Basic Literary Devices & How They Work

Basic Literary Devices & How They Work

Reading, you must have seen odd sentence structures, repetitions, words, and such, confusing you on text meaning. To authors they are not odd, they are literary devices. To come to understand the text as authors do, you must learn of the basic literary devices.

Irony

Irony is when the intended's opposite happens. For example, a man who loves eating dark chocolate for its health benefits, as he concerns himself with his life's longevity, chokes on it and dies. He thought the dark chocolate would lengthen his life, yet the chocolate shortened it. Or, when Pablo Picasso came into the world, his family thought he was dead because he seemed inanimate. Thus, by the incompetence of the hospital staff, they thought to bury him. His uncle then, thinking it harmless, blew cigar smoke into his face. The smoke woke the child, causing those in the room not to declare him dead and bury him. Here, the irony is that smoke should kill, but it saved a life.Of irony, three kinds exist: verbal, situational, and dramatic. The first is speech of opposite meaning of the literal meaning of the words. For example, if you watched a pathetically-acted play, and after noted, when asked, that it was 'extraordinary!', you used verbal irony.Situational is events occurring contrary to expectation. For example, a friend rears in laughter at discovering that his friend has had himself defrauded. But soon he is to receive the call telling him the same of himself.Dramatic is when the audience knows what happens to characters, while characters do not. For example, all know that in Julius Ceasar Julius Caesar will die, but Caesar does not.Authors employ it for humor, depth, and more.

Allusion

Allusion is referencing another work or person.I'll drown more sailors than the mermaid hall; I'll slay more gazers than the basilisk; I'll play the orator as well as Nestor, Deceive more slily than Ulysses could, And, like a Sinon, take another Troy. I can add colours to the chameleon, Change shapes with Proteus for advantages, And set the murderous Machiavel to school. Can I do this, and cannot get a crown. This passage is from Henry VI part III. Shakespeare alludes to Nestor, a king, Ulysses, the hero of the Odyssey, Sinon, a Greek warrior, Proteus, a sea god, and Niccolo Machiavelli, the originator of modern political science.

Deus Ex Machina

Deus ex machina is Latin for 'God out of the machine.' Playwrights use this to end a play happily. Those who would take the situations from bad to good would usually be gods or nobility. Even today many tv shows and movies use deus ex machina in various forms, ending shows or movies joyfully. In Tartuffe, the play ends well because the King intervened and sent an officer to arrest Tartuffe for his crimes.

Imagery

Imagery is using words that evoke the senses.'O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!Her beauty hangs upon the cheek of night,Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear.'Romeo here says that Juliet's beauty is so great it is light contrasted with brown skin. That is imagery.Although this is not all, it is for you a beginning. From here you can learn as much as you want about literary devices so you can understand the author's meanings.

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