WHAT ARE LITERARY DEVICES?
LITERARY DEVICES ARE TECHNIQUES
WRITERS USE TO ENGAGE THEIR READERS
BEYOND THE LITERAL MEANING OF THE
TEXT.
Alliteration
Repetition of the same beginning sound in a sequence.
Examples :
Drew drew Drew
Reshetar rides rollercoasters
drowning in debt
a sea of sea shells
Example #1:
“From the time I was really little-maybe just
few months old-words were like sweet,
liquid gifts, and I drank them like
emonade.”
~Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Example #2:
Tongue Twisters are great examples of alliteration…
Three grey geese in a green field grazing, Grey were
the geese and green was the grazing.
Hyperbole
A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or
effect.
An extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be
taken literally.
Examples:
I waited an eternity for summer to get here!
He could have slept for a year.
This book weighs a ton.
Listen to the hyperbole of the next poem by Jack Prelutsky.
I am making a pizza the size of the sun,
a pizza that’s sure to weigh more than a ton,
a pizza too massive to pick up and toss,
a pizza resplendent with oceans of sauce.
I’m topping my pizza with mountains of cheese,
with acres of peppers, pimentos, and peas,
with mushrooms, tomatoes, and sausage galore,
with every last olive they had at the store.
My pizza is sure to be one of a kind,
my pizza will leave other pizzas behind,
my pizza will be a delectable treat
that all who love pizza are welcome to eat.
The oven is hot, I believe it will take
a year and a half for my pizza to bake.
I hardly can wait till my pizza is done,
my wonderful pizza the size of the sun.
Jack Prelutsky
Imagery
Descriptive words or phrases that appeal to the 5 senses: sight,
sound, touch, taste, and smell- creating a picture in the reader’s
mind.
What is the mental picture or image you are left with after
reading the passage from “The Most Dangerous Game”
“He leaped upon the rail and balanced himself there, to get greater
elevation; his pipe, striking a rope, was knocked from his mouth. He
lunged for it; a short, hoarse cry came from his lips as he realized he had
reached too far and had lost his balance. The cry was pinched off short
as the blood-warm waters of the Caribbean Sea closed over his head.”
“He struggle up to the surface and tried to cry out, but the wash from the
speeding yacht slapped him in the face and the salt water in his open
mouth made him gag.”
“The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell
Metaphor
A figure of speech in which two things are compared, usually by
saying one thing is another, or by substituting a more descriptive
word for the more common or usual word that would be
expected.
Examples :
the world's a stage
he was a lion in battle
drowning in debt
a sea of troubles.
God looked around His garden
And saw an empty space
He then looked down upon this Earth
And saw your tired face
He knew that you were suffering
He knew you were in pain
He knew that you would never
Get well on Earth again
He knew the roads were getting rough
The mountains hard to climb
So he puts his arms around you and
Whispered Peace be Thine
He closed your weary eyelids
And lifted you for rest
This garden must be beautiful
He only takes the best
Written by an anonymous teenager.
Onomatopoeia
A figure of speech in which words are used to imitate sounds.
Examples :
crash
buzz
quack
zoom
ONOMATOTODAY
In the morning
yawn, stretch
to the bathroom
scratch, blink
in the shower
scrub, splash
to the closet
whisk, rustle
down the hall
thump, creak
in the kitchen
clank, clink
to the car
click, slam
on the road
honk, screech
at the office
tick, ring
out to lunch
munch, slurp
return home
thug, moan
on to bed
shuffle, snore
Cathy Christensen
Personification
A figure of speech in which things or ideas are given human
attributes.
Examples :
Dead leaves dance in the wind
Blind justice
Winter wrapped her cold fingers around me
“The high mountain wind coasted sighing
through the pass and whistled on the edges big
block of broken granite…”
“A scar of green grass cut across the flat. And
behind the flat another mountain rose, desolate
with dead rocks and starving little black
bushes…”
“Flight” by John Steinbeck
Repetition
A word or line that is repeated, usually to evoke an emotion or
create a rhythm.
“There were so many important moments. If I’d
missed the ticket, I wouldn’t be here. If I hadn’t
gone to the show, I wouldn’t be here. If I hadn’t
stuck around to see what Steve was up to, I wouldn’t
be here. If I hadn’t stolen Madam Octa, I wouldn’t
be here. If I’d said no to Mr. Crepsley’s offer, I
wouldn’t be here.
A world of “ifs”, but it made no difference.
What was done was done. If I could go back in
time…” ~Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan
Rhyme
The occurrence of the same sound at the end of two or more
words.
Examples :
cat / hat
desire / fire
steak / fake
English is a Pain! (Pane)
Rain, Reign, rein,
English is a pain.
Although the words
Sound just alike
The spelling’s not the same!
Bee, Be, B
I’d rather climb a tree
Than learn to spell
The same old word,
Not just one way, but three!
Sight, Site, Cite
I try with all my might.
No matter which
I finally choose,
It’s not the one that’s right!
There, Their, They’re,
Enough to make you swear.
Too many ways
To write one sound,
I just don’t think it’s fair!
To, Two, Too
So what’s a kid to do?
I think I’ll do
To live on Mars
And leave this mess with ewe! (you?)
By Shirlee Curlee Bingham
Simile
A figure of speech in which two things are compared using the
word “like” or “as”.
Examples :
She felt like a wilted flower.
The boy charged in the room like a bull!
This class is like a 3 ring circus!
The aliens have landed!
It’s distressing, but they’re here.
They piloted their flying saucer
Through our atmosphere.
