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FHS literary terms

Mrs. Carthel's Lit terms for study and TAKS review

allegory narrative in which characters often stand for abstract concepts and are often used to teach a lesson
alliteration repetition of initial consonant sounds in a sentence or series of sentences, such as: The silly sly snake slithered slowly.
allusion reference to historical or literary person, place, or thing with which the reader is assumed to be familiar, such as the Bible, Shakespeare, Aristotle, etc.
ambiguity a word or expression that has more than one meaning and leaves uncertainty as to the intended significance of the statement
anachronism an object or event out of its normal time, ie. a telephone mentioned in a Civil War novel
analogy point by point comparison of two things in order to more clearly define the lesser known of the two
antagonist force (person or thing) against which the protagonist (main character) is pitted
antithesis involves a direct contrast of structurally parallel word groupings, generally for the purpose of contrast, ie. sink or swim; high and low
aphorism brief statement that expresses a basic truth about life or a moral concise statement of a principle given in pointed words, such as “No pain, no gain” or “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” Abraham Lincoln
archetypes ideal model or pattern from which all things of the same type are copied, ie. love story based on family or social conflicts like Romeo and Juliet, father-son competition/conflicts found in Hamlet
aside remarks made by a character directly to the audience in a drama
assonance repetition of vowel sound within a word or lines, like Mississippi, make the grade, advantage, add the backpack
autobiography story of a person’s life written by that person (auto means self)
ballad narrative (story) poem originally meant to be sung; song that tells a story
biography story of a person’s life written by someone else
blank verse unrhymed poetry, usually written in iambic pentameter (five accented meters), such as Shakespeare’s works
character people or animals who participate in the action of a literary work
climax turning point of action in a literary work that brings about changes in all characters and brings about the greatest emotional response
colloquialism an expression used in informal conversation but accepted universally in formal speech or writing, usually associated with particular regions of the country, and not necessarily the lower levels of slang
conflict struggle between opposing forces which creates the plot in dramatic and narrative literature
consonance the repetition in two or more words of final consonants in stressed syllables
contrast writing device that in which one element has been put into opposition with each other
denouement unraveling of the plot in which conflicts used to build the plot are resolved and question are answered
denotation specific, exact meaning of a word without emotional coloration or association; dictionary meaning
connotation implied or suggested meaning of a word, outside of its literal meaning
description a portrait in words of a person, place, or object
details the facts given by the author or speaker as support for the tone and attitude of the story
dialect a particular variety of language spoken in one place by a distinct group of people and written phonetically, such Brooklyn’s Bronx dialect, or a Louisiana's Cajun dialect
dialogue written conversation between two or more characters
diction word choice; why was that particular word chosen, for example, the difference between angry or furious, or tattered or torn
direct characterization the author directly states a character’s traits instead of implying them through the character’s reactions and behaviors
drama literature in ply form
dramatic irony a contradiction between what a character thinks and what the reader or audience knows to be true
elegy a poem written in tribute to someone or something- usually someone or something that has recently died, such as “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns, which later inspired John Steinbeck to entitled his novel, Of Mice and Men
epigraph motto or quotation that appears at the beginning of a literary work, usually showing the source for the title of the work
epiphany sudden realization which prior to this time was not thought or understood; a moment when a concept or idea is suddenly understood, such as a student suddenly understanding a difficult concept, or realizing the point in a murder mystery where you suddenly
epistle formal composition generally addressed to one person or group, but meant for a wider audience, such as the epistle chapters in the Bible written directly to a specific church, but meant for all followers of Christ, or Martin Luther King’s Letter from Bi
epitaph speech or inscription on monument in memory of someone who has died, such as Shakespeare’s epitaph
epithet phrase used to identify a person or thing, ex. Superman’s is “the man of steel,” or George Washington’s “the father of our country”
essay nonfiction composition that offers an opinion on a subject using support and elaboration to present the writer’s opinion most effectively
eulogy public speech of tribute especially for one who has died(usually given at a funeral)
euphemism a device where being indirect replaces directness in order to avoid unpleasantness, for example, a housekeeper might be described as a domestic engineer, or an unruly and undisciplined child might be described as spirited and lively
