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Analyzing Literature

terms for Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP test from the REA book

TermDefinition
Accentual Meter Stressed rhythmic structure of poetic lines
Agon In greek, meaning to "struggle"; found in protagonist and antagonist; in comedy, a formal debate
Alexandrine A twelve-syllable line written in iambic hexameter
Allegorical A narrative that is an extended metaphor; the elements of the narrative carry significance on a literal and figurative level
Alliteration Repetition of initial consonants in consecutive words or in words close to each other
Allusion In a literary work, a reference to a person, place, or thing from another literary work or from history
Anapest Metrical foot used in poetry consisting of two short syllables followed by a long syllable
antagonist The one who struggles against or contends with the protagonist; the antagonist may either be an individual or an obstacle or challenge, such as fear or death
apostrophe direct address to someone or something that is not present, such as an imaginary person or an abstract quality; often introduced by the explanation, "O".
Argumentative Describes writing-usually an essay-that establishes a position and supports it with evidence
Assonance Repetition of vowel sound; more common in verse than prose
Aubade A morning love song; opposite of a serenade; literally, a song to a sleeping woman; also refers to a song-evoking daybreak
Ballad a narrative folk song or a narrative set to music
Ballad Stanza Four-line stanza (quatrain) consisting of alternating four- and three- stress lines; usually second and fourth lines rhyme (abcb)
Bathos abrupt change in style going from exalted to mundane, producing a ludicrous effect
Blank Verse Unrhymed iambic pentameter
Caesura, Cesura A complete pause in a line of poetry
Catastrophe Final resolution in a poem or narrative that unravels the plot and concludes the work; misfortune experienced by tragic hero
Catharsis From Greek, meaning "cleansing" or "purging"; in tragedy a moment for purging or relieving the emotions for the audience
Climax Turning point in a story; the point where the main character experiences a change, and the action stops building and begins falling
Closed form Poetry conformed to pre-specified requirements of rhyme, meter, line length, and number of lines; two examples are haiku and sonnet
Complication Element introduced into the plot to alter its course
conceits extended metaphor governing and entire passage or poem
conclusion final division of a discourse or literary work that brings the work to a close' fifth part or plot structure
connotation emotional association that accompanies a certain word or phrase; often described as positive or negative depending on the emotional connection
consonance repetition of a consonant sound in short succession
conventional following accepted standards; a well-understood interpretation; like stock
couplet two consecutive lines in poetry, usually with the same meter and often rhyming
crisis turning point in a story; culmination of the events of the plot
Dactyl A foot in meter in poetry; in greek or latin verse, it is a long syllable followed by two short syllables; in english verse, it is a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables
denotation literal meaning, found in the dictionary
denouement the conclusion of a story; includes the events between the falling action and the last scene of a narrative or drama
diction word choice
dimeter a line containing only two metrical feet
doggerel derogatory term for verse with little literary value
Dramatic monologue speech delivered by a single character who addresses the reader or an internal listener and reveals his or her innermost thoughts and feelings
Dynamic A character whose personality changes over the course of a narrative or who has the ability of such change
elegy a sorrowful, melancholic poem, such as a funeral song or a lament for the dead
enacted performed by an actor or actors
end rhyme repetition of similar sounds in two or more words, found in the final syllables of the lines of poetry
enjambment a line having no end punctuation so that the meaning continues uninterrupted to the next line
epic a long narrative poem written in elevated language and style about the exploits of a hero or heroine
Epigram an inscription on a building or tomb or a short verse that appears at the beginning of a longer work (novel, chapter, or poem) to set the mood or reveal theme
exposition the author's explanation of background information about characters and setting at the beginning of the plot; writing with ta primary purpose of informing, clarifying, or explaining
expository writing or discourse with the primary purpose of informing, clarifying, or explaining; background information shared by the author
expressionism subjective depiction of the real world through imagination, the abstract, and symbols
falling action moment following the climax where the conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist is resolved
farce comedy that entertains the audience through absurdity, improbabilities, exaggeration, and verbal humor
feminine rhyme two or more syllables match in the rhyming words; the final syllable or syllables are unstressed
fiction imaginary narrative; the information or events are created by the author
figurative deviation from usual meaning of a word or group of words resulting in a special effect or meaning
