Literary Description Concept Types Characteristics And Examples

We explain what a literary description is, its concept, features and what types exist. Also, we tell you what their functions are. The purpose or object of literary description is to describe the characteristics of something in an imaginative way. Poem and songs are examples of literary description.

Literary Description meaning concept


What is literary description?

A literary description or subjective description is a type of figure of speech or literary resource that serves to represent an image in words. To describe is to say or indicate, in a beautiful or artistic way, characteristics, especially of ideas and feelings, but also of beings, objects, places or landscapes. It is as if it were an intense reproduction of a photograph of something in particular, so that it seems that this image is in front of us.

Rhetorical figures are elements of language- various types of language – also called resources or tropes, which are used in literature and advertising, among other things, to express thoughts and feelings in a more complex and beautiful way to achieve art.

Concept of literary description:

An literary description or subjective description is a form of description typical of poetic or artistic texts, in which more attention is paid to the impressions and sensations that the described object or situation evokes in the person who describes them than to the characterization itself. and goals as they are.

In other words, it is a mode of description in which the emphasis is not so much on how something really is, but how it can be subjectively evaluated or thought to achieve an effect. aesthetic. In this the subjective description, typical of literary or poetic texts, differs from other forms of description typical of journalistic, scientific and practical texts.

  • As in literary texts, in subjective description the emphasis is on the language and the way it is used, and not on the objective characteristics of the subject being described.
  • Thus, while an objective, scientific description would likely give precise measurements of an object’s dimensions (its weight, proportions, composition), a subjective, literary description might tell what other object it resembles or in what situations it evokes the character it calls upon. Look at him.

Types of literary description:

The rhetorical or literary resources of description are the following:

  • The Ethopeia

It refers to the description of a being’s character in terms of attitudes and abilities or skills.

  • The topography.

It refers to a description of place indicating the spatial order between objects and their extent, appearance and position.

  • The prosopography.

This is a physical description of the external characteristics of people; i.e. their clothing, facial profile, body color, etc. It can be a description of facial features or the whole body, and can also represent features of animals or things.

  • The portrait.

It refers to the description of a person or character in both external (physical) and internal (psychological, spiritual, moral or character traits) traits. Thus, we can say that the portrait somehow connects or mixes the previous figures.

Types of rhetorical figures

There are several types of rhetorical figures, below we will see the most basic:

  • Thinking

This type of rhetorical resource builds on the meaning of a word, phrase or expression to give more force to the way a feeling or concept is expressed.

  • of Descriptions

This type of figure consists of a detailed and profound representation or description of a person’s ideas or feelings to make them very real or alive, but it also refers to the description of objects, places and animals.

  • of Importance.

These are those who use words figuratively to represent a concept, object or thought

  • of Diction

This is a change in the sound or way of connecting words, that is, the syntax of words in sentences is changed or reproduced.

Characteristics of literary description:

  • In literary description, several types of description are distinguished: physical, mental or emotional, behavioral and characteristic, etc.
  • This allows you to imagine what you are talking about. When describing, the thing, person or place that needs to be represented in words almost immediately comes to mind. In other words, we have a mental image of what we are going to talk about.
  • It is based on observation or prior knowledge of what is being described. For something to be described, it must be seen in the real world, or even in the imagination; that is, to see and observe it concretely or metaphorically.
  • Create harmony between what is described and how it is described. Harmony is created between what we are about to represent and the words we choose to use to talk about it. Not everyone describes the object in the same way. For example, if you’re trying to describe a table, someone might say it’s brown, has four legs, and is square; someone else might describe it as a heavy object made of black and white marble with glass and a vase on top, etc.
  • Pay attention to the details. This refers to the fact that the beauty of detail is achieved in the literary description; For example, when discussing color, size, volume, shape, etc., metaphors can be used to accompany each bit of information in the description.
  • It is used in poetry or storytelling. That is, we can find descriptions both in poetry and in stories, legends, novels, etc.

