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One can find five literary elements (or figurative language) in the opening chapter of Jennifer Donnelly's novel A Northern Light.
Personification- Personification is the giving of human characteristics and abilities to nonhuman and nonliving things. The opening line of the novel is an example of personification.
When summer comes to the North Woods, time slows down.
Here, both summer and time are personified. Summer has the ability to slow down time. Time, given it is constant, is able to slow as well. Summer is given the ability to slow something (which it cannot) and time is able to slow (which it cannot do either).
Another example of personification is found a little farther down the first page.
Locusts whir in the birches, coaxing you out of the sun.
Locusts are given the ability to coax (something humans can do).
Metaphor- A metaphor is a comparison between two typically unlike things. The following is an example of a metaphor from chapter one:
The sky, gray and lowering for much of the year, becomes an ocean of blue.
Here, the sky is compared to an ocean.
Hyperbole- A hyperbole is an obvious exaggeration.
Old Mrs. Ellis will stay on the porch until the end of time.
Readers know that it is physically impossible for Mrs. Ellis to rap her cane on the porch until the end of time. This is an obvious exaggeration.
Imagery- Imagery is the ability for a person to create a mental picture of what the author is describing (based upon an appeal to the reader's senses).
In the opening paragraph, imagery is used. "Pinning wet sheets to the line" appeals to the reader's sense of touch and sight. The reader can picture wet sheets being hung. The reader may also be able to "feel" dampness on their fingers if they are familiar with hanging sheets out to dry.
Irony- Irony is defined as the difference between what is expected to happen and the actual outcome. IN some cases, verbal irony can be significant. Verbal irony is the difference between what is said and what is meant.
When the speaker states, "I believe these things. Because I am good at telling myself lies," she is being ironic. One cannot believe in something when they know that it is false.
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