Imagery is the literary term used for language and description that appeals to our five senses. When a writer attempts to describe something so that it appeals to our sense of smell, sight, taste, touch, or hearing; he/she has used imagery. Often, imagery is built on other literary devices, such as simile or metaphor, as the author uses comparisons to appeal to our senses.
1. I could hear the popping and crackling as mom dropped the bacon into the frying pan, and soon the salty, greasy smell wafted toward me.
2. Glittering white, the blanket of snow covered everything in sight.
3. The golden yellow sunlight filtered down through the pale new leaves on the oak trees, coming to rest on Jessica's brown toes that were splayed in the red Georgia mud.
Examples of Imagery in Literature
1. The poem "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" by William Wordsworth uses imagery throughout:
A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the milky way, They stretched in never-ending line Along the margin of a bay: Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
2. Charlotte's Web is full of imagery, such as this passage describing the fair: "In the hard-packed dirt of the midway, after the glaring lights are out and the people have gone to bed, you will find a veritable treasure of popcorn fragments, frozen custard dribblings, candied apples abandoned by tired children, sugar fluff crystals, salted almonds, popsicles, partially gnawed ice cream cones and wooden sticks of lollipops."
3. Romeo's description of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet is full of imagery:
Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven, Having some business, do entreat her eyes To twinkle in their spheres till they return. What if her eyes were there, they in her head? The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars,
As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven Would through the airy region stream so bright That birds would sing and think it were not night.-- See how she leans her cheek upon her hand!