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What are Literary Devices

What are Literary Devices? How Do They Help Enrich Literature?

The article explains what are literary devices through their descriptions. Their use in poetry and literature is a common practice. These tools add meaning to the piece of literature.
Shashank Nakate
Last Updated: Apr 28, 2018
Literary techniques are deliberately used for the purpose of giving a certain specific effect to the words or language being used. The common structures used in writing are categorized into literary techniques and elements. Examples include plot, theme, setting, protagonist, etc.

What are Literary Devices Used For?

A literary device adds punch to the writing, and makes it readable. Their use help in developing a plot or explaining a particular situation with ease. It is also with the use of literary devices that a proper meaning and framework is offered to the writing.


Explanation of commonly used literary devices along with the list of remaining ones is presented below.

» Alliteration

A figure of speech is said to be an alliteration when the consonant sounds (initial) get repeated.

» Irony

It is a figure of speech used in conveying an opposite meaning to what is actually said. There is a tinge of sarcasm in the speech when a person tries to use ironic sentences.

» Simile

It is used for the purpose of comparison. The words such as 'like', 'as', etc., are used when simile is used in a sentence. Example: He looks like a king.

» Metaphor

Metaphor is the same as simile except that words like 'as', 'like', etc., are not used for comparison. Example: He is a tiger.

» Hyperbole

Hyperbole is used for exaggeration. Example: He drank oceans of tea while preparing for the examination.

» Onomatopoeia

In this figure of speech, meaning of words is the same as they sound. Example: 'click', 'ding-dong', etc.

» Personification

It is used to attribute human characteristics to inanimate objects.

Most of the figures of speech described above are the ones used in poetry. Personification, hyperbole, irony, alliteration, onomatopoeia are few of these. A list of literary devices is presented in the tabular form.

Allegory Allusion Alliteration
Anagram Amplification Anastrophe
Analogy Anthropomorphism Animism
Apostrophe Aphorism Antithesis
Assonance Archetype Asyndeton
Bildungsroman Bibliomancy Caesura
Cacophony Chiasmus Characterization
Conflict Circumlocution Consonance
Connotation Deus ex Machina Denotation
Doppelganger Diction Emulation
Ekphrastic Epithet Epilogue
Euphony Euphemism Flashback
Faulty Parallelism Fable Foreshadowing
Foil Hyperbole Hyperbaton
Internal Rhyme Imagery Irony
Inversion Kennings Juxtaposition
Metaphor Malapropism Motif
Metonymy Negative Capability Mood
Onomatopoeia Nemesis Oxymoron
Paradox Parable Periphrasis
Pathetic Fallacy Personification Periodic Structure
Plot Point of View Portmanteau
Polysyndeton Puns Prologue
Rhythm & Rhyme Rhyme Scheme Setting
Satire Spoonerism Simile
Stream of Consciousness Stanza Symbol
Syllepsis Synesthesia Synecdoche
Syntax Tone Theme
Tragedy Understatement Verse

Literary Devices in Romeo and Juliet

Themes and motifs have been commonly used in Romeo and Juliet. Motifs are used for the purpose of symbolism. Other literary devices from this novel are explained below.

» Theme

It is the central idea of a story/literary work. This idea (theme) plays an important role in guiding the course of a story. Theme can also be termed a message that the writer wants to give through a work of literature. In the story of Romeo and Juliet, the central theme is love.

» Plot

It is a sequence of events which involves the characters of the story and conflicts. Exposition, incident, development, and climax are the components of a plot. The story of Romeo and Juliet is elaborated with all these components.

» Characterization

It is a literary technique used in creating and developing the characters of a story. Two different ways in which characterization is implemented are direct and indirect characterization. In direct characterization, traits of a particular character are stated explicitly. Indirect characterization on the other hand presents the appearance, speech, and actions of the character. The reader has to derive traits of the character through these cues.

» Point of View

The choice of narrator of the author can be understood through a point of view. The first and third person point of view is commonly used in the narration of a story.

The literary devices help express a particular idea in an elaborate and also a meaningful way. The explanation and related facts presented in the article should help us understand them in a better manner.