and Connotation (1): Figures of Speech
Poets often deviate from the denotative meanings of words to create fresher ideas and images. Such deviations from the literal meanings are called figures of speech or figurative language. If you giddily whisper to your classmate that the introduction to literature class is so wonderful and exciting that the class sessions seem to only last a minute, you are using a figure of speech. If you say that our textbook is your best friend, you are using a figure of speech. There are many different kinds of figures of speech, such as metaphors, similes, personification, hyperbole, understatement, paradox, and pun. It's important that you understand several kinds of figures of speech.
A simile is a comparison between two dissimilar objects using a word like as or like to connect them. For example, if you say, "my boyfriend is like a watermelon in the summer,"¨ you are creating a simile that compares your boyfriend with a watermelon. If on the other hand you are mad at your boyfriend and say, "he's like a typhoon in the house," you're comparing your boyfriend with a typhoon.
A metaphor is similar to a simile, except that a metaphor compares two dissimilar objects without using a word like as or like. If you write, "my boyfriend is an angel" or "my motorcycle is a bomb on wheels," you are creating metaphors.
If you present an inanimate object, animal, or abstraction with human qualities and characteristics, as though it were a person, you are using personification. If you tell yourself that you have to put your new pencil back in the pencil box because it's lonely and wants to go home, you are personifying your pencil. If you say that you have to talk sweetly to your computer because it is temperamental, you are personifying your pencil.
of Speech(2): verbal Irony
Irony involves a contradiction. "In general, irony is the perception of a clash between appearance and reality, between seems and is, or between ought and is" (Harper Handbook).
Verbal irony--"Saying something
contrary to what it means" (Harper Handbook). In daily
language, being ironic means that you say something but mean the opposite
to what you say. "Oh, how lucky we are to have SO MANY online materials
offered by the Introduction to Literature class!" you said, and you might
mean it, or you might be just ironic. If you are ironic, there
is a contradiction between your literal meaning and your actual
meaning--and this is what we call verbal (rhetoric) irony.
When the narrator in Shirley Jackson's "The
Lottery" says, "Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and
lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones," the
tone is ironic because the villagers seem civilized, but they are
Figures of Speech (2)
Hyperbole (sometimes called overstatement)
occurs when you exaggerate a point that you are trying to make. If you
say that the lights in our classroom are too bright because they are brighter
than ten thousand suns, you are using an example of hyperbole. Or
if you say that you're so hungry you could eat a million cookies and six
gallon of ice cream, you're using hyperbole.
A sentence that contains a paradox seems initially to have contradictory elements in it but after some reflection those elements later make sense. To say, for example, that morning is the darkest time for me is paradoxical since mornings are bright and full of light but they seem mentally "dark" to me because I'm a night-person.
A pun is a play on words that occurs when one word is used that reminds you of another word or words. You can, for example, use a word that looks like or sounds like another word. For example, if my dad says, "he is the son and all the world to me," there is a pun on the words son and sun.
Wilbur "A Simile for her Smile" (1950 p. 556)
Rich "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers" (1951 p. 620)
Plath "Metaphors" (1960 p. 555)
Dickenson "I'm Nobody! Who are you?" (1861? p. 530)
In the "Lyric and Tone" section, we talked about the poets' identities (as minorities or whites). In this unit, we have four poems by women, and one by man (Richard Wilbur). Do these four poems by women (one in the nineteenth century, one modern period and one contemporary) share any similarities or differences (because of their times)?