Guide to Literary Terms

Start Your Free Trial

List and define the types of imagery. List and define types of iimagery of short fiction

Expert Answers info

mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,149 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

To add to the above list of imagery, which is the representation through language of sense experience, there is that which also appeals to senses other than the five main senses considered part of the human makeup.  For, the word image most often suggests a mental picture; that is something perceived in the mind rather than by senses per se.  Thus, there is also

  • organic imagery - This type of imagery creates the mental picture of internal sensations such as hunger, thirst, nausea, or fatigue. 
  • kinesthetic imagery - This type of imagery appeals to the mental perception of tension or movement in the muscles or joints.

Such imagery as organic and kinesthetic as well as those mentioned above also evoke the emotions that accompany these sensations.  With this sensuous language writers can convey much with few words as well as include the reader in their expression of thought. Here is an example of the combination of organic and kinesthetic imagery in lines from Edward Arlington Robinson's poem "Richard Cory":

So on we worked [kinesthetic] and waited for the light,

And went without the meat, and cursed the bread [organic]

Certainly, the emotion of despair is also conveyed in these lines written in the time of the Great Depression of 1870, 


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Verdie Cremin eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write2,994 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

The use of imagery in short fiction can be discussed in a number of different ways.  One of the most obvious ways is to discuss imagery associated with the five different senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste.

Several of these different kinds of imagery are present, for example, in Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Tell-Tale Heart.”  Indeed, the story opens with the nervous, excited narrator asserting that some unspecified

disease had sharpened my senses, not destroyed, not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How then am I mad?

Part of the irony of this question, of course, is that the question pretty much answers itself, especially in light of the evidence provided in the preceding sentences. (How can any sane person claim to hear all things in heaven and earth and many things in hell?) In any case, as the story develops, it employs a number of other kinds of imagery rooted in the various senses, including the following:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial