IMAGERY The term imagery has various applications. Generally, imagery includes all kinds of sense perception (not just visual pictures). In a more limited application, the term describes visible objects only. But the term is perhaps most commonly used to describe figurative language, which is as a theme in literature. An example is animal imagery in Othello When Iago tortures Othello with animal images of his wife’s supposed infidelity, “were they as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys” (3.3.403), his description so overcomes the Moor that later, in greeting Lodovico, he suddenly blurts out, “Goats and monkeys!” (4.1.256). SIMILE A direct, expressed comparison between two things essentially unlike each other, but resembling each other in at least one way using the words “like” or “as” in the comparison.
In formal prose the simile is a device both of art and explanation, comparing the unfamiliar thing (to be explained) to some familiar thing (an object, event, process, etc.) known to the reader. When the young Shakespeare gives the Duke of York, who is being taunted by Queen Margaret, the line “O tiger’s heart wrapped in a woman’s hide!” his meaning depends on the particular qualities associated at the time with the tiger: that they included not only fierceness but also deviousness is shown by the infamous parody of the line by his jealous contemporary, Robert Greene, who warned others in the literary world that Shakespere, had a “tiger’s heart wrapped in a player’s hide.” In this line from Ezra Pound’s Fan-Piece, for Her Imperial Lord: “clear as frost on the grass-bade,”a fan of white silk is being compared to frost on a blade of grass. Note the use of the word “as.” METAPHOR In a metaphor, a word is identified with something different from what the word literally denotes. A metaphor is distinguished from a simile in that it equates different things without using connecting terms such as like or as. Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, has this to say about the moral condition of his parishoners: “There are the black clouds of God’s wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm and big with thunder;” The comparison here is between God’s anger and a storm.
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Note that there is no use of “like” or “as” as would be the case in a simile. SYMBOL Generally speaking, a symbol is a sign representing something other than itself. A symbol is an image with an indefinite range of reference beyond itself. Some symbols are conventional as they have a range of significance that is commonly understood in a particular culture. Other symbols are private or personal, having a special significance derived from their particular use by an author.
PERSONIFICATION Personification is the attribution of human qualities to inanimate objects or abstract concepts. Personification heightens a reader’s emotional response to what is being described by giving it human qualities and therefore human significance. Consider the following lines from Carl Sandburg’s Chicago: “Stormy, husky, brawling, City of the big shoulders:” Carl Sandburg description of Chicago includes shoulders. Cities do not have shoulders, people do. Sandburg personifies the city by ascribing to it something human, shoulders. PATHETIC FALLACY Pathetic Fallacy is a fallacy of reason in suggesting that nonhuman phenomena act from human feelings, It is a literary device where something nonhuman found in nature-a beast, plant, stream, natural force, etc.-performs as though from human feeling or motivation.
In Jack London’s To Build a Fire, “The cold of space,” London writes, “smote the unprotected tip of the planet, . . .” The word “smote” suggests nature deliberately striking the northern tip of the earth with severe cold. The poetry of William Wordsworth is replete with instances of pathetic fallacy-weeping streams, etc. PUN A pun is a play on words.
It exploits the multiple meanings of a word, or else replaces one word with another that is similar in sound but has a very different meaning. Puns are sometimes used for serious purposes, but more often for comic effect. In the grave-digger scene of Hamlet, the hero and a Clown pun on the words “lie” and “quick”: HAMLET: Whose grave’s this, sirrah? CLOWN: Mine, sir… HAMLET: I think it be thine indeed, for thou liest in’t. CLOWN: You lie out on’t, sir, and therefore `tis not yours. For my part, I do not lie in’t, yet it is mine.
