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BGHS Literary Terms

Literary terms typically used in AP English Literature and Composition

Hamartia/tragic flaw an error in judgment
static a character who remains unchanged
act a major division in drama
anti-hero a protagonist who does not fit the heroic mold
protagonist the central figure of a work
scene a subdivision in drama
monologue a lengthy speech by a single person
antagonist a character who creates conflictr
dynamic a character who changes
prologue a section at the beginning of a work
falling action the events leading up to the resolution
stock a character that fits “conventions”
hero the main character in a tragedy
flat a character built around a single idea
catharsis a purging or cleansing of emotion
climax the high point or turning point in the story
main character the central in a work
epilogue a section at the end of a work
foil a character whose function is to set off (contrast) the main character
hubris Aristotle’s term for pride
theme the main thought expressed by the work; “meaning”
dialogue a conversation between characters
rising action the events leading up to the climax
round a complex character
tragedy a form of literature in which a hero is destroyed
Exposition the beginning of a story where setting is described
point of view the perspective from which the narrator tells the story
hyperbole an exaggeration for rhetorical effect
dénouement the resolution of the conflict; the end of the story
first Person characterized by “I”; the main character tells the story
conflict a clash by opposing forces
diction word choice
allusion an indirect reference outside the literature
structure the arrangement of materials within a work
denotation the literal meaning of a word
imagery sensory details
style the characteristic manner of an author or expression
third person omniscient characterized by “they”; the narrator gives insight into everything
narrative techniques the methods or devices involved in telling a story
metaphor a comparison between two things
syntax the structure of a sentence
symbol an object or image representing a larger concept
figurative language language not intended to be taken literally
internal conflict a conflict within the character
connotation the implied meaning of a word
tone the writer’s attitude
dramatic irony an inconsistency known by the reader of audience
flashback an interruption into the past
details the selection of items that make up a story
irony a speech or situation in which the intent differs from reality
Created by: mpedregon