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Picture Glossary: Literary Devices

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titan thomas

on 19 February 2014

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Transcript of Picture Glossary: Literary Devices

Picture Glossary: Literary Devices

An interruption of a chronological sequence in a literary work, of an earlier event.

Purpose: They can be used to give more info on the background of the conflict or the character's motivation.

Example: "But sometimes (like right now), as I sit in the cool, green-draped parlor, the grindstone begins to turn, and time with all its changes is ground away--and I remember Doodle.""He was born when I as six and was, from the outset, a disappointment." -The scarlet ibis.
A statement that refers to something without stating it directly.

Purpose: To allow the reader to relate the text to something familiar.

Example: "It was too late to turn back, for we had both wandered too far into a net of expectations, and had left no crumbs behind."-The Scarlet Ibis. This is alluding to Hansel and Gretel.


A person who opposes the main character.

Purpose: An antagonist is necessary for the conflict, which drives the plot.

Example: "To them, we were fresh meat, after possible weeks of starving. There came a scream, composed of innumerable screams, sharper than the howl of a saw attacking a bar of iron, and in one motion, every rat leaped to attack the tower."-The Three Skeleton Keys. The rats were the antagonist from the Three Skeleton Keys.

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The conflict between the protagonist and him/herself.

Example: Madam Loisel vs. whether or not she should tell her friend about the lost necklace in The Necklace.

Purpose: The author could use the internal conflict to relate better with the audience and to "arouse a universal emotion."


The conflict between the protagonist and an outside force like nature or another person.

Example: The narrator vs. Fortunato in the Cask of Amontillado.

Purpose: The author uses external consequences so that the audience can focus more on the choices made by the characters and the consequences of those choices. It also focuses al lot on the relationship between the protagonist and the antagonist.

Characters cont.
character changes during the course of the text.

Purpose: To show that the events in the text had influenced the characters in some way.

Example: In Love, the narrator learned that everyone will die one day and he learned to accept death as a part of life.

character stays the same during the course of the text.

Purpose: To show that none of the events in the text influences the characters in any way.

Example: The narrator in The Cask of Amontialldo was crazy and wanted revenge throughout the whole story.
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reveals only one personality trait of the character.

Purpose: (?)

Examples: During the course of Love, the narrator admires and that's the only personality trait.
shows a variety (sometimes contradictory) traits.

Purpose: (?)

Example: During The Three Skeleton Key, the narrator is both frightened of the island and admires it.
The writer or narrator simply tells the reader about a character.

Example: "Miss Vera Brown, she wrote on the blackboard, letter by letter in flawlessly oval Palmer method." "...her voice was as gentle as the expression in her beautiful dark brown eyes." -Love.

Purpose: The author uses this so that narrative is short and quick. This also restricts the audience from making up information about the characters in their heads.

The writer gives clues about the character to the reader by presenting the character's actions, words, thoughts, and reactions.

Example: " I continued, as was my in to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my to smile now was at the thought of his immolation.""...There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick; it was the dampness of the catacombs that made it so." From this information the reader can infer that the protagonist is a person fond of revenge and is slightly mad (crazy). -The Cask of Amontillado.

Purpose: The author uses indirect characterization so that the audience will need to infer. It also gives the author the opportunity to surprise the audience with contrasting characteristics for the character.
a sign or warning about something coming up in the near future.

Purpose: It creates tension and suspense in the text.

Example: "Our teacher for the fifth grade. The name might as well been graven in stone." -Love. This quote foreshadows that the teacher dies and her name is written on her gravestone.

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The use of the five senses or figurative language to represent an object, action, or idea.

Purpose: To evoke or convey a specific emotion from the audience and to suggest a particular idea.

Example: "It was in the clove of seasons, summer was dead but autumn had not yet been born, that the ibis lit in the bleeding tree.The flower garden was stained with rotting brown magnolia petals and iron weeds grew rank amid the purple phlox."-The Scarlet Ibis. This suggests that the rest of the story has a lot to do with seasons and it gives of a relaxing feeling.
When someone writes or says something and the opposite is meant or happens.
Purpose: Irony is used most of the time to surprise the reader and give major twists in the plot. They are also used to convey the theme.
Example: "Nothing. Only I haven't a dress and so I can't go to this party. Give your invitation to some friend of yours whose wife will be turned out better than I shall." -The Necklace. This is verbal irony because we know that she actually wants the invitation. She is being sarcastic so that she can get a new dress.
Irony cont.
When the outcome of events are the opposite of what you expected.

Purpose: Just like in verbal irony, it is used to surprise the reader and to convey the theme.

Example: "I brought you another one just like it. And for the last ten years we have been paying for it. You realize it wasn't easy for us; we had no money. . . . Well, it's paid for at last, and I'm glad indeed.""Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most five hundred francs! . . . " -The Necklace. This is situational irony because the audience would expect the necklace to be real but it ends up being fake.
Irony that is understood by the audience but not the characters.

Purpose: It may create a more tense mood or the audience could read more into the text and understand better since they know things that the characters don't.

Example: "She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury. She suffered from the poorness of her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains. All these things, of which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her. The sight of the little Breton girl who came to do the work in her little house aroused heart-broken regrets and hopeless dreams in her mind." -The Necklace. This is dramatic irony because as the reader, we can understand that her life is not at all bad and that she is quite wealthy. But Mathilde does not realize this.
A comparison between two unlike things.

Purpose: To help the audience make an idea or concept more concrete.

Example: "He turned towards me, and looked into my eyes with two filmy orbs that distilled the rheum of intoxication." Fortunato's eyes are being described as two filmy orbs. This shows that he is very drunk.
The feeling a piece of literature gives off to its audience.

