Please identify and discuss three figures of speech in Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley.

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley, there are several literary devices used. First we see irony.

Irony is the difference between what you expect to happen and what really happens. In that the story has a very dark beginning, one who is not familiar with the tale might expect the ending to be dark as well. There is a certain irony that a frightening beast could actually be the key to a beauty's happiness.

Another literary device the author uses is suspense. This comes from a sense of the unknown, where the reader is not sure about exactly what is to happen. This sense of suspense is present when the "beauty" first confronts the imposing beast.

A third literary device is that of theme. A theme is an idea or "life-truth" the author is trying to impart to the reader. The central theme of the story is "don't judge a book by its cover."

In terms of figures of speech, imagery is one used a great deal in this story. When Beauty describes her sister, she uses imagery (a form of figurative language).

[Grace's] hair was wavy and fine and luxuriant, and as butter-yellow as it had been when she was a baby...

Hyperbole is also used. Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration. Used for emphasis, it is...

...obvious and deliberate exaggeration or an extravagant statement. It is a figure of speech not intended to be taken literally...

In the story, an example of hyperbole is shown as the author describes the love of young men for Beauty's older sisters:

...with every eligible young man...dying of love for them...

Obviously, the men are not dying from their love, but are simply very much in love.

"Situational irony" is used again in that "Beauty" is originally named "Honour." Her father struggles to tell his five-year old daughter what "honour" means, and the child becomes so disgusted, that she wishes she had been called "Beauty." The humor of the comment is passed along by the girl's father until the name sticks. The irony is that when she grows up, all of the lovely features she had had, disappear.

I was five years younger than Hope and I don't know what happened to me. As I grew older, my hair grew mousy, neither blond or brown, and the baby curl fell out...my eyes turned a muddy hazel...I was thin, awkward and undersized...

It is ironic that "Beauty" grows up into anything but a beauty, especially odd in that her sisters, lovely to begin with, grow to be true beauties over the years.

Finally, a simile is used to describe Grace's eyes...

...her eyes were...as blue as a clear May morning after rain...

A simile is when two dissimilar things are compared as if they are the same because they share similar characterisitics.

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