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Imagery Definition

Teacher/Instructor Katie Aquino
Katie Aquino

Writing, Grammar, Literature, ACT Prep
Education: M.Ed.,Stanford University

Katie is an enthusiastic teacher who strives to make connections between literature and student’s every day lives.

Imagery is paining a picture in the reader's head. Imagery is most powerful when it utilizes the five senses - sight, taste, smell, sound and touch. When identifying imagery, we can look for powerful adjectives.

Let's talk about imagery. Now imagery whether you're creating it or looking for it, it's simply the idea of painting a picture in the reader's head and it's words that are going to appeal to the five senses. So when my students are writing stories and need to create imagery they use the 'imagery daisy' so a petal for each of the senses and they try to get some sort of describing words in there that will appeal to each of your senses so that you can paint a picture in a reader's head about what's going on.
So one of the more famous stories that really utilizes imagery is Jane Eyrie. Let's a look at the description of this room and as we go let's mark down all the different ways that she describes it. 'The red room was a square chamber very seldom slept in.' So already I know it's a red room I know the shape of it and I know how often it's used so I get this idea that it may not be the most eerie place maybe it smells a little dank or musty yet it was one of the largest and stateliest chambers in the mansion so this idea of stately let's me know it's very fancy, very formal.
A bed supported on massive pillars of mahogany hung with curtains of deep red damask, stood out like a tabernacle in the center.' So I get this idea that there is a big focus point because it compares, to uses that figurative language to compare it to a tabernacle it gives me the color of the curtains and tells me how things are arranged in the room. 'The two large windows with their blinds always drawn down or half shrouded in festoons and falls of similar drapery. The carpet was red, the table at the foot of the bed was covered with a crimson cloth, the walls were a soft fawn color,' so some description and adjective there 'with a blush of pink in it. The wardrobe the toilet-table, the chairs were of darkly polished old mahogany.'
So I really feel I could walk into that room and I could picture it, I could arrange the furniture the way that she described it. I could imagine the windows with the blinds drawn, I could look at the pink and the kind of the soft brown that are in the walls and see how it all comes together so Bronte did an excellent job of really using using imagery here and appealing to the senses in order to make the reader feel that like they're there. So when you are identifying imagery look for those adjectives, look for the things that appeal to the senses and then see what effects it has on you as a reader.