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Literary Devices and Rhetorical Strategies that you might come across in English Literature

Lit device graphic

A rhetorical device is a linguistic tool or technique which is strategically used in texts (works) in order to evoke a particular reaction from an audience by the use or inclusion of certain words and phrases, patterns,  plots, etc. Rhetorical devices are also known as literary devices, figures of speech, etc. Basically these can be categorized into four types(viz. logos, pathos, ethos, kairos) on bases of type of tool used and the effect produced on the readers. Some of the most commonly used rhetorical devices in the context of our high school syllabic are:


refers to the recurrence of initial consonant sounds. 

Full Fathom Five thy Father lies


repeating a word or phrase in successive phrases which creates parallelism and rhythm.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! .....
refers to an exaggeration. Saying "I have done this a thousand times" to indicate that you're very familiar with a task is an example of hyperbole because it is unlikely you've really performed the task a thousand times.
Metaphor and Simile
These are both used as comparative tools. The only difference is the use of comparing words like 'like' and 'as' is used with simile and metaphor compares without such words.
He smokes like a chimney.
Eyes are the windows to the soul.
imitation of sounds.
bang, boom, ding-dong, meow, woof-woof, etc.
uses words or phrases with a similar structure and creates symmetry and balance in writing.
like father, like son
Where there is a will, there is away.
giving living characters to a non-living thing or abstract concept.
the face of time (The Lamentation of the Old Pensioner), the bosom of Ouse (The Poplar Field)
use of vivid and descriptive language to add depth to their work. It requires and human senses to deepen the reader's understanding of the work.
 Concrete Cat(Dhorthi Charles), The Gingerbread House (Robert Coover)
Foreshadowing Technique
refers to the use of words or phrases in advance that sets the stage for the story to unfold later on. It gives the reader a hint of something that is going to happen without revealing the story or spoiling the suspense.
used in 6Millon Dollar Man, About Love, The Tell-Tale Heart.
Framing Technique
is popular in storytelling, where a small story is included within the main story *(like a nested loop in computer programming).
used in About Love
Though it is not what we would call a Literary Device, it is an important tool in the analysis of the story (text) as well as the Writer's intent and subconscious state of mind. Developed by Sigmund Freud.