Elements of Style- Imagery

Elements of Style- Imagery

Literature creatively uses language to communicate human experiences. That being the case, the elements of literature play an important role in affecting its role in society. Elements of literature include plot, themes, point of view, characterization, and style. All these work harmoniously to help novelists, poets, and playwrights pass their message to the audience. Style elements are fundamental in literature because they qualify the latter as an art. They contribute to creativity by alienating literary work from other writings. Therefore, style is a spice to literary work. It proves how authors craft their diction, syntax, and figurative language to make literature an aesthetic entity. Among the elements of style, imagery is at heart and the most fundamental.

Imagery refers to using images, often in consistent patterns, to enhance and create sensory impressions that evoke feelings. The implication is that when literary artists use the device, they appeal to the primary human senses (smell, touch, vision, and hearing). Fundamentally, imagery is an element of style that helps create mental images for the audience.

As people interact with literature, imagery helps enhance perception and interpretation. Perception and imagery are the faculties of cognition (Ferretti, 2006). Whenever written literature lacks imagery, it has insufficient perceptive information. Some readers may even consider the work to be plain. Authors endeavor to use imagery as a way of enticing their readers.

In the simplest definitions, the imagery refers to making pictures out of words (Dnyansagar, n.d.). Therefore, literary artists present images through phrases, clauses, or descriptions that trigger the mind to have fanciful imagination. Imagery is a device that offers an interpretation that exceeds reality because one is forced to use their mental faculties while decoding the meaning.

How Novelists, Poets, and Playwrights Realize Imagery

Literary artists realize imagery through the use of basic elements of style. These include similes, metaphors, personification, and symbolism. The definition of these terms by Abrams (1999) is as follows.

  1. Simile: Comparison of two things indirectly by using words such as ‘like’ and ‘as’.

For example, “O my love’s like a red, red rose” (p.97).

Similar Example- He was as proud as a newly crowned prince.

  1. Metaphor: Refers to the comparison of two unlike things without the use of ‘like’ and ‘as’. Unlike a simile, a metaphor has no assertions of comparison.

For example, “O my love is a red, red rose.” (p.97).

Similar Example- My marriage is a bed of roses- Implies that it is a good marriage.

  1. Personification: Personification is a figure of style in which inanimate items/objects, or things in abstraction, are endowed with living attributes/ human qualities.

For example, “Sky lowered, and muttering thunder, some sad drop.” (p.99).

Similar Example- He sat under the idle tree and whispered leaves.

  1. Symbolism: Symbolism is a style in which literary artists use concrete entities to present those in abstraction.

Example, regarding Jesus Christ as a shepherd (Protection). (p. 201).

Similar Example- Representation of love by the use of a rose.


The figures of style above are fundamental in the realization of imagery because they contribute to forming mental ideas beyond the natural scope. Furthermore, they help make literary materials aesthetic. When one comes into contact with literature full of metaphors and personification, one will probably enjoy reading it more than those whose presentation is plain. In conclusion, imagery is an important device in the list of stylistic devices because it helps form abstractions in the mind and attach words to other meanings; it is realized by using other devices such as similes, metaphor, personification, and symbolism.


Abrams, M. (1999). A Glossary of Literary Terms Seventh Edition. Boston: Thomson Learning.

Dnyansagar, S. (n.d.). Imagery: Definitions, Types, and Functions. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from

Ferretti, F. (2006). Imagery, perception, and creativity. Anthropology and Philosophy7(1-2).


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