Common literary devices, such as metaphors and similes, are the building blocks of literature, and what make literature so enchanting. Language evolves through the literary devices in poetry and prose; the different types of figurative language make literature spark in different ways.
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Literary devices are ways of taking writing beyond its straightforward, literal meaning. In that sense, they are techniques for helping guide the reader in how to read the piece.
Central to all literary devices is a quality of connection: by establishing or examining relationships between things, literary devices encourage the reader to perceive and interpret the world in new ways.
One common form of connection in literary devices is comparison. Metaphors and similes are the most obvious examples of comparison. A metaphor is a direct comparison of two things—“the tree is a giant,” for example. A simile is an indirect comparison—“the tree is like a giant.” In both instances, the tree is compared to—and thus connected with—something (a giant) beyond what it literally is (a tree).
Other literary devices forge connections in different ways. For example, imagery, vivid description, connects writing richly to the worlds of the senses. Alliteration uses the sound of words itself to forge new literary connections (“alligators and apples”).
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