Literary Devices

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Literary Devices
Allegory
A form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative, are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The underlying meaning has moral, social, religious, or political significance and characters are often personifications of abstract ideas as charity, greed, or envy. Thus an allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning.
Alliteration
The repetition of the same sound at the beginning of a word, such as the repetition of b sounds in Keats’s “beaded bubbles winking at the brim” (“Ode to a Nightingale”) or Coleridge’s “Five miles meandering in a mazy motion (“Kubla Khan”). A common use for alliteration is emphasis. It occurs in everyday speech in such phrases as “tittle-tattle,” “bag and baggage,” “bed and board,” “primrose path,” and “through thick and thin” and in sayings like “look before you leap.” Some literary critics call the repetition of any sounds alliteration. However, there are specialized terms for other sound-repetitions. Consonance repeats consonants, but not the vowels, as in horror-hearer. Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds, please-niece-ski-tree.
Allusion
A brief reference to a person, event, place, or phrase. The writer assumes readers will recognize the reference. For instance, most of us would know the difference between one being as reliable as George Washington or as reliable as Benedict Arnold. Allusions that are commonplace for readers in one era may require footnotes for readers in a later time.
Ambiguity
(1) A statement that has two or more possible meanings; (2) a statement whose meaning is unclear. Depending on the circumstances, ambiguity can be negative, leading to confusion or even disaster (the ambiguous wording of a general’s note led to the deadly charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War). On the other hand, writers often use it to achieve special effects, for instance, to reflect the complexity of an

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