Imagery is descriptive language using one or more of the senses. In literature, imagery can refer to figurative language, including metaphors and similes. Senses that can be expressed through descriptive imagery in poetry or other literature include the visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, organic and kinesthetic senses. Organic imagery refers to an internal sensation, such as fear, hunger or tiredness, while kinesthetic imagery deals with movement.
Imagery is used to create images in the reader's mind. When imagery employs the use of various senses, it enhances the reality of what the reader is reading. Imagery allows a writer to show the reader the setting, character or situation, not just tell him what is going on in the story. It creates a believable world for the reader to enjoy.
A metaphor compares two unlike things that have something in common. For example, "Life is a journey" is a common metaphor. A simile compares two unlike things using the words "like" or "as." For example, "The man lunged at us like a bear" is a simile. However, sometimes metaphors serve different literary purposes than does imagery. Metaphors are often used to build the theme, while imagery is used to bring the story or poem alive for the reader.