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Literary techniques

A brief set of cards on literary techniques
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Allegory
an extended narrative in prose or verse in which characters, events, and settings represent abstract qualities and in which the writer intends a second meaning to be read beneath the surface of the story; the underlying meaning may be moral, religious, political, social, or satiric. Examples: John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (Temptations of Christians) , Orwell's Animal Farm (Russian Revolution), and Arthur Miller's Crucible ("Red Scare")
Alliteration
repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words that are close to one another: Mickey Mouse; Donald Duck; Daffy Duck; Suzy Sells Seashells ...
Allusion
a reference to a well-known person, place, or thing from literature, history, etc. Example: Eden, Scrooge, Prodigal Son, Catch-22, Judas, Don Quixote, Mother Theresa
Analogy
Comparison of two similar but different things, usually to clarify an action or a relationship, such as comparing the work of a heart to that of a pump. An analogy is a comparison to a directly parallel case. Ex: Shells were to ancient cultures as dollar bills are to modern American culture. Ex: Running a business is like managing an orchestra. Ex: The heart is like a pump.
Anecdote
a short, simple narrative of an incident; often used for humorous effect or to make a point.
Antithesis
the presentation of two contrasting images. The ideas are balanced by word, phrase, clause, or paragraphs. Examples: "To be or not to be..." Shakespeare's Hamlet "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country...." Kennedy "The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here." Lincoln
Assonance
repetition of vowel sounds between different consonants, such as in neigh/fade,
Colloquialism
a word or phrase (including slang) used in everyday conversation and informal writing but that is often inappropriate in formal writing (y'all, ain't)
Consonance
repetition of identical consonant sounds within two or more words in close proximity, as in boost/best; it can also be seen within several compound words, such as fulfill and ping-pong
Emotive language
When a writer appeals to readers' emotions (often through pathos) to excite and involve them in the argument.
Euphemism
a more acceptable and usually more pleasant way of saying something that might be inappropriate or uncomfortable. "He went to his final reward" is a common saying for "he died." These are also often used to obscure the reality of a situation. The military uses "collateral damage" to indicate civilian deaths in a military operation.
Figurative Language
language that contains figures of speech, such as similes and metaphors, in order to create associations that are imaginative rather than literal.
Figures of Speech
expressions, such as similes, metaphors, and personifications, that make imaginative, rather than literal, comparisons or associations.
Foreshadowing
the use of a hint or clue to suggest a larger event that occurs late in the work
Hyperbole
deliberate exaggeration in order to create humor or emphasis (Example: He was so hungry he could have eaten a horse.)
Imagery
words or phrases that use a collection of images to appeal to one or more of the five senses in order to create a mental picture
Interior Monologue
writing that records the conversation that occurs inside a character's head
Irony
a situation or statement in which the actual outcome or meaning is opposite to what was expected.
Jargon
The special language of a profession or group. The term usually has pejorative associations, with the implication that jargon is evasive, tedious, and unintelligible to outsiders. The writings of the lawyer and the literary critic are both susceptible to jargon.
Metaphor
a figure of speech in which one thing is referred to as another; for example, "my love is a fragile flower"
Metonymy
a figure of speech that uses the name of an object, person, or idea to represent something with which it is associated, such as using "the crown" to refer to a monarch ; Also, "The pen is mightier than the sword."
Onomatopoeia
the use of words that sound like what they mean, such as "hiss," "buzz," "slam," and "boom"
Oxymoron
a figure of speech composed of contradictory words or phrases, such as "wise fool," bitter-sweet," "pretty ugly," "jumbo shrimp," "cold fire"
Personification
the attribution of human qualities to a nonhuman or an inanimate object
Sarcasm
harsh, caustic personal remarks to or about someone; less subtle than irony
Simile
a figure of speech that uses like, as, or as if to make a direct comparison between two essentially different objects, actions, or qualities; for example, "The sky looked like an artist's canvas."

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