The term imagery has various applications. Generally, imagery includes all kinds of sense perception (not just visual pictures). In a more limited application, the term describes visible objects only. But the term is perhaps most commonly used to describe figurative language, which is as a theme in literature.
An example is animal imagery in Othello
When Iago tortures Othello with animal images of his wife’s supposed infidelity, “were they as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys” (3.3.403), his description so overcomes the Moor that later, in greeting
Lodovico, he suddenly blurts out, “Goats and monkeys!” (4.1.256).
A direct, expressed comparison between two things essentially unlike each other, but resembling each other in at least one way using the words “like” or “as” in the comparison. In formal prose the simile is a device both of art and explanation, comparing the unfamiliar thing (to be explained) to some familiar thing (an object, event, process, etc.) known to the reader.
When the young Shakespeare gives the Duke of York, who is being taunted by Queen Margaret, the line “O tiger’s heart wrapped in a woman’s hide!” his meaning depends on the particular qualities associated at the time with the tiger: that they included not only fierceness but also deviousness is shown by the infamous parody of the line by his jealous contemporary, Robert Greene, who warned others in the literary world that Shakespere, had a “tiger’s heart wrapped in a player’s hide.”
In this line from Ezra Pound’s Fan-Piece, for Her Imperial Lord:
“clear as frost on the grass-bade,”a fan of white silk is being compared to frost on a blade of grass. Note the use of the word “as.”
In a metaphor, a word is identified with something different from what the word literally denotes. A metaphor is distinguished from a simile in that it equates different things without using connecting terms such as like or as.
Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, has this to say about the moral condition of his parishoners:
“There are the black clouds of God’s wrath now hanging directly over
your heads, full of the dreadful storm and big with thunder;”
The comparison here is between God’s anger and a storm. Note that there is no use of “like” or “as” as would be the case in a simile.
Generally speaking, a symbol is a sign representing something other than itself. A symbol is an image with an indefinite range of reference beyond itself. Some symbols are conventional as they have a range of significance that is commonly understood in a particular culture. Other symbols are private or personal, having a special significance derived from their particular use by an author.
Personification is the attribution of human qualities to inanimate objects or abstract concepts.
Personification heightens a reader’s emotional response to what is being described by giving it human qualities and therefore human significance.
Consider the following lines from Carl Sandburg’s Chicago:
“Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the big shoulders:”
Carl Sandburg description of Chicago includes shoulders. Cities do not have shoulders, people do. Sandburg personifies the city by ascribing to it something human, shoulders.
Pathetic Fallacy is a fallacy of reason in suggesting that nonhuman phenomena act from human feelings, It is a literary device where something nonhuman found in nature-a beast, plant, stream, natural
force, etc.-performs as though from human feeling or motivation.
In Jack London’s To Build a Fire, “The cold of space,” London writes, “smote the unprotected tip of the planet, . . .” The word “smote” suggests nature deliberately striking the northern tip of the earth with severe cold.
The poetry of William Wordsworth is replete with instances of pathetic fallacy-weeping streams, etc.
A pun is a play on words. It exploits the multiple meanings of a word, or else replaces one word with another that is similar in sound but has a very different meaning. Puns are sometimes used for serious purposes, but more often for comic effect.
In the grave-digger scene of Hamlet, the hero and a Clown pun on the words “lie” and “quick”:
HAMLET: Whose grave’s this, sirrah?
CLOWN: Mine, sir….
HAMLET: I think it be thine indeed, for thou liest in’t.
CLOWN: You lie out on’t, sir, and therefore ’tis not yours. For my part, I do not lie in’t, yet it is mine.
HAMLET: Thou dost lie in’t, to be in’t and say it is thine. ‘Tis for the dead, not for the quick; therefore thou liest.
CLOWN: ‘Tis a quick lie, sir; ’twill away again from me to you.
Analogy is the comparison of two things, which are alike in several respects, for the purpose of explaining or clarifying some unfamiliar or difficult idea or object by showing how the idea or object is similar to some familiar one. While simile and analogy often overlap, the simile is generally a more artistic likening, done briefly for effect and emphasis, while analogy serves the more practical purpose of explaining a thought process or a line of reasoning or the abstract in terms of the concrete, and may
therefore be more extended. Some analogies simply offer an explanation for clarification rather than a substitute argument.
Allusion is a reference in one literary work to a character or theme found in another literary work.
T. S. Eliot, in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock alludes (refers) to the biblical figure John the Baptist in the line “Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter, . . .”. In the New Testament, John the Baptist’s head was presented to King Herod on a platter.
