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Literary Devices

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Joseph McBirnie

on 11 August 2016

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Transcript of Literary Devices

For the Union Dead

"Relinquunt Omnia Servare Rem Publicam."

The old South Boston Aquarium stands
in a Sahara of snow now. Its broken windows are boarded...
- Robert Lowell
Literary Tropes and Figures
Literary Tropes
Narrative Devices
Substitution of an element for that with which it's associated
The substitution of the part for its whole
the substitution of one element for another; a is a prolonged metaphor throughout a poem, while a is a prolonged metaphor in a narrative
I must comfort the weaker vessel, as doublet and hose ought to show itself courageous to petticoat.
-- As You Like It, 2.4.6
Was this the face that launched a thousand ships,
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
- Dr. Faustus, 12.80-81
a seemingly self contradictory statement
Litote or Understatement
A deliberate understatement or denial of the contrary
"We have seen better days"
-As You Like It
Hyperbole or Overstatement
An exaggerated or extravagant statement used to make a strong impression, but not intended to be taken literally
His legs bestrid the ocean, his rear'd arm
Crested the world, his voice was propertied
As all the tuned spheres...
-- Antony and Cleopatra, 5.2.82
When the oxymoron can be interpreted as true
"I must be cruel to be kind."
-Shakespeare, Hamlet
The description of one kind of sensation in terms of another
If I had some paints handy, I would mix burnt sienna and sepia for you as to match the color of a 'ch' sound..and you would appreciate my radiant 's' if I could pour into your cupped hands some of those luminous sapphires that I touched as a child."
– Nabokov’s The Gift
The substitution of one part of speech for another
Lord Angelo dukes it well.
-- Measure for Measure, 3.2.100
Poetic Devices
Repetition of a word at the beginning of a clause, line, or sentence
In time the savage bull sustains the yoke,
In time all haggard hawks will stoop to lure,
In time small wedges cleave the hardest oak,
In time the flint is pierced with softest shower.
The Spanish Tragedy by Thomas Kyd
Repetition of a word at the end of a clause, line, or sentence
I'll have my bond!
Speak not against my bond!
I have sworn an oath that I will have my bond.
--The Merchant of Venice, 3.3.4
Repetition of vowel sounds
In a proud round cloud in white high night
e. e. cummings
Repetition of consonant sounds
(The repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of the phrase is
To trust those tables that receive thee more
Iambic Foot
Anapestic Foot
Trochaic Foot
Dactylic Foot
Unstressed + Stressed
But soft, / what light / through yon/der win/dow breaks.
Stressed + Unstressed
Reason, / in it/self con/founded
Unstressed Unstressed Stressed
And today the Great Yertle...
That is all he can see.
Dr. Seuss
Stressed + Unstressed + Unstressed
Out of the cradle, endlessly rocking...
Out of the mockingbird's throat, the musical shuttle...
Walt Whitman
Amphibrachic Foot
Unstressed + Stressed + Unstressed
All ready / to put up / the tents for / my circus.
I think I / will call it / the Circus / McGurkus.
Dr. Seuss
Spondaic Foot
Stressed + Stressed
Love’s not / time’s fool
The Line
End Stopped Lines
When the line is broken at a grammatical pause
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Maya Angelou
Enjambed Lines
When the line is not broken at a grammatical pause
Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie
Which we ascribe to heaven: the fated sky
Gives us free scope; only doth backward pull
Our slow designs when we ourselves are dull.
Deus ex machina
Mise en Abime
First Person
Third Person
Second Person
Situational Irony
Dramatic Irony
When the character(s) narrate(s) the events of the story
Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.
- William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
Wait for your brother and your mother to leave the apartment. You've already told them that you're feeling too sick to go to Union City to visit that tia who likes to squeeze your nuts.
- Junot Diaz, How to Date a Browngirl
When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral...
- William Faulkner, A Rose for Emily
When the narrator is absent, yet directly addresses the reader
When the narrator is not a character within the story
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
- Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
Level of Omnicience
When the narrator assumes the perspective of one of its characters
He - for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it - was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters.
- Virginia Woolf, Orlando
Free Indirect Discourse
"What exasperated her was Charles' total unawareness of her ordeal. His conviction that he was making her happy she took as a stupid insult: such self-righteousness could only mean that he didn't appreciate her. For whose sake, after all, was she being virtuous? Wasn't he the obstacle to every kind of happiness, the cause of all her wretchedness, the sharp-pointed prong of this many stranded belt that bound her on all sides?"
When the narration does not reveal the thoughts of the characters, but takes a kind of "cinematic" view
Without, the night was cold and wet, but in the small parlour of Laburnam Villa the blinds were drawn and the fire burned brightly.
- W. W. Jacobs, The Monkey's Paw
When the narrator can enter the minds/past of the character.
If I am out of my mind, it's all right with me, thought Moses Herzog.
- Saul Bellow, Herzog
When the narration refers to itself.
You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler. —
Italo Calvino, If on a winter's night a traveler
When the narration enters into another plotline
When the text contains references to or parts of other texts
When the text refers to another text
When the text refers to something beyond the limits of the novel, usually applying to all people
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
- Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
Attributing something to a period to which it does not belong.
Flat Rhyme
Consecutive Rhymes
Finding the first conceit of love there bred,
Where time and outward form would show it dead.
- Shakespeare
Crossed Rhyme
Alternating rhymes: abab
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Embraced/Envelope Rhyme
Two or more rhymed lines “embraced” by two or more rhymed lines: abba
Out of a fired ship, which by no way
But drowning could be rescued from the flame,
Some men leap'd forth, and ever as they came
Near the foes' ships, did by their shot decay;
Thorn Rhyme
An unrhymed line in a generally rhymed poem
When my devotions could not pierce
Thy silent ears;
Then was my heart broken, as was my verse:
My breast was full of fears
And disorder.

- George Herbert, Denial
Poetic Forms
English/Shakespearean Sonnet
Found Poem
Ekphrastic Poem
Pastoral Poem
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.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

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. -
Free Verse Poem
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh

Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.

Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,

I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

Stanza of Four Lines
Dramatic Twist
Heroic Couplet
Stanza of Two Rhymed Lines
Italian/Petrarchan Sonnet
Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour;
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,

Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.

Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart;
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,

So didst thou travel on life's common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
Stanza of Three Lines
Repeated Lines in a Poem or Song
A poem lacking consistent meter and rhyme
In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
petals on a wet, black bough.
- Ezra Pound
The conversion of another text into a poetic form
The Unknown
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

When a poem refers to a plastic work of art
A poem written for the dead
A poem set in nature
A situation where the outcome is incongruous with what was expected
When a character's speech or actions is revealed to the audience but unknown to the character concerned
Placing something in an inappropriate context
An unwaranted or supernatural event that revolves the conflict
The camera angle and mise-en-scene which connotes a certain mood in film
Story, Plot, Montage
The chronological events of the story
The rearrangement of events of the story, at times presented unchronologically or with ellipses (jumps in time and/or space)
The presenting of images or scenes jumping through time and/or space
Parallel Editing
Substituting a mild or indirect word or expression for one too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.
All the world's a stage.
-As You Like It
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