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LCC1 Lit Terms

Literature Terms and Definitions

Terms Definitions
Epiphany Epiphany is the point in a work of literature where a character has a sudden insight or realization that changes his or her understanding.
Monologue refers to a speech by one person in a drama, a form of entertainment by a single speaker, or an extended part of the text of a play uttered by an actor.
Motivation The psychological grounds for a characters behavior.
Motif A recurring concept in a work of literature.
Persona Either a narrator, or an external portrayal of oneself which might or might not accurately reveal one's self.
Narrative A story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious; a book, literary work, etc., containing such a story; the art, technique, or process of narrating.
Setting The time and place of the action of a story.
Subplot (Double Plot) A secondary plot that is related to the main plot but not essential to it.
Plot A series of incidents that make up a story.
Exposition the part of a book that sets the stage for the drama to follow:introduces the theme, setting, characters, and circumstances at the story’s beginnings.
Conflict (Man Vs Man,Man vs nature,Man Vs Society,Man vs Self) A struggle between the protagonist and the antagonist in a story. The antagonist may be another character, society, the natural world, or sometimes even an aspect of the protagonist's own personality.
Recognition The point at which a character understands his or her situation as it really is
Rising Action Events in a story or play that lead to the climax.
Crisis A point of great tension in a narrative that determines how the action will come out.
Climax The point of greatest tension in a work of literature and the turning point in the action.
Falling Action following the climax, the conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist unravels.
Denouement(resolution) The outcome or resolution of the intricacies of a plot in a play or novel (literally an untying).
Protagonist The main character of a narrative, usually the "good guy."
Antagonist The character, force, or collection of forces in fiction or drama that opposes the protagonist and gives rise to the conflict of the story.
Hero the principal character of a play, novel, etc.
Antihero A protagonist who exhibits unheroic characteristics.
Foil a character that contrasts second character that highlights certain qualities of that first character.
Stock character a character in literature, theater, or film of a type quickly recognized and accepted by the reader or viewer and requiring no development by the writer.
Flat Character Characters who are two-dimensional because they do not develop during the course of the novel or play.
Round Character a character in fiction whose personality, background, motives, and other features are fully delineated by the author.
Persona a character in drama or fiction or the part any one sustains in the world or in a book. Persona also denotes the “I” who speaks in a poem or novel.
Point of View The outlook from which a story is related.
First Person Point of View the technique by which a novelist employs one character to tell the story. The readers read the story from the perspective of this narrator.
Second Person Point of View the speaker addresses a character (usually but not necessarily major), from whose perspective the plot is narrated and commented upon, with greater or lesser sympathy and insight into circumstances, moral dispositions, passions, and thought.
Third Person Objective Point of View the facts of a narrative are reported by a seemingly neutral, impersonal observer or recorder.
Third Person Limited Point of View a narrator reports the facts and interprets events from the perspective of a single character.
Third Person Omniscient Point of View an all-knowing narrator not only reports the facts but may also interpret events and relate the thoughts and feelings of any character.
Irony A mode of expression, through words or events , conveying a reality different from and usually opposite to appearance or expectation.
Verbal Irony A mode of expression through words conveying a reality different from and usually opposite to appearance or expectation.
Irony of Situation (Situational Irony) when the result of an action is the opposite of the desired or expected effect.
Dramatic Irony A mode of expression through events conveying a reality different from and usually opposite to appearance or expectation.
Cosmic Irony When situational irony is associated with the notion of fate, or a deity, manipulating events so as to “frustrate and mock” a character in a literary work, situational irony has become its near-twin,
Truism a statement that is based on self-evident factual evidence that is normally obvious to the point where further proof is deemed unnecessary. A certain rhetorical or philosophical figure of speech
Allegory A figurative work in which a surface narrative carries a secondary, symbolic or metaphorical meaning; may be poetry or prose.
Allusion A brief reference to a person, place, event, quote, or literary work assumed to be recognized by the reader.Used to associate the work in which it appears with an event or work from the past.
Aside A remark made by a person on stage that the other players are not supposed to hear.
Convention (1) a rule or practice based upon general consent and upheld by society at large; (2) an arbitrary rule or practice recognized as valid in any particular art or discipline, such as literature or art.
Deus Ex Machina Literally, "the god from the machine," this phrase is used to describe an unrealistic intervention used by an author to resolve an otherwise unresolvable situation.
