The literary figures are techniques for the written expression to have coherence, order and harmony. Writers and all of us who communicate in this way use them.On some occasions, its use is unconscious, and on others with the intention of improving our task of sending a message.

What are literary figures for?

The literary figures have as their main function to give beauty and originality to the writings that are reflected. Some give a greater force to the message , others result in the practicality of the writer , so as not to invest too much effort in expressing an idea.

By using them, the writer generates a personal stamp, exploiting his creativity to give freshness to his creations.

Literary figures serve to:

  • Create sound effects and pronunciation
  • Add words and strengthen the message
  • Skip words, keeping the understanding of the message
  • Alter the order of the words, without affecting the message
  • Decorate the phrases differently

Create sound effects and pronunciation

The literary figures most used in this regard are:

  • Otheration
  • Onomatopoeia

Alliteration: when the consonants are repeated, this form of expression occurs. For example, in the phrase “Erre con erre cigarro, erre con erre barrel, the railroad cars run fast”, the sound that is repeated is that of the letter “R”.

Onomatopoeia: representation in words of a natural sound, such as laughter “hahaha”, or when someone marks the letter “S” when speaking, called “seseo”.

Add words and strengthen the message

Literary figures reinforce the effect of words

The most frequently used literary figures in this regard are:

  • Epithet
  • Pleonasm
  • Anaphora
  • Polisíndeton
  • Periphrasis

Epithet: It is an adjective that complements a noun or thing. Accentuate what identifies the noun you are talking about. For example: “The black night”, “the blue ocean”, “the high mountain”.

Pleonasm: It is when excess words are used, which are not necessary to understand the writing. For example, in the phrase “went out ”, it is already known that “going out” implies being left out. It is not necessary to add ” out “. It is redundant.

Anaphora: When one or more words are repeated at the beginning of several verses.

For example, in the poem “To a nose”, by Francisco de Quevedo:

” Once upon a man with a nose stuck,

Once upon a superlative nose,

Once upon a sayón nose and write,

There was once a very bearded swordfish ”.

It is a sample of Anaphora, which is also used in the rest of the stanzas.

Polysyndeton: More conjunctions are used here than required. The effect that is achieved is a slower rhythm and a solemn touch.

For example: “There is a palace and a river and a lake and an old bridge, and fountains with moss and tall grass and silence … a silence” Juan Ramón Jiménez.

Periphrasis: Say with several words what can be expressed in a shorter sentence. For example, in the phrase “We will see the son of God, ” the latter can be simply expressed as ” Jesus .”  

Skip words, keeping the understanding of the message

Literary figures add beauty to texts

The most used literary figure for this purpose is:

Ellipsis: A word is eliminated, without modifying the understanding of the writing. It is usually a verb.

For example, in the phrase: “Alexander came from Macedonia. Heracles , from Greece ”The verb“ came ”is no longer declared for Heracles; it goes without saying that we are talking about origins, it is not necessary to say “Alexander came from Macedonia. Heracles came from Greece ”.

Ellipsis can save us that kind of redundancy.

Alter the order of the words, without affecting the message

The most used literary figure for this purpose is:

Hyperbaton: The logical order of the statement is modified, without affecting its understanding.

For example, in a poem by Francisco de Quevedo, whose first stanza is:

“What takes me in fire, gives me snow

The hand that your eyes restrains me;

And it is no less rigor with which he kills,

No less flames its whiteness moves ”

Instead of saying “no less flames move its whiteness “, the order of these words is altered, especially in order to create a rhyme with the first verse, which ends in “snow.” He is one of all the hyperbaton figures featured in this poem.

Decorate the phrases in different ways

The literary figures in this last category give the writing a creative touch, since with them the poetic act and eloquence are undertaken. Among them are:

  • Simile or comparison
  • Metaphor
  • Metonimia
  • Antithesis or contrast
  • Paradox
  • Hyperbole
  • Personification

Simile or comparison: A comparison of two concepts is made, to make a greater clarification of the message that you want to write. For example, in the phrase “The moon shines in the autumn wind in the sky looking like a long-suffered pain “, it is wanted to clarify that the brightness of the moon is melancholic and depressing. This idea is clarified by comparing it to long-suffering pain .

Metaphor: A real object is explained as a different, more imaginary image. For example, in the phrase “The pearls in your smile”, the word ” pearls ” refers to the teeth, as very shiny and precious elements. This intensifies the impact of the tooth description .

Literary figures modify the text, without altering its meaning

Metonymy: With this literary figure objects, places and people are mentioned with names different from those they are originally from. For example: “The best guitar in the concert”, referring to the guitarist . ” Three fingers front”, referring to the width of the forehead, compared to the width of three fingers.

Antithesis or contrast: Two opposing ideas are opposed. For example: “Your hair is winter fire , my heart burns there.” Fire and winter are opposed by the fact that one is hot and the other cold.

Paradox: Two terms are written together that seem to contradict each other, but there is still meaning. For example: “It is bad luck to be superstitious”, or “He is so poor that he only has money.”

Hyperbole: With her what is mentioned in the writing is exaggerated. For example: “I’m dying to see you”, “This board weighs a ton”, “Not in a million years would I do it”.

Personification: When human qualities are attributed to objects or natural phenomena. For example: ” Powerful gentleman is Mr. Money.”

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