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Literary Terms One

allegory a story or poem in which the characters, setting, and events stand for other people or events or for abstract ideas or qualities. Can be read for a literal meaning or a symbolic meaning.
alliteration the repetition of the same sound in a sequence of words, usually at the beginning of a word.
allusion a brief reference to a person, place, thing, event, or idea in history or literature.
climax the point in the plot that creates the greatest intensity, suspense, or interest. After this point, nothing can remain the same.
connotation associations and implications that go beyond the written word.
denotation the dictionary definition of a word.
flashback a scene that interrupts the normal chronological flow of events in a story to depict something that happened at an earlier time.
foreshadowing the use of hints and clues to suggest what will happen later in the story, often used to build suspense or tension.
gothic the use of primitive, medieval, or mysterious elements in literature. Gothic writing often features dark and gloomy places and horrifying, supernatural events.
hero a character whose actions are inspiring or noble. Tragic heroes are noble and inspiring but have a fault or make a mistake which leads to their demise.
hyperbole a boldly exaggerated statement that adds emphasis without intending to be literally true.
lyric poem a melodic poem which describes an object of emotion.
metaphor a literary device in which a direct comparison is made between two things essentially unalike.
narrative poem narrative poem tells a story in verse.
onomatopoeia the use of words that imitate sounds.
personification a literary device in which human attributes are given to a non-human, such as an animal, object, or concept.
plot the sequence of events in a story, usually involves characters and a conflict.
point of view the perspective or vantage point from which a story is told. Three common points of view are first person, omniscient, and third person limited.
setting the time and place of the story or poem’s action; it helps create the mood of the story.
simile a literary device in which a direct comparison is made between two things that are essentially unalike using the words “like” or “as.”
soliloquy a long speech made by a character who is onstage alone and who reveals his/her private thoughts and feelings to the audience.
stanza a group of lines in a poem that are considered to be a unit. They function in the same way that paragraphs do in prose writing.
symbol something that means more than what it is; an object, person, situation, or action that in addition to its literal meaning suggests other meanings as well.
theme an insight about human life that is revealed in a literary work.
thesis the organizing thought of an entire essay or piece of writing; a statement that contains a subject and a point to prove.
tone the writer’s attitude toward the story, poem, characters, or audience. A writer’s tone may be formal or informal, friendly or anxious, personal or arrogant, for example.
understatement a literary device that says less than intended, the opposite of the hyperbole. Usually has an ironic effect, and sometimes may be used for comic purposes.
Created by: pcondon