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What are Literary Devices?

Commonly, the term Literary Devices refers to the typical structures used by writers in their
works to convey his or her message(s) in a simple manner to his or her readers. When
employed properly, the different literary devices help readers to appreciate, interpret and
analyze a literary work.
Two Kinds of Literary Devices
Literary Devices have two aspects. They can be treated as either Literary
Elements or Literary Techniques. It will be convenient to define them separately.

Literary Elements have an inherent existence in literary piece and are extensively
employed by writers to develop a literary piece e.g. plot, setting, narrative structure,
characters, mood, theme, moral etc. Writers simply cannot create his desired work
without including Literary Elements in a thoroughly professional manner.

Literary Techniques, on the contrary, are structures usually a word s or phrases in

literary texts that writers employ to achieve not merely artistic ends but also readers
a greater understanding and appreciation of their literary works. Examples
are: metaphor, simile, alliteration, hyperbole, allegory etc. In contrast to Literary
Elements, Literary Techniques are not unavoidable aspect of literary works.

Figure of Speech
A figure of speech is a phrase or word having different meanings than its literal meanings. It
conveys meaning by identifying or comparing one thing to another, which has connotation or
meaning familiar to the audience. That is why it is helpful in creating vivid rhetorical effect.
A simile makes a comparison, showing similarities between two different things with the
help of the words like or as.

He is as funny as a monkey.
The water well was as dry as a bone.

Metaphor is comparing two unlike objects or things, which may have some common

My brother was boiling mad.

Her voice is music to his ears

It occurs when a writer gives human traits to non-human or inanimate objects. It is similar
to metaphors and similes that also use comparison between two objects.

Look at my car. She is a beauty, isnt it so?

The wind whispered through dry grass.
The flowers danced in the gentle breeze.

Hyperbole uses extreme exaggeration. It exaggerates to lay emphasis on a certain quality
or feature. It stirs up emotions among the readers, these emotions could be about
happiness, romance, inspiration, laughter or sadness.

Your suitcase weighs a ton!

She is as heavy as an elephant!

Irony uses words in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual
meaning of the words. It may also be a situation that may end up in quite a different way
than what is generally anticipated. In simple words, it is a difference between the
appearance and the reality.

I posted a video on YouTube about how boring and useless YouTube is.
The name of Britains biggest dog was Tiny.
Oh great! Now you have broken my new camera.

Oxymoron is a figure of speech in which two opposite ideas are joined to create an effect.
The common oxymoron phrase is a combination of an adjective proceeded by a noun with
contrasting meanings, e.g. cruel kindness or living death.

Open secret
Tragic comedy
Seriously funny

It is a statement that appears to be self-contradictory or silly but may include a latent truth.
It is also used to illustrate an opinion or statement contrary to accepted traditional ideas.

I close my eyes so I can see.

This statement is a lie.

Synecdoche is a literary device in which a part of something represents the whole or it may
use a whole to represent a part.

New wheelsrefers to a new car

Ask for her handrefers to asking a woman to marry

It is a figure of speech that replaces the name of a thing with the name of something else
with which it is closely associated.

The pen is mightier than the sword.

Writing is my bread and butter
The White House declared today as a holiday.

Allusion is a brief and indirect reference to a person, place, thing or idea of historical,
cultural, literary or political significance.

Hey! Guess who the new Newton of our school is?

Dont act like a Romeo in front of her.
World War 2 inside the classroom ended when the teacher arrived.

Allegory is a figure of speech in which abstract ideas and principles are described in terms of
characters, figures and events.

Litotes is a figure of speech which employs an understatement by using double negatives or,
in other words, positive statement is expressed by negating its opposite expressions.

The ice cream was not too bad.

She is not unlike her mother.
A million dollars is not a little amount.

The term euphemism refers to polite, indirect expressions which replace words and phrases
considered harsh and impolite or which suggest something unpleasant.

We do not hire mentally challenged (stupid) people.

He is a special child (disabled or retarded).

In literature, apostrophe is a figure of speech sometimes represented by exclamation O. A
writer or a speaker, using an apostrophe, detaches himself from the reality and addresses
an imaginary character in his speech.
Onomatopoeia is defined as a word, which imitates the natural sounds of a thing. It creates
a sound effect that mimics the thing described, making the description more expressive and

The buzzing bee flew away.

The sack fell into the river with a splash.

In writing or speech, the deliberate repetition of the first part of the sentence in order to
achieve an artistic effect is known as Anaphora.

Every day, every night, in every way, I am getting better and better
I want my money right now, right here, all right?

It is a stylistic device in which a number of words, having the same first consonant sound,
occur close together in a series.

But a better butter makes a batter better.

A big bully beats a baby boy.

Assonance takes place when two or more words close to one another repeat the same vowel
sound but start with different consonant sounds.

The engineer held the steering to steer the vehicle.