“Language is the dress of thought”
Literature is classified according to the style used by the creator. The creator chooses the style as per the subject of his work. This in turn helps us to know more about the work and what we should expect from it. Dr. Samuel Johnson rightly sums up this in his famous quote, “Language is the dress of thought.” Interestingly, cultural revolutions in history have affected not only the way people lived and dressed up, but also the way they spoke. You must have read various authors and seen how language kept changing over the years. Among these varied literary devices, genre is described as a class or type, of artistic venture having a particular form, content or technique. It can be poetry, short stories, plays, novels and so on.
Les Misérables, a French novel by Victor Hugo is considered one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century. It is a perfect example of
bildungsroman, a novel in which the protagonist develops morally, socially and psychologically through the entire narrative that generally starts off by the main character leaving his/her home. Many contemporary movies reflect this theme commonly referred to as the ‘coming of age story’. Onomatopoeia is a word that imitates the sound it represents. It originates from a Greek word which means name-making. When words such as buzz, crash, whirr and hiss are used, they bring out the complete essence of the meaning that the author intends to entail. A good example to understand the use of this device is the poem The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe. The poem, through its use of various words to describe the different bells literally transports you into a world of bells, “Silver bells!... How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, In the icy air of night!” Allegory, as a literary device, has been used quite often by writers. It is usually a story that has a deeper meaning in addition to its obvious meaning. Writers take the help of symbols and metaphors to convey their meaning. The oldest example of an allegory is the Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. The novel’s main character is named ‘Christian’ who is entrapped in the ‘bog’ of life and carries a ‘pack’ that symbolises the burden of ‘sin’. Even films make use of allegories; contemporary examples of allegory in films are The Matrix and Avatar.
Anastrophe is an inversion of what is logical or normal, in the words used in a sentence; it reverses or changes the order of words for greater emphasis. For example, Shakespeare uses the expression in Henry IV, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown” to emphasise the severity of being a king. Similarly, by using the words “Ten thousand saw I at a glance”, in his poem Daffodils, William Wordsworth emphasises the joy of seeing the innumerable daffodils, by the reversal of the usual syntax in the phrase to convey the meaning emphatically.
Another interesting literary device used by writers is called synecdoche. It is a figure of speech wherein a single word may signify a group or sometimes a general word may signify a special part. For example, the word Croesus is used to signify a rich man. The depiction of the entire facet by a part or vice versa is called synecdoche. Some more illustrations are, ‘He has several mouths to feed’. In this sentence, mouths stand for a number of people. In the case of ‘The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world’, hand refers to mothers universally. A commonly used device is an idea or expression which has two meanings. Many a times it is used to pass a humorous comment or bring about a mocking effect. This is called a ‘pun’, for example, ‘A man's home is his castle, in a manor of speaking’.