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Thursday, February 11, 2010

How to Write a Paper or Essay - Imagery

All stories have some kind of imagery. Imagery is the descriptive or figurative language that authors use to create a mental image or picture in the readers' minds. (Figurative language includes literary tools such as similes and metaphors - we'll discuss them more next week).



Imagery is a very powerful tool in an author's arsenal, and as such, it's a great tool to discuss when writing a literary analysis. Here are some things to think about when discussing the imagery in a literary work:

  • What are some examples of imagery in the work?
  • Are there recurring images? What do they mean?
    • for instance, say there are images of water throughout a book; streams, lakes, rivers, rain falling, waterfalls, a cup of water being tipped over and trickling off a table, spilling drip by drip onto the floor, echoing the drip, drip of the MC's blood as it flows from his body - what might be the purpose of these images? What does the water represent? (this is getting a bit into symbolism, which often goes hand in hand with imagery). Why are there so many watery images in the story?
  • Does the descriptive and figurative language used by the author work well in creating the intended image? Is it too overdone, creating something more amusing than powerful? Would another description or image have worked better or worse?
  • What are the most important examples of imagery in the story?
  • How do these images relate to the main theme of the book? Do they help enhance the point the author is trying to make? Why or why not?
You could focus on one main image (like our water example) or discuss several instances of imagery in the work you are analyzing. But in each case, discuss the importance of the imagery. Don't just point it out, giving the reader the WHAT...give us the WHY. Why are these images important? Why are they in the book? Why did the author use that particular image? What sort of picture does the imagery paint and does it work better or worse than another might? Why or why not?

4 comments:

Average Terran said...

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Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this advice. I'm writing a paper on imagery within a particular poem, and for some reason I could not decide how to approach this properly. Your suggestions have been most helpful!

Thanks and God bless.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much i have to write a peper about imagery in a poem and give examples of it as well.

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