Make your own free website on
Language Arts: Mrs. Garcia
Home | LA 8H classroom guidelines | LA 8 Classroom Guidelines
LA 8: Poetry Tropes and Schemes

Diction: word choice intended to convey a certain effect.

            denotation: the dictionary definition of a word

            connotation: the feelings and attitudes associated with a word; the implied meaning of the word.

            EX: "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.")

*When analyzing 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 of Chillingworth.


Figures of Speech

Intentional departures from the normal meaning and order of words to produce an effect.


Tropes: "turns" or changes in the literal sense of words.


1. Allusion

   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)


2. Hyperbole

   An obvious exaggeration for dramatic or comic effect

   "His voice was as large as a mountain."


3. Understatement

   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."


4. Irony (verbal irony)

    Saying one thing and meaning another

   "Do not weep maiden, for war is kind."(war is anything but kind!)


5. Metaphor

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)


6. Simile

   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)


7. Symbol

   An image which stands for something larger than itself

   Purple as a symbol of royalty, pride, etc.


8. Oxymoron

   Use of contradictory words in the same phrase

   "deafening silence," "poor, little rich girl"


9. Paradox

   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."


10. Personification

   A kind of metaphor that gives abstractions, animals, or things human qualities

  "When the wind sighs" (the wind being given the ability to sigh like a human.)



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



Similarity of grammatical structure

"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")]


 Schemes of Repetition



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)



Repetition of initial consonant sounds

"A sable, silent, solemn forest stood."



Repetition of vowel sounds in a series of words

"The recent buds relax and spread,/Their greenness is a kind of grief." (the repetition of the "e" sound)



Repetition of a consonant sound within a series of words to produce a harmonious effect

"I 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")]



repetition of 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

Title                  Ponder the meaning of the title before reading the poem. How might the title indicate the possible meaning of the poem?


Paraphrase   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.


Connotation Contemplate 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.


Attitude          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.


Shifts                Note shifts, progressions, and changes in the speaker or authors attitude as the poem moves.


Title                  Examine the title again, this time on an interpretive level. How has it taken on new meaning now that we have read the poem?


Theme            Determine what universal truth about human life the poet is showing us through the poem. See theme handout.

Enter supporting content here