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Literature Terms WGU

Paradox A statement that seems self contradictory, but on further reflection, reveals some deeper sense.
Sarcasm A somewhat sour statement tinged with mockery.
Diction Word choice or vocabulary, specific (concrete) or abstract.
Style A writer's particular way of managing words that we recognize as customary or habitual.
Story of initiation A character initiated into experience or maturity.
Truism A claim that is so obvious it is hardly worth mentioning except as a rhetorical device.
Soliloquy A speech given directly to the audience to divulge a character's thoughts.
Satire A witty, humorous attack on something of which the author strongly disapproves.
In Media Res A device of beginning a story midway in the events it depicts with no explanation of what came before.
Flashback A scene relived in a character's memory, used to show something before the story began or some insight into a character.
Deus ex machine "a god from a machine" Any forced or improbable device in plot resolution
Dialogue The direct representation of the conversation between two or more characters.
Convention An established feature or technique in literature that is commonly understood by both author and reader. Ex: Once upon a time
Aside A short passage spoken in an undertone to the audience in which the other characters onstage are deaf to.
Allegory A narrative in which a person, place or thing consistently point to a parallel sequence of symbolic events. Ex: a character named Faith.
Diction Word choice or vocabulary either specific (concrete) or abstract.
Enjambment Run on sentences where there is no punctuation or pause between sentences.
Trope A figure of speech which somehow "turns" language to give it another meaning.
Figurative Language Describing something by comparing it with something else.
Dramatic Irony Suspenseful expectation, when the reader understands the implication & meaning of a situation and foresees the oncoming disaster (in tragedy) or triumph (in comedy) but the character does not.
Ironic twists of Fate Developments that reveal a terrible distance between what people deserve and what they get, or what is and what ought to be.
Ironic Point of View A sharp distinction between the narrator and author, where irony is likely to occur - especially when we are obviously expected to doubt what the narrator is telling us.
Irony of Situation When something is about to happen to a character who expect the opposite outcome.
Verbal Irony When the speaker or writer says the opposite of what is really meant. Ex:How graceful you are! to someone who has just tripped.
Understatement An ironic figure of speech that deliberately describes something in a way that is less than the true case.
Metonymy Where the name of the thing is substituted for that of another closely associated with it. Ex:"The White House decided" meaning the president decided.
Synecdoche The use of a significant part of a thing to stand for the whole or vice versa. Ex:To say wheels for car.
Simile A combo of 2 things, indicated by some connective, usually like,as, than, or resembles. Connects 2 things that seem unlike but are shown to have significant resemblance.
Personification A figure of speech in which a thing or animal is endowed with human characteristics.
Metaphor A statement that one thing IS something else,when in a literal sense it is NOT. Ex: Bob is a pig.
Hyperbole Overstatement. An exaggeration used to emphasize a point.
Apostrophe Addressing an inanimate object directly. Ex: "Oh Mountain!"
Gratuitous Act A deed without cause or motive.
Recognition The moment when ignorance gives way to knowledge, illusion to disillusion.
Foreshadowing The technique of arranging events & information in such a way that later events are prepared for beforehand. May prevent a story's outcome from seeming haphazard.
Exposition The opening portion of a narrative where the scene is set, the protagonist introduced, and any necessary background information is provided.
Allusion A character NAME that makes a reference to some famous person, place, or thing in history, other fiction, or actuality.
Persona A fictitious character created by the author to be the narrator of a work and not merely a character in it.
Onomatopoeia To represent a thing or action by the word that imitates the sound associated with it. Ex: crash, bang, pitter-patter
Soliloquy An extended speech where the character is talking only to himself.
Monologue An extended speech where the character has listeners.
Epiphany The moment of insight,discovery, or revelation, where a character's life is greatly altered. Ex: An "ah ha" moment.
Denotation The literal, dictionary, meaning of a word.
Connotation An association or additional meaning that a word, image, or phrase may carry apart from its denotation.
Assonance The repetition of vowel sounds in successive words.
Alliteration The repetition of consonant sounds in successive words.
Short Story A form more realistic than a tale. Skilled in rendering scenes. Try to show than to merely tell.
Fairy Tale Set in a world of magic and enchantment. May be quite dark in nature.
Tale Strange and wonderful events in more or less bare summary without detailed character drawings. A revelation of the marvelous rather than the revelation of character.
Parable A brief narrative that teaches a moral with realistic plot and human characters. Ends with an implied moral that can be interpreted in several ways.
Fable A brief story that has some pointed statement of truth. Everything leads directly to the moral or message, which is often stated at the end. Often has and implausible plot and animals or natural forces as main characters.
Memoir A form of autobiographical writing dealing with the recollections of a certain memorable event or time period. Also deals with personalities and actions of those other than the author.
Journal A form of autobiographical writing with a day by day account of events and personal impressions. Less intimate than a diary & more chronological than an autobiography.
Essay A formal or informal brief prose of a restricted topic.
Biography A written account of a person's life. A life history with an effort to provide a unified impression of the subject.
Autobiography The story of a person's life as written by that person, with some stress on introspection.
Novelette Usually refers (often disapprovingly) to a short novel written for a magazine especially in such fields as science fictin, romance, westerns, and horror.
Historical Novel A familiar kind of fiction that claims a basis in fact. A detailed reconstruction of life in another place or time.
Romance Novel A genre of novels that can be totally improbable. Life as we wish it was, not as it is.
Dynamic A changing character.
Static A fixed character. Unchanging.
Antihero A protagonist that is lacking in one or more conventional qualities attributed to a hero.
Hero The central character in a narrative with an implied positive moral assessment.
Antagonist The most significant character or force that opposes the protagonist. It may be another character,society, force of nature, or conflicting impulses within the protagonist.
Protagonist The main character in a work that usually initiates the main action of the story, often in conflict with the antagonist.
Universal Omniscient 3rd person point of view where the narrator not only has the knowledge of all the characters thoughts but also reveals information the characters do not have.
Third Person Omniscient Told by a narrator who plays no part in the story, but knows all the facts including the character's thoughts. The most reliable narrator.
Third Person Subjective When the narrator conveys the thoughts,feelings, and opinions of more than one character and can switch between them.
Third Person Limited When a narrator conveys the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of ONE character though still giving description using "he","she","it" and "they" BUT NOT "I"
Third Person Objective A "fly on the wall" way of narrating a story that does not allow the author to express the unspoken thoughts & feelings of the characters. Gives an unbiased point of view.
First Person The narrator is also a character in the story and reveals the plot using "I" or "we". Often this person is the protagonist and cannot "see" into the thoughts of the other characters.
Round Characters A complex character that is presentd in depth and detail. They change significantly during the story. Most often the central characters.
Flat Characters A character with only one outstanding trait. They are rarely main characters and DO NOT change throughout the story.
Stock Characters A common or stereotypical character that occurs frequently in literature. Ex: Damsel in distress, mad scientist, evil stepmother
Foil A character that serves by contrast to highlight or emphasize opposing traits in another character.
Novella A prose narrative longer than a short story but shorter than an novel. Long enough to be published as a brief book.
Picaresque Novel A novel that presents the life of a likable scoundrel who is at odds with society. The narrator is a "rascal" or "rogue" who recounts his adventures tricking the rich and gullible.
Epistolary Novel A novel in which the story is told by way of letters written by one or more of the characters. The author invented letters lend authenticity to these FICTIONAL works.
Epic Novel Narrate a story of national importance based on the life and actions of a hero. Often the hero is descended from or protected by the gods.
Apprenticeship or Bildungsroman Novel A coming of age novel.
Nonfiction A genre in which actual events are presented as a novel length story, using the techniques of fiction (flashbacks, interior monologues, etc.)
Fiction A literary work not bound by factual accuracy,but shaped by the author's imagination. The truth of a work of fiction depends on how convincingly the writer creates the world of the story.
Novel A book length narrative, which usually has more characters, varied scenes, and broader coverage of time than a short story
Subgenres A subdivision of a genre. Ex: Poetry's subgenres are Lyric, Epic, Dramatic, Didactic
Genre A conventional combination of literary form and subject matter. Implies a preexisting understanding between the author & reader about the purpose and rules of the work.
Minimalists Writers of realistic fiction that write in flat, laid-back, unemotional tone with a bare unadorned style. Give nothing but facts drawn from real life.
Scene A vivid or dramatic moment described in enough detail to create the illusion that the reader is actually there.
Suspense The pleasurable anxiety we feel that heightens our attention to the story, making us wonder how it will all turn out.
Complication Introduces a new conflict.
Dramatic Situation A person involved in some conflict.
Theme Whatever general idea or insight the entire story reveals. Need not be a moral message. A generally recurring subject or idea conspicuously evident in a work.
Imagery Descriptive lanuage that evokes a sensory experience. May be in many forms, such as metaphors and similes.
Symbolism Refers to any object or person which represents something else. We know it is symbolic if it led us to the author's theme, the essential meaning of the story.
Tone/Mood The net result of the various elements an author brings to creating the work's feeling and manner.
Denouement (Resolution) The resolution or conclusion of a literary work as plot complications are unraveled after the climax.
Falling Action The events in a narrative that follow the climax and bring the story to its conclusion.
Climax The moment of greatest intensity in a story, which almost inevitably occurs toward the end of the work. Often takes the form of a decisive confrontation between pro & antagonist.
Crisis The point in a drama where the crucial action, decision, or realization must be made, marking the turning point of the protagonist's fortune.
Rising Action The part of a narrative, including the exposition, where events start moving toward a climax. The protagonist faces the complications of the plot to reach his goal.
Conflict The central struggle between two or more forces. Generally occurs when a person or thing prevents the protagonist from achieving his goal.
Subplot or Double Plot A second story line that is complete and interesting in its own right, often doubling or inverting the main plot and enhancing it.
Setting Time and place of a work. May include climate, time of year, century, and location. May even include the social, psychological, or spiritual state of characters.
Motif An element that recurs significantly throughout a narrative. Can be an image, idea, theme, situation, or action.
Motivation The reasons an author provides for the character's actions.
Plot The arrangement or design of events, actions, and situations in a narrative work. More than just the basic story line of what happens.
Created by: LFalone
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