Flashback A transition to an earlier event or scene that interrupts the normal chronological development of a story.
In Media Res When a text begins in the middle of the story, and later covers the early events of the narrative.
Satire The literary art of ridiculing a folly or vice in order to expose or correct it.
Soliloquy A dramatic speech intended to give the illusion of unspoken reflections.
Tone The author's implicit attitude toward the reader or the people, places, and events in a work as revealed by the elements of the author's style.
Mood Atmosphere
Archetype the usage of any object or situation as it was originally made - think of it as the biggest cliché ever, but one that never dies.
Foreshadowing the use of hints or clues to suggest what will happen later in literature.
Connotation The implied or suggested meaning of a word.
Denotation The most direct or specific meaning of a word or expression.
Dialogue Conversation that takes place between or among characters.
Dialect The language of a particular district, class, or group of persons.Includes the sounds, spelling, grammar, and diction employed by a specific people.
Metonymy A figure of speech in which one word is substituted for another with which it is closely associated.
Paradox A statement that seems to be self-contradictory, yet has meaning that may provoke a new understanding.
Synecdoche A figure of speech in which a part is used to designate the whole or the whole is used to designate a part.
Transferred epithet
Open Form
Epic An extended narrative recounting actions, travels, adventures, and heroic episodes and written in a high style.
Sonnet A 14-line lyric poem written in iambic pentameter, having a specific thematic structure and rhyme scheme.
Rhyme Scheme rhymed words at the ends of lines.
Haiku A Japanese poetic form composed of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables. Nature is very often the subject of the poem.
Limerick A humorous poem of five lines with a specific meter and rhyme scheme.
Ballad A narrative poem with stanzas of two or four lines, often including a refrain.
Ode A lyric poem that is serious and thoughtful in tone with a formal stanzaic structure. often praises people, the arts of music and poetry, natural scenes, or abstract concepts.
Lyric A brief poem with repeating stanzas often set to music.
Villanelle A type of fixed form poetry consisting of nineteen lines divided into six stanzas: five tercets and a concluding quatrain. The first and third lines of the initial tercet rhyme; these rhymes are repeated in each subsequent tercet (aba) and in the final tw
Narrative Poetry
Blank Verse A work written in unrhymed iambic pentameter.
Free Verse Verse that has neither regular rhyme nor regular meter.Often uses cadences rather than uniform metrical feet.
Closed Form
Prose Poetry
Visual Poetry
Found Poetry
Verse A line of metrical text, a stanza, or any text written in meter.
Stressed (Syllable) A syllable that has a heavy distinction from other syllables when spoken aloud.
Theme The central meaning or dominant idea in a literary work.
Apostrophe Words that are spoken to a person who is absent or imaginary, or to an object or abstract idea.
Alliteration The repetition of consonant sounds, especially at the beginning of words.
Assonance The repetition of vowel sounds, especially in stressed syllables.
onomatopoeia A figure of speech in which words are used to imitate sounds.
Personification A figure of speech in which human attributes are assigned to non-human things. The attribution of a personal nature or character to inanimate objects or abstract notions.The representation of a thing or abstraction in the form of a person, as in art or wr
Conceit An elaborate, usually intellectually ingenious, poetic comparison or image, such as an analogy or metaphor.
Diction An author's selection of words.
Figurative Language Language where literary or poetic techniques and devices, such as metaphors and similes, are used to produce a meaning beyond the literal surface meaning.
Metaphor The equation of one idea or thing with another. A comparison of two unlike things using the verb to be and not using like or as as in a simile.
Simile A figure of speech that makes an explicit comparison between two unlike things by using words such as like, as, than, appears, and seems.
Image/Imagery A phrase used to create a mental image through the use of the five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) in order to produce a vivid picture in the reader's mind.
Symbol An arbitrary sign that has acquired a conventional significance.
Hyperbole A boldly exaggerated statement that adds emphasis without intending to be literally true; an overstatement.
Understatement used to understate the obvious.
Stanza A group of lines forming a division of a poem having a set pattern of meter and rhyme.
Enjambment Carrying a sentence or thought across more than one line of poetry so that closely related words fall in different lines.
Tercet A three-line stanza in a poem, or simply three-lines of a poem, that normally rhymes in an AAA or ABA scheme. It is sometimes called a triplet.
Quatrain A four-line stanza in poetry.
