Literary devices (and figurative language)—such as simile, metaphor, irony, allusion and personification (there are many more…) all add depth to writing, assist writers in putting words to ideas and make the reading experience interesting. Here is a short review of simile, metaphor, allusion, alliteration and irony.

SIMILE & METAPHOR As a reminder, a METAPHOR is an implied comparison between two seemingly unlike objects and a SIMILE is a comparison of two seemingly unlike objects which uses the words “like” or “as.” These should be familiar literary elements.

Simile example: The words danced about my head like the first day of ballet class.

Metaphor example: The lemon bowel was sunshine in my kitchen

IRONY Irony is when a situation is the exact opposite of what is intended or expected. Words can be ironic (verbal irony), situations can be ironic (situational irony) and circumstances can be ironic (dramatic irony). Situational irony involves an incongruity between what is expected or intended and what actually occurs. Dramatic irony is an effect produced by a narrative in which the audience knows more about present or future circumstances than a character in the story.

Dramatic irony: the horror movie where everyone else knows that the characters out on a romantic date are walking into a dangerous situation, but the characters. They become the next victims.

Situational irony: the town cemetery is located at the end of a street with a sign that says “dead end.”

Verbal irony-- You walk in the house having been playing flag football in the mud. You are covered with mud and your mom comments, “What a clean cut look you have going to day!”

ALLUSION is a literary term for when an author makes reference to a person, place, literary work event or work of art. Allusions are commonly made to the Bible, nursery rhymes, myths, famous fictional or historical characters or events and Shakespeare.

Allusion example:

I am afraid of heights, but I am no cowardly lion. (Allusion to the Wizard of Oz)

Abby yelled, “Don’t treat me like Cinderella. I cannot get all that stuff done!” (Allusion to Cinderella)

ALLITERATION is the repetition of one letter sound in order to produce a desire effect.

Example of alliteration: “Was he not unmistakably a little man? A creature of the petty rake-off, pocketed with a petty joke in private and denied with the stainless platitudes in his public utterances." -- [C.S. Lewis] The Screwtape Letters

"Step forward, Tin Man. You dare to come to me for a heart, do you? You clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk...And you, Scarecrow, have the effrontery to ask for a brain! You billowing bale of bovine fodder!" -- delivered by Frank "Wizard of Oz" Morgan (from the movie The Wizard of Oz)

Last modified: Friday, 31 August 2012, 3:43 PM