Literary Terms Honors English 11B Allegory An extended narrative in prose or verse. Characters, events, and settings represent abstract qualities (second meaning) beneath the surface of the story.
E.g. The apple that Adam receives from Eve is symbolic of the knowledge of good and evil and is thus allegorical. Alliteration Used for poetic effect a repetition of
the initial consonant sounds of several words in a group. Eg. I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet. Robert Frost Allusion A
reference to a well-known person, place, or thing from literature, history, etc. Eg. Conceived by a pair of those monsters born of Cain, Beowulf I am no Prince Hamlet. T.S. Eliot The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock Anachronism
Something that is misplaced in a story because it is out of time. Eg. In Julius Caesar , a clock strikes though there were no clocks in Caesars day.
Analogy Comparison of two similar but different things, usually to clarify an action or a relationship. Different from a simile because this is an extended comparison
Anaphora Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of two or more sentences in a row. It helps make the writers point more coherent. E.g.
What we need in the United States is not division. What we need in the United States is not hatred. What we need in the United States is not Robert F. Kennedy Anecdote A short, simple narrative of an incident; often used for humorous
effect or to make a point. Antithesis The presentation of two contrasting images. The ideas are balanced by word, phrase, clause, or paragraphs. E.g.
they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. MLK Aphorism Short, witty statement of a principle or a truth about life.
Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Shakespeare Macbeth Apostrophe Usually in poetry, the device of
speaking to an imaginary, dead, or absent person or to a place or thing. E.g. John Donne speaks directly to death. Oh, Death, be not proud. Approximate/Slant Rhyme Rhymes E.g.
that are close but not exact lap/shape E.g. glorious/nefarious Aside In drama, a passage spoken by one character to audience while other
actors on stage pretend they cannot hear. Assonance The repetition of vowel sounds between different consonants in a literary work, especially a poem. Eg. Hear the mellow wedding bells
Edgar Allan Poe The Bells Consonance The repetition of consonant sounds with differing vowel sounds in words near each other in a line or lines of poetry. Eg. We rush into a rain that rattles double glass.
Theodore Roethke Night Journey Caesura A pause within a line of poetry Eg. Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
Alexander Pope End-Stopped Line Line of poetry that has a full pause at the end, often marked by punctuation. Eg. A thing of beauty is a joy forever. John Keats Endymion
Run-on line (enjambment) A poetic line runs over to the succeeding line without punctuation Eg. In that blest moment from his oozy bed Old father Thames advancd his reverend head.
Alexander Pope Rape of the Lock Kenning A compound expression in Old English poetry with metaphorical meaning Eg. Whale-road = sea
Water witch = Grendels mother -from Beowulf Epic A long narrative poem that celebrates the deeds of a legendary or heroic figure. Eg.
Beowulf; The Odyssey Mock Epic A poem that adapts that elevated style of a classical epic poem for trivial subject matter; often used to ridicule or poke fun at something
Eg. Rape of the Lock Alexander Pope In medias res Classical tradition of opening an epic, not at the beginning of the events, but at the midway point of the story. Later, the hero recounts what took place
earlier. Eg. The Odyssey, Star Wars Frame Story A story within a story, whereby an introductory narrative is presented for
the purpose of setting the stage for a second narrative or for a set of shorter stories. The Canterbury Tales Chaucer Frankenstein Mary Shelley Fabliau A
short narrative, often in verse form with content that is often comic or satiric. Any of Chaucers individual tales in The Canterbury Tales, including The Pardoners Tale.
Satire A piece of literature designed to ridicule the subject. It can be funny, but its purpose is to arouse contempt in the reader. It often makes use of verbal irony. Eg. A Modest Proposal Jonathon Swift
Weekend Update Saturday Night Live Canterbury Tales - Chaucer Couplet A stanza of two lines, usually rhyming Had we but world enough and time, This coyness, lady, were no crime. Andrew Marvell To His Coy Mistress
Heroic Couplet Two successive lines of rhymed poetry in iambic pentameter More relative than this. The plays the thing Wherein Ill catch the conscience of the king.
Verbal Irony The contrast between what is literally said by a character and what is actually meant; sarcasm can be considered a form of verbal irony. Eg.
In Act III Scene I of Romeo and Juliet Mercutio receives a wound which he calls a scratch, but he knows the wound is fatal. Situational Irony The result of an action is the reverse of what the character expected.
Eg. In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo goes to the Capulet party expecting to see Rosaline; instead, he falls in love with Juliet. Dramatic Irony The reader knows something that the character does not know.
Eg. In Act V of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo believes Juliet is dead in the tomb. The reader knows she is only sleeping, having taken a potion to make her appear dead. Direct Characterization Writer
tells readers the specific traits of a character. Indirect Characterization Writer reveals information about a character and his personality through characters thoughts, words, and actions or through what other characters think or say.