HAMLET: Thou dost lie in’t, to be in’t and say it is thine. `Tis for the dead, not for the quick; therefore thou liest. CLOWN: `Tis a quick lie, sir; `twill away again from me to you. ANALOGY Analogy is the comparison of two things, which are alike in several respects, for the purpose of explaining or clarifying some unfamiliar or difficult idea or object by showing how the idea or object is similar to some familiar one. While simile and analogy often overlap, the simile is generally a more artistic likening, done briefly for effect and emphasis, while analogy serves the more practical purpose of explaining a thought process or a line of reasoning or the abstract in terms of the concrete, and may therefore be more extended. Some analogies simply offer an explanation for clarification rather than a substitute argument.
ALLUSION Allusion is a reference in one literary work to a character or theme found in another literary work. T. S. Eliot, in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock alludes (refers) to the biblical figure John the Baptist in the line “Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter, .
. .”. In the New Testament, John the Baptist’s head was presented to King Herod on a platter. IMITATIVE HARMONY (ONOMATOPOEIA) Onomatopoeia refers either to words which resemble in sound what they denote (“hiss,” “rattle,” “bang”), or to words that correspond in other ways with what they describe. An instance of the latter kind of onomatopoeia from An Essay on Criticism ” When Ajax strives some rock’s vast weight to throw, The line too labors, and the words move slow; Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain, Flies o’er th’ unbending corn, and skims along the main.” ALLITERATION Alliteration is the repetition of sounds including consonants in words close together, particularly using letters at the beginning of words or stressed syllables. In Old English , each line is divided by a pause, and the stressed syllables in the first half-line alliterate with those in the second half-line An example is in Edwin Markham’s Lincoln, the Man of the People: ” She left the Heaven of Heroes and came down To make a man to meet the mortal need A man to match the mountains and the sea The friendly welcome of the wayside well”. CACOPHONY Cacophony is an unpleasant combination of sounds.
Euphony, the opposite, is a pleasant combination of sounds. These sound effects can be used intentionally to create an effect, or they may appear unintentionally. A cacophony is evident in Matthew Arnold’s lines “And thou, who didst the stars and sunbeams know, Self-school’d, self-scann’d, self-honor’d, self-secure, Didst tread on earth unguess’d at,” EPITHET An epithet is an adjective or phrase describing a characteristic or quality of a person or thing. For instance, in Homer’s Odyssey, the hero is typically referred to by the epithets “enduring,” “resourceful,” or “sacker of cities”; and the sea is always “wine-dark.” An epithet is also an identifying phrase which substitutes for a noun. Distinctive epithets are found in the ancient Greek classic, The Odyssey: “wine-dark sea….
wave-girdled island, blindfolding night.” ANAPHORA Anaphora is the repetition of the same word or words at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences, commonly in conjunction with climax and with parallelism. Anaphora can be used with questions, negations, hypotheses, conclusions, and subordinating conjunctions, although care must be taken not to become affected or to sound rhetorical and bombastic. IRONY The term irony denotes that the appearance of things differs from their reality, whether in terms of meaning, situation, or action. That is, it is ironical when there is a difference between what is spoken and what is meant. What is thought about a situation and what is actually the case; or what is intended by actions and what is their actual outcome. Macbeth murders his king hoping that in becoming king he will achieve great happiness. Actually, Macbeth never knows another moment of peace, and finally is beheaded for his murderous act DRAMATIC IRONY Dramatic Irony is a situation in which the reader or audience knows more about the immediate circumstances or future events of a story than a character within it; thus the audience is able to see a discrepancy between characters’ perceptions and the reality they face. Characters’ beliefs become ironic because they are very different or opposite from the reality of their immediate situation, and their intentions are likewise different from the outcome their actions will have.
In Act 2, Scene 3, Line 252-261 from Othello, dramatic irony is present when Iago and Cassio discuss reputation. In this passage, Cassio mourns the loss of his reputation as an outstanding lieutenant. Oddly, Iago tells him reputation is of little or no importance, it is even a deception of what we truly are. This is an active example of dramatic irony, considering Iago’s reputation as an honest man affords him much success in his scheming. Othello’s hatred of Desdemona for cuckolding him is more horrible and tragic because the audience knows he is deceived by Iago and can watch every step of his error. Another example of dramatic irony would be when King Oedipus, who has unknowingly killed his father, says that he will banish his father’s killer when he finds him.
