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IGCSE Literary Devices

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iGCSE World Lit (408)
Section A – Unseen Poetry or Prose Extract (same for SIS – S3)
A1. Questions
Textual analysis
 Textual questions (eg. about the characterization; theme; plot)
 Critical analysis (shed insights on the themes and topics of interests
expressed in the book)
 Quote examples from the text
Analysis with reference to literary devices
 List out the poetic devices
 Relate them to the text and how ideas were being expressed (analysis)
 Quote examples from the text
A2. List of Poetic Devices

Alliteration
the beginning sound of words/phrases/line of poetry is repeated
Eg. A cold, clear, crispy crust cube of ice.

Allusion
a reference to a person, event, art, literature, historical event, etc
Eg. “Don’t act like a Romeo in front of her.”
Eg. “This place is like a Garden of Eden.”

Antithesis
a statement in which two opposing ideas are balanced

Archetype
an archetype (a recurrent symbol) is a typical character/action/situation that
represent universal patterns of human nature/cultures/eras

Assonance
the same vowel sound is repeated but the consonants are different; he passed
her a sharp, dark glance, shot a cool, foolish look across the room.

Connotation
 The meaning implied by a word apart from its superficial meanings
 The hidden meanings with cultural or emotional associations
 Eg. “the word connotes that …”

Couplet
two successive rhyming lines in a verse, and with the same meter
Eg.
One Happy Moment (By John Dryden)
“O, no, poor suff’ring Heart, no Change endeavour,
Choose to sustain the smart, rather than leave her;
My ravish’d eyes behold such charms about her,
I can die with her, but not live without her:
One tender Sigh of hers to see me languish,
Will more than pay the price of my past anguish…”

Denotation
The dictionary definition of a word / its literal meaning

Dialogue
 conversation between two people
 or an imagined conversation between narrator and reader – this is
important in drama and can show the internal thoughts of narrator and
reflect on the key themes of the story
 It can also be found in the conversational style of a poem

Diction
an author's choice of words based on their correctness, clearness, or
effectiveness.

Free Verse
poetry that does not have a regular meter or rhyme scheme.

Imagery
Imagery refers to the use of figurative language to represent objects,
actions, and ideas in such a way that it appeals to our senses (eg. sight;
taste; touch; hearing; smell)
Eg. It was dark and dim in the forest.
Eg. The children were screaming and shouting in the fields.

Irony
the humorous/sarcastic use of words/ideas, implying the opposite of what they
literally mean.

Meter
 a stressed and unstressed syllabic pattern in a verse/poem
 stressed syllables are longer, unstressed syllables are shorter

Metaphor
a word or phrase that makes an implicit/implied/hidden comparison between
two things that are unrelated, but with some common characteristics.
Eg. The assignment was a breeze.
Eg. Words are daggers when spoken in anger.
Eg. His kisses are like roses.

Monologue
 an uninterrupted monologue to show a character's state of mind (as a
soliloquy where character laying bare their soul and think aloud)
 usually with great thematic importance
Two types of monologue:
Interior Monologue:
 a character externalizes his internal thoughts Eg. “Stream of
consciousness”
Dramatic Monologue:
 a character speaks to the silent listener
 frequently used in poetry
 also used in theatre, hence, it is known as dramatic monologue

Parable
a short narrative designed to teach a moral lesson

Paradox
A statement in which a seeming contradiction may reveal an unexpected truth

Parallelism
phrases or sentences of a similar construction/meaning placed side by side,
balancing each other

Pathos
language that evokes feelings of pity or sorrow.

Personification
attributing a human quality to a thing or idea
Eg. the moon calls me to her darkened world.
Eg. The flood raged over the entire village.

Repetition
 the repetition of a word/phrase/sentence to make the idea clearer or
memorable.
 As a rhetorical device, it could be a word, a phrase, or a full sentence,
or a poetical line repeated to emphasize its significance in the entire
text
Eg.



The politician declared, “We will fight come what may, we will
fight on all fronts, we will fight for a thousand years.”
The president said, “Work, work, and work,” are the keys to success.
Rhyme
Meaning:
The repetition of the same or similar sounds, usually at the end of lines in
poems/songs.
Eg. “gaining” and “straining” are rhyming words
Eg. “See you later, alligator”
Eg. “In a while, crocodile”
Different types of rhymes:
 Single: rhyme for the final syllable (“mind” and “behind”).
 Double: rhyme for second-to-last syllables (“toasting” and “roasting”)
 Dactylic: This rhyme, relatively uncommon in English, has the stress on
the antepenultimate, or third-from-last, syllable (“terrible” and
“wearable”).
 Imperfect or near rhyme: same sounds occur in two words but in
unstressed syllables (“thing” and “missing”).
Rhymes in poetry:
 Rhythming words at the end of lines in poetry – Poems have a fixed
rhyme-scheme (for example, sonnets have 14 lines with fixed rhyme
scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG).
 Try to comment how the rhyme-scheme is impacting the text as a whole.
 Why do you think the poet has chosen it? Does it add control or imitate
the ideas in the poem, etc?
Eg.
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells–
Of the bells, bells, bells–
To the tolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells–
Bells, bells, bells–
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells

Sarcasm
the use of words to mock someone or something.

Sibilance
 "s" sound is repeated more than twice in quick succession
 a specific type of alliteration that uses the soft consonant sounds "s,"
"sh," "ch," "th," "z," "x" and "c."

Simile
a phrase that makes a comparison, showing similarities between two different
things. Unlike a metaphor, a simile draws resemblance with the help of the
words “like” or “as.”
Eg. John is as slow as a snail.
Eg. He is as cunning as a fox.

Sonnet
 derived from the Italian word “sonetto,” which means a “little song”
 a sonnet has 14 lines in poetry, each line with 10 syllables
 written in “iambic pentameter” (stressed syllable is followed by
unstressed syllable with 10 syllables in each line. i.e. five iambs in each
line, like five heartbeats)

Stanza
 In poetry, a stanza is a division of four or more lines having a fixed
length, meter, or rhyming scheme (same pattern of meter and rhyme).
Yet, stanza in modern poetry (eg. free verse) often do not carry the
same length and meter).
 Stanzas in poetry are similar to paragraphs in prose.
 The number of lines varies in different kinds of stanzas, but it is
uncommon for a stanza to have more than twelve lines.

Symbolism
 often objects, colours, sounds and places work as symbols
 sometimes give us a good insight into the themes.
Eg. Snakes are often symbols of temptation.
Eg. White symbolises innocence.
Theme
the statement about life that a writer is trying to get across in a piece of writing;
in most cases this will be implied rather than directly spelled out.

Tone / Mood
 The means by which a poet reveals attitudes and feelings. Certain tones
include not only irony and satire, but may be loving, condescending,
bitter, pitying, fanciful, solemn, and a host of other emotions and
attitudes.
 Tone can also refer to the overall mood of the poem itself, in the sense
of a pervading atmosphere intended to influence the readers’ emotional
response and foster expectations of the conclusion.
 Another use of tone is in reference to pitch or to the demeanor of a
speaker as interpreted through inflections of the voice; in poetry, this is
conveyed through the use of connotation, diction, figures of speech,
rhythm and other elements of poetic construction.

Word choice
 sometimes called 'register' as to refer to the author's choice of language
 authors may use words commonly associated with religion, words
describing sensory experience such as touch, smell or colour or “mood”
words that reflect a character's state of mind.
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