Literary Devices

Happy New Year!

All writers use literary devices. Former teachers of English are, perhaps, a bit more cogent of their importance. I probably neglected verbal irony to a disproportionate extent, for it is quite prevalent amoung the Northern Irish. Also, it is not unusual to find litotes present in a novel set in the British Isles. Dramatic irony is present in many places. I hesitate to elaborate any further, since doing so would reveal spoiler details of the novel. The same holds true for my use of foreshadowing, but one non-spoiler of an example  comes to mind– when Éimhear lectures “Liam” on Church & Bank Streets after leaving The Happy Asian. In regard to allusion, many of my allusions are to famous poets, but there are some to folk ballads as well (Little Musgrave, etc.), and also to prominent Northern Ireland musical artists, such as James Galway, Paul Brady, and Van Morrison. Two recurring biblical allusions—St. Peter and Cain– are key to the story. I use imagery quite a bit, most notably during the climax scene of the novel where the protagonist is moving from the Ulster Museum to Botanic Gardens and on to Stranmillis Embankment to Ormeau Bridge. Symbolism (some of Celtic origins) is present in the English Ivy references, in the Narrows, the rain, the Titanic, the bear, the trout, in other animate and inanimate objects (the oak, the flowers, and the stones), and in places, such as Ballybrady Island. When setting mood (and there are various moods to be found in the novel) I often relied on assonance and rhythm to give a poetic feel to the passage. One motif of note is the recurring references to the cardinal directions on the compass, symbolic of a distance between the peoples, and also that wisdom comes from the east. The protagonist’s stroll on The Mountain Road was first written as prose, then converted to poetry and then back to prose, a technique I use when teaching poetry to my students. Metaphorical applications include the river as both a fateful and changing force in life. Character archetypes are prevalent as well. Celtic myth is resorted to from time to time. For example, when Nick loses his sword, his sword being a phallic symbol; the story of the little bird is central to the tale; and the business about the Devil’s Half-Acre is drawn from a myth as well. Flashback is used in a few places, most notably to reveal expository details about the protagonist’s parents and his own past actions as well. Hyperbole is used in small ways. Smile  The Belfast setting contributes to the theme of civil discord while the specific setting of Will’s childhood home in Stranmillis alludes to St. Paul for the street names in that section are all of Biblical origins and his street is Damascus.  Point of view of narration was discussed in an earlier blog entry.

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