Revision Guide: Analysing Literary Techniques.

Revision Guide Brigid's English GCSE/IGCSE

Welcome to Part Three of our Revision Guide for IGCSE & GCSE English Language.

How to Analyse Images & Literary Techniques. Writers carefully choose the words & literary techniques they use. Words are chosen to create vivid pictures & images in the mind of the reader. These images stimulate the senses & trigger powerful connotations within the reader.

What are connotations?

A feeling, idea or memory that a word or phrase evokes in you.

These connotations intensify the effect of the writer's words & images. Connotations of love, fear, desire, delight, shock, joy, excitement, sympathy, laughter, horror, innocence, pain, curiosity... These effects create & change the atmosphere & mood of a text.

First Impressions are important. Always make a note of your first impressions of a text. This can be just one word or phrase.

How do you think the writer made you notice it?

Here are some synonyms of connotation:







Use these words when writing about the effect of the images & literary techniques.

Writers use words which have powerful & meaningful connotations in the reader's mind. The writer further highlights & intensifies these words & images with literary techniques. Let's have a look at how they create these effects. In other words, let's analyse some images/words & literary techniques.

Writers use words/images in 2 main ways.

1. Independently in a sentence.

E.g.The dark & gloomy room.


2. Within a literary technique.

E.g. The room was as dark & gloomy as the grave.

Here the images/words are further intensified by the use of a simile.The room isn't just dark & gloomy, it is like a grave. Ugh! The words dark & gloomy mildly hint at something potentially unpleasant, whereas the addition of as a grave leaves us in no doubt that something sinister or supernatural is lurking in the shadows!

For IGCSE & GCSE English Language you need to do 2 things:

1. Identify the Images & Literary Techniques in the text.

2. Comment on the effect of these images & literary techniques.

Identify images & Literary Techniques

Use highlighter pens to colour code your text

A.Individual words/images which stand out to you.



D.Alliteration & Assonance


F.Pathetic Fallacy



The effects of Literary Techniques In general the intended effect of all images & literary techniques is to make the text interesting, memorable & real. To make it effective.

1 Simile

E.g. Her wedding dress was as white as the first snowflake.

Revision guide IGCSE/GCSE English Language

Make a Mind Map of the connotations of this image.

Compare with:

Her wedding dress was as white as sun bleached bone.

Make a Mind Map showing the connotations.

Revision guide literary techniques IGCSE/GCSE

What effect do these connotations have on you?

2. Metaphor

E.g. Her snowflake wedding dress.

& Her bleached bone wedding dress.

The key words/images are the same in both the simile & metaphor examples. Only the literary technique has changed.

Sometimes a metaphor can be stronger than a simile.

What do you think?

3. Alliteration (consonants) & Assonance (vowels)

Both these literary techniques add rhythm & sound to a text. The effect can be musical, soothing, jarring, hypnotic, humorous, or terrifying. The effect depends of the choice of words/images & the type of sound which is repeated. Short or long? Hard or soft? The sounds add another layer to the text. This enriches the passage by adding texture. Different rhythms created by alliteration or assonance can also determine how we read the we read this slowly or do we speed up with hearts pounding?



"A host of golden daffodils"

William Wordsworth is out walking in the hills & has just spotted a mass of beautiful daffodils bobbing in the sunshine.

Is the O sound long or short?

Is the O sound hard or soft?

Revision guide IGCSE/GCSE English Language. Literary Techniques

Practice saying it aloud with a friend.

Make a mind map showing the connotations of these long & soft sounds.

Probably something like this...

Revision guides GCSE/GCSE English language

This is just one response: The long & soft O sounds are reminiscent of religious singing or chanting. This adds to the effect of awe & wonder in the text.

How about you?

What effect does the repetition of the O sound have on you & your friends?



"We trekked & picked until the cans were full,

Until the tinkling bottom had been covered."

The poet is sharing his childhood memories of picking unripe blackberries.

Blackberry-Picking by Seamus Heaney

Revision Guides Blackberry-picking Seamus Heaney

The letters are different but the sound is the same.

Is the sound long or short?

Is the sound hard or soft?

Practice saying c ck kk aloud with a friend.

Make a mind map showing the connotations of the short & hard sounds. What effect does the repetition of the ck k c sound have on you & your friends?

Here is one response.

The short & hard sounds mimic the sound & rhythm of the children walking along the lane.

The short & hard sounds bring the memory alive by imitating the sound of the hard berries hitting the bottom of the tin can.

It is very musical & childlike.The sound evokes our own childhood memories.

We are remembering our childhood, just like Heaney is remembering his .

How about you?

4. Personification (human or animal attributes)

Personification injects extra energy & life into a text. This literary technique can present the everyday natural & urban world in a fresh & interesting way. Cars can cough & a wave can play in the water. The everyday world becomes animated.

E.g.The wind whispered through the trees

Compare with:

The wind howled through the trees