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PAP/IS Lit. Terms

PAP/IS English I Literary Terms

Literary TermDefinition
Aside Private words that a character in a play speaks to the audience or to another character and that are not supposed to be overheard by others on stage
Consonance The repetition of final consonant sounds after different vowel sounds (eaST,weST)
Catharsis A moral and spiritual cleansing; an empathic identification with others (e.g., watching a protagonist overcome great odds to survive can create this; confession purges the soul)
Aphorism A concise, sometimes witty saying that expresses a principle, truth, or observation about life
Foil A character who sets off another character by strong contrast
Ode A complex, generally long lyric poem on a serious subject
Pun A play on the multiple meanings of a word or on two words that sound alike but have different meanings
Repetition The duplication, either exact or approximate, of any element of language, such a sound, word, phrase, clause, sentence or grammatical pattern
Rhetorical Shift A change from one tone, attitude, etc. Look for key words like but, however, even though, althought, yet, etc.
Sarcasm From the Greek meaing "to tear flesh," sarcasm involves bitter, caustic language that is meant ot hurt or ridicule someone or something. When well done, it can be witty and insightful
Satire A work that targets human vices and follies, or social institutions and conventions, for reform or ridicule
Soliloquy A long speech in which a character, who is usually on stage alone, expresses his or her private thoughts or feelings to himself
Symbol A person, place, thing, or event that stands both for itself and for something beyond itself
Syntax The way an author chooses ot join word into phrases, clauses, and sentences. It is similar to diction, but this refers to a group of words while diction refers to individual words
Style A writer's distinctive mode of expression (It can be flowery, explicit, succinct, rambling, bombastic, commonplace, or incisive)
Theme A central message or insight into life revealed through the literary work. It is not a condensed summary, but rather a generalization about human beings or about life that the literary work communicates
Tone The writer's attitude toward his or her audience and subject. It often can be described by a single adjective
Understatement Saying less than is actually meant, generally in an ironic way. The effect can frequently be humorous and emphatic
Verbal irony A type of irony in which words are used to suggest the opposite of what is meant.
Flashback A section of a literary work that interrupts the sequence of events to relate an event from an earlier time.
Foreshadowing The use in a literary work of clues that suggest events that have yet to occur
Hyperbole A deliberate exaggeration or overstatement. They often have a comic effect, but they can also have a serious effect. Often, it produces irony at the same time
Imagery The sensory details or figurative language used to describe, arouse emotion, or represent abstractions
Inference To draw a reasonable conclusion from the information presented
Indirect characterization When an author tells what a character looks like, does and says, and how other characters react to him or her. It is up to the reader to draw conclusions about the character based on this information
inversion A change in the normal word order
Juxtaposition A poetric and rhetorical device in which normally unassociated ideas, words, or phrases are place next to one another
metaphor A figure of speech in which one thing is spoken of as though it were something else (e.g., Life a broken-winged bird)
Metonymy A figure of speech in which the name of one object is substituted for that of another closely associated with it (e.g., the court - judge and jury)
Monologue A speech to the audience by one character in a play, story, or poem
Motif A word, character, object, image, metaphor, or idea tha recurs in a work. It almost always bears an important relationship to the theme of a work of literature
Motivation A reason that explains or partially explains a character's thoughts, feeling, actions, or behavior
Oxymoron A figure of speech that combines two opposing or contradictory ideas
Parable A story designed to suggest a principle, illustrate a moral, or answer a question. They are allegorical stories usually religious in nature.
Paradox A statement that seems contradictory or absurd but expresses the truth.
Parody A work that closely imitates the style or content of another with the specific aim of comic effect and/or ridicule
Parallelism The repetition of a grammatical structure ("I came, I saw, I conquered.")
Personification A type of figurative language in which a nonhuman subject is given human characteristics
Point of view The perspective from which a story is told
Alliteration The repetition of identical or similar consonant sounds at the beginning of words within a line of poetry or in a sentence/paragraph (It is a sound device - the Sweet, Soothing Sound of rain))
Allegory A story in which people, things, and events have another meaning (George Orwell's Animal Farm)
Allusion A reference to a well-known person, place, event, literary work, or work of art
Anachronism Something out of its normal time
Antithesis It involves a direct contrast of structually parallel word groupings, generally for the purose of contrast (e.g., sink or swim)
Apostrophe A figure of speech i which a speaker directly addresses an absent person or a personified quality
Archetype The term is applied to an image, a descriptive detail, a plot pattern, or a character type that occurs frequently in literature, myth, religion, or folklore and is, therefore, believed to evoke profound emotion
Assonance The repetition or identical or similar vowel sounds within words in prose or poetry
Connotation The set of associations that occur to people when they hear or read a particular word
Denotation The dictionary meaning of the word, devoid of any emotion, attitude, or color
Dialect The form of a language spoken by people in a particular region or group
Colloquielism An expression used in informal conversation but not accepted universally in formal speech or writing. It lies between the upper level of dignified and lower level of slang
Consonance The repetition in two or more words of final consonants in stressed syllables (hiD/heaD)
Epiphany A sudden understanding or realization which prior to this was not thought of or understood
Euphemism A device where being indirect replaces directness to avoid unpleasantness (e.g., instead of saying "died" one says "passed on"
First-person narrator Where the main character tells the story (use of pronoun "I")
Third-person limited narrator When the story is told by someone other than the main character and the reader knows what the character sees, thinks, etc.
Third-person omniscient narrator When someone other than the main character tells the story and the reader knows what all characters see, think, etc.
Situational irony When an event occurs that directly contrasts the expectations of the characters, the reader, or audience
Onomatopoeia The use of words that imitate sound in prose/poetry (e.g., bang, boom, hiss)
paradox A statement that seems contradictory or absurd but that expresses a truth
Setting The time and place of the action in a story
Simile A figure of speech in which like or as is used to make a comparison between two basically unlike subjects (e.g., She is as flighty as a sparrow)
Understatement Saying less than is actually meant, generally in an ironic way
Mood The feeling created in the reader by a literary work or passage
Created by: nwalker



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