Literary Devices Definitions Burke

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Last updated: April 25, 2019

Irony
A difference between the way things seem and the way they really are. Most Common Type – Situational — where events that happen in a way that is opposite of what everyone expects.

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Foreshadowing
Hints or clues that the author gives about what will happen next. In “The Mysterious Girl at the Pool,” author Juanita Havill uses this literary device in many places, hinting that Roxanne is a ghost.

Flashback
When the story goes back to an earlier event and relives it. Ex: In the movie TITANIC, the main character is looking back on the events that lead to the Titanic disaster. Most of the movie uses this literary device.

Incongruity
When two UNLIKE objects or people are put together in a story. Ex: Socks and flip flops

Imagery
Very descriptive writing that uses the language of the senses.

This is usually multiple sentences together which often create a VIVID picture in the reader’s mind.

Allusion
A brief, indirect reference to something with which the author expects the reader to be familiar (historical event or object). Sometimes young readers do not recognize the reference because they don’t know the historical piece. Ex. He is the new Sinatra.

(In addition to being a metaphor, the author is using this literary device as he makes a reference to famous singer Frank Sinatra.)

Figurative Language
Using language more creatively in an abstract way. Oppositive of literal. Most authors of fiction write using this which makes reading more intersting.

Symbol
When an object used takes on a deeper meaning. Ex: In Snow White the evil queen is pictured in black; snow white is pictured in white. The author is using this literary devices using colors to represent evil and good.

Simile
A direct comparison of two UNLIKE items using LIKE or As.

Ex. SAMANTHA is LIKE a beautiful, shimmering RAINDROP on the leaf of a flower.

Metaphor
A comparison of two UNLIKE items NOT using like or as.

Ex. SAMANTHA is a beautiful, shimmering RAINDROP on the leaf of a flower.

Personification
When human characteristics are given to non-linving objects or animals.

Ex. The chair bit me!

Hyperbole
Great exaggeration. Often, if a literary device (creative writing or expression) is nothing else, it is this literary device.

Oxymoron
Two contradictory (opposite) WORDS used together to form an expression. Ex. The clothes were LOOSELY PACKED.

Cliche
A creative expression (figure of speech) that is worn out from too much use. Ex.

When there was no teacher in the room, the kids “had a field day.” This means that they played a lot (when they probably should not have been).

Idiom
A creative expression.

Often, a cliche is also this. “Kick the bucket” is an example of this literary device.

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