Ballad A narrative poem Beginning is often abrupt Told through dialogue and action Language is simple or folksy Theme is often tragic A refrain is repeated several times Eg. Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Samuel Taylor Coleridge Dramatic Monologue A poem with a single speaker (not the poet) who addresses a specific audience about a specific situation; reveals the innermost thoughts of the speaker
Eg. Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock T.S. Eliot Elegy A mournful, melancholic poem in lament of the dead
Eg. Elegy written in a Country Churchyard Thomas Gray Lyric Poem A poem that expresses emotional and personal feelings Eg. Shall I Compare Thee to a
Summers Day Shakespearean Sonnet #18 Parody A humorous imitation of a serious piece of literature Eg. Most well known parodies are from film;
Austin Powers (spoof on James Bond films) Scary Movie (spoof on horror films) Diction An authors choice of words Denotation The
dictionary definition of a word Wall an upright structure which encloses something or serves as a boundary Connotation The emotional meaning of a word
Wall attitude or action that prevents someone from becoming close to another Eg. Mending Wall by Robert Frost Speaker In poetry it is the narrator (the one telling the story). It is not always the
poet. Eg. In Canterbury Tales the speaker is an unidentified pilgrim (it is not the poet Chaucer). Cliche A
hackneyed phrase that has become overused. Cliches are considered bad writing. Eg. Lick his wounds, out like a light, etc. Figurative Language In
literature, saying one thing and meaning something else. Eg. My Love is like a red, red rose. The poet, Robert Burns does not mean this literally. He means his love is as sweet and beautiful as a rose. Onomatopoeia Word
whose sound resembles what it describes Eg. Snap, crackle, and pop Simile A comparison of two unlike items using like or as
My love is like a red, red rose. Robert Burns Metaphor A comparison between two unlike items
without using like or as Eg. There are the black clouds of Gods wrath hanging directly over your heads. Jonathan Edwards Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Extended Metaphor
A comparison between two unlike things not using like or as that runs through an entire literary work. Personification Giving something non-human human characteristics
Eg. Stormy, husky, brawling, city of the big shoulders. Carl Sandburg Chicago Oxymoron Contradictory terms
Eg. Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate! O heavy lightness Romeo and Juliet Act I Scene 1 Paradox
A situation or statement that seems to contradict itself, but on closer inspection, does not. Eg. That I may rise, and stand, oerthrow me. John Donne Holy Sonnet 14
Hyperbole A figure of speech in which an overstatement or exaggeration occurs Eg. Will all great Neptunes ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No. This my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red.
MacBeth Act 2 Scene 2 Synecdoche A figure of speech in which a part of something represents the whole thing Eg. All hands on deck
Metonymy A figure of speech that uses the name of an object, person, or idea to represent something with which it is associated. Eg. Using crown to refer to monarch
but half as if to keep the life from spilling Robert Frost Out, Out Imagery A word or group of words in a literary work that appeals to one or more of
the five senses (Sight, Sound, Touch, Smell, and Taste). Free Verse Unrhymed poetry with lines of varying lengths, and containing no metrical pattern. Blank Verse
In poetry, unrhymed lines of ten syllables each. Sonnet A lyric poem written in a single stanza, consisting of fourteen lines that are written in rhymed iambic pentameter.
Stanza A unit within a larger poem, usually a group of lines set off by spaces with a set pattern of meter. Scansion A
close, critical reading of a poem, examining the work for meter. Meter A regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in lines of poetry. Pentameter A
line of verse consisting of five metrical feet. Eg. My mis/tress eyes/ are noth/ing like /the sun; Foot The
basic unit of measurement in a line of poetry. Rhyme Scheme A pattern of rhymed words in a stanza or throughout a poem. Protagonist
The hero or central character in a literary work. Antagonist A person or force in opposition to the protagonist.
Flat Character A simple character who only possesses one or two traits; can be described in a sentence or two. Round Character A complex character with many traits,
motivations, beliefs, etc. Static Character A character who experiences no change or growth over the course of a literary work. Dynamic Character A
character who experiences emotional or psychological change over the course of a literary work. Foil Character A character that serves by contrast to highlight or emphasize opposing traits in another character.
E.g. In Hamlet, Laertes is an unthinking man of action contrasted to Hamlet, an intelligent man of inaction. Non-fiction Writing that offers details or opinions
based on facts or reality Fiction Any type of writing that is not factual Setting The time and place in which a story
unfolds. Conflict When the protagonist is opposed by some force or person. Conflict -
can be external or internal Person v. person Person v. self Person v. nature Person v. society Plot The sequence of events in a story.
Exposition The presentation of essential information that has occurred prior to the beginning of a literary work. Eg. The feud in Romeo and Juliet.
Rising Action The conflict and other complications that add suspense to a literary work. Climax The decisive moment or turning point in a literary work; it determines the
outcome of the story. Falling Action Series of events that take place after the climax. Denouement (Resolution) Occurs
after the climax and determines a new state of affairs or a new norm for the characters in a literary work Eg. The deaths of Romeo and Juliet lead to the end of the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues.
