The Ramayana

The Ramayana Literary Elements

Speaker or Narrator, and Point of View

The poem is written in the third person. It generally describes events from the point of view of Rama, but also switches to other relevant settings where Rama is not present, such as the court of Ravana.

Form and Meter

Some English editions (including the Griffiths publication of 1895) feature an "AB" rhyming scheme. Others follow a different rhyming scheme or none at all.

Metaphors and Similes

The Ramayana makes extensive use of metaphors and similes.

One example of a metaphor occurs on pg. 15: "Dasaratha said in a clear voice, "Viswamitra, your coming here is a Godsend to me: like nectar to a mortal, rain to the famined, the birth of a son to the childless, like treasure to a poor man!"
The appearance of someone as spiritually advanced as Viswamitra is a wonderful and rare thing; the metaphor makes this clear by linking his appearance with nectar, water, the birth of children, and treasure.

One example of a simile occurs on page 18: "Rama was dark as a blue lotus and Lakshmana as fair as a moonbeam."
This simile vividly portrays the appearance of two main characters by comparing them to natural features that have deep religious connotations.

Alliteration and Assonance





Epic Poem


Ancient India of mythical times.


Characteristic of myths and fairy tales; meant to emphasize awe rather than realism.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Rama is the primary protagonist, and Ravana is the main antagonist.

Major Conflict

The primary conflict in the book is between the cosmic forces of good (embodied by Rama and his allies), and the forces of evil (personified by Ravana). It is Rama's duty to restore dharma and balance to the world.


The confrontation between Rama and Ravana. This is the resolution of the conflict between ultimate good and ultimate evil, as well as the final piece of Rama's long journey.


There are numerous examples of foreshadowing. These include frequent suggestions of Rama's true nature as an avatar of Vishnu, and of the terrible crimes that Ravana will commit.

One example comes from pg. 60. "The light of their [Rama and Sita's] love shown through Ayodhya and the people were full of great joy, knowing their future was secure in the hands of a great and noble kshatriya. But fate had other designs on the lives of the young couple, lost in each other's tender love. Time had a sinister way to lead them down. Far away on a jade island, a monster lived, whose path was to cross theirs in evil." This refers to the future appearance of the wicked Rama.




The Ramayana makes frequent allusions to Indian mythology. It references the myths of various deities and mythical events, such as the battle between the Devas (benevolent deities) and the Asuras (violent demi-gods).

Metonymy and Synecdoche



"The ice on the Himalayas began to melt as the sun drifted north again and spring returned to Bharatavarsha. This was no common spring, but wore rainbow-hued lotuses in its hair, flowers that bloomed once in a thousand years" (Pg. 12).

This passage refers to the spring in which Rama was born. It characterizes spring as an entity wearing flowers just as a person might; flowers indicate divine favor and approval.


The heroes of the Ramayana are often described as taller than mountains or brighter than the sun. This may be an example of hyperbole, or it may be an attempt to render the majesty of these divine figures in textual form.