Literary Terms Analysis With Examples Literary Terms Analysis with Examples 1) Allusion: An allusion describes a famous literary figure or historical event. In an allusion, the author of a literary work refers to a well-known episode from a book or occasion. Thus, the two things most often alluded to in literature (the two greatest known literary works) deal with Shakespeare’s plays and the New Testament. Examples: In modern-day literature, George Orwell alludes to the Evil Empire, in his book, Animal Farm. Orwell was a visionary-only years later would the world come to see that the Iron Curtain Stalin had created formed an Evil Empire which spawned half of Europe, some of Asia, much of Latin America, and some parts of Africa.
In Animal Farm, Orwell exposes the reasons why communism does not work-explaining that in a totalitarian state with a dictator and several puppets, or a group of dictators, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. And so, in his unpopular satirical allusion to the Soviet Union (which was the goal of his book) Orwell explained what would only be seen by the public a decade later. In The Unvanquished, Faulkner refers to homemade Jordan,-as the blacks believe that when they cross the river they will crossing the river Jordan and getting into the Promised Land, while all that they are crossing is a simple river and they will still be in the same state they are in. The allusion Faulkner makes is to the bible, where the people cross the River Jordan to get into the Promised Land. 2) Ambiguity explains a situation in which the effect produced by literary work makes the reader aware of different interpretations.
It uses words or phrases with multiple meanings to achieve a state where the reader sees a vague idea-which he can take to mean different things. Example: In The Chocolate War, Cormier says that for no reason at all, he [Jerry] thought of Gregory Bailey. In this passage, Cormier does not explain what Jerry was thinking, and leaves it up to reader to try and understand why Jerry would think of person that Brother Leon was constantly picking on. Only later in the book does the reader realize that Jerry too would be in the same position that Gregory was in in Brother Leon’s classroom. 3) The antagonist is the bad guy who creates a conflict in a literary work with the good guy.
However, the bad guy, does not have to be a person-it can be an event, such as war, or an idea, such as not having any self worth. The conflict created gives the story interest. Example: In Hamlet, King Claudius is the antagonist. At first, he kills King Hamlet through treachery, taking the King’s throne and wife. Throughout the rest of the book, he is a poor ruler, who does not have any remorse for his previous actions (not being able to watch a play that shows exactly what he had done), and tries to kill his stepson. In the process, Claudius destroys the Danish royal family and its rule over Denmark. Thus, Claudius, being the driving force which ruins a country and family is the antagonist in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
4) Diction describes the word choice in a novel. Formal or informal language, general or specific words, abstract or concrete words all have an effect on how the writer sounds. Example: In The Unvanquished, at the beginning of the book, Philadelphy says to Loosh, her husband, Hush your mouth, nigger! after Loosh alluded to the fact that the Yankees were winning the Civil War to Bayard and Ringo. Here, a wife refers to her husband with derogatory language. In this instance, Faulkner chose to use this word to better establish the point that Philadelphy does not agree with Loosh’s militant ways.
5) Dramatic Irony refers to when the audience of a literary work knows or perceives something that the character in the work does not know. This is most often seen in plays and creates a scene of humor or tragedy that the audience knew was going to happen-although the character had no idea of the situation s/he was being led in to. Example: In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, nearing the end of the play, in the last scene, the Queen drinks the poisoned wine cup, not knowing that it was specifically poisoned for Hamlet to drink, while the audience is made well aware of this fact by Claudius’ dropping a pearl into the cup and his earlier discussion with Laertes. Thus, this is an instance of dramatic irony. 6) Foreshadowing is demonstrated in the use of hints or clues to suggest what will happen later in a literary work. These signs are generally hidden in the work and are not noticed until the even that was hinted at actually happens. Example: In The Chocolate War, Brother Leon, when asking for the Vigils help in the sale of chocolates, says that there has been a loss of revenue for many reasons-the last of which being that the interest in boxing has fallen off. This directly foreshadows what happens at the end of the book, when, to the amusement of a full capacity crowd at the boxing rink, Jerry gets pummeled by Emile Janza.
7) Hyperbole is the instance in which there is an extreme exaggeration or overstatement. It is often used to describe an event, object, or character, which has an extremely unusual characteristic. Example: Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood/ Clean from my hand? No. This my hand will rather/ The multitudinous seas incarnadine,/ Making the green one red. If Shakespeare’s lines in Macbeth were to be taken literally, they would make no sense.
The hyperbole works to illustrate the immense guilt that Macbeth feels for the brutal murder of his king and kinsman. 8) Imagery describes language that evokes one, several or all of the five senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and/or feeling. It is used to give the reader a mental image of what is happening in a literary work Example: My father’s presence was the only thing that stopped me. . .
. He was running at my side, out of breath, at the end of his strength, at his wit’s end. I had no right to let myself die. What would he do without me? I was his only support, (Elie Wiesel, Night, p.82). This passage, although it does not adhere to the standard way of describing things that would draw the five senses, evokes most of them.
The reader can sense the feeling the son has, running in snow with barely any clothes (known from earlier reading), nearby his father-not able to stop, thinking of his only reason for continuing to live in a time of desperation. 9) Irony renders demonstration of an implied difference between what happens and what is expected. Irony gives a situation a paradoxical meaning. Example: At the end of Lord of the Flies, a ship rescues the children from the burning island. But that ship, an army cruiser, will probably be hunting its enemy the same way that Jack was hunting Ralph.
It is ironic that the very ship that saves children from their own evil is engaging in the same evil itself. 10) A metaphor is a kind of comparison. It is actually a condensed simile, for it omits as or like. A metaphor establishes a relationship at once. It is a shortcut to the meaning; it sets two unlike things side by side and makes us see the likeness between them.
Example: In Emily Dickinson’s poem, A Book, she compares literature to various things. The first two lines compare poetry to a ship; the next two to a horse. However, instead of using ship and horse, Dickinson uses frigate, a beautiful full-sailed vessel, and courser, a swift-spirited steed, prancing-like a page of inspired poetry. Thus, metaphors are established. 11) A motif portrays a concept, a characteristic situation often used throughout a literary work. A common example of a motif is poetic justice-getting what you deserve. Example: In Elie Wiesel’s Night, there is a motif of father-son relationship.
In one case Eliezer’s father is often referred to as his only reason for living, while in another, Rabbi Eliahou’s son tries to get away from his father when the son saw his father beginning to be weak and having a hard time keeping up with the rest of the group. 12) An oxymoron is the case in which an assertion opposed to common sense achieved by combining two words or phrases, which seem to contradict one another. Example: I must be cruel only to be kind. In this line, Hamlet seemingly contradicts himself-cruel and kind are opposites, making the line an oxymoron. Yet the line makes sense, as in some cases the best way to be generous to a person is to be cruel in your dealings with them. 13) A paradox is the instance in which a statement is made that, while seemingly contradictory, may actually be well founded.
Example: Q. .. How did you happen to meet Burr? A. Well, I happened to be at his funeral one day, and he asked me to make less noise, and .. This …