Literary Devices

Hyperbole

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Hyperbole Hyperbole derives its origin from a Greek word meaning “over-casting” and is a figure of speech that involves the exaggeration of ideas for the purpose of emphasis. Hyperbole is a literary device in which the writer employs exaggeration to give more emphasis to a normal situation. It is a…

Hubris

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Hubris Hubris is the arrogance and pride exhibited by a character which ultimately leads to his downfall. Hubris is one of the typical flaws for a character, often occurring when he occupies a prominent position, then miscalculates and overestimates his capabilities. This overestimation goes so far that the character loses…

Foreshadowing

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Foreshadowing Foreshadowing is a literary device which means giving hints in advance and suggesting what is to happen later in a story. Generally, foreshadowing appears at the start of a chapter or story and creates expectations for the reader regarding the upcoming incidents in a story. Many methods of employing…

Foil

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Foil In fiction, a foil is a character that possesses qualities which are in sharp contrast to those of another character. This highlights the traits of the other character. Foil is a term that is generally employed to develop a contrast, and draw a comparison to show a difference between…

Flashback

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of a Flashback A flashback is a device in a narrative that enables the writer to insert an event from the past in the current action. Writers employ this technique in their narratives to provide context or background for a current event. By employing flashbacks, writers allow the reader to achieve…

Fallacy

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Fallacy A fallacy is an error in an argument that is dependent on an illogical or unsound contention. Numerous kinds of these errors are practiced every day and we can find them often in our daily life. ♦ ♦ ♦ Types of Fallacies and Examples The following are a few…

Extended Metaphor

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Extended Metaphor Extended metaphor means an extended comparison between two unlike things enacted through a series of examples in a poem or prose piece. Mostly, an extended metaphor occurs when there is one main subject and additional metaphors and subjects are employed to elaborate it. Significance of Extended Metaphor in…

Euphemism

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Euphemism Euphemism means the use of indirect and polite expressions to replace impolite and harsh words and phrases. These polite words and indirect expressions can also be used to replace words that suggest something bitter or unpleasant. Euphemism can also be when an idiomatic expression is intentionally deprived of its…

Exposition

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Exposition Exposition is a device used in literature to introduce background information about settings, characters, events etc., to the readers or audience. The word exposition comes from Latin and literally means “a showing forth.” This literary device is significant for any story, because without exposition nothing can make sense. Many…

Epiphora

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Epiphora Also known as epistrophe, epiphora is a stylistic device where a repetition of a word or phrase takes place at the end of successive clauses or sentences. Epiphora can be used in prose or poetic verse. Epiphora and Anaphora Epiphora is quite similar to anaphora. Anaphora is a repetition…

Epilogue

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Epilogue An epilogue is a short speech, poem, dirge, elegy or an event that comes at the end of a play, a novel or any other literary piece to close it or better to give it a finishing touch. There are three famous techniques used to begin or end a…

Elegy

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Elegy An elegy is a poem or a song that is written in elegiac couplets in honor of a dead relative or friend. It is a lamentation for the memory of a loved one. The word elegy is derived from “elegus,” a Greek word that means song of sorrow. Greek…

Doppelgänger

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Doppelgänger Doppelgänger is a German word that means “similar, identical, look-alike, or double walker.” Originally, it meant a ghost of a person that appeared alongside him in a literary piece. However, now it is considered a look-alike of a person in a literary piece that acts as his foil. Types…

Discourse

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Discourse According to Michel Foucault, discourse is a system of thoughts composed of different beliefs, practices, ideas, and attitudes which construct a subject in a systematic way. It has been derived from a Latin word that means “run out.” The term has several shades of meanings and it changes its…

Anachronism

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Anachronism Anachronism originates from the Greek word “anachronous” meaning “against time.” An anachronism is basically an error of timeline or chronology in literature. Put simply, anything which is out of place and time is an anachronism. It appears in paintings, movies, and literature. It is fascinating to explore examples of…

Ad Hominem

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Ad Hominem Ad hominem originates from Latin and literally means “to the man.” It is a literary term which involves making comments against an opponent with the aim of undermining him based on his personal qualities instead of the strength of his arguments. Ad hominem attacks are common and show…

Diction

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Diction Diction is the choice of words or phrases in writing. The choices a writer makes constitute his individual diction, or style. His choice of words and sentence structure determines what type of a writer he is, determines his status among other writers of that specific language, and allows him…

Denotation

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Denotation Denotation is a literary device that can be defined as a word having literal or dictionary meanings instead of associated meanings. Simply speaking, it is a term that means that a word has only its obvious, face value meanings and has no implied meanings. For example, the Oxford English…

Ellipsis

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Ellipsis Ellipsis is mostly used in long narratives where it is necessary to omit some words in a sentence or event. This move on the part of the writer can allow the reader to fill the gap by imagining what the writer meant to say. Sometimes words are omitted in…

Didacticism

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Didacticism Didacticism means to instill a particular piece of literature or article with a specific philosophical concept meant to teach a specific message or a moral lesson besides giving information and pleasure. It is specifically used for literary pieces that are full of morality and target a specific audience. In…

Deus Ex Machina

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Deus Ex Machina Deus ex machina is a Latin phrase meaning “god out of the machine,” that originated from Greek plays, where the actors playing gods would be lowered onto the stage out of crane-like machines. A deus ex machina in literature is when a seemingly unsolvable plot point is…

Epigraph

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Epigraph An epigraph is a quotation from a literary piece that is placed at the beginning of another literary piece in order to reflect the theme of the overall work. The epigraph can provide context for a literary work, introduce its subject or mood to the reader, and link the…

Consonance

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Consonance Consonance is a literary term in which consonant sounds are repeated within a sentence or in a phrase to achieve a sonic effect. It is used in both prose and poetry. An example of consonance is found in the words pitter and patter, where the sound of “t” is…

Dialect

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Dialect Dialect is an offshoot of any language that is used by a specific group of people living in some specific area or region. Not only does it involve difference in phonetics and the phonology of the language, but the pronunciation, grammar, and style of the language are highly different…

Antagonist

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Antagonist An antagonist, in literature, is a character or a group of different characters which stand in direct opposition to the main character, also known as the protagonist. The term antagonist originates from the Greek word “antagonists” which means a rival, competitor, or opponent. It is usual to call an…

Allusion

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Allusion Allusion is an indirect and brief reference to a place, person, thing or idea of cultural, literary, political, or historical importance. Allusion does not discuss the place, thing, or person to which it refers in detail. It is merely a passing comment, as the writer expects the readers to…

Connotation

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Connotation Connotation is a literary device that refers to the meanings of a word other than the literal ones. These meanings can be different from the literal meanings or they can be the same. The dictionary definition of a word is known as denotation, but words carry hundreds more sentimental,…

Ambiguity

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Ambiguity Ambiguity is a word, phrase, or statement that has more than one meaning. Ambiguity, sometimes known as fallacy of ambiguity, is the suggested meaning, which you can interpret in more ways than one. Ambiguous statements or words create vagueness and may provide the basis for intentional or unintentional humor…

Epiphany

♦ ♦ ♦ Definition of Epiphany Epiphany comes from the Greek word epiphaniea, which means the appearance or manifestation of something. An epiphany in a literary work takes place when the protagonist realizes his or her true self or sees events in a new light. This device was used by James Joyce to make an…