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What is meant by "literary techniques"? Please provide examples.

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princesa-14 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 8, 2013 at 11:27 AM via web

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What is meant by "literary techniques"? Please provide examples.

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 8, 2013 at 1:04 PM (Answer #1)

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Literary techniques or devices are used by writers to add interest and drama to their work. They express meaning and give depth to what could otherwise be ordinary events and occurrences. Unfortunately, sometimes they overcomplicate literature for those who do not understand them and many students never finish reading classic pieces of literature, novels and poems because they cannot decipher the writer's meaning.

Easily recognizable techniques are simile and metaphor where the intention is to compare

John Donne's Twickenham Garden:

And take my tears, which are love’s wine

is an example of a metaphor. Note the two unlike things that are being compared directly. Tears ARE "love's wine." A simile is also a comparison but is recognizable by the use of the words like or as; for example,

running like a bat out of hell

Alliteration is another easily spotted literary technique used to increase the pace of the writing or emphasize what is being referred to. The first letter of each word in a sequence, or words that follow each other closely although not necessarily consecutively, is repeated.  In A Midsummer Night's Dream alliteration is used

 bravely broached his boiling bloody breast. (V,i:155 – 156)

There are many techniques and some are fairly complex. Foreshadowing, irony and allusion are commonly used but as you have not mentioned which novel, it may confuse rather than clarify the use of these techniques.

Refer to the eNotes study guides which will help you understand the different techniques and when they are used to best advantage.  



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