Literary techniques are employed by an author to enhance his/her style of expression, and provide more meaning and richness to the thought expressed in the writing. Just like characters, plot, settings, and theme are critical aspects of story telling or novel writing, these are some methods used by writers to give depth and subtlety, and to express ideas by fabricating them in bunch of words that can convey many things in just a few lines.
These literary devices add richness and life to different kinds of phrases and expressions. Let us explore the different types of literary techniques in the sections given below.
Types of Literary Techniques
Mentioned below is the list of literary techniques that we often encounter in our readings especially while reading passages of SAT exams. Besides the descriptions, you can also go through some examples given in the further paragraphs.
It is a technique in which the idea of the story is given in the form of characters, actions, or events.
For example: The book 'Animal Farm' by George Orwell uses animals as characters.
Often, you might come across certain consonants repeated in a novel or a piece of art. This technique is known as alliteration, and its purpose is to create a musical effect, imitate sounds, and lay more emphasis to certain words.
For example: Touch each object you want to touch as if tomorrow your tactile sense would fail. ~ Helen Keller, "The Seeing See Little".
Silly Sally saw sixty slithering snakes
Better butter always makes the batter better.
Aside is another character (behind the screen, third person, or a person expressing thoughts of the character). It is specifically meant for audience and actors involved that are unable to hear aside.
For example: Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene II
Caesar: Bid them prepare within:
I am to blame to be thus waited for.
Now, Cinna: now, Metellus: what, Trebonius!
I have an hour's talk in store for you;
Remember that you call on me to-day:
Be near me, that I may remember you.
Trebonius: Caesar, I will:
Trebonius: They all make hasty plans to go to the capital. [Aside]: and so near will I be,
That your best friends shall wish I had been further.
Written in iambic pentameter lines, that was mostly used by Shakespeare, this form of poetry is written in non-rhyming style. Iambic pentameter uses patterns of light syllables, and they're accompanied by accented or stressed syllables.
For example: Romeo and Juliet, Act II Scene I
Romeo: But soft! What light through yon-der win-dow breaks?
It is the East and Ju-liet is the sun!
A-rise fair sun and kill the en-vious moon,
Who is al-rea-dy sick and pale with grief
That though her maid art far more fair than she.
The situation, that often concludes the drama, at the highest point of any drama scene, which makes it more intense for the further scene is known as climax.
For example: In the story of Cindrella, the climax is when she places her foot in the glass slipper and has a perfect fit, after which she is chosen to marry the prince.
Comic relief provides ease and comfort in case of tense and difficult situations in novels and dramas. Finding humor in time of problems is an interesting way to keep the story alive and keep the audience engaged.
Conflict, as the word means, is a struggle between two forces of opposite nature. Characters in many movies, dramas, stories, and novels struggle with themselves or with some external situations. A struggle that takes place inside the mind of a character is called internal conflict, while that takes place outside is called external conflict.
Man Vs. Himself is an example of the internal conflict. Man Vs. Nature is an example of external conflict.
It is an expression that has been so popular that it might have lost its meaning.
For example: The expression, "turn over a new leaf".
A caricature is description or portrayal of a character by exaggerating its characteristic features written with the intention of mocking it.
For example: Caricatures of political leaders is very often seen in newspapers.
A profound spiritual realization, often called life-changing event in the life of the character. Epiphany has been used in many plays when a character realizes truth that is different than what he or she expects.
For example: "I turned to go home. Street lights winked down the street all the way to town. I had never seen our neighborhood from this angle. There were Miss Maudie's, Miss Stephanie's-there was our house, I could see the porch swing- Miss Rachel's house was beyond us, plainly visible. I could even see Mrs. Dubose's...Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley proch was enough..." ("To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee) - This plot shows the awakening of Scout's consciousness after which she sees the world from an entirely new perspective.
An exaggerated expression that intensifies a fact. Examples of hyperbole are found abundantly in various plays of Shakespeare.
For example: If thou dost slander her and torture me,
Never pray more; abandon all remorse;
On horror's head accumulate;
Do deeds to make heaven weep, all earth amazed;
For nothing canst thou to damnation add
Greater than that. ~ Shakespeare (Othello)
"I've told you a million times already."
Words weaved in such a style that they bring sensory impressions to the reader. There are numerous imagery examples in literature especially in poetry.
For example: Consider the statement, "He could hear the footsteps of doom nearing as she walked away from him, leaving him all alone".
Irony is, by far, one of the most commonly used techniques. Literature abounds in examples of irony, and you can find a number of them in writings ranging from Shakespeare to the present-day writers.
For example: Poetry from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
"Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink ;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink."
Comparison of two things without using words 'like' or "as".
For example: One of the examples of metaphor is, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate" by William Shakespeare.
Onomatopoeia is a word that describes the origin of a sound or imitates a sound.
For example: In movies words like KABOOM, BANG, POW, WHACK, WHAM, BOINK, POP, are used to add sound effects to action scenes.
An integral part of figures of speech list, oxymoron are words that contradict each other's meaning.
For example: "He is a wise fool".
A statement that although may appear contradictory, expresses a deeper truth or another facet of the same expression.
For example: A rich man is no richer than a beggar.
Another example of paradox is, "What a pity that youth must be wasted on the young." ― George Bernard Shaw
In personification, human qualities are given to objects and things.
For example: One of the simple personification examples is, opportunity knocked on the door.
The flowers are dancing beside the lake.
These were but a few of the many literary devices and techniques used by writers and authors, if you feel there may have been some that have not been mentioned, but ought to have been added to the list, feel free to share them with us through the comments section below.