Imagery and Visual Device


A character created through mode of speech, action, and specific idiosyncrasies that label them as unique within the narrative. Popular characters such as Harry Potter are characterized through their destiny, their insecurity, and their self fulfilling prophesy. Other archetype characters include the farmer’s son who becomes a warrior hero; the servant girl who becomes a princess; the down trodden worker who becomes a revolutionary; and so forth.

Hyperbole / Understatement

To exaggerate / to understate – the effect however, are both exaggeration. Eg: Such a magnificent mansion as history had never seen! is the same as Quite a modest abode you have here, only a few pools and a half a dozen servants… how do you live? In both case, the mansion is exaggerated albeit one with wonderment and the other with sarcasm.

Tricolon (diminutive/crescendo)

A triple set of descriptions that build one a specific emphasis, either increasing in scope and exaggeration or demeaning in nature. For example: Bigger, stronger, better! A more rhetorical effect would be “We will emerge stronger than before, we will emerge better than before, we will emerge as winner!” The classic example is Caesar’s Veni, vidi, vici – I came, I saw, I conquered.


To denote one object with another, to expression one feeling as a phenomenon, to replace actual events with symbolism – this is the correct use of metaphor. Eg: The killing of the Mocking bird is a metaphor for the murder of innocents in To Kill a Mocking Bird. Simile is more mundane, substituting average expressions for similar contrasting descriptions: As fast as a speeding bullet.


The creation of a visual form with literary devices. To ‘see’ what the author is trying to describe. Imagery is a staple diet of any literary creation, forming the bulk of classic and modern literature.


A description of an object as being a living person or animal as in: “The sun shone brightly down on me as if she were shining for me alone”. In this example the sun is depicted as if capable of intent, and is referenced with the pronoun “she” rather than “it”. Other examples include Donne’s Sonnet “Busy old fool, unruly sun…”


A short free standing tale that narrates an interesting biographical incident. An anecdote must be based in reality, and is something that has happened and thus could provide a measure of a lesson or experience. A typical anecdote would begin within something akin to “Just the other day I met a man who…” or “Sir Hensley had only previous performed the surgery to great effect…”


The expression of visual tropes (descriptions) through non visual descriptions. For example: His touch felt like knifes digging into my soft skin… or The thumping of blood inside my skull was like a pelting summer storm… or ashes filled my mouth, I could taste blood… Highly effective in figurative language and regarded by markers in the HSC.


A form of personification where concepts and objects or even animals are described as people. For example the new often refers to country as a person. America has decided not to interfere in the new Israeli offensive. It can also include concepts such as death: The touch of death lingers… Disease walks these lands…

Pun (Visual)

A word play that coincides with a specific image. For example, an article about the arctic might use a image showing a huge snow cave with the title “Into an Icy Darkness”. Another example could be a commercial for Salted Nuts, where by a guy gets hit in the balls with a packet, followed by the slogan “Got Nuts?”


Deliberate exaggeration of something in an almost farcical, consistent way. Most famously used in advertisements – examples include Extreme sports drinks, Extreme candy bars, and Extreme tastes for fast food.


Allusion is a device employed to add a sense of context to a particular description. It draws upon anecdotal sources to add consistency to otherwise difficult to imagine scenarios. For example, Biblical, Historical allusions are often dependent on specific events in these well known texts. To call the current civil war in Uganda an “exodus” for example, would conjure an almost biblical image of thousands of desperate men and women seeking safety in other lands.

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