Some Common Literary Devices


Onomatopoeia – When words are used to imitate, the sounds they describe. For example, The fire crackles on the hearth.

Assonance – Repetition of similar vowel sounds in a sentence. For Example, “If I bleat when I speak it’s because I just got . . . fleeced.”
(Al Swearengen in Deadwood, 2004)

Oxymoron – When two contradictory words (usually with opposite meaning) are put together. For Example, Bittersweet, Boneless Ribs, Terribly pleased or awful good.

Personification – When an object or thing or an animal is personified or given the qualities of a human being. For example, The bees played hide and seek with the flowers as they buzzed from one to another. Or,  Darkness shouted from a distance.  (View the Poem “The Brook >> Alfred Lord Tennyson” where a brook has been personified through the entire poem)

Simile – When unlike things are compared (with some common feature) to each other using ‘like’, ‘as’ or ‘as though’. For Example, As clear as crystal, As big as an elephant or as deaf as a post. Or, “Watching the show was like watching paint dry.”

Metaphor – A comparison wherein one thing is said to be another. That is, a word or a phrase that normally designates one object, is used to designate another. For example, ‘Time is a thief ,                                                                                                                                                                       “All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.”
(Shakespeare)

Hyperbole – It is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally. For example, ‘That joke is so old, the last time I heard it I was riding on a dinosaur’, ‘This car goes faster than the speed of light’,                      ‘Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world’. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, (The Concord Hymn)

Alliteration – It is the repetition of the initial consonant at least twice in a row. For example, ‘Round the rugged rock, the ragged rascal ran‘, or ‘Sara’s seven sisters slept soundly in the sand‘.

Allusion – A brief, usually indirect reference to a person, place, or event – real or fictional. For example, “I am no Prince Hamlet.” Or, “She looked as beautiful as Cinderella on her way to the ball.”

Epiphany – A sudden revelation or insight—usually with a symbolic role in the narrative—in a literary work. For example, Seeing her father again when she was an adult was an epiphany that changed her whole view of her childhood.  An example of an epiphany occurs play ‘Macbeth’ (Shakespeare). That is, the ghost appearing after Banquo’s murder and sitting in Macbeth’s chair, in Act 3 Scene 4.

There are many more Literary Devices such as, Analogy, Euphony, Epithet, Foreshadowing, First-person Narration, Satire, Amplification, Tone, Rhythm and Rhyme etc…

Have a Great Day! 🙂

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Charlotte’s Web


Most people are afraid of spiders. They’re the stuff of scary stories. That is… until Charlotte.

One of the most memorable books by E.B. White was Charlotte’s Web, an award-winning story about a pig named Wilbur, who is befriended by a spider: Charlotte. The spider saves Wilbur, makes him miraculous (special)–so he doesn’t go to the slaughterhouse to be turned into bacon.

According to Alison Flood, in an article for The Guardian, there was more than a little real-life in White’s depiction of Charlotte. In this review of the new E.B. White biography (by Michael Sims), she follows the path of inspiration for the famous literary spider. White was apparently fascinated by spiders, “meticulously” researching (and watching) them.

As most students/biographers of E.B.White could see, “there had been numerous Charlottes and Wilburs and Templetons in his life–but that there was indeed a particular clever spider who helped inspire the book…” But, White accomplished something quite singular with his spidery descriptions–he humanized one of the most feared creatures.

Charlotte's Web

Charlotte is a friend. We come to care what happens to her. In Chapter 5, Wilbur thinks, “I’ve got a new friend… But what a gamble friendship is! Charlotte is fierce, brutal, scheming, bloodthirsty–everything I don’t like. How can I learn to like her, even though she is pretty and, of course, clever?”

All the while, White employs his famous award-winning writing style (“unable not to write”). As James Thurber once said, “No one can write a sentence like White.” (One of his claims to fame was The Elements of Style.)

Courtesy of About.com (The content in this post is not owned by me)