exposition detailed explanation that lays the groundwork for the narrative and often provide pertinent background information necessary to understand the actions that follow
extended metaphor two unlike things are compared in several ways and at some length, over several sentences, paragraphs, and even thorough out an entire work
fable a brief tale used to illustrate a moral, such as the most famous fables written by Aesop, and many works, such as The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens written to teach a moral lesson about greed
facade a false front or pretense
fiction imaginative work of prose
figurative language communicates ideas beyond the ordinary, everyday meaning of words— impressions, ideas
first person narrator a character in the story who is actually telling the story;the point of view that employs I
flashback a conversation, scene, or incident that happened before the beginning of the story
folk tale short story that exhibits fairy tale unreality and sometimes includes supernatural events
foreshadowing hints of clues of things to come in a narrative
free verse poetry written without any regular patterns of rhyme or meter
genre kind or type of literature, such as fiction, nonfiction, poetry, short story, etc.
Gothic literature fiction using strange, gloomy settings, and mysterious, violent, often supernatural events to create suspense
hyperbole figure of speech in which the truth is exaggerated for emphasis
iambic pentameter line of verse with five metric feet or iambs,and in which two syllables, stresse and unstressed
imagery Words and phrases which create vivid sensory experiences for the reader.
irony contrasts between appearance and reality
juxtapose/juxtaposition to put side by side for the sake of comparison or contrast
literal language uses words in their ordinary sense; the opposite of figurative language
litote understatement; the opposite of hyperbole
metaphor comparison of two unlike objects, without using like or as
meter repetition of regular rhythmic units in a line of poetry
metonymy a figure of speech in which the name of one object is substituted for that of another closely associated with it
monologue speech by one character in a play, story, or poem
motif a simple device that serves as a recurring feature in the work
motivation a reason or explanation of a character’s thoughts, feelings,actions, or behavior
narrator person telling the story from his or her own point of view
Naturalism or Realism literature which portrays the world as it is perceived by the writer without idealism
nonfiction true story based on facts and real events
onomatopoeia using words to imitate sounds, such as bang, pop, whir, hiss
oral literature stories passed down from one generation to the next without being written down
oxymoron statement of contradiction or using two contradictory terms
parable short tale teaches a lesson or illustrates a moral truth
paradox statement that seems contradictory, but is quite true
parallelism structural arrangement of parts of a sentence, sentences, paragraphs, and larger units of composition by which one element is of equal importance and similarly developed
parody imitation of a serious work for the purpose of criticizing or making fun of the work
personification human qualities are attributed to an object, animal, or idea
plot planned series of interrelated actions and events used to tell a story
poetry arrangement of lines in which forms and content fuse to suggest meanings beyond the literal meaning of the words
point of view refers to the narrative method used in literary work in which first person, third person omniscient, and third person limited are used
protagonist central character involved in the central conflict of the story
psalm a song, most famous is collection of psalms from the Bible, which declare praise and devotion for God
pun play on words
rhetorical question question for which there is no answer is expected
Romanticism literary time period in which arts flourished
sarcasm verbal irony in which literal meaning is the opposite of the actual meaning
satire literary technique in which foolish ideas or customs are ridiculed for the purpose of improving society
science fiction prose written presenting the possibility of past or future using scientific data and theories as well as the imagination of the writer
setting time and place for the action of a story
short story a narrative that can be read at one sitting
simile comparison between two unlike things using “like” or “as”
soliloquy speech delivered by character on stage which allows the audience to know the character’s thoughts, ideas, feelings, and plans
sonnet lyric poem consisting of fourteen line of rhymed iambic pentameter
speaker the voice that talks to the reader
stanza group of lines that form a unit of poetry or unit of a song
stream of consciousness the technique of presenting the flow of thoughts, responses, or sensations of one or more characters
synecdoche a form of metaphor in which a part of something is used to stand for the whole thing
title distinguishing name attached to any literary work
theme main idea or message of a work of literature
tone attitude a writer takes toward a subject
Transcendentalism belief in Utopian society; the innate goodness of mankind
trite expression or cliche any expression that has been overused and lost its clarity
vernacular common, everyday language of the people so that it is spelled as it sounds when spoken
pun a play on words; a joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word
Created by: Mrs. Carthel



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