• Imagery - the words or phrases a writer uses to represent persons, objects, actions, feelings, and ideas descriptively by appealing to the senses.  Imagery creates a mood or atmosphere and reinforces meaning.   


    Allegory – a story in which most elements, characters, and plot elements represent something else. 


    Allusion - a reference to a mythological, literary, historical, or popular person, place or thing.  The associations the reader makes reinforce meaning and theme. 


    Archetypes – Recurring motifs, symbols, characters, and plot elements that pervade numerous pieces of literature spanning many time periods. 


    Figurative Language – are words or phrases that describe one thing in terms of something else.  They always involve some sort of imaginative comparison between seemingly unlike things.  Not meant to be taken literally, figurative language is used to produce images in a reader’s mind and to express ideas in fresh, vivid, and imaginative ways.


              Apostrophe  - a form of personification in which the absent or dead are spoke to as if present and the inanimate, as if animate: e.g., You stupid car!  Why won’t you start?


              Metaphor – a comparison of two unlike things not using “like” or “as”: e.g., Time is money.


              Personification - a kind of metaphor that gives inanimate objects or abstract  ideas human characteristics: e.g., The flowers were asleep.


              Simile – a comparison of two different things or ideas through the use of the words “like” or “as.”:  e.g., He ran like the very wind.


              Synecdoche  – a form of metaphor where a part of something represents the whole:

               eg. All hands on deck. 


              Metonymy – a form of metaphor and type of synecdoche, in which the name of one thing is applied to another thing with which it is closely associated: e.g., I love Shakespeare.


               Hyperbole – a deliberate, extravagant, and often outrageous exaggeration.  It may be used for either serious or comic effect: e.g.,  The shot heard round the world.


    Motif – a recurring theme; a pattern or strand of imagery or symbolism in a work of literature. e.g., “Light and “dark” throughout A Wrinkle in Time indicate a level of safety for the characters.


    The Tragic Figure – a character in a tragedy that is of noble birth, has great potential, has a great capacity for suffering, ends up in a no-win situation, and has a tragic flaw which leads to his downfall.  This downfall will enrich and ennoble him.  The audience will experience a catharsis from his suffering. 


    Satire – a form of humor directed at ridiculing human foibles and vices, such as vanity, hypocrisy, stupidity, and greed.  Its aim is to expose and censure faults, often with the aim of correcting them.    


    Symbolism – when something intangible is represented by something tangible; when an object, person, place, thing, or action, has both meaning in itself and stands for something larger than itself, such as an abstract idea, a quality, an attitude, a belief, or a value


    Understatement (litotes) – a kind of irony that deliberately represents something as being much less than it really is: e.g., I might be able to manage to live on a salary of 2 million dollars a year.


    Irony – a discrepancy that appears in the following three ways:

         Verbal Irony – when a speaker or narrator says one thing while meaning another

         Situational Irony – when what occurs is not what you would normally expect

         Dramatic Irony – when a character or speaker says or does something that has

         different meanings from what he or she thinks it means, though the audience or the

         other characters understand the full implications of the speech or action.  You could

         say, it is when the audience or other characters know something that the speaker  

         does not. 


    Sound Devices – stylistic techniques that convey meaning through sound, such as:

                   Rhyme – repetition of sounds in two or more words or phrases that appear

                   close to one another

                   Assonance – the repetition of an accented vowel sound in a series of words to

                   produce a harmonious effect: e.g., cry and side

                   Consonance – the repetition of a consonant sound within a series of words to

                   produce a harmonious effect: e.g., And each slow dusk a drawing down of blinds

                   Alliteration – the practice of beginning several consecutive or neighboring

                   words with the same sound: e.g., The twisting trout twinkled below.

                   Onomatopoeia – the use of words that mimic the sounds they describe: e.g., buzz


    How do you analyze IMAGERY and OTHER LITERARY DEVICES?

     In order to analyze literary devices you must understand the terminology listed above, and be able to recognize them when you see them in a text.  It will help to annotate your text. 


    For IMAGERY ask yourself, “What do I see, hear, taste, smell, or feel?”  “What effect is the author trying to convey with these images?”  Annotate any passage that seems especially descriptive.


    For ALLUSIONS mark any reference to a well-known person, place, or event.  Some allusions may pass you by because you have never heard of them.  It is important then to mark any reference you think might be an allusion and check it out later.  If your selection is not very modern, it would be a good idea to investigate the time period in which it was written.  Allusions are rich and full of meaning, and they strongly reinforce the writer’s mood and theme, and allusions are used prolifically by writers of all genres; therefore, students should make it their quest to become culturally literate.  Recommended reading:  The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy.


    For FIGURES OF SPEECH annotate any comparisons you see in the text.  It is easy to locate the “like” or “as” for similes, whereas metaphors require you to be an active reader.  If the author repeats some information or you begin to see a pattern in the references, you may have a metaphor.  Any use of language that is not meant to be taken literally is figurative language or irony.


    The category DETAILS refers to the facts revealed by the author or speaker that support attitude or tone in a piece of poetry or prose.  Sometimes the technique is actually detail, but frequently it will be  something such as setting, climax, conflict, etc.  The techniques for this category are listed below.


    How do you analyze DETAILS?  You can examine some or all of the following:


    Plot elements – Plot is the sequence of events or actions in a story, play, or narrative

    poem.  Plot consists of Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action,

    Resolution (Denouement).


    Setting – the time or place in which events in a story, play, or narrative poem take place.       

    This also includes the social and moral climate of the selection and the placement of objects.


    Characterization – The development of characters.  You can learn about characters

    indirectly through their actions and from what others say about them, and you

    can learn about characters directly from statements the writer makes.  Some

    characters remain static while others are dynamic and change and grow. 


    Conflict – This is the struggle between the protagonist and the force set against him.


    Protagonist & Antagonist – the protagonist is the central character of a drama, novel, short story or narrative poem.  The antagonist is the character or force who stands directly opposed to the protagonist.


    Flashback – a scene that interrupts the action of a work to show a previous event.


    Foreshadowing – the use of hints or clues in a narrative to suggest future events.


    Allusions – a reference to a mythological, literary, or historical person, place, or thing.


    Dues ex machina – “God from the machine”  - an unlikely rescue of our protagonist when he is in a situation from which it is normally impossible to escape.  It is also a “cheesy” ending to save a hero.


    Shift or Turn – a change or movement in a piece resulting from an epiphany, realization, or insight gained by the speaker, a character, or the reader.


    Suspense – quality of a story that makes the reader or audience uncertain or tense about the outcome of events.


    In Medias Res – beginning a story in the middle of the action instead of the beginning