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The Great Gatsby: Literary Terms/Devices Simile: a figure of speech used to make a comparison, usually using the words “like,” “as,” or “as though” Example: For a moment the last sunshine fell with romantic affection on her glowing face; her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as I listened – then the glow faded, each light deserting her with lingering regret, like children leaving a pleasant street at dusk. (14) Metaphor: a metaphor is language that compares two seemingly unrelated objects. Examples: Sometimes they came and went without having met Gatsby at all, came for the party with a simplicity of heart that was its own ticket of admission. (41) Simplicity of heart and a ticket of admission have almost nothing in common, but the simplicity of heart is the ticket of admission. Alliteration: the repetition of the leading sound of a word. Example: The Great Gatsby – a student acknowledged that she thought The Great Gatsby was a children’s book, probably because the alliteration in the title gives the impression of a sing- songy children’s book. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers, Sally Sold Sea Shells By the Sea Shore Symbol: Concrete representations of ideas or concepts. Example: The character “Daisy” is symbolic of the idea of a flower. Daisy often acts in a flower-like way, speaking and acting very daintily and happily. She also appears very delicate at times, such as the time when Tom hurt her finger. Motif: recurring words, phrases or ideas that help to unify the book, poem, etc. Example: Geography: Geography is an important motif in the book. Geographic locations, such as West Egg, East Egg, New York City, and the Midwest are all important geographic locations in the novel. Time: Time is another motif in the novel. There are continual references to time, such as “New” Rich, “Old” Rich, and Nick’s obsession with time as he narrates the novel. We will come across more examples of time as the book moves on. Theme: The fundamental and often universal ideas explored in the book that are not presented directly. It is extracted from the characters, action, and setting, and are usually views about life and the behavior of characters. Example: The corruption or decline of the American Dream in the 1920’s. Many characters in The Great Gatsby are arrogant, materialistic, and dishonest. These people want pleasure, and are willing to do anything for it. Example: The hollowness of the upper class. The Great Gatsby portrays the “old” rich (the Buchanans) as people who are extremely wealthy, and believe that this wealth entitles them to do whatever they want. They are inconsiderate and careless. Homework: Bring in the lyrics to a song or poem that includes at least three of the six literary devices. Underline, highlight, or briefly explain each literary device in the lyrics.
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