Diction: word choice intended to
convey a certain effect.
the dictionary definition of a word
the feelings and attitudes associated with a word; the implied
meaning of the word.
"Childlike" and "childish" denotatively both mean "characteristic of a child," but childlike suggests meekness and innocence and "childish" suggests pettiness and temper tantrums.
Imagery: words or phrases a writer
uses to represent persons, objects, actions, feelings, and ideas descriptively by appealing to the senses. (In other words,
the author is "writing to show.")
an authors use of diction or imagery, do not say such simplistic statements as "The author uses good diction," or "uses interesting
imagery." BE SPECIFIC.
EX: (diction)The author uses vivid and upbeat action verbs to show the energy of a toddler.
EX: (imagery) Hawthorne uses
devil imagery to show the evilness
Figures of Speech
from the normal meaning and order of words to produce an effect.
Tropes: "turns" or changes in the literal sense of words.
an indirect reference to a mythological, literary, or historical
person, place, person or thing.
"Old Montag wanted to fly near the sun and now that hes burnt
his damn wings, he wonders why." (an allusion to Icarus
from Greek mythology)
Direct address to some person, quality, or object as if present
"O Moon, why changest thou?" (addressing the moon as though it
An obvious exaggeration for dramatic or comic effect
"His voice was as large as a mountain."
An intentional representation of something as less than it is
"I could probably manage to survive on a salary of ten million
dollars a year."
5. Irony (verbal irony)
Saying one thing
and meaning another
"Do not weep maiden, for war is kind."(war is anything but kind!)
Comparison of two unlike objects without using the words like or as. The objects are compared by identifying
them or by substituting one for the other.
"Tent of night in tatters" (night being compared to a tent)
A comparison of two unlike things using the words like or as
"O, my loves
like a red, red rose" (love being compared to a rose)
An image which stands for something larger than itself
Purple as a symbol of royalty, pride, etc.
Use of contradictory words in the same phrase
"deafening silence," "poor, little rich girl"
A seemingly contradictory statement which proves true upon examination
"He who has found life shall lose it, and he who has lost his
life for My sake, shall find it."
A kind of metaphor that gives abstractions, animals, or things
"When the wind sighs" (the wind being given the ability to sigh
like a human.)
A play on words based on the similarity of sound between two words
"There I should see a Sun [Son], by rising, set"
Schemes: "forms" or shapes; changes in the rhetorical pattern (sentence structure, etc.)
to achieve special effects (without changing the literal meaning of words)
Schemes of Balance
"If we wish to
be freeif we mean to preserveif we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle" [Starts with "if we" (see anaphora below) and is followed by an infinitive verb ("to be," "to preserve," "to abandon")]
of opposite ideas in similar grammatical structure
"Mississippi, a desert state sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed
into an oasis of freedom and justice." [Opposing ideas ("injustice and oppression"
and "freedom and justice" ) in a parallel structure ("of" followed by two objects of the preposition.)]
Schemes of Repetition
of the same word or phrase at the beginning of lines, clauses, or sentences
"If we wish to
be freeif we mean to preserveif we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle" (the repetition of "if we" at the beginning of clauses)
of initial consonant sounds
sable, silent, solemn forest stood."
of vowel sounds in a series of words
recent buds relax and spread,/Their greenness is a kind of grief." (the repetition of the "e"
of a consonant sound within a series of words to produce a harmonious effect
like to see it lap the miles/And lick the valleys up." [These two lines contain both alliteration
(beginning "l" sound) and consonance ("miles" and "valleys")]
sounds in two or more words or phrases that appear close to each other in a poem. End
rhyme occurs at the end of lines, internal rhyme, within a line.
TP-CASTT: A Way of Analyzing Poetry
Ponder the meaning of the title before reading the poem. How might the title indicate the possible meaning of the poem?
Translate the poem into your own wordswhat is the literal meaning, or the "plot" of the poem? You should also identify
the speaker of the poem.
the poem for meaning beyond the literalidentify the figures of speech (tropes and schemes) on every line and explain how they
make meaning in the poem.
Observe the attitude of the speaker and the poet toward the poems subject matter. The authors use of diction, images,
and details helps us determine attitude (tone). See the tone vocabulary handout.
Note shifts, progressions, and changes in the speaker or authors attitude as the poem moves.
Examine the title again, this time on an interpretive level. How has it taken on new meaning now that we have read
Determine what universal truth about human life the poet is showing us through the poem. See theme handout.