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20 Literary Devices

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Savannah silas

on 17 June 2015

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Transcript of 20 Literary Devices

Oxymoron, plural oxymora, is a figure of speech in which two opposite ideas are joined to create an effect. The common oxymoron phrase is a combination of an adjective proceeded by a noun with contrasting meanings

Example: “I will bestow him, and will answer well
The death I gave him. So, again, good night.
I must be cruel, only to be kind:
Thus bad begins and worse remains behind.
One word more, good lady.”

IMAGERY: A common term of variable meaning, imagery includes the "mental pictures" that readers experience with a passage of literature. It signifies all the sensory perceptions referred to in a poem, whether by literal description, allusion, simile, or metaphor.

An example of Imagery is in the play "Macbeth" light and dark imagery. When Macbeth sees the floating sword and when there is a crow outside of the castle, also when Macbeth goes to see the witches.
Theme is defined as a main idea or an underlying meaning of a literary work that may be stated directly or indirectly.

Example: the theme in "Macbeth" would be at the beginning of the play in act I scene I, it starts off with thunder and lightning which is giving off the effect of doom and darkness; there are also witches casting spells, this all sets the theme and mood of the play "Fair is foul, and foul is fair"
A simile is a figure of speech that makes a comparison, showing similarities between two different things. Unlike a metaphor, a simile draws resemblance with the help of the words “like” or “as”. Therefore, it is a direct comparison.

Written by Joseph Conrad,

“I would have given anything for the power to soothe her frail soul, tormenting itself in its invincible ignorance like a small bird beating about the cruel wires of a cage.”
Tone, in written composition, is an attitude of a writer toward a subject or an audience. Tone is generally conveyed through the choice of words or the viewpoint of a writer on a particular subject.

Example: “All morons hate it when you call them a moron.”
“If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she’s late? Nobody.”
“Goddamn money. It always ends up making you blue as hell.”
“Catholics are always trying to find out if you’re Catholic.”

- J.D Salinger’s “Catching the Rye”
20 Literary Devices
Symbolism is the use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings that are different from their literal sense.

An example of symbolism in literature would be in Macbeth when the crow was outside of the castle, crows symbolize death and darkness.
A Catharsis is an emotional discharge through which one can achieve a state of moral or spiritual renewal or achieve a state of liberation from anxiety and stress. Catharsis is a Greek word and it means cleansing.

Example: In "Romeo and Juliet" when Romeo find Juliet's lifeless body, it triggers an emotional response from the readers and the people cry for the loss Romeo feels.

By- Savannah
"Deep into that Darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before."

The Raven by Edgar Allan

"Hot-hearted Beowulf was bent upon battle."


I chose these examples of Alliteration because they fitted the definition perfectly and they match the theme "Good vs Evil"
An Allusion is a statement that hints at something rather than being direct. An Allusion can be a real person or fictional or come from an event or quote.

Example: "The Cunninghams are country folks, farmers, and the crash hit them hardest."

-To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Figurative Language
Pun(Verbal Irony)
Dramatic Irony
In literature, an archetype is a typical character, an action or a situation that seems to represent such universal patterns of human nature. An archetype, also known as universal symbol, may be a character, a theme, a symbol or even a setting.

An example of Archetype is "Good vs Evil" like in Shakespeare's "King Lear", "Conrad's", "Heart of Darkness". etc...
Figurative language can be found in literature and poetry where the writing appeals to the senses. It can do this by giving a word or phrase a specific meaning that may be different than the literal definition. Sometimes figurative language compares two things in such a way that you find the comparison interesting and descriptive.

Example: Alliteration;Once upon a midnight dreary while I pondered weak and weary ;

rare and radiant maiden;

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain…

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
(The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe)

Hyperbole is simply the use of over-exaggeration for the purpose of creating emphasis or being humorous, but it is not intended to be taken literally. Hyperbole often appears in literature.

In the popular book "To Kill a Mockingbird" the Author Harper Lee wrote, "People moved slowly then. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County."
The term refers to a set expression or a phrase comprising two or more words. An Idiom isn't taken in a literal sense, The phrase is understood as to mean something quite different from what individual words of the phrase would imply.

Example: “Every cloud has its silver lining but it is sometimes a little difficult to get it to the mint.”

The statement uses “silver lining” as an idiom which means some auspicious moment is lurking behind the cloud or the difficult time.

Metaphor is a figure of speech which makes an implicit, implied or hidden comparison between two things or objects.

Example: “Shall I Compare Thee to a summer’s Day”,

Example: Fair is foul, and foul is fair
A paradox in literature refers to the use of concepts or ideas that are contradictory to one another, yet, when placed together hold significant value on several levels. The uniqueness of paradoxes lies in the fact that a deeper level of meaning and significance is not revealed at first glace, but when it does crystallize, it provides astonishing insight.

In the famous play of Shakespeare, Hamlet, the protagonist Hamlet says, “I must be cruel to be kind.”
Personification is a figure of speech in which a thing, an idea or an animal is given human attributes.

“I hied me away to the woods—away back into the sun-washed alleys carpeted with fallen gold and glades where the moss is green and vivid yet. The woods are getting ready to sleep—they are not yet asleep but they are disrobing and are having all sorts of little bed-time conferences and whisperings and good-nights.”

Taken from L. M. Montgomery’s “The Green Gables Letters”,
A pun is a play on words in which a humorous effect is produced by using a word that suggests two or more meanings or by exploiting similar sounding words having different meanings.

It is the unkindest tied that ever any man tied.”(Richard III)
“winter of our discontent…made glorious summer by this Son of York.”(Richard III)
Romeo: “Not I, believe me. You have dancing shoes with nimble soles; I have a soul of lead” (Romeo and Juliet)
Claudius: “…But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son…” Hamlet: [aside] “A little more than kin, and less than kind. (Kindred)” (Hamlet)
Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words. It may also be a situation that may end up in quite a different way than what is generally anticipated. In simple words, it is a difference between the appearance and the reality.

Example: Juliet commands her nurse to find out who Romeo was and says if he were married, then her wedding bed would be her grave. It is a verbal irony because the audience knows that she is going to die on her wedding bed.
In literature, mood is a literary element that evokes certain feelings or vibes in readers through words and descriptions.

Example: Emily Bronte in “Withering Heights” creates two contrasting moods through two contrasting settings. The events of the narrative takes place in two neighboring houses: Withering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. A depressing mood is created whenever Withering Heights is described.On the contrary, the description of Thrushcross Grange creates a calm and peaceful mood:
Juxtaposition is a literary technique in which two or more ideas, places, characters and their actions are placed side by side in a narrative or a poem for the purpose of developing comparisons and contrasts.

Example: “Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

-Dylan Thomas’ poem “Do not Go Gentle into that Good Night”:

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