In literature, synesthesia refers to a technique adopted by writers to present ideas, characters, or places in such a way that they appeal to more than one sense, such as hearing, sight, smell, and touch in a certain moment.
Generally, the term synesthesia refers to a certain medical condition in which one of the five senses simultaneously stimulates another sense. A person with such a condition can not only see the letters of the alphabet, but also associate them with particular scents. This happens when the different parts of the brain that are responsible for identifying color, sound, taste and smell are somehow interrelated and thus one sense triggers another sense
Examples of synesthesia from everyday life
In the In everyday language, we find many examples of synesthesia, such as the frequently used adjective “cool.” This word is generally associated with temperature. However, in casual conversation, we hear phrases like "cool dress," "cool color," or "you look great," in which the visual sensation is mixed with the sense of touch. We often hear phrases like "strong colors," "icy silence," "warm colors," and "icy cold."
Examples of synesthesia in literature
In literature, synesthesia is a figurative use of words that attempts to elicit a response from readers by stimulating multiple senses.
Example # 1: The Divine Comedy (By Dante Alighieri)
Dante's Divine Comedy Alighieri contains a good example of synesthesia in the literature. In the first song, the poet tells us about a place called "Inferno". He says,
"Back to the region where the sun is silent."
Here, Dante unites the sense of sight (sun) with the sense of hearing (silent) .
Example # 2: Ode to a nightingale (by John Keats)
We look at the synaesthetic images in John Keats's Ode to a Mockingbird:
“Savoring the flora and green fields,
Provençal dance and song, and sunburned joy! In the same poem, he also says:
"In some melodious plot,
Of green bee,
Singest of the summer with total tranquility".
Keats associates the act of singing melodiously with a plot covered with green beech trees, thus connecting visually
Example # 3: King Lear (By William Shakespeare)
We see Shakespeare employing the synaesthetic device in his play King Lear, act 2, scene 2:
"You are a lady: if only to warm up beautiful,
Why does nature not need
In the excerpt above, King Lear mocks his daughter Goneril for wearing a revealing outfit. He associates the word “Warm” with “beautiful”, which is an attempt to mix the sense of touch with the sense of sight.
Example 4: A tuft of flowers (by Robert Frost)
Robert Frost uses a tuft of flowers in his poem Synesthesia:
“The butterfly and I had lit,
Still a message from the dawn,
That made me hear the birds wake up,
And his long scythe too Hear floor whisper… ”
In the above excerpt, the speaker reveals a mixture of sensory experiences that he is experiencing. The speaker's visual sense and hearing make him aware of his surroundings.
Example # 5: Dying (by Emily Dickinson)
Emily Dickinson uses synesthesia in her poem Dying:
“With a blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz,
between the light and me ; The poet added a visual element to the humming sound "Buzz" by calling it blue.
Example 6: The Whole World (by Julia Glass) has a state of synesthesia where she seems to feel colors in the words she reads, as shown below:
“The word would take her mind off for a few minutes with a single Filling color: not an unpleasant sensation, but still an intrusion ... Patriarch: Brown, she thought, a temple of a word, a shiny red-brown, like the surface of a chestnut. “
These lines are comments from Duffy, who views Saga's synesthesia as a distraction.
Function of synesthesia
Writers use this device to creatively communicate ideas to readers. It makes your ideas more vivid and adds more layers of meaning to a text for the pleasure of readers. By blending different senses, writers make their works more interesting and engaging.
Popular Literary Devices
- Ad Hominem
- Deus Ex Machina
- Double Entendre
- Flash Forward
- Half Rhyme
- Internal Rhyme
- Line Break
- Non Sequitur
- Pathetic Fallacy
- Poetic Justice
- Point of View
- Red Herring
- Tragic Flaw