Functions of literary description

  • It allows to create an atmosphere. That is, it provides the necessary details for the reader to immerse himself in the universe of the story and more clearly imagine how things work in fiction.
  • It builds suspense. Since the description slows down the action of the literary text, it allows the beginning of the denouement of the anecdote to be delayed or slowed down, or the climaxes lengthened so that they cause more intrigue and a greater emotional response from the reader. .
  • This allows the reader to get closer to the character. In general, literary texts always best describe the characters emotionally closest to the reader and with whom they most identify. On the other hand, those who are obscure and unfamiliar to him are less important to him and therefore play a more minor role in reading him.
  • Recreate the point of view of the narrator. Especially when the story is being told by a character, detail and description is needed so that the way the story is being told truly sounds like their own, and not like a story told in an overall neutral voice.

Examples of literary description

Description of the character in the novel by Benito Pérez Galdós “Fortunata y Jacinta”.

She was a woman her years older than her and everyone knew she was never beautiful. You must have eaten good meat once; but her body was already full of folds and bulges, like an empty purse. There she, in truth, did not know what a breast was, what a belly was. Her face was rough and ugly. She if anything she expressed, was a bad temper and a sour disposition; but in this you have deceived this person, as well as many others who believe what you are not. Nikanora was a hapless woman, more kind than understanding, well versed in the struggle of life, which to her was an unwinnable, unrelenting struggle. She just stood up to her patiently and, looking at her face, her bad luck must have made her nose so long, which made her look pretty ugly.

Description of a character in the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

My sister, Mrs Jo Gargery, was twenty years my senior, and she and her neighbors had earned a reputation for ‘cheering me up’. As I was at that moment about to find out the meaning of this expression myself, and knew, moreover, that she had a hard and heavy hand, as well as a habit of dropping it on her husband and me, I thought that Joe Gargery and I ” Let’s raise our hands.”

My sister could not call herself a beauty, and she had a vague feeling that, most likely, she forced Joe Gargery to marry her, also “on hand.” Joe was handsome; a few strands of golden hair sprouted on either side of his smooth face, and his eyes were such an indecisive blue that they seemed to partially merge with their candor. He was a kind, gentle, cheerful, nice, reckless and very good person; a sort of Hercules, both in his strength and in his weakness.

My sister, Mrs. Jo, had black hair and eyes and such a ruddy complexion that I often wondered if she would scrub with a rasp instead of soap. She was tall, and she almost always wore a rough apron, tied behind her with two ribbons, and girded before her with an impregnable cuirass, for she was studded with pins and needles. She was very proud to wear such an apron, and hers was one of her reproaches to Joe. Despite her pockets, I couldn’t figure out why she was wearing it.

Her character description of her psychology in the book by Juan Eslava Galán “The history of Spain told to the skeptics”.

Felipe II was an imperiously weak hypochondriac, expressionless and taciturn, elusive and cold, terribly indecisive and very shy, although he was entrusted with all the power in the world. It is curious that this little man, sinister despite the particularities attributed to him, and erroneously called by historians the “prudent king”, has always had supporters of him, who identified him with the most intimate essence of “Spain”. . . […] He was a bureaucrat, a gray-haired man (although he preferred black, which was then imitated by the court).

Description of the place in the essay by Miguel de Unamuno On Traditionalism.

Wide Castile! And how beautiful is the calm sadness of this petrified sea full of sky! This is a monotonous monotonous landscape in contrasts of shadow and light, scattered colors and poverty of shadows.

The earth is a vast mosaic of very little variety, over which the intense blue of the sky extends. There are no soft transitions, no other harmonic continuity, except the endless plain and the solid blue that covers and illuminates it.

This landscape evokes neither a voluptuous feeling of joy, nor lascivious feelings of comfort and lightness: it is not a greasy green meadow on which one would like to lie down, nor folds of earth that ask for a nest.