IMITATIVE HARMONY (ONOMATOPOEIA)
Onomatopoeia refers either to words which resemble in sound what they denote (“hiss,” “rattle,” “bang”), or to words that correspond in other ways with what they describe.
An instance of the latter kind of onomatopoeia from An Essay on Criticism
” When Ajax strives some rock’s vast weight to throw,
The line too labors, and the words move slow;
Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o’er th’ unbending corn, and skims along the main.”
Alliteration is the repetition of sounds including consonants in words close together, particularly using letters at the beginning of words or stressed syllables. In Old English , each line is divided by a pause, and the stressed syllables in the first half-line alliterate with those in the second half-line
An example is in Edwin Markham’s Lincoln, the Man of the People:
” She left the Heaven of Heroes and came down To make a man to meet the mortal need A man to match the mountains and the sea The friendly welcome of the wayside well”.
Cacophony is an unpleasant combination of sounds. Euphony, the opposite, is a pleasant combination of sounds. These sound effects can be used intentionally to create an effect, or they may appear unintentionally.
A cacophony is evident in Matthew Arnold’s lines
“And thou, who didst the stars and sunbeams know,
Self-school’d, self-scann’d, self-honor’d, self-secure,
Didst tread on earth unguess’d at,”
An epithet is an adjective or phrase describing a characteristic or quality of a person or thing.
For instance, in Homer’s Odyssey, the hero is typically referred to by the epithets “enduring,” “resourceful,” or “sacker of cities”; and the sea is always “wine-dark.”
An epithet is also an identifying phrase which substitutes for a noun.
Distinctive epithets are found in the ancient Greek classic, The Odyssey: “wine-dark sea…… wave-girdled island, blindfolding night.”
Anaphora is the repetition of the same word or words at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences, commonly in conjunction with climax and with parallelism. Anaphora can be used with questions, negations, hypotheses, conclusions, and subordinating conjunctions, although care must
be taken not to become affected or to sound rhetorical and bombastic.
The term irony denotes that the appearance of things differs from their reality, whether in terms of meaning, situation, or action. That is, it is ironical when there is a difference between what is spoken and what is meant. What is thought about a situation and what is actually the case; or what is intended by actions and what is their actual outcome.
Macbeth murders his king hoping that in becoming king he will achieve great happiness. Actually, Macbeth never knows another moment of peace, and finally is beheaded for his murderous act
Dramatic Irony is a situation in which the reader or audience knows more about the immediate circumstances or future events of a story than a character within it; thus the audience is able to see a discrepancy between characters’ perceptions and the reality they face. Characters’ beliefs become ironic because they are very different or opposite from the reality of their immediate situation, and their intentions are likewise different from the outcome their actions will have.
In Act 2, Scene 3, Line 252-261 from Othello, dramatic irony is present when Iago and Cassio discuss reputation. In this passage, Cassio mourns the loss of his reputation as an outstanding lieutenant. Oddly, Iago tells him reputation is of little or no importance, it is even a deception of what we truly are. This is an active example of dramatic irony, considering Iago’s reputation as an honest man affords him much success in his scheming.
Othello’s hatred of Desdemona for cuckolding him is more horrible and tragic because the audience knows he is deceived by Iago and can watch every step of his error.
Another example of dramatic irony would be when King Oedipus, who has unknowingly killed his father, says that he will banish his father’s killer when he finds him.
Ambiguity refers to the exploitation for artistic purposes of language which has multiple meanings.
In Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida (1601-02) the hero longs to be taken to Cressida and begs the go-between Pandarus, “be thou my Charon” (the ferryman of the dead). Although Troilus’ primary meaning is that Pandarus will convey him to Cressida, the reader can also interpret his words as a subconscious request for death.
POINT OF VIEW
Point of view is the perspective from which a narrative is presented; it is analogous to the point from which the camera sees the action in cinema. The two main points of view are those of the third-person
narrator, who stands outside the story itself, and the first-person narrator, who participates in the story. The first type always uses third-person pronouns (“he,” “she,” “they”), while the latter narrator also uses the first-person (“I”).
An example is Holden from the novel The Catcher in the Rye
His point of view might not reflect the actual events of the novel
Understatement is a statement which lessens or minimizes the importance of what is meant. The opposite is hyperbole.
In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Macbeth, having murdered his friend Banquo, understates the number of people who have been murdered since the beginning of time by saying “Blood hath been shed ere now.”
A sonnet is a fourteen-line lyric poem in a single stanza, in which lines of iambic pentameter are linked by an elaborate rhyme scheme. In sonnet sequences, or cycles, a series of sonnets are linked by a common theme. Though sonnets began as love poetry and were introduced to England as such by Thomas Wyatt, the form was extended to other subjects and other structures by Donne, Milton and later writers such as Keats, Dylan Thomas, and e. e. cummings.