They landed like a meteor
Engulfed in smoke and flame.
Then out they climbed immersed in slime
And burbled as they came.
Their hands are greasy tentacles.
Their heads are weird machines.
Their bodies look like cauliflower
And smell like dead sardines.
Their blood is liquid helium.
Their eyes are made of granite.
Their breath exudes the stench of foods
From some unearthly planet.
Kenn Nesbitt
And if you want to see these
Sickly, unattractive creatures,
You’ll find them working in your school;
They all got jobs as teachers!
Stanza
Two or more lines of poetry that together form one of the
divisions of a poem.
poem = stanza as story = __________?
Stanza= paragraph of the poem
Read the following poem- how many stanzas are there?
This drawing represents a
poem with 2 stanza’s
with 4 lines each.
What is a Middle Schooler?
What is a middle schooler
I was asked one day.
I knew what they were
But what should I say?
They are noise and confusion
They are silent that is deep
Also sunshine and laughter,
Or a cloud that will weep.
They are swift as an arrow.
They are wasters of time.
They want to be rich,
But cannot save a dime!
They are rude and nasty.
They are as polite as can be.
They want parental guidance,
But fight to be free.
They are aggressive and bossy,
Also timid and shy.
They know all the answers,
But still will ask “why?”
They are awkward and clumsy,
Sometimes graceful and poised.
They are ever changing,
But do not be annoyed.
What is a Middle Schooler?
I was asked one day.
They are the future unfolding,
So do not stand in their way!
Written by an anonymous teenager
Pun:
The use of a word in a way that plays on its different
meanings.
Example:
Noticing the bunch of bananas, the hungry gorilla
went ape.
I recently spent money on detergent to unclog my
kitchen sink. It was money down the drain.
Symbolism:
The use of one thing to represent another.
Example:
A dove is a symbol of peace.
The donkey symbolizes The elephant symbolize
the Democratic Party.
the Republican Party.
The flag
represents
freedom.
Language that conveys a
certain idea by saying just
the opposite.
Examples:
The Titanic was promoted as being 100% unsinkable; but, in 1912
the ship sank on its maiden voyage.
You beg your parents to let you have a kitten, then you discover
you’re deathly allergic to them.
IDIOM
Idioms are phrases or expressions that have hidden
meanings. The expressions don't mean exactly what the
words say. NOT LITERAL
The language peculiar to a people or to a district, community,
or class : dialect
Example:
It’s raining cats and dogs.
Things got a little out of hand.
Does the cat have your tongue.
ALLUSION
Reference to a statement, person,
place, event, or thing that is
known from literature, history,
religion, myth, politics, sports,
science, or the arts
Examples:
"Christy didn't like to spend
money. She was no Scrooge,
but she seldom purchased
anything except the bare
necessities".
Allusion:
Ex: The students were sure that their
teacher had drunk from the river
Styx because of her complete
inattention to their pranks.
Your example—think of a recent
example you’ve heard or seen in
which someone references a wellknown work
Extension Terms
ANALOGY
A comparison made between two things that may
initially seem to have little in common
Used for illustration and/or argument.
Example:
Hand is to glove : Foot is to sock
Happy is to sad : Hot is to cold
ASSONANCE:
THE REPETITION OF VOWEL
SOUNDS.
Example:
Days wane away
Each beach beast thinks he's the best beast
The only other sound's the sweep
“ S t o p p i n g b y Wo o d s o n a S n o w y
Evening” by Robert Frost
“He gives his harness bells a shake
To a s k i f t h e r e i s s o m e m i s t a k e .
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The
But
And
And
woods
I have
miles
miles
a r e l o v e l y, d a r k a n d d e e p .
promises to keep,
to go before I sleep,
to go before I sleep.”
to speak well in the place of
the blunt, disagreeable,
terrifying or offensive term.
Example:
death becomes “to pass away”
Victorians first used “limb” for leg
Letting someone go instead of firing someone
Use the rest room instead of go to the bathroom
Fiction or nonfiction that
teaches a specific lesson
or moral or provides a
model of correct behavior
or thinking.
Examples:
Aesop’s Fables-“The Tortoise and the Hare”
(Plodding wins the race.)
“The Lion and the Mouse”-(Little friends may
prove great friends)
The Ant and the Grasshopper An Aesop's Fable
In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to
its heart's content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he
was taking to the nest. "Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper,
"instead of toiling and moiling in that way?" "I am helping to lay up food for the
winter," said the Ant, "and recommend you to do the same." "Why bother about
winter?" said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present." But the Ant went
on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food
and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and
grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:
Moral of Aesops Fable: It is best to prepare for the days of necessity
A seeming contradiction.
Examples:
“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”
“You shouldn't go in the water until you know how to swim.”
“Be cruel to be kind.”-from Hamlet by Shakespeare
"Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales
again." (C.S. Lewis to his godchild, Lucy Barfield, to whom he
dedicated The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)
A work that makes fun of something or someone.
Examples:
“Weekend
Update” from Saturday Night Live
Most political cartoons in newspapers and magazines
“The Gift of the Magi”, by O. Henry is a story of two people, much in love, who are
very poor and want to give a Christmas gift to one another. She is very proud of her
long, beautiful hair and he is equally proud of his pocket watch. The irony comes in
to play when she cuts and sells her hair to buy him a chain for his watch, and he
sells the watch to buy her combs for her hair.
A monologue in which a character expresses his or her thoughts to the
audience and does not intend the other characters to hear them.
Examples:
“To be or not to be, that is the question.” from Hamlet written by Shakespeare
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