Literary Resources – Concept, types and characteristics

We explain what literary resources are, the types of literary resources that there are and some of their characteristics.

Literary resources
Literary resources are the special uses that are given to the language.

What are literary devices?

Literary resources or also rhetorical figures are called the turns and special strategies that the authors of literature print on language in their works, with the purpose of endowing them with greater expressive power or greater beauty. It is, therefore, special uses, other than the ordinary, of the language.

With this we do not refer specifically to the verse, nor to the visual effects that in some poems it is intended to achieve by distributing the text on the page, but to ways of saying things, to methods for varying the common way of using language.

It should be clarified that all literary works are written in a language out of the ordinary or far from the ordinary, not only in verse but also in prose. But even so the use of literary devices print a unique, singular stamp to the work; something that is part of style of each writer.

It must also be said that many of these literary devices can occur in the common language, as forms of play, emphasis or to enhance what is said, but it is not the usual way of using the spoken language. Jokes, oral stories, and various forms of such expression are rich in witty twists of language.

Types of literary devices and examples

  • Metaphor or simile. It consists of substituting a referent for another with which there is a link of similarity, establishing a comparison between them based on a common trait, or defining one based on the other. When this occurs through a nexus (a “like”, for example), we will speak of simile; when not, as a metaphor. For example: “The ruby ​​of your lips” is a metaphor, as it compares someone’s lips to rubies based on their reddish color; the same is “Your lips red as rubies”, which would be a simile given the presence of “how”.
  • Metonymy. It consists of an exchange of referents, just like the metaphor, but provided that there is a relationship of the part for the thing, the effect for the cause, or the thing for its origin. For example: “We read Cervantes” (the author for his work) or “We went to eat Chinese” (the nationality for the thing).
  • Hyperbole. It consists of poetic exaggeration: one whose meaning is to highlight the explicit meaning of an idea. For example: “Bruno was as long as a flagpole.”
  • Personification. It occurs when we give inanimate objects or animals certain unique traits of humanity. For example: “The trees in the garden were leaning towards us curiously.”
  • Oxymoron. It implies the joining of two logically opposite terms, that is, two words whose meanings could not normally coexist. For example: “The icy heat of your gaze” or “The bright night without stars.”
  • Hyperbaton. It is based on the alteration of the customary order of the sentence, to highlight through the syntax some of its meanings. It is typical of poetry, although not exclusive. For example: “I gave him a kiss to your cheek yesterday.”
  • Anaphora. It is a repetition at the beginning of two or more phrases, which produces a melodic or emphatic effect with respect to what is said, usually associated with the intensity of a feeling. For example: “That night we walked along the trail. That night we checked that there was no one at the end ”.
  • Onomatopoeia. Widely used in everyday speech, this resource consists of the representation through spoken language of the sound of something or an animal. For example: “knock, knock, knock, the door rang” or “I couldn’t bear the constant ticking of the clock.”
  • Ellipse. Ellipsis is fundamentally about omission, that is, deliberately avoiding saying certain things or giving certain information to the receiver. This lack, however, does not prevent the meaning of what has been said from being preserved, but gives agility, speed or rhythm to prayer. That omitted can be a name, a subject, an action or a referent that is part of a comparison and remains unspoken. For example: “Paula took the path on the right, Maria the one on the left” (avoid repeating “path”); or also: “I woke up bathed in sweat, she wrapped up and totally dry” (avoid repeating “wake up”).
  • Alliteration. This is a phonetic resource, that is, of sound. It occurs when a phrase is deliberately constructed that hides the repetition of a sound. It is frequent in tongue twisters, albures and riddles, because only by paying attention to the sound and not to the meaning can the answer be reconstituted. It can also be used to imprint an internal melody to the prayer. For example: The popular riddle “I tell you and I tell you, I’ll repeat it to you” (in the repetition the word “cloth” is hidden; or in the phrase “the classic clarinets were heard” (the repetition of the first syllable induces a particular rhythm).