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Lit Terms

Plot The plan or main story of a literary work. A series of related events, like links in a chain. Includes setting, exposition, conflict, rising action, climax, resolution/denouement.
Conflict A problem or struggle. The main problem the characters must overcome.
External Conflict Man vs. Man, Man vs. Society, Man vs. Nature A conflict that takes place between a character and someone or something else.
Internal Conflict Man vs. Self A conflict that takes place within a character’s mind or heart.
Setting The time and place of the action.
Exposition The basic situation given at the opening of the story; when the characters and their conflict are introduced. Background information.
Rising Action Events or complications that occur throughout the story that make the conflict worse; events leading to the climax of the story.
Climax The key scene in the story. The point of highest dramatic tension or the major turning point in the action.
Resolution (or Denouement) The final part of the story. The solution to the conflict or problem/the outcome of the main dramatic complication.
Foreshadowing Hints or clues that suggest what is to come in the story. Warning of a future event.
Point of View (P.O.V.) A position from which something is considered or evaluated; the narrator's position in relation to the story being told.
First Person Point of View Point of view of the main character (narrator uses “I”)
Third Person Omniscient The narrator of a story that sees and knows everything that happens and everything the characters are thinking and feeling. Narrator uses “he” or “she” or “they.” All-Seeing, All-Knowing.
Third Person Limited The narrator of a story that describes the senses and thoughts of just one character. Narrator uses “he” or “she.”
Symbol A person, place, object, or event that stands for something or represents something more than itself.
Theme An insight about life that is revealed in a work of literature. The message of the story - what the author wants the audience to understand about life. THEME IS ALWAYS A SENTENCE, NEVER A WORD.
Characterization The way a writer reveals information about a character. There are two methods: Direct and Indirect.
Protagonist The main character of a story. The character for whom the reader roots.
Antagonist The opponent who blocks the protagonist. The bad guy.
Dynamic Character A changing character; a character that grows in some way
Static Character A character that stays the same and does not grow or change.
Flat Character A character that is simple and not complex at all; a minor character that does not get backstory.
Round Character A character that is complex and connected to everything – the way an onion has many layers.
Foil Someone or something that serves as a contrast to another; a person or thing that contrasts with and so emphasizes and enhances the qualities of another character.
Irony The use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning.
Verbal Irony Words used to suggest the opposite of what they mean; sarcasm.
Situational Irony When an event occurs and contradicts what the audience thinks will happen – there is a reversal of expectations.
Dramatic Irony When the audience knows something that the characters do not.
Metaphor A figure of speech in which an comparison is made between two unlike things without using “like” or “as.”
Simile A figure of speech in which two unlike things are compared, using “like” or “as”
Personification A figure of speech in which an inanimate object is given human qualities or abilities.
Onomatopoeia The use of words that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to.
Hyperbole A ridiculous exaggeration. Can be used for comic effect, but usually just annoying.
Allusion A brief and indirect reference to a person, place, thing, or idea of historical, cultural, literary, or political significance.
Diction The style of speaking or writing determined by the choice of words by a speaker or a writer.
Tone The writer’s attitude toward the subject, a character, or the audience of a story.
Mood The atmosphere, climate, or feeling of a literary piece.
Oxymoron A figure of speech in which two opposite ideas are joined to create an effect.
Alliteration A stylistic device in which a number of words, having the same first consonant sound, occur close together in a series.
Pun A play on words in which a humorous effect is produced by using a word that suggests two or more meanings.
Created by: EnglishWGHS