The authors use imagery frequently to add intensity to their descriptive writings. Human senses play a very important role in the reader’s comprehension of books. A skillful use of imagery appeals to all senses. Imagery as a literary device, with the help of descriptive phrases and words, generates images, mentally. Imagery in literature is the art of invoking powerful images by using various literary devices, metaphors and similes, allusions, and personifications. These images appeals to all human senses.
Definition of imagery
Imagery is a device used in literature that allows writers to use expressive language, which unable the readers to get a better idea of the world or the topic of discussion. Symbolism, as a literary device, plays an important part in the use of imagery. Imagery touches and stimulates all five human senses, sight, smell, sound, taste and touch. Besides this it also touches on the mobility of a human body, called ‘kinesthetic imagery’ or describes strong emotions such as anxiety or starvation known as ‘subjective or organic imagery’.
• Touch: Rough texture of prison uniform chafed her skin and left bruises all over her body.
• Smell: The aroma of frying onions wafted from the kitchen and he remembered his mother toiling away in the kitchen over a hot stove.
• Taste: The sweet and sour taste of the tangerine remained in his mouth for a long time.
• Sound: Someone was singing a haunting and lilting song in the street below his window.
• Sight: The relentless and furious onslaught of waves on the sea wall evoked fear of disaster.
Seven kinds of imagery form part and parcel of an author’s literary tool and allows him to weave enchanting images. These are, kinesthetic (movement), thermal, visual and auditory, olfactory, gustatory and tactile (touch). A detailed description of each is necessary to understand the magical effect of symbolism on the minds of the audience.
Visual: Visual imagery is connected with the sight; the writer uses the device to create a powerful visual image of a scene or event.
“The deep blue hues of twilight were reflected in the still water; the slight glint of moonlight peeked through the clouds just enough to make out the silhouette of a passing ship”
Imagery of Sound: The imagery of sound uses words that connect with the auditory sense to create an image of varied sounds such as noise, musical notes, etc. Auditory imagery also uses words that are real such as ‘buzz’ or ‘bang’ a loud noise. The technical term for using real sounds is called onomatopoeia, it is normally used in prose, but sometimes poets also use onomatopoeia to create powerful imagery.
• He could hear the constant knocking of branch on the glass of a window.
• Mary could hear the tinkling sound of water as it trickles down the slope of a mountain.
Imagery of smell (olfactory): Smell is a very strong sensory experience and has an obvious effect on the human beings, e.g. Sweet aroma of a flower or odious smell of human sweat or unwashed clothes.
• I woke up with the smell of freshly baked bread wafting from the kitchen.
• I smelled the pungent odor of human sweat from his sweat soaked tee shirt.
Imagery of taste (gustatory): Imagery of taste conveys an idea of a distinctive palate and flavor of food.
• I tasted the tangy flavor or juicy plums.
• The ham was crunchy and perfectly cooked.
Imagery of touch (tactile): relates to touching sense and qualities like hardness, softness or hot and cold.
• The hot tea scalded his tongue.
• The touch of rough bark against her naked back was not very pleasant.
Imagery of Movement (Kinesthetic): This type of imagery describes the motion or movement of the body.
• The wet sand clung to Harry as he howled in fear and tried to claw back to the shore
• The movement of her body as she danced on the stage was like swaying of a flower in a gentle breeze
Imagery that is connected with the personal experience: This is also called subjective or organic imagery and is connected with the personal feeling, emotions and experience. This type of imagery includes, feelings of hunger, thirst, tiredness, illness, or pain
"He was completely drained of energy, his knees buckling from carrying his own weight and eyes drooping from exhaustion."