Literary and Rhetorical Devices: Terms and Examples

Topics: ArtSymbolism

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Last updated: May 11, 2019

Imagery
In a literary work: Visually descriptive or figurative language creating an image in your mindSentence: he fell like a withered old tree in a storm.

Diction
Choice of words, especially with regard to correctness, clearness, or effectiveness. Sentence: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Dickens use of diction characterizes “age”

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Syntax
The arrangement of words and phrases to create well-foamed sentences in a language. Sentence: If I were to drive my car, I would get to school in 10 minutes.

Figure of Speech
A word or phrase used in a non-literal sense to add rhetorical force to a spoken or written passage.Sentence: I’m So hungry I could eat a horse

Tone
Writers attitude about a subject shown through: Diction, Lit devices, and Sentence length Stanza:”I shall be telling this with a sighSomewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference.” frost gives an unhappy tone once he says “sigh”

Mood
How a piece makes the reader feel Sentence: “The river, reflecting the clear blue of the sky, glistened and sparkled as it flowed noiselessly on.

” Dickens creates a peaceful mood for the reader.

Rhetoric
language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience. Sentence: “Flood-tide below me! I watch you, face to face;Clouds of the west! sun there half an hour high! I see you also face to face.” Walk Whitman used rhetoric to draw the reader in

Style
a writers specific way of using language. Sentence: “It is an ancient Mariner,And he stoppeth one of three.

‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?The bridegroom’s doors are opened wide”

Metaphore
A figure of speech that identifies something as being the same as some unrelated thing for rhetorical effect.Sentence: mary’s beautiful eyes were fireflies in the night.

Simile
Comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind using like or as. sentence: as nutty as a fruit cake

Apostrophe
a figure of speech in which the poet addresses an absent person, an abstract idea, or a thing Sentence:”Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.” ~James Joyce

Allusion
To call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly Sentence:”When she lost her job, she acted like a Scrooge, and refused to buy anything that wasn’t necessary.

” ~Charles Dickens

Hyperbole
exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally sentence: it was so cold outside I saw penguins sliding down the sidewalk

Irony
verbal: Irony in which a person says or writes one thing and means another, or uses words to convey a meaning that is the opposite or the literal meaningsentence: I posted on snapchat about how stupid snapchat is. Situational: occurs when the expected outcome does not happen. Dramatic: Expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite.

Understatement
the presentation of something as being smaller, worse, or less important than it actually issentence: the weather has only been a little temperamental in colorado

Paradox
a statement that leads to a conduction that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictorysentence: you can save money by blowing it on useless things

Symbolism
the use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities

Foreshadowing
Be a warning or indication of a future eventa tale of two cities wine in the streets foreshadows revolution

Alliteration
The occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected wordssentence: Marys mom ate Moroccan mangos on Monday

Consonance
poetic device characterized by the repetition of the same consonant two or more times in short successionsentence: The dog crawled away from the ball

Assonance
The repetition of the sounds of a vowel in non rhyming stressed syllables of the rhyming words, and in penitent and reticence. Sentence:The engineer held the steering wheel to steer the vehicle

onomatopoeia
the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named sentence: BOOM!!! went the dynamite

Parallelism
refers to using elements in sentences that are grammatically similar or identical in structure, sound, meaning, or meter. This technique adds symmetry, effectiveness and balance to the written piece.

Ex: Presidents Speech: “…

by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what can be achieved.”Explanation: His use of parallelism in this example adds emphasis on how negative people have been.

Periodic Sentence
Holds the thought in suspense until the close of the sentence sentence: in spite of half the team not showing up, the rest of the team continued to fight for a victory.

Cumulative sentence
is a type of sentence in which the main idea (independent clause) is elaborated by the successive addition of modifying clauses or phrases.sentence : i went to park, bought some chocolate and beat Andi up all in one day.

Balanced sentence
a sentence consisting of two or more clauses that are parallel in structure.

Sentence: “Life is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel.” ~Horace Walpole

Subordination
A subordinate clause—also called a dependent clause—will begin with a subordinate conjunction or a relative pronoun and will contain both a subject and a verb. Sentence:The plane weighed less than two thousand pounds before the fuel was added.

Coordination
Occurs when a writer makes ideals or grammatical parts equal.

Sentence:”His back itched, so he leaned against the fence and rubbed against the boards.” ~Charlotte’s Web

Rhetorical question
A rhetorical question is a question that you ask without expecting an answer Sentence:”O Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” ~Percy Shelly

Antithesis
using opposite phrases in close conjunctionsentence: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” ~ Tale of Two Cities

Inversion
also called anastrophe, the adjective appears after the noun when we expect to find the adjective before the noun Sentence:”Blind, old, and lonely, when his country’s pride,The priest, the slave, and the liberticide,Trampled and mocked with many a loathed rite . .

.” ~ Shelly

Anaphora
repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or sentences.EX: President Obama’s speech: ” Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United states.

“Explanation: He puts emphasis on the “God bless” to show his application for the Americans listening to him speak.