The contemplation of him does not awaken in each of us the sleeping beast which, asleep from its lethargy, enjoys from the dawn of its life the aftertaste of gratifying appetites mingled with its flesh. , in the presence of deciduous fields of luxuriant vegetation. It is not nature that recreates the spirit.

Here there is no communion with nature, and we do not absorb it in magnificent abundance; This, if one can say so, is more than a pantheistic, monotheistic landscape, it is an exterminated field where, without getting lost, man shrinks and where aridity of the soul is felt among the aridity of the fields.

Description of the animal in the poem “Platero y Yo” by Juan Ramón Jiménez.

Platero is small, hairy, sweet; so soft on the outside, feels like it’s all cotton, shredded. Only the jet mirrors of his eyes are as hard as two black glass beetles.

Description of a character from the novel “Tristana” by Benito Pérez Galdos.

She was young, pretty, slender, of an almost incredible whiteness of pure alabaster; pale cheeks, black eyes, more remarkable for their vivacity and brilliance than for their fullness; incredible eyebrows, drawn in an arc with the tip of a very fine brush; her mouth was small and red, with lips a little large, fleshy, full of blood, as if they contained all that was missing from her face; tiny teeth, shards of laminated glass; her hair was brown and sparse, lustrous as silk threads, and gathered in an elegant mess on the top of her head. But the most characteristic of so strange a creature is that she seemed in all that surrounded her to be a pure ermine and a spirit of purity, for she did not defile herself even by descending to the crudest household chores… Her hands are ideally fashioned- what hands! -she possessed a mysterious virtue, your misfortune is no pond to me. In her whole appearance she bore the impression of an inner purity, elementary, superior and prior to any contact with anything dirty or impure. Of her Clothed, with a fox in her hands, her dust and her filth respected her; and when she dressed up and put on the purple gown with white cockades, her top bun, pierced with gold-headed pins, turned out to be the true image of a high-top Japanese woman. But what else, if all this is as if made of paper, of this plastic paper, warm and alive, where those inspired by the Orient represent the divine and the human, the serious comic and serious laughter? Her face was made of light paper, her whiteness, her companion, her dress was made of paper, her beautiful, thin, incomparable hands were made of paper.

Description of the place taken from the novel Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen.

She had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The equator ran through these highlands a hundred miles to the north, and the farm was about six thousand feet high. During the day we felt elevated, close to the sun, early morning hours and the days were clear and calm, and the nights cold. The combination of geographical position and altitude form a unique landscape in the world. It was neither excessive nor luxurious; it was Africa, extended to two thousand feet, like the rich and subtle essence of a continent. The paints were dry and discolored, like pottery paint. The trees had bright and delicate foliage, the texture of which differed from that of Europe; They grew not in arches or domes, but in horizontal layers, and their shape gave the individual tall trees a palm-like appearance or a romantic, heroic look, like ships rigged with sails, and the edges of the forest looked strange. as if the whole forest was vibrating slightly. Here and there, among the grasses of the great meadows, bare and twisted acacias grew, and the grass smelled of thyme and blueberries; in some places the smell was so strong that it stung the nostrils. Every flower you found in the meadows or among the vines and vineyards of your native woods was tiny, like the flowers of the dunes; only at the beginning of the heavy rains did large, heavy and very fragrant lilies grow. The landscapes were immensely empty.

Description of the place and the character in the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.

Many years later, facing a firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía will remember that distant day when his father took him to explore the ice. Macondo was then a village of about twenty mud and vine houses built on the banks of a river with clear waters that flowed on a bed of enormous smooth white stones, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so new that many things lacked a name and had to be pointed to to be mentioned. Every year in March, a family of ragged gypsies pitched their tents near the city and demonstrated new inventions to the sound of trumpets and timpani. First they brought a magnet. A fat gypsy with a matted beard and the hands of a sparrow, who introduced himself as Melquíades, gave a daring public demonstration of what he himself called the eighth miracle of the learned alchemists of Macedonia.

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