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Literature

WGU - Literature terms

QuestionAnswer
Understatement An ironic figure of speech that deliberately described something in a way that is less than the true case.
Tone The attitude toward a subject conveyed in a literary work.
Theme A central idea or statement that unified & controls an entire literary work. Author's way of communicating & sharing ideas, perceptions & feelings.
Synecdoche The use of a significant part of a thing to stand for the whole of it or vice versa.
Symbol A person, place, or thing in a narrative that suggests meanings beyond its literal sense.
Style All the distinctive ways in which an author, genre, movement, or historical period uses language to create the literary work.
Soliloquy In drama, a speech by a character alone onstage in which he or she utters his or her thoughts aloud.
Simile A comparison of two things using a connective word such as "like" or "as".
Setting The time and place of a literary work.
Monologue An extended speech by a single character.
Metonymy Figure of speech in which the name of a thing is substituted for that of another closely associated with it.
Metaphor A statement that one thing is something else, which (in a literal sense) it is not.
Irony A literary device in which a discrepancy or meaning is masked beneath the surface of the language. Saying one thing & meaning another.
Moral A lesson or principle contained in or taught by a fable, a story, or an event.
Motif An element that recurs significantly throughout a narrative.
Motivation What a character in a story or drama wants.
Onomatopoeia A literary device that attempts to represent a thing or action by the word that imitates the sound associated with it.
Persona Latin for "mask". A fictitious character created by an author to be the speaker of a poem, story, or novel.
Personification A figure of speech in which a thing, an animal, or an abstract term is endowed with human characteristics.
Denotation The literal, dictionary meaning of a word.
Connotation An association of additional meaning that a word, image, or phrase may carry, apart from its dictionary definition.
Conflict The central struggle between 2 or more forces in a story.
Characterization The technique a writer uses to create, reveal, or develop the characters in a narrative.
Assonance The repetition of 2 or more vowel sounds in successive words, which creates a kind of rhyme.
Aside In drama, a few words or short passage spoken in an undertone or to the audience.
Apostrophe A direct address to someone or something. In poetry, often addresses something not ordinary spoken to (O, Mountain!)
Allusion A brief (and sometimes indirect) reference in a text to a person, place, or thing - fictitious or actual.
Alliteration The repetition of 2 or more consonant sounds in successive words in a line of verse or prose (useful for emphasis).
Allegory A narrative in verse or prose in which the literal events (persons, places, & things) consistentlyy point to a parallel sequence of symbolic ideas.
Genre A conventional combination of literary form & subject matter, usually aimed at creating certain effects.
Foreshadowing A technique of arranging events & information in such a way that later events are prepared for beforehand.
Flashback A scene relived in a character's memory.
Epiphany A moment of insight, discovery, or revelation by which a character's life is greatly altered.
Diction Refers to a class of words that an author decides is appropriate to use in a particular work.
Dialogue The direct representation of the conversation between 2 or more characters.
Deus ex machina Refers to the Greek playwrights' frequent use of a god, mechanically lowered to the stage to resolve human conflict with judgments & commands.
Hyperbole An exaggeration, often extravagant; it may be used for serious or for comic effect.
Imagery The collective set of images in a poem or other literary work.
In media res Refers to a narrative device of beginning a story midway in the events it depicts. (A Latin phrase meaning "in the mist of things").
Slander damaging defamation by spoken words, or by looks or gestures
Libel written or published; public defamation of a person or entity; can include published photographs
Plagiarism unauthorized use or for or against one side in a disput; close imitation of language & thoughts of another author as one's own original work without indicating the source via explanation or citation
Censorship deleting parts of publications or correspondence or theatrical performances; suppression of sensitive or offensive material
Bias a personal & often unreasoned judgment; to favor or disfavor one side against another in a dispute, competition, etc.; a prejudice
Protagonist main character of a narrative; central character who engages reader's interest & empathy
Antagonist the character, force, or collection of forces in fiction or drama that opposes the main character & gives rise to the conflict of a story; villain who causes conflict
Stock Character appears repeatedly
Round Character depicted with such psychological depth & detail that he/she seems like a "real" person
Flat Character a simplified character who does not change or alter his/her personality over course of a narrative (also called "static character")
Hero the principal male character or the one whose life is the theme of the story
Antihero principal character who either lacks the conventional qualities of a hero or whose circumstances do not allow for any kind of heroic action
Parable simple story illustrating a moral or religious lesson
Short Story a short piece of prose fiction; having few characters & aiming at unity of effect, tend to be more concise & to the point
Tale something told or related; relation or a recital of happenings; a story or account of true, legendarym, or fictitious events
Fable a fictitious story mean to teach a moral lesson; the characters are usually talking animals
Low Comedy consists of silly, slapstick physicality, crude pitfalls, violence, scatology, & bodily humor
High Comedy elegant comedies characterized by witty banter & sophisticated dialogue
Comedy of the Absurd a modern form of comedy dramatizing the meaninglessness, uncertainty, & pointless absurdity of human existence
Comedy of Humors a Renaissance drama in which numerous characters appear as the embodiment of stereotypical types of people, each character having the physiological & behavior traits associated with a specific humor in the human body
Comedy of Manners where attitudes & customs of a society are critiqued & satirized according to high standards of intellect & morality; dialogue is usually clever & sophisticated
Satire an attack on or criticism of any stupidity or vice in the form of scathing humor; used as a mirror to reflect society
Slapstick humor depends almost entirely on physical location & sight gags
Tragicomedy usually ends with exile, death, or similar resolution
Tragedy a serious play in which the chief figures, by some peculiarity of character, pass through a series of misfortunes leading to a final, devastating catastrophe
Commedia Dell' Arte a genre of Italian farce from 16th century characterized by stock characters, stock situations, & spontaneous dialogue; plot is an intrigue plot
Created by: sflippo842 on 2006-08-02



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