7 junio, 2024

The 13 Examples of Portraiture as a Literary Figure

The Examples of Portrait as a Literary Figure they include the elements described in detail that seek to stimulate the reader’s imagination. It is a resource that introduces a character, brings it closer to the reader, makes it credible, visible and gives it life.

The portrait is a descriptive rhetorical figure of the external and internal features of a person or a character. It includes the description of animals, places or objects. It is related to the way of showing different feelings on the face, caused by actions or situations experienced.

The portrait as a literary figure

This resource is a combination of three descriptive rhetorical figures: ethopoeia, prosopography and pragmatography.


It is used to describe internal traits such as character, qualities, customs, and virtues of an individual.


Used to describe external features of an individual, animal, or thing.


Describes actions, events and objects.

Examples of portraiture in literature

In Harry Potterby JK Rowling:

1-«He was tall, thin and very old, judging by his silver hair and beard, so long that he could hold them with a belt.

She wore a long tunic, a purple cloak that swept the floor, and high-heeled, buckled boots. Her blue eyes were clear, bright, and twinkled behind half-moon glasses.

He had a very long and crooked nose, as if it had been broken at some time. The man’s name was Albus Dumbledore.»

2- “’I’m glad to see you here, Professor McGonagall’. She turned to smile at the cat, but it was gone.

Instead, he was smiling at a stern-looking woman wearing square-rimmed glasses, reminiscent of the lines around the cat’s eyes. The woman also wore a cloak, emerald in color.”

3- “At Hogwarts there were 142 stairs, some wide and clear, others narrow and dilapidated.

Some led to a different location on Fridays. Others had a step that disappeared halfway up and you had to remember it to jump.”

The physical descriptions of the characters were fundamental in the casting for the world of Harry Potter films. Thanks to the accuracy of the portrait, this task was made easier.

In The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quijote of La Manchaby Miguel de Cervantes

4- “The age of our hidalgo was close to fifty years old, he was of a strong complexion, dry of flesh, gaunt of face; great early riser and friend of the hunt”.

In Madame Bovaryby Gustave Flaubert

5- “He was a country boy, about fifteen years old, and taller than any of us.

His hair was cut straight across his forehead, like a village chanter, and he looked businesslike and very embarrassed.

Although he was not broad-shouldered, his green cloth jacket with black buttons must have bothered him at the armholes and revealed, through the cuffs of the cuffs, red wrists accustomed to being uncovered”.

6- «Handsome, petulant, of those who make spurs resound, with sideburns attached to his mustache, his fingers always covered in rings and dressed in bright colors, he had traces of a bully and the easy animation of a commercial salesman.»

In this case, the description transcends the physical appearance, since «smug» and «bully» are attitudes; however, they allow you to get a better idea of ​​the character.

In Pascual Duarte’s familyby Camilo José Cela

7- «It was a hot and sunny town, quite rich in olive trees and pigs (excuse me), with the houses painted so white that my eyes still hurt when I remember them, with a square made entirely of flagstones, with a beautiful fountain of three pipes in the middle of the square…”.

In The lonely manfrom Azorin

8- “This extraordinary woman served a master who was her opposite pole. She lived opposite the house; he was a silent and clean gentleman; he was always accompanied by two large dogs; he liked to plant many trees… ”.

in popular sayings

9- «Whoever finds a friend, finds a treasure.»

10- «Dog that barks, does not bite.»

In Brief interviews with repulsive menby David Foster Wallace

11- «Four feet seventy-ninety kilos, brown hair and eyes, unevenly clear forehead due to inconsistent acceptance / rejection of various hair regrowth systems / hair transplants, sitting, or lying down – or perhaps it would be more accurate to say simply» reclining”—in a black Speedo swimsuit by the house’s kidney-shaped pool.”

In And the hippos cooked in their tanksby Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs

12- “He has black and curly hair that falls over his forehead, and very fair skin and green eyes. And before everyone else was inside the room, he had already settled into the most comfortable chair of all with one leg over the arm.

In Bad boy, by Marie Dominique Leviere

13- “With her high cheekbones, Victoire, thirty-year-old pharaoh, mocks the seriousness of the models with an easy naturalness. There is something so exotic about her beauty, so voluptuous, that the photographer is captivated by her sex appeal.


Azurmendi, A. (1998). The right to one’s own image: its identity and approach to the right to information. Ibeoamerican University.
Beaujour, M. (1992). Poetics of the Literary Self-Portrait. NYU Press.
Colby, AM (1965). The Portrait in Twelfth-century French Literature: An Example of the Stylistic Originality of Chrétien de Troyes. Librairie Droz.
Dario, R. (2016). Portrait of the poet as a young storyteller. Fund of Economic Culture.
Dupriez, BM (1991). A Dictionary of Literary Devices: Gradus, AZ. University of Toronto Press.
Escudero, C., Valcárcel, H., & Carmen, M. d. (2005). Approach to the literary: reading guide.

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