Aphorism
A pithy observation that contains a general truth such as, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Epigram
a pithy saying or remark expressing an idea in a clever and amusing way Sentence: “So all my best is dressing old words new,Spending again what is already spent: For as the sun is daily new and old,So is my love still telling what is told.” ~Shakespeare

Ethos
A speakers ethical apeal Sentence:”Doctors all over the world recommend this type of treatment.”

Pathos
A speaker plays on emotional to persuade Sentence:”If we do not leave this place soon, we will end up yelling for help. We do not see anyone to help us here. So, leave this place and live”

Logos
A speakers uses facts, statistics and logical arguments to prove a point Sentence: “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.”

Cause and effect
A type if writing in which there is a principle of causation Sentence:I never brush my teeth so now I have 5 cavities.

Definition
A type of writing in which the writer states the exact meaning of a word Sentence: “Bane means ‘a cause of great distress or annoyance'”

Parody
an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect. Sentence: “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun; Coral is far more red than her lips’ red; […

]” ~Shakespeare sonnet 13. This is a parody because Shakespeare is “poking” fun at other poets poems in which other poets look for unrealistic qualities in a women.

Process analysis
An operation is composed of process designed to add value to transforming inputs into useful outputs. Inputs may be material, labor, energy, and capital.

Comparison
the formation of the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs. Sentence:”All the world’s a stage and men and women merely players,” ~Shakespeare

Contrast
the state of being strikingly different from something else, typically something in juxtaposition or close association. Sentence: “There were dark stormy skies on one end of the Island, yet clear bright blue skies on the other.

Analogy
a comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification. Sentence:”The older woman was as blind as a bat.”

Narration
a writer tells a story; that often involves description and exposition Sentence: “She left school to go to the coffee shop where she met up with a close friend where the studied vocabulary words for their Brit Lit and Comp class.”

exposition
is a device used in television programs, films, literature, poetry, plays and even music.

It is the writer’s way to give background information to the audience about the setting and the characters of the story. Sentence: “Once upon a time, there were three bears. There was a Daddy Bear, who was very big, a Mama Bear, who was middle-sized, and a Baby Bear, who was very small.

They all lived together in a little cottage in the middle of the woods[…]”

Description
A literary description is a text that explains the features of something. A description uses language that helps the readers or listeners to form images in their minds about the thing being described. Sentence: “The pillow is blue, big, and fluffy with white horizontal stripes going across broth ends of the pillow.

Inductive agreement
argument comes at the end of a conduction

Deductive agreement
Argument that comes at the end of the intro

Qualified argument
and argument that understands both sides.

Hasty gerneralization
informal fallacy of faulty generalization by reaching an inductive generalization based on insufficient evidence—essentially making a hasty conclusion without considering all of the variables. Sentence: “Three congressional representatives have had affairs. Therefore, members of Congress are adulterers.”

Faulty causality
“After it therefor because of it” Sentence: “Uncle Todd ate a cup of ice cream and the next day he found out he had cancer in which the ice cream gave him cancer.”

Begging the question
The premises includes the claim that the conclusion is true or assumes that the conclusion is true Sentence: “Everyone wanted the Gucci fringe bag because it was the best bag of the fall season.”

Equivocation
the use of ambiguous language to conceal the truth or to avoid committing oneself Sentence: Marco, a priest, told me to have faith.

I have faith that I will pass Brit lit.

Non Sequiture
A conclusion or statement that doesn’t not logically follow the previous argument or statement Sentence: Marco went to the same college as Bill Gates. Marco should be famous too.

Either/ Or choice
a strictly limited choice. One thing or the other Sentence: The child could either have the buttered noodle kids mean or the mac and cheese kids meal.

Ad Hominem
(of an argument or reaction) directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining. Sentence:”How can you argue your case for vegetarianism when you are enjoying your steak?”

Denotaion
the literal or primary meaning of a word, in contrast to the feelings or ideas that the word suggests. Sentence: “”All the world’s a stage,And all the men and women merely players;They have their exits and their entrances;And one man in his time plays many parts” ~Shakespeare

connotation
an idea or feeling that a word invokes in addition to its literal or primary meaning.

Sentence: “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day” ~Shakespeare

Literal
taking words in their usual or most basic sense without metaphor or allegory. Sentence: The girl in our class has brown hair and has a good personality.

Figurative
departing from a literal use of words Sentence: I’m, so hungry I could eat a hourse

Subjective
personal; closely connected to an author’s feelings, attitudes, prejudices, and personal reactions.

sentence: the author stated that red is the best color in the rainbow

objective
impersonal; free from the author’s feelings, attitudes & prejudices. Sentence: I think that blue is the best color is the rainbow

Cliche
a strikingly worded expression that is worn out from too much use.Example: two peas in a pod

satire
a humorous or witty method of criticizing characteristics and institutions of human society.

Its purpose is to correct as well as to expose and ridicule; therefore, it is not purely destructive Sentence: “What’s the use you learning to do right, when it’s troublesome to do right and isn’t no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?” ~Huckleberry Fin

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