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Literary Terms

Honors11 Literary Terms

QuestionAnswer
Allegory Narrative where the literal events (persons, places & things) consistently point to a parallel sequence of symbolic ideas; has literal level & symbolic level
Alliteration repetition of the same or similar consonant sounds in words that are close together.
Allusion A brief (sometimes indirect) reference in a text of a person, place, or thing; fictitious or actual
Ambiguity an event or situation that may be interpreted in more than one way,done on purpose by the author,vagueness,detracts from work.
Analogy comparison made between two things to show how they are alike.
Anaphora repetition of a word or clause done deliberately at the beginning of two or more sentences to make the writer's point more coherent.
Anastrophe inversion of the usual,normal,or logical purpose is rhythm.
Anecdote brief story,told to illustrate a point or serve as an example of something,often shows character of an individual.
Antagonist Most significant character or force that opposes the protagonist
Anthropomorphism attributing human characteristics to an animal or inanimate object(personification).
Antihero central character who lacks all the qualities traditionally associated with heroes,lacks courage,grace,intelligence.
Antithesis balancing words,phrases,or ideas that are strongly contrasted,often by means of grammatical structure.
Aphorism brief,cleverly worded statement that makes a wise observation about life about life, or of a principle or accepted general truth.Also called maxim,epigram.
Apostrophe calling out to an imaginary,dead,or absent person,or to a place or thing,or a personified abstract idea.
Argument form of persuasion that appeals to reason instead of emotion to convince an audience to think or act in a certain way.
Aside Few words, or short passage spoken in an undertone or to the audience; other characters are deaf to it
Assonance the repetition of similar vowel sounds followed by different consonant sounds especially in words that are together.
Balance constructing a sentence so that both halves are about the same length and importance.sentences can be unbalanced to serve a special effect as well.
Causal Relationship form of argumentation in which the writer claims that one thing results from another,often used as part of a logical argument.
characterization the process by which the writer reveals the personality of a character.
Chiasmus in poetry, a type of rhetorical balance in which the second part is syntactically balanced against the first,but with the parts reversed.
Cliche a word or phrase,often a figure of speech, that has become lifeless because of overuse.Avoid cliches like the plague.
Climax Moment of greatest intensity in a story which occurs toward the end; often takes form of a decisive confrontation between the protagonist and antagonist
Colloquialism a word or phrase in everyday use in conversation and informal writing but is inappropriate for formal situations.
Comedy a story that ends with a happy resolution of the conflicts faced by the main character or characters.
Conceit an elaborate metaphor that compares two things that are startlingly different.(extended metaphor)
Confessional Poetry a 20th century term used to describe poetry that uses intimate material from the poet's life.
Conflict Central struggle between two or more forces in a story;some person or thing that prevents the protagonist from reaching their goals
Connotation An association or additional meaning that a word, image, or phrase may carry, apart from its literal dictionary definition
Convention Expected features such as themes, subjects, attitudes, or figures of speech
Couplet two consecutive rhyming lines of poetry.
Crisis Point when crucial action, decision, or realization must be made marking the turning point or reversal of the protagonist's fortune
Dead Metaphor a metaphor that has been used so often that the comparison is no longer vivid."the head of the horse."
Denotation The literal, dictionary meaning of a word
Denouement Resolution or conclusion of a literary work as plot complications are unraveled after climax
Description a form of discourse that uses language to create a mood or emotion.
Dialect a way of speaking that is characteristic of a certain social group or of the inhabitants of a certain geographical area.
Dialogue The direct representation of the conversation between two or more characters
Diction Word choice or vocabulary; refers to the class of words that an author decides is appropriate to use in a particular work
Didactic form of fiction of nonfiction that teaches a specific lesson or moral or provides a model of correct behaviour of thinking.
Direct Characterization the author tells us directly what the character is like
Dramatic Irony Reader/audience understands the implication & meaning of a situation & foresees the oncoming disaster/triumph but the character does not; it forms between the contrasting levels of knowledge of the character & the audience
Deus Ex Machina (God from machine) refers to the Greek play writes frequent use of God to resolve human conflict with judgments & commands
Dynamic Character is one who changes in some important way as a result of the story's action.
Elegy a poem of mourning ,usually about someone who has died.
Epigraph a quotation or aphorism at the beginning of a literary work suggestive of the theme.
Epiphany Moment of insight, discovery, or revelation by which a character's life, or view of life is greatly altered
Epistrophe device of repetition in which the same expression is repeated at the end of two or more lines,clauses, or sentence.
Epithet an adjective or adjective phrase applied to a person or thing that is frequently used to emphasize a characteristic qualiy.
