Literary devices Figurative Language
What is figurative language? • Figurative language is language that uses words or expressions with a meaning that is different from the literal interpretation • When a writer uses literal language, he or she is simply stating the facts as they are • Figurative language, in comparison, uses exaggerations or alterations to make a particular linguistic point
Literal vs figurative language • "If something happens literally," says children's author Lemony Snicket, "it actually happens; if something happens figuratively, it feels like it is happening. If you are literally jumping for joy, for instance, it means you are leaping in the air because you are very happy. If you are figuratively jumping for joy, it means you are so happy that you could jump for joy, but are saving your energy for other matters.”(The Bad Beginning. Thorndike Press, 2000)
Figurative language • Simile • Metaphor • Personification • Hyperbole • Symbol • Alliteration • Onomatopoeia • Idioms • Clichés • Authors use these to make their writing more interesting or entertaining
simile • A simile uses the words “like” or “as” to compare one object or idea with another to suggest they are alike. • Example: busy as a bee • Playing chess with Ashley is like trying to outsmart a computer. • Simile Practice
metaphor • The metaphor states a fact or draws a verbal picture by the use of comparison. A simile would say you are like something; a metaphor is more positive - it says you are something. • Example: You are what you eat • The road was a ribbon of moonlight • These are not factual statements. I am not actually a cheeseburger, but that statement suggests that what you eat affects your body and indicates what type of person you are • Metaphor Practice
personification • A figure of speech in which human characteristics, feelings, or actions are given to an inanimate object. • Example: My teddy bear gave me a hug. • The leaves were dancing in the wind • Personification Practice
hyperbole • An exaggeration that is so dramatic that no one would believe the statement is true. Tall tales are hyperboles. • Example: He was so hungry, he ate that whole cornfield for lunch, stalks and all. • I could sleep for a year • This book weighs a ton. • I’m so hungry I could eat a horse
symbol • An object, word, or image that has a deeper significance than just its literal meaning. Represents something more than itself; another person, concept or idea • Example: • an image of the American flag to represent patriotism and a love for one’s country. • i.e. colors, weather, objects, animals • When an author wants to suggest a certain mood or emotion, he can also use symbolism to hint at it, rather than just blatantly saying it.
Symbolism through color • Black is used to represent death or evil. • White stands for life and purity. • Red can symbolize blood, passion, danger, or immoral character. • Purple is a royal color. • Yellow stands for violence or decay. • Blue represents peacefulness and calm.
Symbolism through objects • Objects are often used to symbolize something else: • A chain can symbolize the coming together of two things. • A ladder can represent the relationship between heaven and earth or ascension. • A mirror can denote the sun but when it is broken, it can represent an unhappy union or a separation.
Metaphor as symbol • A metaphor is a figure of speech that uses symbolism. • It compares two things that are not similar and shows that they actually do have something in common. • In a metaphor, there is an additional meaning to a word. This makes it an example of symbolism. • Life is a roller-coaster: This is symbolic because it indicates that there will be ups and downs in life that you have to weather. • Love is a jewel: This is symbolic because it suggests that love is rare and precious. • Time is money: what you choose to do with it is important
alliteration • The repetition of the letter or consonant sound occurring at the beginning of words or within words • Example: • She sells seashells by the seashore. • We are wide-eyed and wondering while we wait for others to waken • Alliteration is used to: • Create melody • Establish mood • Call attention to important words • Point out similarities and contrasts • Alliteration Practice
Onomatopoeia • The use of a word to describe or imitate a natural sound or the sound made by an object or an action. • Sound effect words, or noise words • Example: snap crackle pop • BOOM! POW! • Mooooooo! • Purpose: they appeal to our sense of hearing and they help bring a description to life • Onomatopoeia Video
idiom • An idiom is an expression used by a particular group of people with a meaning that is only known through common use. Idioms are not meant to be taken literally. • Many idioms that are frequently used are also considered clichés. • Example: • “I’m just waiting for him to kick the bucket.” • A chip on your shoulder = you think you know a lot; have attitude • Sick as a dog = means you are very ill (also includes a simile) • Go fly a kite = get out of here (don’t actually worry about the kite)
Idioms vary by culture • English • Beating around the bush • English • Raining cats and dogs • In Finnish: “to do something with long teeth” = you are doing something that you don’t want to do • Czech • Walking around hot porridge • Africa • Raining old women with clubs • Norway • Raining female trolls • Ireland • Throwing cobblers knives • In French: “to have long teeth” = you are ambitious
cliché • A cliché is an expression that has been used so often that it has become trite and sometimes boring. • Example: • Many hands make light work. • In the nick of time • The time of my life • Fit as a fiddle • A diamond in the rough • Every cloud has a silver lining • It’s raining cats and dogs
Avoiding clichés • If you write using repetitive and overused clichés you run the risk of sounding trite and boring… • Avoiding Clichés Exercise • Read the statements on the handout and rewrite them in a way that avoids overused sayings, or clichés • You can be literal or figurative