Literary Devices

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Literary Device Notes
Alliteration Repeating the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words.
Allusion A figure of speech that makes a reference to, or representation of, people, places, events, literary work, myths, or works of art, either directly or by implication.
Bildungsroman A type of novel concerned with education, development, and maturation of a young protagonist. Essentially, a Bildungsroman traces the formation of a protagonist's maturity (the passage from childhood to adulthood) by following the development of his/her mind and character.
Breaking the fourth wall An author or character addresses the audience directly (also known as direct address). This may acknowledge to the reader or audience that what is being presented is fiction, or may seek to extend the world of the story to provide the illusion that they are included in it. An example is found in the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off when the main character speaks to the audience by looking directly into the camera.
Chekhov's gun Insertion of an apparently irrelevant object early in a narrative for a purpose only revealed later. See foreshadowing and repetitive designation.
Cliff-hanger The narrative ends unresolved, to draw the audience back to a future episode for the resolution.
Deus ex machina (From Latin: a machination, or act of god) Resolving the primary conflict by a means unrelated to the story (e.g., a god appears and solves everything). This device dates back to ancient Greek theatre, but can be a clumsy method that frustrates the audience. This has come to mean that a force steps in to 'save the day' or a helicopter shows up just as the hero must jump off a building.
Epiphany A sudden revelation or insight—usually with a symbolic role in the narrative—in a literary work.
First Person Narration A text presented from the point of view of a character (esp. the protagonist) and written in the first person. Oftentimes, the first-person

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