Essay a short piece of nonfiction prose in which the writer discusses some aspect of a subject.
Explication act of interpreting or discovering the meaning of a text,usually involves close reading and special attention to figurative language.
Exposition Opening portion of a narrative or drama; scene set, protagonist introduced, author discloses background information
Extended Metaphor a metaphor that is extended or developed as far as the writer wants to take it.
External Conflict they can exist between two people, between a person and nature or a machine or between a person a whole society.
Fable Brief, often humorous narrative told to illustrate a moral; characters are traditionally animals whose personality traits symbolize human traits
Falling Action Events in a narrative that follow the climax & bring the story to its conclusion, or denouement
Farce a type of comedy in which ridiculous and often stereotyped characters are involved in silly,far-fetched situations.
Fiction Name for stories not entirely factual, but least partially shaped, made up, imagined
Figurative Language Uses figures of speech, metaphor, simile, & alliteration; is connotative & conveys the richness & complexity of language
First Person Narrator is a participant in the action, refers to him or herself as "I"; shapes readers perception
First person POV one of the characters tells the story.
FlashBack / time shift a scene that interrupts the normal chronological sequence of events in a story to depict something that happened at an earlier time.
Flat Character has only one or two personality traits. one-dimensional,can be summed up in one phrase.
Foil Character whose qualities or actions are in stark contrast to those of another character, usually the protagonists; used to convey or develop protagonist's character
Foreshadowing Suggestions of what is to come later; created through imagery, dialogue, diction, events or actions
Free Verse poetry that does not conform to a regular meter or rhyme scheme.
Genre Conventional combination of literary form & subject matter; implies a preexisting understanding between the artist and the reader about the purpose & rules of the work
Hero Central character in a narrative
Hyperbole A figure of speech which uses exaggeration for comic, ironic, or serious effect
Imagery the use of language to evoke a picture or a concrete sensation of a person,a thing,a place,or an experience.
Impressionism a 19th century movement in literature and art which advocated a recording of the artist's personal impressions of the world,rather than a strict representation of reality.
In Media Res (In the midst of things) refers to a narrative device of beginning a story midway in the events it depicts
Indirect Characterization the author reveals how the character looks, dresses,his thoughts and feelings, his actions.
Internal Conflict a conflict can be internal,involving opposing forces within a person's mind.
Inversion the reversal of the normal word order in a sentence or phrase.
Irony a discrepancy between appearances and reality.
Irony of Situation Discrepancy exists when something is about to happen to a character or characters who expect the opposite outcome
Juxtaposition poetic and rhetorical device in which normally unassociated ideas, words,or phrases are placed next to one another,creating an effectof surprise and wit.
Litotes is a form of understatement in which the positive form is emphasized through the negation of a negative form.
Local Color a term applied to fiction or poetry which tends to place special emphasis on a particular setting,including its customs,clothing,dialect and landscape.
Lyric Poem a poem that does not tell a story but expresses the personal feelings or thoughts of the speaker. A ballad tells a story.
Metaphor a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things without the use of such specific words of comparison as like,as,than,or resembles.
Metonymy Figure of speech that replaces the name of one thing with the name of another closely related thing (The crown = monarchy)
Mixed Metaphor a metaphor that has become out of control and mixes its terms so that they are visually or imaginatively incompatible.
Monologue Extended speech made by a single character
Mood an atmosphere created by a writer's diction and the details selected.
Motif a recurring image,word,phrase,action,idea,object,or situation used throughout a work,unifying the work by tying the current situation to the previous ones, or new ideas to the theme.
Motivation What a character in a story or drama wants; the reasons an author provides for a character's actions
Narrative Telling of true or fictitious events by a narrator;can be either verse or prose and focus on the depiction of events or happenings
Naturalism a 19th century literary movement that was an extension of realism and that claimed to portray life exactly as it was.
Nonfiction Author presents actual people and events in story form
Novel An extended work of fictional prose narrative; more characters, more varied scenes, and broader coverage of time
Novella Short novel; mainly describes the size of a narrative
Objective POV a narrator who is totally impersonal and objective tells the story,with no comment on any characters or events.
Omniscient POV an omniscient or all knowing narrator tells the story,also using the third person pronouns.tells everything about all characters.
Onomatopoeia Attempt to represent a thing or action by a word that imitates the sound associated with it (crash, bang, pitter-patter)
Oxymoron a figure of speech that combines opposite or contradictory terms in a brief phrase.
Parable Brief, allegorical narrative that teaches a moral; moral themes are explicit & can be interpreted in many ways
Paradox Statement that appears to be self-contradictory but upon analysis reveals an underlying truth, significance, or meaning
Parallel Structure the repetition of words or phrases that have similar grammatical structures.
