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Literary Devices – What are they with Examples

Aug 30, 2022
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A literary device is a tool that writers use to allude to larger themes, ideas, and meaning in a story or a piece of writing. Literary devices come in a variety of styles, each serving a specific purpose. 

Now, let us take a look at some more literary devices in detail:

Anachronism

The word anachronism comes from the Greek word anachronous, which means “against time.” As a result, an anachronism is a chronological or timeline inaccuracy in a literary work. In other terms, an anachronism is something that is out of place and out of time. 

Anachronisms can be found in paintings, literature, and other forms of art, and it’s fun to look for them. They are typically considered errors that emerge as a result of a lack of research. An example of anachronism would be if a painter painted a portrait of Aristotle and showed him wearing a wristwatch, although we all know wristwatches did not exist during Aristotle’s time. Similarly, using a wall clock in a stage set depicting the interior of a Roman fort is anachronistic. 

Example: 

  • An example of anachronism in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet is fascinating. The protagonist, Hamlet, is the Prince of Denmark. In the play, we learn that he is a student at the University of Halle-Wittenberg. 

The aforementioned institute was founded in 1502 A.D., according to history. The drama was set in the seventh or thirteenth century. Shakespeare made no attempt to correct the error, and no one ever questioned the existence of the university described above throughout Hamlet’s lifetime. 

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Anapest

Anapest is a poetic device defined as a metrical foot in a poem line with three syllables, the first two of which are short and unstressed, followed by a long and stressed third syllable. “I must finish my journey alone,” for example. The anapestic foot is highlighted here. 

Because it is a reversal pattern of the dactyl metre, anapest is also known as antidactylus. The difference is that anapest is made up of three syllables, the first two of which are unstressed and the third of which is stressed, in a pattern of unstressed/unstressed/stressed. Dactyl, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of this pattern. It’s a metrical foot made up of three syllables, the first two of which are stressed and the third of which is unstressed, as in stressed/stressed/unstressed. 

Examples: 

  • The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold
  • I am monarch of all I survey 

Soliloquy

In a theatrical play or drama, a soliloquy is a literary device that takes the form of a speech or monologue delivered by a single character. A soliloquy allows a character to convey inner feelings and thoughts that are not intended to be known or heard by other characters in the play or by the audience. During a soliloquy, the action of the play comes to a halt, as if time has been paused to allow the audience to be “inside” the speaker’s head for a brief while while they express their thoughts. In terms of providing insight into a character’s emotions and reflections, this is an excellent literary strategy. 

Examples: 

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  • “To be or not to be;” by Hamlet in Shakespeare’s Hamlet
  • “Haply, for I am black” by Othello in Shakespeare’s Othello

Anaphora

Anaphora is a rhetorical device in which a word or phrase is repeated at the start of succeeding sentences, phrases, or clauses. Anaphora is a literary device that allows writers to convey, accentuate, and reinforce meaning in their writing. This stylized approach of repeating a word at the beginning of each phrase in a series of phrases or clauses may be particularly effective in lyrics, speeches, poetry, and prose. 

Examples: 

  • Go big or go home. 
  • I wish I may, I wish I might. 

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