figurative image picture painted by the writer, usually a poet
fixed form any one of three fourteenth- and fifteenth-century french poetic forms: the ballad, the virelai, and rondeau
Foil A character who highlights through contrast opposite characteristics in another character
Foot basic unit of meter consisting of set number of stressed and unstressed syllables
form Pattern or design of a poem;two kinds = open form and closed form
Free verse poetry using natural rhythms of words and phrases instead of required metrical feet
hamartia a tragic flaw within a character; in greek, means to "miss the mark"
heptameter line with seven metrical feet
heroic couplet two successive lines of iambic pentameter with the second lines usually ending with a stop
hexameter line with six metrical feet
high comedy comedy carried out by characters that are true to life, realistic
the How authors style incorporating choices in diction, syntax, point of view, description, narration, and dialoge
hubris excessive pride adversely affecting the protagonist's judgement; most common tragic flaw
hyperbole exaggeration or overstatement
iambic foot an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable
Iambic pentameter line of five feet, each with an unstressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable
iambic rhythm rising and falling rhythm in poetry from alternating stressed and unstressed syllables
image word pictures painted by the author
imagine to visualize the pictures evoked by the writer through the senses
imagism term coined by Ezra Pound for free imagery, open to many interpretations
impressionism subjective or personal literary style that relies on associations; style adapted to writing from nineteenth century school of painters, including Monet and Renoir
Internal rhyme a word rhyming at the end of the line with a word in the middle of the line
introduction first stage in plot in which the author establishes the situation and shares background information
invective writing that attacks a person or idea through emotional language
inversion doing or saying the opposite or unexpected; used in irony
irony discrepancy between what is said or done and what is meant
Limerick a five-line humorous or non-sensical poem in which the first two lines are anapestic trimeter, the next two are anapestic dimete, and the last line is trimeter; rhyme sceme is aabba
literal the meaning of a word or phrase according to the dictionary; denotative
literacy ballad four rhyming lines, abcb, with lines 1 and 3 having eight syllables and lines 2 and 4 having six
low comedy humor with absurdities, horseplay, and exaggerations, depicting an unrefined life.
Lyric a poem sharing personal emotions; in classical poetry, accompanied by a lyre
Masculine Rhyme a rhyme that matches just on syllable, often a stressed syllable at the end of the lines
metaphor comparison of to unlike items
meter basic rhythmic structure for lines in poetic verse
metonym a figure of speech in which an idea or thing is referenced by a name closely associated with it; literally means "a change of name"
mimesis in greek, "imitation"; mimetic theory from Aristotle held that successful imitation in art portrayed reality as closely as possible
Mock-Heroic Satire or parody that mocks the classical stereotype of a hero or heroic literature, usually through exaggeration or absurdity
mode a broad literary method not tied to one specific form or genre, such as satire or irony
monometer a line of verse with one foot
motif an object, concept, or structure repeated in a literary work, thereby giving symbolic significance in the story
Narrative the events that tell the story
narrator an individual who tells or speaks the story
naturalism literary movement that depicts life as accurately as possible, illustrating transformation in society through environment and heredity
neo-classical a style of prose and poetry from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, reviving a classical style from Greek and Roman cultures
Non-fiction writing that delivers factual events and observations
novel an extended fictional narrative written in prose that includes character, plot, and setting
Octameter a line in poetry of eight metrical feet
octave poetic verse of eight lines of iambic pentameter, usually with a rhyme scheme of abba abba
ode lyrical verse or poem with a serious topic and tone
onomatopoeia Use of a word that suggests or mimics its meaning through sound, such as roar or whistle
open form poetry that does not follow a predetermined form; freedom in the form of a poem
oxymoron a figure of speech where two words opposite in meaning are placed next to each other, such as "bittersweet"
Paradox a statement that seems absurd or contradictory but is true
parody a work that mocks an original work, character, or style through humorous imitation
personification figure of speech that attributes human characteristics to inanimate objects or animals
phonic pertaining to sound from speech
plot the series of events that make up the story
point of view the perspective or vantage point from which the author chooses to tell the story
prose the most common form of written language following natural speech patterns and grammatical structure
protagonist main character in a literary work; literally, one who struggles toward or for something
pun a play on the meaning of a word or of similar sounding words for and intended effect; usually humorous
Created by: MissMAK