the use of words that appeal to the senses in order to create a mental picture

Ex. old-country people sat cracking roasted watermelon seeds with   

 their golden teeth and scattering the husks to an impatient   

 gathering of gurgling pigeons. (Amy Tan - The Rules of the Game)

Techniques used for imagery

Simile - a comparison using "like" or "as

  • Ex. I would swing my patent leather shoes back and forth like an impatient child riding on a school bus. (The Rules of the Game)
  • So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. (The Gift of the Magi)

Metaphor - a comparison between unlike things

  • Ex. Pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death (The Scarlet Ibis)

Personification - giving human characteristics to a non-human object

  • Ex. A light wind began blowing past my ears. It whispered secrets only I could hear.


Foreshadowing - a writer gives an advance hint of what is to come later in the story.

Parallel episodes - two events in a story that parallel or resemble one another.

Flashbacks - an event or scene taking place before the present

time in the story is inserted into the chronological structure of

the work.


Mood - the feeling the READER gets when reading the story

     The mood may be happy, sad, or peaceful.

Tone - the feeling the AUTHOR portrays when writing the story

     A writer's tone can be serious, sarcastic, tongue-in- cheek,

     solemn, objective, satirical, solemn, wicked, etc.

Further description between tone and mood and some great words to express them are HERE.


Symbol - anything that stands for or represents something else

     Ex. the "game" in The Rules of the Game

Hyperbole - exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be

     taken literally, overstatement

Allusion - a reference to a well-known person, place, event,

     literary work, work of art (Ex. a Biblical character, the

     Mona Lisa, etc.)

Paradox - a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed

     to common sense and yet is perhaps true

Allegory / Fable - a story, poem, or picture that can be

    interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or

    political one.


The problem or tension, the "good vs. evil" in the story


     Man vs. Man

     Man vs. Nature

     Man vs. Society


     Man vs. Self


     Man vs. Supernatural

     Man vs. Fate

     Man vs. Technology

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  • Irony is a literary device in which words are used to express a contradiction between appearance and reality— in irony, reality is usually the opposite of what it seems. In literature, there are three types of irony:

         Generally, irony involves some sort of deliberate deception or pretense. Authors         

           use irony to make a point and bring attention to some important aspect of a   

           story. Irony can be both comic and tragic.

  • Situational irony is when the outcome of a situation is inconsistent with what we expect would logically or normally occur. It is the reverse of what we expect will be or happen. An example of situational irony would be if a thief’s house was broken into at the same time he was robbing someone’s house.
  • Verbal irony is when a speaker or writer says one thing but actually means the opposite. For example, when your mom walks into your filthy bedroom and says, “I see you’ve cleaned your room!” Sarcasm is one type of verbal irony.
  • Dramatic irony is when the audience or the reader is aware of something that a character does not know. For example, when Romeo believes Juliet is dead, but the audience knows that she has only been given a potion to sleep.