Literary Devices

  1. Allegory
    A story or visual image with a second distinct meaning partially hidden behind its literal or visible meaning. In written narrative, "      " involves a continuos parallel between two or more levels of meaning in a story.
  2. Allusion
    An indirect or passing reference to some event, person, place of artistic work, the nature or relevance of which is not explained by the writer but relies on the reader's familiarity with what is thus mentioned. Usually a biblical, mythology, literature, or historical reference.
  3. Analogy
    A comparison of similar things, often for the purpose os using something familiar o explain something unfamiliar. For examples, the branching os a river system is often explained by comparing it to a tree.
  4. Anachronism
    The misplacing of any person, things, custom, or event outside its proper historical time.
  5. Aphorism
    A statement of some general principle, expressed memorably by condensing much wisdom into a few words. Example: "Give a man a mask and he will tell you the truth." Oscar Wilde
  6. Anaphora
    A form of repetition in which the same word of phrase is repeated in (and usually at the beginning of) successive lines, clauses, or sentences.
  7. Anecdote
    A short account o an interesting or humorous incident.
  8. Archetype
    A symbol, theme, setting to character-type that recurs in different times and places in myth, literature, folklore, dreams and rituals so frequently to prominently as to suggest that it embodies some essential element of universal human experience.
  9. Chiasmus
    A figure of speech by which the order of the terms in the first of two parallel clauses is reversed in the second. This may involve a repetition of the same words.
  10. Cliche
    A trite or overused expression or idea.
  11. Colloquialism
    The use of informal expression appropriate to everyday speech rather than to the formality of writing, and differing in pronunciation, vocabulary, or grammar.
  12. Concrete Detail
    Specific names for details.
  13. Dramatic Irony
    Where the audience know more than the characters on stage.
  14. Ellipse
    The omission from a sentence of a word or words that would be required for a complete clarity but which can usually be understood from the context.
  15. Euphemism
    The act or an example of substituting a mild, indirect, or vague term for one considered hard, blunt, or offensive.
  16. Flashback
    Retrospection, used to fill in background information about characters and events.
  17. Foil
    A character whose presence in a literary work offsets or enhances the contrasting characters and events.
  18. Foreshadowing
    A hint of something to come.
  19. Hyperbole
    Exaggeration for the sake of emphasis in a figure of speech not meant literally.
  20. Imagery
    Uses of language in a literary work that evoke sense impressions.
  21. Interior Monologue
    The written representation of a characters' inner thoughts, impressions and memories as if directly overheard.
  22. Juxtaposition
    The state of being places of sitars side by side. Example: light/dark, good character/bad character.
  23. Litotes
    A figure of speech by which an affirmation is made indirectly by denying its opposite, usually with an effect of understatement. Example: "not seldom" to "fairly often".
  24. Metaphor
    One thing, idea, or action is referred to by a word or expression normally denoting another thing, idea or action so as to suggest some common quality shared by the two.
  25. Metonymy
    A figure of speech which substitutes one term with another that is being associates with the/that term. A name transfer takes place to demonstrate an association.
  26. Non Sequitur
    An inference or conclusion that does not follow from the premises or evidence.
  27. Onomatopeia
    The use if words that seem to imitate the sounds they refer too.
  28. Oxymoron
    A figure of speech that combines two usually contradictory terms together in a compressed paradox.
  29. Paradox
    A statement or expression so surprisingly self contradictory as to provoke us into seeking another sense or context in which it would be true. Example: Everything I say is a lie.
  30. Parallelism
    The arrangement of similarly constructed clauses, sentences, or verse lines in a pairing or other sequence.
  31. Paraphrase
    A restatement of a text's meaning in different words, usually in order to clarify the sense of the original.
  32. Persona
    The assumed identity of fictional "I" assumed by a writer in a literary work.
  33. Personification
    A figure of speech by which animals, abstract ideas, or inanimate things are referred to as if they were human.
  34. Pun
    An expression that achieves emphasis or humor by contriving an ambiguity, two distinct meaning being suggested whether by the same word or by two similar sounding words.
  35. Sensory Detail
    Details related to the five senses.
  36. Simile
    An explicit comparison between two different things, actions, or feelings, utilizing "as" or "like".
  37. Subtext
    Any meaning or set of meaning which is implied rather than explicitly stated in a literary work, especially plays.
  38. Symbolism
    Something that represents something beyond the literal meaning.
  39. Synaesthesia
    Confusing of senses.
  40. Synecdoche
    Common figure of speech by which something is referred to indirectly, either by naming only some part to indirectly, either by naming them by only some parts. Example: workers referred to as "hands".
  41. Syllogism
    A form of logical argument that derives a conclusion from two propositions or premises sharing a common term.
  42. Understatement
    A statement that is restrained in ironic contract to which might have been said using better words.
Card Set
Literary Devices
Common literary devices to know.