What does the term imagery mean in literature?


Quick Answer

Imagery is the use of figurative language in literature in such a way that it appeals to the senses. It is used in several different literary techniques, such as metaphor, onomatopoeia and personification, in order to make the reader taste, smell or feel specific sensations.

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Full Answer

When used skilfully, imagery can generate a strong graphic image in the mind of the reader that gives him the sense of being in the story. Careful word choice is key to good imagery. For example, a dismal dark swamp is not experienced by the reader in the same way as a shady wetland, even though they are the same thing. Imagery serves multiple purposes in literature, including beautification of language and characterization of people and things.

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