Theme What is the literary work about? What is the overall message? Most literary works have multiple themes.
Foreshadowing In literature, a method of building suspense by providing hints of what is to come Eg. It is even possible that the train of my ideas would never have received the fatal
impulse that led to my ruin. Victor Frankenstein Frankenstein(21) Mood The atmosphere or feeling created by a literary work, partly by description of
objects and style of description Eg. Horror, mystery, holiness, etc. Tone Authors attitude toward his or her subject often determined by the
diction used by the author Eg. Anger, Resentment, Condescending, Approving, Contentment, Bitterness, etc. Symbol A
device in literature wherein an object represents an idea Eg. Fire could represent security, warmth, survival, destruction, renewal, etc. depending on the context Archetype An
original pattern or model that is often imitated Eg. The hero; The Warrior; The Starcrossed lovers; The Mad Scientist 1 Person Point of View st
The speaker (character in the story) tells story from his or her perspective 3rd Person Limited Point of View Outside observer tells story Does not know the thoughts of all
characters 3rd Person Omniscient Point of View Outside observer tells story Knows thoughts and motivations of all characters Objective Point of View
3rd person narrator No knowledge of characters thoughts Much like a movie camera Only actions are revealed Flashback In a narrative, present action is
interrupted so that character can relay past events. Soliloquy In drama, a moment when the character is alone and speaks his or her innermost thoughts. Eg.
To be or not to be; that is the question. Hamlet Drama A mode of fiction performed by actors on a stage before an audience.
Tragedy A type of drama about one person, the hero. Experiences a reversal of fortune Causes calamity and suffering to spread far and wide Ultimately leads to the moral or physical destruction of the hero.
Tragic Hero In drama, a character who falls from a noble position as a result of a combination of fate and free will. Eg. Oedipus, Hamlet, Macbeth
Tragic Flaw A character trait possessed by the tragic hero that helps bring about his downfall. Eg. Macbeths ambition, Hamlets
introspection, Oedipuss hubris Peripity The tragic heros reversal of fortune Not wholly deserved Punishment exceeds crime Waste of human potential Audience filled with pity; hero is mainly admirable
Tragic Victory Heros increase in self-knowledge and wisdom Hero accepts his fate Acknowledges the justness of his punishment Catharsis
Purifying or figurative cleansing of the audiences emotions Fall of hero and his gain in wisdom lead to a sense of human greatness and unrealized potential Hubris The
excessive pride of ambition that leads to a tragic hero to disregard warnings of doom, eventually causing his or her downfall. Eg. Macbeth, Hamlet, Oedipus Epiphany A
sudden realization or insight on the part of a character Paradox A statement that seems to contradict itself but that turns out to have a rational meaning.
Eg. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. Henry David Thoreau Colloquialism A
word or phrase (including slang) used in everyday conversation and informal writing but is inappropriate for formal writing. E.G. There was things that he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.
Mark Twain Adventures of Huck Finn Epigraph The use of a quotation at the beginning of a work that hints at its theme. Euphemism A
more acceptable and more pleasant way of saying something that might be uncomfortable. E.g. He went to his final reward instead of He died Invective
A verbally abusive attack Eg. A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats; a lily-livered, actiontaking, whoreson, glass-gazing King
Lear William Shakespeare Inversion Reversing the customary order of elements in a sentence or phrase. Eg. Ask not what your country can do
for you-ask what you can do for your country. John F. Kennedy Utopian Novel Genre of literature that creates an
ideal world as setting for a novel. Dystopian Novel Genre of literature that creates a nightmare world and subverts utopian ideals. E.G.
Lord of the Flies and Fahrenheit 451 Naturalism A literary movement seeking to depict life as accurately as possible, without artificial distortions of emotion or idealism. Human beings are depicted as not having souls and are driven by
base animal instincts Eg. Stephen Crane, John Steinbeck Puritanism A literary movement that adhered to five basic tenets of religious life:
original sin, limited atonement, irresistible grace, perseverance of the saints, and predestination. Eg. William Bradford, John Smith Classicism Literary
movement that values reason and rational thought. Eg. Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson Romanticism Reaction to classicism; literature that
emphasized feeling and emotion over rational thinking. Eg. Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelly Transcendentalism Combination of classicism and
romanticism. Valued nature and the individual. Individual conscience can transcend the senses and logic to learn truth. Eg. Henry David Thoreau Realism A
literary movement that sought to portray ordinary life as real people lived it and attempted to show characters and events in an objective, almost factual way. Eg. Stephen Crane, Kate Chopin
Modernism Writing that discloses a rejection of tradition and a hostile attitude toward the past. Eg. Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Existentialism Literary movement individuals create meaning in their lives as opposed to a deity
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