a part of something is used to represent the whole, or the whole is used to represent a part. The use of synecdoche can add complexity and nuance to language and literature.
Synesthesia is a literary device that involves the blending of multiple sensory experiences, such as seeing colors while hearing music or feeling tastes while reading words. It is used to create a vivid and sensory-rich experience for the reader or listener. An example of synesthesia can be found in the famous opening line of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel “Lolita”: “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.” In this line, the speaker is combining the visual image of light with the physical sensation of fire to create an intense and memorable description of his love for the title character. By using synesthesia, Nabokov is able to evoke a powerful emotional response from the reader and create a memorable and sensory-rich opening to his novel.
In literature, a theme refers to the central idea or message that a writer wishes to convey through their work. It is a universal concept or idea that is explored and developed throughout the story. Themes can range from broad, overarching concepts like love, loss, or power, to more specific ideas like the importance of family or the dangers of prejudice.
For example, in Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the theme of racial injustice is central to the story. Through the experiences of the protagonist, Scout Finch, and her family, the novel explores the devastating effects of racism and the importance of standing up for what is right, even in the face of overwhelming opposition. The theme is not explicitly stated, but rather woven throughout the novel, providing a deeper meaning and resonance to the characters and events.
Tone is the attitude or mood that an author conveys in their writing. It refers to the way the author expresses their feelings towards the subject matter, which can be conveyed through the use of language, style, and other literary devices. For example, a writer may use a somber tone to express sadness or grief, or a humorous tone to convey amusement or satire. Tone can also vary depending on the intended audience or purpose of the writing. For instance, a persuasive essay may use a persuasive or authoritative tone, while a personal narrative may use a reflective or nostalgic tone. In summary, tone is an essential aspect of a writer’s style, as it helps to create a certain emotional response or reaction from the reader.
Tragedy is a type of drama that deals with serious, often somber and distressing events that lead to a disastrous or fatal conclusion for the protagonist or the main character. It explores the darker aspects of the human experience and often involves the tragic flaw or error in judgment of the protagonist, which leads to their downfall. The themes of tragedy may include fate, power, morality, love, and the struggle of the human condition. Tragedies often evoke a sense of pity and fear in the audience, as they witness the tragic events unfolding before them. Examples of well-known tragedies include William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex,” and Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.”
Understatement is a figure of speech that intentionally downplays the significance or exaggerates the triviality of something to create emphasis or a humorous effect. It involves stating less than what is actually meant or expected.
For example, if someone just won the lottery and says, “I guess this will help me pay a few bills,” it is an understatement because winning the lottery is much more significant than simply paying a few bills.
Another example is if someone receives a standing ovation and says, “I don’t deserve this,” it is also an understatement because they clearly do deserve it. Understatement is often used for comedic effect or to create an ironic contrast between what is said and what is actually meant.
Zeugma is a literary device in which a single word or phrase is used with two or more parts of a sentence but must be understood differently in relation to each part. This creates a semantic incongruity in the sentence, often for humorous or dramatic effect. For example, in the sentence “She opened her door and her heart to the orphan,” the word “opened” is used with “door” and “heart” but is understood differently in each instance. In the first case, “opened” means physically opening the door, while in the second case, it means emotionally opening up to the orphan. Another example of zeugma is the sentence “He lost his coat and his temper,” where the word “lost” is used with both “coat” and “temper,” but means something different in each case.
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