Paratactic Sentence simply juxtaposes clauses or sentences."i am tired
Parody a work that makes fun of another work by imitating some aspect of the writer's style.
Persona Latin for mask; fictitious character created by author to always be the narrator
Personification Figure of speech in which a thing, an animal, or an abstract term is made human; allows an author to dramatize the nonhuman world in tangibly human terms
Persuasion relies more on emotional appeals than on facts.
Plain Style Writing style that stresses simplicity and clarity of expression,and was the main form of the puritan writers.
Plot Unique arrangement of events that the author has made
Point of View the vantage point from which the writer tells the story.
Polysyndeton sentence which uses a conjunction with no commas to separate the items in a series.x&y&z.
Protagonist the central character in a story,the one who initiates or drives the action.
Pun a "play on words"based on the multiple meanings of a single word or on words that sound alike but mean different things.
Quatrain a poem consisting of four lines,or four lines of a poem that can be considered as a unit.
Realism a style of writing,developed in the 19th century,that attempts to depict life accurately without idealizing or romanticizing it.
Recognition Occurs when ignorance gives way to knowledge; revelation of some fact not known before or a person's true identity
Refrain a word,phrase,line,or group of lines that is repeated,for effect,several times in a poem.
Resolution the conclusion of a story,when all or most of the conflicts have been settled
Rhetoric art effective communication,especially persuasive discourse.
Rhetorical Question a question asked for an effect,and not actually requiring an answer.
Rhythm a rise and fall of the voice produced by the alteration of stressed and unstresses syllables in language.
Rising Action Part of play or narrative, including the exposition, in which events start moving toward a climax
Round Character Complex character who is presented in depth & detail in a narrative; change significantly during course of narrative
Satire Seeks to expose the failings of individuals, institutions, ideas, communities, or society; ranges from mildly humorous to a bitter indictment & has frequent elements of scorn, indignation, or contempt
Setting Time & place of literary work; includes climate, social, psychological, or spiritual state of the participants
Short Story A prose narrative too brief to be published in a separate volume as novella & novels are
Simile Comparison of two things, indicated by some connective, usually like, as, than, or a verb such as resembles
Situational Irony takes place when there is discrepancy between what is expected to happen,or what would be appropriate to happen,and what really does happen.
Soliloquy Speech by a character alone onstage in which he or she utters his or her thoughts aloud
Static Character is one who does not change much in the course of a story.
Stereotype a fixed idea or conception of a character or an idea which does not allow for any individuality,often based on religious,social,or racial prejudices.
Stock Character Known by some outstanding trait or traits, require little detailed portraiture
Stream of Consciousness a style of writing that portrays the inner workings of a character's mind.
Style All the distinctive ways in which an author, genre, movement, or historical period uses language to create a literary work; depends on characteristic use of diction, imagery, tone, syntax, & figurative language
Subplot Secondary arrangement of incidents, involving not the protagonist but someone less important
Surrealism in movement in art and literature that started in Europe during the 1920s.surrealists wanted to replace conventional realism with the full expression of the unconscious mind,which they considered to be more real than the"real"world of appearances.
Suspense a feeling of uncertainty and curiosity about what will happen next in a story.
Symbol a person,place,thing,or event that has meaning in itself and that also stands for something more than itself.
Synecdoche A figure of speech where a part of something is used to represent the whole (saying wheels for car)
Syntactic Fluency ability to create a variety of sentence structures,appropriately complex and/or simple and varied in length.
Tale Short narrative without a complex plot; ancient form of narrative found in folklore, & often contain supernatural elements
Telegraphic Sentence a sentence shorter than five words in length.
Theme the insight about human life that is revealed in a literary work.
Third Person Limited Sees events through the eyes of a single character but without 'I'
Third Person Objective Doesn't see into the mind of any particular character, narrator reports action impartially without telling what the characters think or feel (Uses, he, she, or they)
Third Person Omniscient See's into the mind of all (or some) of the characters
Third Person POV unknown narrator,focuses on feelings of only one character.
Tone the attitude a writer takes toward the subject of a work,the characters in it,or the audience,revealed through diction,figurative language,and organization.
Tricolon sentence of three parts of equal importance and length,usually three independent clauses.
Understatement Ironic figure of speech that deliberately describes something in a way that is less than the true case
Verbal Irony Statement in which the speaker or writer says the opposite of what is really meant (you fall & your friend says "how graceful you are!")
Vernacular the language spoken by the people who live in a particular locality.
Created by: jessupd