Image by Grant Snider

Annotating a poem, play, or a piece of a prose is not just about finding out what the basic meaning/message is. Rather, there is a lot more to discovered when you read between the lines.

That’s what everyone says about literature and why it’s “difficult”: literature is about reading between the lines. A statement that says so much and so little at the same time.
What does it mean to read between the lines?

A simplified explanation would be as follows:
Reading between the lines is like finding the keyholes. When you’ve unlocked these keyholes, you get more meaning.

To unlock keyholes, you need keys. These keys are known as literary devices.
Similes, setting, metaphor, onomatopoeia, rhyme, imagery, diction, etc. These are the literary devices that poets, authors, and playwrights use to inject more meaning into their literary works. If you know what they keys are, you’ll know how to look for the keyholes.

Alas, there are too many literary devices available. As the end-of-year exams are just around the corner, I’ve compiled a list of literary devices, their definitions, examples of said literary devices in popular literature, and their functions/purposes. Feel free to download the pdf. file by clicking the ‘Download’ button below.

Note: this is a summary, based on the information provided by
I do not claim ownership over any of the information in the file.
If you’d like to learn about more literary devices (especially if you’re studying upper secondary literature), I’d recommend the free resources on
(That’s a personal recommendation. I am not sponsored by them.)

All the best for your upcoming exams!

If you have any further questions about studying literature or writing literature essays, or if you’re looking for a literature tutor, feel free to contact me or connect with me via Facebook.


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