Words rhyme when their concluding syllables have a similar sound. Two words are said to rhyme if their last stressed vowel and the sounds that follow it match (as in “afar” and “bizarre,” “biology” and “ideology,” or “computer” and “commuter”).
End-rhymes are words at the end of successive lines which rhyme with each other:
Internal rhymes are rhyming words within a line
A perfect rhyme is one in which the two sounds correspond exactly (“by hook or by crook”). In partial rhyme the sounds are similar but not identical
In Act 2, Scene 1, Line 131 of Othello, Iago says the following,
“If she be black, and thereto have a wit,
She’ll find a white that shall her blackness fit.”
Rhythm is the recurrences of stressed and unstressed syllables at equal intervals, similar to meter. However, though two lines may be of the same meter, the rhythms of the lines may be different.
“And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
For example, if one were to read the last two lines of Robert Frost’s, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening with equal speed, the lines would be the same in meter and rhythm. However, if one were to read the last line more slowly (as it should be read), the meter would be the same but the rhythm different. This is because while the meter of a line is identified by the pattern within each foot, the rhythm is accounted for
by larger units than individual feet.
Meter is the organization of speech rhythms (verbal stresses) into regular patterns, in terms of both the arrangement of stresses and their frequency of repetition per line of verse. Poetry is organized by the division of each line of verse into “feet,” metric units which each consist of a particular arrangement of
strong and weak stresses. The most common metric unit is the iambic foot, in which an unstressed syllable is followed by a stressed one.
Meter is also determined by the number of feet in a line. A line with five feet is called pentameter; thus, a line of five iambs is known as “iambic pentameter” (the most common metrical form in English poetry).
The most common line lengths are:
trimeter: three feet
tetrameter: four feet
pentameter: five feet
hexameter: six feet (an “Alexandrine” when iambic)
heptameter: seven feet (a “fourteener” when iambic)
Naturally, there is a degree of variation from line to line, as a rigid adherence to the meter results in unnatural or monotonous language. A skillful poet manipulates breaks in the prevailing rhythm of a poem for particular effects
These lines from his Holy Sonnet 14 (1633) are written in iambic pentameter, but the stress patterns vary a great deal:
“That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn and make me new.”
Scansion is a close, critical reading of a poem, examining the work for meter. Meter is a regular pattern of unstressed and stressed syllables in a line or lines of poetry.
A Blank Verse is a poem written in unrhymed iambic pentameter.
Consider the following from The Ball Poem by John Berryman:
What is the boy now, who has lost his ball,
What, what is he to do? I saw it go
Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then
Merrily over-there it is in the water!
A Couplet is a stanza of two lines, usually rhyming.
The following by Andrew Marvell is an example of a rhymed couplet:
Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
Quatrain is a four-line stanza which may be rhymed or unrhymed. A heroic quatrain is a four line stanza rhymed abab.
John Donne’s A Valediction Forbidding Mourning is a poem of nine heroic quatrains: The following is the first stanza of the poem:
As virtuous men pass mildly away
And whisper to their souls, to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
The breath goes now, and some say, no:
Octet is an eight-line stanza. An octet is also the first eight lines of a sonnet.
Sestet is a six-line stanza or the last six lines of a sonnet. A 14-line poem usually divided between the octave, using two rhymes arranges abbaabba, and the sestet, using any arrangement of either two or three rhymes: cdcdcd and cdecde are common patterns. Usually the division between the octave and the sestet corresponds to a division in thought, perhaps between situation and comment, idea and example, or question and answer.
Tercet is a unit or group of three lines of verse which are rhymed together or have a rhyme scheme that interlaces with an adjoining tercet.
Stanzas are to poetry what paragraphs are to prose. They are groups of lines that have been separated from other groups of lines in the poem. Often the stanzas within a specific poem have consistent patterns of rhyme and meter, but poems may also be divided into completely irregular stanzas.
The plot is the organization of character and action in a work of narrative or drama in order to achieve particular effects. Plot is distinguished from story, which is the summary of the plot’s incidents without considering how they are interrelated. A plot can create suspense by arousing sympathy for a character whose fortunes are uncertain, leaving the audience or reader anxious for the sake of the protagonist. On the other hand, the plot can also generate suspense when the reader is allowed to know the final outcome and is then shown the protagonist’s step by step approach to an end he or she does not expect. For some of the plot patterns used to achieve particular overall effects of tragedy, see the entries on comedy, romance, or satire.
