Word of the Week: Imagery

Imagery is one of the most common , yet most affective literary devices used in literature, poetry, and other alternatives of writing. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary “pictures produced by an imaging system,” “the product of image makers”, “figurative language” , and “mental images” (Merriam-Webster).

In order to understand the origins of the word for “imagery”, there has to be an understanding of the origins of the word for “image” because the word imagery derives from the word image.

The origins of the word “image” stem from the Latin word “imago” which translates as “image“. For imagery, the origins come from the same Latin word “imago“, but then later is adopted by Old French and the word “imager” which means “make an image“.

Literarydevices.net best describes imagery as “…imagery makes use of particular words that create visual representation of ideas in our minds”, meaning that imagery uses vivid descriptions and words as a way to create mental images for readers. Imagery is also considered to be a form of figurative language, meaning that the image represents a more metaphorical meaning than just the actual image’s literal meaning.

One literary example of this is in Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare where it reads,

“O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear …” (Shakespeare)

The imagery in this example is light and torch flames. The figurative language and metaphorical meaning of light is that Romeo is saying Juliet is the light and her beauty shines.

The overall purpose of imagery is to stimulate the senses of a reader. It is to create a visual perception of the story, poem, or other written medium. Imagery can also, at times, carry figurative language, leading to a metaphorical meaning beyond the literal definition and interpretation of the image.

Question: What Robert Frost poems can you find that contain imagery? Comment the poem and analysis below or on our Facebook group page!


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