AMBIGUITY Ambiguity refers to the exploitation for artistic purposes of language which has multiple meanings. In Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida (1601-02) the hero longs to be taken to Cressida and begs the go-between Pandarus, “be thou my Charon” (the ferryman of the dead). Although Troilus’ primary meaning is that Pandarus will convey him to Cressida, the reader can also interpret his words as a subconscious request for death. POINT OF VIEW Point of view is the perspective from which a narrative is presented; it is analogous to the point from which the camera sees the action in cinema. The two main points of view are those of the third-person narrator, who stands outside the story itself, and the first-person narrator, who participates in the story.
The first type always uses third-person pronouns (“he,” “she,” “they”), while the latter narrator also uses the first-person (“I”). An example is Holden from the novel The Catcher in the Rye His point of view might not reflect the actual events of the novel UNDERSTATEMENT (LITOTIES) Understatement is a statement which lessens or minimizes the importance of what is meant. The opposite is hyperbole. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Macbeth, having murdered his friend Banquo, understates the number of people who have been murdered since the beginning of time by saying “Blood hath been shed ere now.” SONNET A sonnet is a fourteen-line lyric poem in a single stanza, in which lines of iambic pentameter are linked by an elaborate rhyme scheme. In sonnet sequences, or cycles, a series of sonnets are linked by a common theme.
Though sonnets began as love poetry and were introduced to England as such by Thomas Wyatt, the form was extended to other subjects and other structures by Donne, Milton and later writers such as Keats, Dylan Thomas, and e. e. cummings. RHYME Words rhyme when their concluding syllables have a similar sound. Two words are said to rhyme if their last stressed vowel and the sounds that follow it match (as in “afar” and “bizarre,” “biology” and “ideology,” or “computer” and “commuter”).
End-rhymes are words at the end of successive lines which rhyme with each other: Internal rhymes are rhyming words within a line A perfect rhyme is one in which the two sounds correspond exactly (“by hook or by crook”). In partial rhyme the sounds are similar but not identical In Act 2, Scene 1, Line 131 of Othello, Iago says the following, “If she be black, and thereto have a wit, She’ll find a white that shall her blackness fit.” RHYTHM Rhythm is the recurrences of stressed and unstressed syllables at equal intervals, similar to meter. However, though two lines may be of the same meter, the rhythms of the lines may be different. “And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.” For example, if one were to read the last two lines of Robert Frost’s, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening with equal speed, the lines would be the same in meter and rhythm. However, if one were to read the last line more slowly (as it should be read), the meter would be the same but the rhythm different.
This is because while the meter of a line is identified by the pattern within each foot, the rhythm is accounted for by larger units than individual feet. METER Meter is the organization of speech rhythms (verbal stresses) into regular patterns, in terms of both the arrangement of stresses and their frequency of repetition per line of verse. Poetry is organized by the division of each line of verse into “feet,” metric units which each consist of a particular arrangement of strong and weak stresses. The most common metric unit is the iambic foot, in which an unstressed syllable is followed by a stressed one. Meter is also determined by the number of feet in a line. A line with five feet is called pentameter; thus, a line of five iambs is known as “iambic pentameter” (the most common metrical form in English poetry).
The most common line lengths are: trimeter: three feet tetrameter: four feet pentameter: five feet hexameter: six feet (an “Alexandrine” when iambic) heptameter: seven feet (a “fourteener” when iambic) Naturally, there is a degree of variation from line to line, as a rigid adherence to the meter results in unnatural or monotonous language. A skillful poet manipulates breaks in the prevailing rhythm of a poem for particular effects These lines from his Holy Sonnet 14 (1633) are written in iambic pentameter, but the stress patterns vary a great deal: “That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend Your force to break, blow, burn and make me new.” SCANSION Scansion is a close, critical re …