Characters are the persons presented in works of narrative or drama who convey their personal qualities through dialogue and action by which the reader or audience understands their thoughts, feelings, intentions and motives. .Characters either remain stable in their attitudes throughout a work (static characters) or undergo personal development and change, whether through a gradual process or a crisis (dynamic characters); but in any case they usually remain consistent in their basic nature.
An example of a character is Iago or Cassio from the play Othello.
Setting is the time and place in which a story unfolds. A drama may contain a single setting, Or the setting may change from scene to scene
The setting in Act 1, scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, for example, is a public square in Verona, Italy.
Although theme is sometimes used in the same sense as motif to signify recurring concepts in literature, the term mainly refers to the argument or general idea expressed by a literary work, whether implied or explicitly stated.
The following are themes from Othello:
Deceit and Appearance vs. Reality
Issues of Race and Gender
Mood is the atmosphere or feeling created by a literary work, partly by a description of the objects or by the style of the descriptions. A work may contain a mood of horror, mystery, holiness, or childlike simplicity, to name a few, depending on the author’s treatment of the work.
Atmosphere is the mood that is established in a literary work. Atmosphere is often created through the setting and through foreshadowing.
An example is Macbeth: The first act creates a dark and dismal mood with the three witches, forming the atmosphere of the play.
The narrator is the character who is telling the story, or is assumed to be speaking in a poem or novel. The narrator is to be distinguished from the author of the work — even if it is assumed to be autobiographical. Thus it is possible for the author to create an ironical distance from the narrator, who may be naive or fallible.
In the plot of a drama, conflict occurs when the protagonist is opposed by some person or force in the play. The problems and complications in a story present the central conflict. The conflict can be internal or external. An internal conflict is a problem within a character. An external conflict is a problem caused by outside forces. In the plot of a drama, conflict occurs when the protagonist is opposed by some person or force in the play. I
In Henry Ibsen’s drama An Enemy of the People, Dr. Thomas Stockmann’s life is complicated by his finding that the public baths, a major source of income for the community, are polluted. In trying to close the baths, the doctor comes into conflict with those who profit from them, significantly, his own brother, the mayor of the town.
Another example occurs in the film “Star Wars.” Having learned that Princess Lea is being held prisoner by the evil Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker sets out to rescue her. In doing so, he becomes involved in the conflict between the empire and the rebels which Lea spoke of in her holograph message in the drama’s exposition. Since Luke is the protagonist of Star Wars, the conflict in the drama crystallizes to that between Luke and Darth Vader.
The main character in a literary work is the protagonist, and her or his adversary (if there is one) is the antagonist. A work of narrative or drama may have more than one protagonist.
An example is Othello in the play Othello
Antagonist is a person or force which opposes the protagonist in a literary work.An antagonist may be another person, an aspect of the physical or social environment, or a destructive element in the protagonist’s own nature
In Stephen Vincent Benet’s The Devil and Daniel Webster, Mr. Scratch is Daniel Webster’s antagonist at the trial of Jabez Stone.
In Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago is the antagonist.
Tragic Hero- Pity and fear are inspired in the audience by the suffering of someone who is morally typical: he or she is not overwhelmingly good or evil, but susceptible to error (as when acting unjustly through ignorance or passion). The protagonist’s misfortune therefore inspires pity because it is worse than he or she deserves, and fear because the audience sees in it their own potential errors and suffering.
The tragic hero is usually of high estate and neither entirely virtuous nor bad. He evokes our pitybecause, not being an evil person, his misfortune is a greater tragedy than he deserves. We are also moved to fear, as we recognize the possibilities of similar errors or defects in ourselves.
An example of a tragic hero in Othello is the character Othello.
Tragedy depicts serious incidents in which protagonists undergo a change from happiness to suffering, often involving the death of others as well as the main characters, and resulting from both the protagonists’ actions and the inescapable limits of the human condition.
Comedy depicts humorous incidents in which protagonists are faced with moderate difficulties but overcome them and the play ends happily. Traditional comedy often culminates in marriage.
Some of the major types of comedy are:
-Satirical comedy, which generally ridicules human folly and associated political, social or moral problems
-The comedy of manners, depicting the romantic intrigues of a sophisticated upper class, including witty repartee and humorous social blundering
-Romantic comedy,involving idealized romantic love, as in romance
-Black comedy,which induces laughter as a kind of defense mechanism when a situation, dispassionately considered, would be simply horrifying; and farce,which depends upon ridiculous situations, exaggerated character types, coarse humour, and horseplay for its comic effects.
An example of comedy is Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream .
TRAGIC FLAW (HAMARTIA)
The tragic hero must fall through his or her own error, or hamartia. This term is also interpreted as
“tragic flaw” and usually applied to overweening pride, or hubris, which causes fatal error. Hamartia more properly means any disproportion in the character’s makeup that leads to downfall; thus an excess of a valuable or virtuous quality can in some circumstances be seen as hamartia. In literature, the tragic hero’s error of judgement or inherent defect of character, usually less literally translated as a “fatal flaw.” This, combined with essential elements of chance and other external forces, brings about a catastrophe. Often the error or flaw results from nothing more than personal traits like probity, pride, and overconfidence, but can arise from any failure of the protagonist’s action or knowledge ranging from a simple unwittingness to a
In Shakespeare’s Othello, Othello is so proud that he commits suicide because of the situation that he was in.
Catharsis is the release of the emotions of pity and fear by the audience at the end of a tragedy.
An act of retributive justice, that is the impetus to distribute merited reward or punishment. The term originated from Greek methology relating to the greek goddess of justice and vengeance.
In Othello, Iago is Othello’s nemesis.
RISING ACTION (COMPLICATION)
Rising Action is the part of a drama which begins with the exposition and sets the stage for the climax. In a five-act play, the exposition provides information about the characters and the events which occurred before the action of the play began. A conflict often develops between the protagonist and an antagonist. The action reaches a high point and results in a climax, the turning point in the play.
We discover in the exposition of Shakespeare’s Othello that the Moor, Othello, has married
the Venetian maid, Desdemona. Her father objects strenuously to the marriage. However, during those objections, a messenger informs the Venetian council that the Turks are on their way to invade the island of Cypress. Othello, who is sent with troops to defend the island, brings Desdamona with him, planning a honeymoon to coincide with his military mission.
One of Othello’s officers, Iago, plants a seed of doubt about Desdemona’s faithfulness in Othello’s ear. This seed grows to the point where Othello becomes convinced that his wife is having an affair with his lieutenant, Michael Cassio. The latter is the rising action. The play climaxes with the murder of Desdemona by Othello in a jealous rage.
FALLING ACTION (DENOUEMENT, RESOLUTION)
The catastrophe, or denouement (“unknotting”), is when the action is resolved unsuccessfully or successfully for the main character. The resolution is the part of a story or drama which occurs after the climax and which establishes a new norm, a new state of affairs-the way things are going to be from then on.
Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet climaxes with the death of the two lovers. Their deaths resolve the feud between the two families. In the play’s resolution, Lords Capulet and Montague swear to end their feud and build golden monuments to each other’s dead child.
In the resolution of the film Star Wars, Luke Skywalke, Han Solo, and Chewbacca are given medals by Princess Lea for destroying the death star and defeating the empire.
CRISIS (TURNING POINT)
The crisis or turning point is when the tragic hero is at the height of fortune. They are moments or events which cause tension that lead to the play’s climax.
Climax is the decisive moment in a drama. The climax is the turning point of the play to which the rising action leads. This is the crucial part of the drama, the part which determines the outcome of the conflict.
In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the climax occurs at the end of Marc Antony’s speech to the Roman public.
In the climax to the film Star Wars, the empire’s death star is ready to destroy the rebel base. Luke Skywalker and rebel pilots attack the base, and after the deaths of some rebel pilots, Skywalker successfully fires his missile into the death star’s vulnerable spot and destroys the death star, saving the rebel forces.
Comic relief is a humorous scene or incident that alleviates tension in an otherwise serious work. In many instances these moments enhance the thematic significance of the story in addition to providing laughter. In the comic mode, there are often comic episodes in an otherwise tragic work.
Famous examples include the Gravedigger scene in Hamlet and the Porter scene in Macbeth. The term comic relief is often applied to these episodes, but “relief” is seldom the actual effect of the passages–more often such passages are suspenseful or ironical, its humour is black.
Similar to the soliloquy is the aside, a convention for expressing characters’ minds. It is a short remark made in the presence of others but which only the audience is privy to. The aside is often used to show duplicity or hypocrisy in great detail, as when Iago comments on his deception of Othello
In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the Chamberlain, Polonius, confronts Hamlet. In a dialogue
concerning Polonius’ daughter, Ophelia, Polonius speaks this aside:
How say you by that? Still harping on my daughter.
Yet he knew me not at first; ‘a said I was a fishmonger.
‘A is far gone. And truly in my youth I suffered much extremity for love,
very near this. I’ll speak to him again.-
In a soliloquy, one speaks to oneself. In drama, soliloquy is the convention whereby characters speak their thoughts aloud while alone, thus communicating to the audience their mental state, intentions,