Definition of Sensory Images

The label «sensory images» is used to mention the wide range of representations or ideas that have a relationship with the senses. In this way, a literary text presents a series of words that allow the reader to create a mental image of some kind. These images can be visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory or olfactory.

All of them are used as a literary resource to provide beauty and expressiveness to a text. Advertisements also use sensory imagery to spark consumer interest.

Visual, auditory, tactile and olfactory images

Certain words allow the reader to develop an image of reality. In this sense, one speaks of “visual poets”, of the relationship between writing and the image or of visual discourse.

Poets use word combinations with an auditory dimension to suggest a sound. Thus, if a poet speaks of the “melody of the nightingale” or the “whistling of the autumn wind” the reader will create in his mind an image with a certain sonority.

Through words it is possible to suggest all kinds of textures. Likewise, the texture of a material allows us to recreate a specific tactile sensation. In this way, if I say “soft fur” or “icy metal” I am mentioning the ability of each type of texture to suggest sensations.

The sense of smell can also be stimulated through words. In fact, many words allude to smell, such as rotten, stinky, aromatic, or fragrance. Patrick Süskind’s novel “Perfume: Story of a Murderer” is a clear example of the close relationship between smell and speech.

In the novel “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel, the sense of taste acquires a singular role

The Mexican novelist refers to flavors and smells in such a way that the reader perceives them as if they were real. In fact, the description of the food becomes a literary resource of great sensuality and beauty.

Synesthesia in literature consists of mixing different sensory images

The different sensations transmitted through words can also be combined. When this occurs, a synesthetic metaphor is produced, such as “sweet green,” “pink caress,” “spicy red,” or “soft white silence.”

Photos: Fotolia – arkela / klatki