Literary Devices

  1. alliteration
    The repetition of initial sounds in neighboring words

    ex) heaven of heroes
  2. allusion
    • A brief reference to a person, event, or place, real or ficticious, or to a work of art.
    • Casual reference to a famous historical or literary figure or event.
  3. archetype
    The usage of any object or situation as it was originally made.
  4. internal/external conflict
    • The struggle/conflict found in fiction
    • Internal: man vs. self
    • External: man vs. man, nature, society, machine
  5. denotation/connotation
    • Denotaion: the literary meaning, dictionary definition
    • Connotation: the implied meaning of the word

  6. foil
    Two characters that contrast eachother yet are similar because they emphasize eachother's characteristics
  7. foreshadowing
    • The use of hints or clues to suggest what will happen later in literature.
    • Hinting at things to come
  8. hyperbole
    An extreme exaggeration or overstatement
  9. imagery
    • Writing that creates an image in the reader's mind.
    • Author uses all five senses to describe this image, taste, sound, smell, or feeling
  10. irony
    • An implied discrepancy between what is said and what is meant
    • Three types: dramatic, verbal, situational
  11. simile/metaphor
    • Simile: a comparison using like or as
    • Metaphor: a comparison without using like or as
  12. onomatopoeia
    A word that imitates the sound it represents

    ex) kerplunk, splah, buzz, hush, boom!
  13. oxymoron
    Putting two totally opposite words together

    ex) seriously joking, jumbo shrimp, good grief
  14. personification
    Giving human/living qualities to animals or non-living objects

    ex) smiling sun, creeping fog
  15. point of view: omniscent, third person limited, first person
    • First person: Narrator is/was in the story, "I, me, my, us, we"
    • Third person limited: Narrator is outside the story, only knows one characters thoughts, "Name, he she, they"
    • Omniscient: Narrator is outside the story, knows all characters thoughts
  16. symbol
    Using an object or action that means something more than its literal meaning

    ex) the bird of night (owl is a symbol of death)
  17. theme
    The general idea or insight about life that a writer wishes to express
  18. tone/mood
    • Tone: the attitude a writer takes towards a subject or character
    • ex) serious, ironic, humorous
    • Mood: the emotional attitude the author takes toward the subject
  19. allegory
    • A form of extended metaphor.
    • Underlying meaning has moral, social, religious, or political significance.
    • Characters are often personifications of abstract ideas as greed or envy.
    • A story with to meanings; literal and symbolic
  20. analogy
    The comparison of two pairs which have the same relationship

    ex) hot is to cold as fire is to ice
  21. dramatic irony
    When an audience knows more than a character in the piece of literature
  22. flashback
    Action that interrupts to show an event that happened at an earlier time which is necessary to better understand the literature
  23. motif
    • A recurrent thematic element in an artistic or literary work
    • A dominant theme or central idea
  24. symbolism
    The practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meanings to objects, events, or relationships
  25. protagonist/antagonist
    • Protagonist: hero or heroine who engages the reader's interest of empathy
    • Antagonist: the character, force, or collection of forces that stands directly opposed to the protagonist and creates conflict
  26. aside
    • Words spoken so as not to be heard by others present.
    • Said to oneself.
  27. cliché
    A sentence or phrase expressing a popular or common thought or idea that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse
  28. free verse
    Verse that does not follow a fixed metrical pattern
  29. genre
    A class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, or technique
  30. monologue
    A prolonged speech by a single speaker
  31. myth
    A traditional or legendary story, usually concerning a hero or event
  32. soliloquy
    • The act of talking while or as if alone.
    • Being disregardful of any people present.
  33. plot: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution
    • Plot: the sequence of events that occur in a story
    • Expo: setting and intro to characters
    • Rising Action: conflict(s)
    • Climax: turning point, highest point of tension
    • Resolution: main conflict resolved
  34. sonnet
    A poem about one specific idea of 14 lines, usually in iambic pentameter
  35. dialect
    • The way in which people speak
    • Accents of a certain language
    • Slang
    • ex) yal
  36. diction
    The way in which an author places words in literature
  37. idiom
    • Expressions or phrases used to mean something not literal but figurative
    • ex) when pigs fly, don't let the cat out of the bag, break a leg
  38. memoir
    • A record of events by a person having intimate knowledge of them and based on personal observation
    • Intimate autobiography
  39. parallel structure
    • Used in a list where all things in that list have the same tense
    • ex) I planted a seed, watered the seed, and watched the seed grow
  40. rhetorical question
    A question asked to produce effect but not meant to be answered directly
  41. figurative language
    • Speech or writing that departs from literal meaning in order to achieve a special effect or meaning.
    • Speech or writing that includes figures of speech.
  42. stereotype
    • Labeling a person, object, or idea by looks as a "type".
    • To characterize by what a person looks like or what they do.
  43. abstract/concrete
    • Abstract: noncreative, non-fictional, brings up a general idea or concept but has no specific meaning
    • Concrete: detailed writing that puts a specific picture in a reader's mind; referring to definite persons, places, or things
  44. subjective/objective point of view
    • Subjective: often has basis in reality but reflects the speaker's perspective; Cannot be verified by facts
    • Objective: a statement that is completely unbiased; Reliable facts you are able to look up; Doesn't include the speaker's experiences, thoughts, or judgements
Card Set
Literary Devices
English Literary Devices