A common thing that you will hear when thinking about the English language is the use of imagery. But what does this term mean? In this article, we are going to look more closely at what imagery is and why it is used. We are then going to look at some examples of imagery being used within two contexts, spoken and written and this will give us a greater understanding of how it works.
What is Imagery?
Imagery is a concept that is quite easy to understand, it is simply the use of vivid descriptions in order to explain a situation to a reader or listener. It is a way of building a picture or ‘image’ in the mind so that the audience can gain a greater understanding of the situation which is being talked about. Imagery is used as both a literary device and in figurative language. In the latter, it is a great way for a speaker to express in a more colorful way, how something might look, smell, feel or taste. When used as a literary device, imagery gives the author the chance to be more creative in their descriptions within the text.
Examples of Imagery In Spoken Language
As we previously mentioned, imagery is used in spoken language to put across a detailed description to the listener. It is something that can use figurative language in order to appeal to the human senses, therefore giving a greater understanding of what is being said. There are many ways in which you might use imagery during a conversation so let’s take a look at some of the things you might say or hear.
- The forest was dark and cold when I took my dog for a walk there yesterday.
- I live near a park and the children and constantly shouting and screaming, the noise is deafening.
- Whenever I walk through town, I pass the cafe from which I inhale the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.
- I brought a new throw for my chair, it is soft and silky and runs through my hands like a fluid.
- My favourite fruit is the strawberry. They are crisp and fresh and so sweet.
- I picked up some dirt from the ground and sifted it through my fingers.
- I stood by the river and threw in stones, they splashed as they hit the water and sunk rapidly.
- At night, the moonlight pours through my window, lighting up the room with a heavenly glow.
- My garden is a tranquil haven filled with colourful roses and lush, green hedges.
- The water from the fridge will be much more cool, clean and crisp than the water from the tap.
- My dog is my best friend, he is loyal and friendly and his bright blue eyes are stunning and deep.
- I brought a new dress, it is glamorous and the fabric flows and drapes along my curves.
Examples of Imagery In Literature
Most writers will use imagery, especially within works of fiction as this is a great way to describe how something looks or the traits of a character within the story. Some writers centre most of their work around the use of imagery in order to create a very detailed and descriptive piece of writing. There have been many examples of imagery being used over the years in various written works, let’s take a look at some of these now.
- William Shakespeare used some wonderful imagery when he wrote Romeo and Juliet, one example of this can be seen in this passage: “She does teach the torch to burn brightly! It would seem that she hangs from the cheek of the night. She is like a jewel in the ear of Ethiope.”
- E B White uses a good example of imagery in the piece Once more to the lake, here is an excerpt from this; “When they went for a swim, my son said that he would go as well. He grabbed his soaking trunks off the line where they had been hanging during the shower, and he wrung them out. I did not want to go in, but I watched him, his body skinny, bare and hard, and he slightly winced as he pulled the icy, soggy garment around his vitals.“
- In Great Expectations written by Charles Dickens, we see many examples of imagery being used, once such example is as follows: “The morning was rimy and it was very damp. I could see the damp which lay on the outside of the small window and now I could see it lying upon the hedges and grass. On each gate and rail it lay, clammy and wet and the mist so thick.”
- IN Goodbye Mr Chips written by James Hilton there are also a lot of examples of imagery throughout the piece, however, a good example of this is seen in the passage that follows. “He had like Brookfield almost from the start. He looked back on the day of his initial interview – sunny June when the air was filled with the scent of flowers and you could hear the plick plock of a game of cricket being played on the pitch. Brookfield had been playing against Barnhurst and one of their team, a little fellow who was chubby had made an excellent century.“
- In a poem written by Robert Frost called Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening, we see an example of imagery being used in the following passage; “The wood is deep and dark and lovely.“
- Another example of imagery from poet, Robert Frost can be seen in his poem, My November guest in which he uses it in the following example; “My sorrow, when she is here alongside me, thinks that the dark days in the autumn rain, are beautiful, she is in love with the withered and bare tree and walks the sodden lane.”
Imagery is something which can be used in either day to day conversation or in a written piece of work as a literary device. It is simply a way to describe a situation or person in a more vivid way and can truly add depth to a piece of writing.
By using imagery, it makes it easier for the reader or listener to grasp the situation by using their senses as directed by the imagery.