Sestet A poetic stanza of six lines, usually forming one part of an Italian sonnet.
Octave A poetic stanza of eight lines, usually forming one part of an Italian sonnet.
Scansion The process of analyzing the metrical pattern of a poem.
Rhythm a movement with uniform recurrence of a beat or accent.In its crudest form has a beat with little or no meaning
Meter The rhythmic pattern produced when words are arranged so that their stressed and unstressed syllables fall into a more or less regular sequence.
Foot A group of 2 or 3 syllables forming the basic unit of poetic rhythm.
Iamb(iambic) A unit or foot of poetry that is made up of a lightly stressed syllable followed by a heavily stressed syllable. ‘Inscribe’ and ‘restore’ are examples of words which naturally follow this pattern
Trochee (Trochaic) A two-syllable unit or foot of poetry, which consists of a heavy stress followed by a light stress. Numerous words in English naturally form trochees: clever, shatter, pitcher, chorus etc. A line of poetry set out in consecutive
Anapest A foot of verse having three syllables, the first and second unstressed and the third stressed.
Dactyl (dactylic) A three syllable foot which is accented on the first syllable. An example of this would be the word "merrily," which is spoken: MER - ri - ly
Monometer A line of verse consisting of one metric foot.
Trimester A line of verse consisting of three metrical feet or three dipodies.
Tetrameter A line of verse consisting of four metric feet.
Pentameter A line of verse consisting of five metric feet.
Hexameter A line of verse consisting of six metric feet.
Hepameter A line that contains seven metrical feet.
Octameter A line of verse consisting of eight metric feet.
End Rhyme Rhyme where the last word of each verse is the word that rhymes. This is a very common type of rhyme.
Internal Rhyme A rhyme in which one of the rhyming words is within the line of poetry and the other is at the end of the same line or within the next line.
Slant Rhyme Rhymes created out of words with similar but not identical sounds. In most of these instances, either the vowel segments are different while the consonants are identical, or vice versa.
Exact Rhyme
Eye Rhyme
Consonance The repetition of a pattern of consonants with changes in the intervening vowels.
Pyrrhic A foot of verse having two unstressed syllables.
Spondee(Spondaic) A foot of verse having two stressed syllables.
Italian (petrarchan) Sonnet The Italian or Petrachan sonnet is divided into an octave and a sestet, usually rhyming abbaabba, cdecde.
English (Shakespeare) Sonnet is divided into three quatrains and a couplet, usually rhyming abab, cdcd, efef, gg.
Spenserian Sonnet
Iambic Pentameter One of the most widespread rhythmical patterns in English poetry. also the meter in which Shakespeare wrote many of his plays.
Stanza A group of lines forming a division of a poem having a set pattern of meter and rhyme.
Analysis The process of examining something meticulously. This often involves the separation of elements (structure, form, literary devices) into different parts, to facilitate understanding of a whole text.
Fiction This term refers to a story devised by a writer, using their imagination. Fiction usually contains little or no truth.
Nonfiction Novel
Genre A category of literature or film marked by defined shared features or conventions. The three broadest categories of genre are poetry, drama, and fiction. These general genres are often subdivided,
Apprenticeship Novel
Epistolary Novel A novel consisting of letters written by a character or several characters.
Picaresque Novel An episodic novel about a rogue or picaro (a person of low social status) wandering around and living by his wits.
Novella A fictional account longer than a short story and shorter than a novel; usually between 20,000 and 50,000 words.
Prose Ordinary writing, without metrical structure, expressed in a commonplace manner.
Poetry Text in rhythmic or metric form, often employing rhyme; usually shorter and more concentrated in language and ideas than either prose or drama; language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to its meaning.
Drama A work that centers on the actions of characters; written to be performed on a stage.
Classic,Classical Three broad meanings include, firstly, works from ancient Greece or Rome ('classical' times). Secondly, a superior work from any age. Thirdly, a typical work e.g. Shakespeare's Hamlet might be described as a classic revenge play.
Classical Tragedy
Muses From Greek mythology, it was believed that they inspired the creation of art and literature.
Tragedy A serious work in which events result in disastrously for the protagonist.
Alliterative Romance
Alliterative Verse
Dream Allegory ( Or Vision)
Medieval Drama
Medieval Romance
Morality Play A medieval drama in verse that took its subject matter from biblical history or the lives of the saints.
