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FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE. Imagery & Figurative Language. An”image” is “a word or sequence of words that refers to any sensory experience”. Figures of Speech. Figurative language uses figures of speech to convey unique images and create some sort of special effect or impression.

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imagery figurative language

Imagery & Figurative Language

An”image” is “a word or sequence of words that

refers to any sensory experience”

figures of speech
Figures of Speech

Figurative language uses figures of speech to convey unique images and create some sort of special effect or impression.

A “figure of speech” is an intentional deviation from the ordinary usage of language.

  • A direct comparison of two unlike things
  • “All the world’s a stage, and we are merely players.”

- William Shakespeare


Writers often create images or enhance meaning by comparing one thing to another for special effect.

  • A most important figure of speech is the Metaphor.
  • The term metaphor has two meanings: a broad, more general meaning and a concise, specific meaning.
    • All figures of speech which use association, comparison, or resemblance can generally be called types of metaphor, or metaphorical.
    • One specific figure of speech which compares two things by saying that one IS the other is called a metaphor.
  • A metaphor also compares, but is a bit more sophisticated than a simile.
  • In a metaphor, the words like or as are missing. Readers have to recognize the comparison on their own without those easy words which help us to spot a simile so quickly.
metaphor continued
Metaphor (continued)

In a metaphor, a writer states that X is Y. Readers understand that we are not to take the comparison literally, but that the metaphor helps us to see X in a new way.

EXAMPLE: My brother is a prince.

more metaphors
More metaphors

Her eyes are dark emeralds.

Her teeth are pearls.

Avoid Mixed Metaphors

-combining two or more incompatible images in a single figure of speech

implied metaphor
  • The comparison is hinted at but not clearly stated.
  • “The poison sacs of the town began to manufacture venom, and the town swelled and puffed with the pressure of it.”
  • from The Pearl
  • by John Steinbeck
extended metaphor
  • A metaphor that goes several lines or possible the entire length of a work.
  • A comparison of two things using “like, as than,” or “resembles.”
  • “She is as beautiful as a sunrise.”
  • A simile is a type of metaphor, a figure in which an explicit comparison is made using the comparative wordslike, as, resembles, than. Similes are easy to spot.

(X is like Y: X is compared to Y in order to illustrate X more fancifully, poetically, or effectively.

  • My love is like a red, red rose.
  • We were as quiet as frightened mice.
more ways to make a simile
More ways to make a simile:

My love is like a red, red rose.

My love resembles a rose.

My love is redder than a rose.

She came out smelling like a rose!

  • Exaggeration often used for emphasis.
  • Understatement - basically the opposite of hyperbole. Often it is ironic.
  • Ex. Calling a slow moving person “Speedy”
  • An expression where the literal meaning of the words is not the meaning of the expression. It means something other than what it actually says.
  • Ex. It’s raining cats and dogs.
  • An animal given human-like qualities or an object given life-like qualities.

from “Ninki”

by Shirley Jackson

“Ninki was by this time irritated beyond belief by the general air of incompetence exhibited in the kitchen, and she went into the living room and got Shax, who is extraordinarily lazy and never catches his own chipmunks, but who is, at least, a cat, and preferable, Ninki saw clearly, to a man with a gun.

  • When a person, place, thing, or event that has meaning in itself also represents, or stands for, something else.

= Innocence

= America

= Peace

  • Allusion comes from the verb “allude” which means “to refer to”
  • An allusion is a reference to something famous.

A tunnel walled and overlaid

With dazzling crystal: we had read

Of rare Aladdin’s wondrous cave,

And to our own his name we gave.

From “Snowbound”

John Greenleaf Whittier

  • Language that appeals to the senses.
  • Most images are visual, but they can also appeal to the senses of sound, touch, taste, or smell.

then with cracked hands that ached

from labor in the weekday weather . . .

from “Those Winter Sundays”


What are your five senses? Hearing, Sight, Taste, Touch, and Smell.

  • An image conveys a sense perception , i.e., a visual picture, a sound, a feeling of touch, a taste, or an odor.
  • Imagery is-

a noun used to refer to a set of related images in a piece of writing or the totality of images in the writing.

  • 1. amusing imitation: a piece of writing or music that deliberately copies another work in a comic or satirical way2. parodies in general: parodies as a literary or musical style or genre3. poor imitation: an attempt or imitation that is so poor that it seems ridiculoustransitive verb  (past and past participle par·o·died, present participle par·o·dy·ing, 3rd person present singular par·o·dies)Definition:imitate somebody or something comically: to write or perform a parody of somebody or something

Poetry Quote by Edgar Allan Poe I would define, in brief, the Poetry of words as the Rhythmical Creation of Beauty. Its sole arbiter is Taste.