Purpose: It creates the atmosphere of the story and ensures an emotional attachment between the audience and the text.

Example: "Doodle!" I screamed above the pounding storm and threw my body to the earth above his. For a long time, it seemed forever, I lay there crying, sheltering my fallen scarlet ibis from the heresy of rain."-The Scarlet Ibis. The ending of this story gives off a really sad and mournful mood.

Giving human qualities to animals or non-living objects.

Purpose: So that the reader can connect with the characters at a deeper level.

Example: "The story was that the three skeletons, gleaming with phosphorescent light, danced over the small rock, screaming..."-The Three Skeleton Key. This is personification because skeletons were given the human qualities of dancing and screaming.
Introduction and background of a story.

Purpose: It helps the reader better understand the characters, the setting, and the conflict.

Example: "She was one of those pretty and charming girls born, as though fate had blundered over her, into a family of artisans. She had no marriage portion, no expectations, no means of getting known, understood, loved, and wedded by a man of wealth and distinction..." -The Necklace. This introduces Mathilde into the story and so when the plot continues, we understand more on why she does the things she does.

Plot cont.
Rising action:
The series of events that lead up to the climax or the turning point.

Purpose: To build suspense and/or tension all the way to the climax.

Example: "The day of the party arrived. Madame Loisel was a success. She was the prettiest woman present, elegant, graceful, smiling, and quite above herself with happiness." -The Necklace. The party was one of the most important events in the rising action.
The point of greatest interest or the turning point.

Purpose: To change the course of the story, either to entertain the audience or to make sure the rest of the plot and theme goes in accordance.

Example: "She took off the garments in which she had wrapped her shoulders, so as to see herself in all her glory before the mirror. But suddenly she uttered a cry. The necklace was no longer round her neck!"-The Necklace
Plot cont.
Falling action:
The series of events that follow the climax and end at the resolution.

Purpose: To lead the reader down all the way to the resoolution where the story ends. It may sometimes also build suspense.

Example: "She came to know the heavy work of the house, the hateful duties of the kitchen. She washed the plates, wearing out her pink nails on the coarse pottery and the bottoms of pans."-The Necklace. This is an example of an event coming before the resolution.

The part at the end of the story where the problem is solved.

Purpose: It solves the conflict and helps the story come to an end. It also helps to put the theme of the story out to the audience.

Explain: "Madame Forestier, deeply moved, took her two hands.Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most five hundred francs! . . . "-The Necklace. The story ends with an irony.

Point of view
1st person pov:
The narrator or speaker uses I or we in a text. The speaker may be reliable or unreliable.

Purpose: To let the reader identify with the narrator.

Example: "I could see that the woman was trying to decide whether she should tell us to go away, but she said, "I'll find out if she wants you", and left us standing on the porch for what seemed like a long time."-Love


3rd person limited pov:
The narrator knows the thoughts, feeling, and emotions of only one character. Words such as he and she are used.

Purpose: Allows the narrator to seem objective.

Example: "She had no clothes, no jewels, nothing. And these were the only things she loved; she felt that she was made for them. She had longed so eagerly to charm, to be desired, to be wildly attractive and sought after."

Point of view
3rd person omniscient pov:
The narrator knows the thoughts, feelings, and emotions of all the characters in the text.

Purpose: So the narrator can act "all knowing" and give the reader all the character's perspective.

Example: "It was her sister Josephine who told her, in broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in half concealing. Her husband's friend Richards was there, too, near her. It was he who had been in the newspaper office when intelligence of the railroad disaster was received with Brently Mallard's name leading the list of "killed."-The Story of an Hour. The narrator knows the each character's perspective.

The main character in any literary text.

Purpose: A protagonist is needed to build the plot and solve the conflict.

Example: "It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my in to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my to smile now was at the thought of his immolation."-The Cask of Amontillado. The main character is Montresor. He is the protagonist.

The time and place of the story.

Purpose: To present a backdrop or to shed light on the theme.

Example: "Picture a gray, tapering cylinder, welded to the solid black rock by iron rods and concrete, rising from a small island twenty odd miles from land. It lay in the midst of the sea, this island, a small, bare piece of stone, about one hundred fifty feet long, perhaps forty wide."-The Three Skeleton Key. This is describing the setting.

Comparing two unlike things with the word like or as.

Purpose: To make an unknown concept concrete to the reader by comparing it to something familiar.

Example: "Her arms were like sticks..."-Love. Miss Vera Brown is being described here and her sickness made her arms look like sticks.
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A feeling of uncertainty or excitement.

Purpose: To keep the audience hooked to the text or book.

Example: "You are not of the masons.""Yes, yes," I said; "yes, yes." "You? Impossible! A mason?" "A mason," I replied. "A sign," he said, "a sign." "It is this," I answered, producing from beneath the folds of my roquelaire a trowel.-The Cask of Amontillado. You know that the main character is going yo kill Fotunato but this quote just increases the suspense.

Something that represents or stands for something else.

Purpose: It goes beyond the literal meaning, and into something more significant and powerful. It is used for that purpose.

Example: "Doodle!" I screamed above the pounding storm and threw my body to the earth above his. For a long time, it seemed forever, I lay there crying, sheltering my fallen scarlet ibis from the heresy of rain."-The Scarlet Ibis. In this quote, the scarlet ibis represents Doodle because of them are extremely fragile in new situations.
The attitude of the author toward the subject or audience.

Purpose: To set the relationship between reader and writer. It helps you understand the meaning of the text.

Example: In Love, the tone was admiration and tragedy.
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