Mystery Play A type of drama popular in the Middle Ages on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus
Romantic Comedy
Chronicle Play
Humanism A movement in the arts, starting in the Renaissance period, in which human nature and the dignity of man were exalted in man's mortal life rather than emphasis on the gods and life after death.
Renaissance a period of cultural technological & artistic vitality during the British economic expansion in the late 1500s&1600s. period which people or nation experiences a period of explosive growth in art poetry education economy linguistic development or scientif
Revenge Tragedy A Renaissance genre of drama, where the plot revolves around the protagonist’s attempt to avenge a previous wrong, by killing the perpetrator of the deed. There is usually much bloodshed and violence also known as revenge play
Tragedy of Blood
Comedy of Manners A comic drama consisting of five or three acts in which the attitudes and customs of a society are critiqued and satirized according to high standards of intellect and morality.
Heroic Drama
Didactic Poetry Writing that aims to instruct, or even preach.
Mock Epic contrast of epic it is long heroicomical poem imitates features of epic.poet takes elevated style of language applies language to ridiculous objects & situations focuses frequently on exploits of antihero activities illustrate stupidity of class he repres
Neoclassicism A revival in classical styles of literature, drama, art, music and architecture.
Didactic Novel
Domestic Tragedy
Neoclassic Period
Restoration Age the time from 1660, when the Stuart monarch Charles II was re-established as ruler of England, to about 1700.
Education Novel
Sentimental Comedy
Heroic Couplet Two lines of rhyming iambic pentameter.
Sentimental Novel
Revolutionary Age A term from time to time employed to refer to American literature written between 1765 and roughly 1790.
Revolutionary and Early National Period
Wit A form of intellectual humor.(person) is someone skilled in making witty remarks. Forms of wit include the quip and repartee.
Gothic A novel or short story in which supernatural horrors and an atmosphere of unknown terror pervades the action. The setting is often a dark, mysterious castle where ghosts and sinister humans roam menacingly.
Gothic Novel A novel incorporating the main of the Gothic.
Oriental Tale
Orientalism a term that refers to a fascination with the East, by the West. Orientalism grew out of the Renaissance and increased during the18th century. Romantics such as Coleridge often used orientalist imagery.
Romantic Criticism
Romantic Epic
Romanticism The term refers to a movement around 1780-1840. rejected the philosophy of the enlightenment, and instead turned to the gothic, the notion of carpe diem and above all placed importance on nature and the wilderness.
Romantic Novel
Romantic Period In American Literature however it can also gesture towards the American Romantic period, which was between1828 and 1865. See
Romantic Period in English Literature Usually this term refers to literature written in Europe during the early 1800s,
Stum and Drang
Local Color An element of an author's style depicting customs, manners and dialects of a region
Realism An attempt to present life without idealization, interpretation, or romantic subjectivity.
Realistic Period In American Literature
Realistic Period In English Literature
Victorian The period of British literature between 1837-1901 when Victoria was the queen. The literature of the period reflected current social, economic, and intellectual problems.
Freudian Criticism A psychoanalytical approach to literature that understands the elements of a story or a character through the theories of the late nineteenth-century psychologist Sigmund Freud
Modernist Period In English Literature
Naturalism A literary style which attempts to replicate reality, often emphasizing the uncouth or sordid aspects of life
Oedipus Complex Freud argued that male children envious of sharing mother's attention with a fatherfigure would come to have an unconscious incestuous desire to murder their fathers & have sex with their mothers healthy adults Freud argued this desire would be repressed.
Stream of Consciousness A technique which takes the reader inside a characters mind to reveal both conscious and unconscious thoughts to tell a story.
Stream of Consciousness Novel
Beat Generation a 1950s loose-knit group of American anti-establishment writers They deliberately shocked middle-class Americans (whom they called 'squares'). The group was influenced by jazz and Zen Buddhism. movement as such was short-lived, but influenced others.
Magic Realism The expression refers to fiction that merges realistic elements with the fantastic.
Pastiche A literary, musical, or artistic piece consisting wholly or chiefly of motifs or techniques borrowed from one or more sources. An incongruous combination of materials, forms, motifs, etc., taken from different sources; hodgepodge
Post Modernism refers to a period in history (roughly 1945-present) and also an artistic movement with particular themes and styles. Postmodernism is a reaction against Modernist theme
Post Modernist Period in English Literature
Created by: mbrant1



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