OF FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE,
                                                   literary terms, and other stuff

Student Name: ______________________________________________________________
Period: ________________ Mr. Williams’ AP English Literature Class
                                      Think Deeper!           Think Deeper! Think Deeper!

Alliteration:                                           Analogy:
The repetition of beginning consonant sound of          Comparison of apparently largely dissimilar objects
words.                                                  to reveal similarities. See Metaphor.
The chocolate chip cookie was crunchy.                  Pets are like plants. If you give them lots of
                                                        care and attention, they grow strong and
Allegory:                                               healthy. If you neglect them, they become
                                                        weak and sickly.
An extended metaphor using objects, characters,
and events to represent larger meanings; A
narrative or description having a second meaning        Anecdote:
beneath the surface one. The interaction of             A brief story used to illustrate or make a point.
characters, things, events is meant to reveal an
abstraction or a truth. These characters, etc. may be   Aphorism:
symbolic of the ideas referred to.
                                                        This is a terse statement of known authorship which
                                                        is an expression of insight and wisdom.
Ad Hominem Argument:
This is an argument that appeals to emotion rather      Avant-Garde:
than reason – feeling rather than intellect.
                                                        Innovative style that challenges traditional and
                                                        established forms.
A reference to well-known person, place, thing, or      Anachronism:
event that the writer assumes the reader will be
familiar with.                                          This is placing something in a time when it was not
She swoops in to help with Herculean                    in existence.
strength.                                               The watch Merlyn wore in The Once and
                                                        Future King.
A digression in the form of an address to someone
not present, or to a personified object or idea.        Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the
“O Death, where is thy sting?”                          beginning of two or more sentences in a row. This
                                                        device is a deliberate form of repetition and helps
                                                        make the writer’s point more coherent.
The repetition of the vowel sounds within words.        Angst:
I fly high when I dream of my lover.
                                                        A term used in existential criticism to describe both
                                                        the individual and the collective anxiety-neurosis of
Archetype:                                              the period following the Second World War. Popular
A theme, motif, symbol, or stock character that         in works by Jean Paul Satre and Albert Camus.
holds a familiar and fixed place in a culture’s
consciousness. Most stories follow archetypical         Antithesis:
formats, in regards to characters, settings, ideas,
etc.                                                    A balancing of two opposite or contrasting words,
In literature, resurrected characters literally         phrases, or clauses
or from the past are archetypes of Jesus
Christ in the Western culture.                          Argumentation:
                                                        One of the 4 chief forms of discourse. The others
Ambiguity:                                              being narration, exposition, and description. Its
Expression of an idea in words that may be              purpose is to convince by establishing the truth of
interpreted in more than one way.                       falsity of a proposition.

Amplification:                                          Aside:
Figure of speech using restatement for emphasis.        A dramatic convention by which an actor directly
Why, Why does this always happen to me?                 addresses the audience but it is not supposed to be
                                                        heard by the other actors on the stage.

Asyndeton:                                                   Burlesque:
A series of words separated by commas (with no               A humorous imitation of a serious work of literature.
conjunction), e.g. “I came, I saw, I conquered.”             The humor usually arises from the incongruity
The parts of the sentence are emphasized equally;            between the imitation and the work being imitated.
in addition, the use of commas with no intervening
conjunction speeds up the flow of the sentence.              Coda:
                                                             Concluding or summary part of a literary work.
The breaking-off of speech, usually because of rising        Conceit:
emotion or excitement.
                                                             An elaborate parallel between two seemingly
“Touch me one more time, and I swear—”
                                                             dissimilar objects or ideas. Somewhat like a
The methodical examination of the parts in order to          Character:
determine the nature of the whole. Looking at the
                                                             A person, animal, or any thing with a personality
whys and now whats, rather than just the whats.
                                                             that appears in a story. Types are:
                                                                Protagonist: main character. If he/she is
Antecedent Action:                                              admirable, then he/she becomes hero/heroine.
Events that precede the starting point of the piece             If the main character challenges our views of
of literature.                                                  what is admirable, then he/she becomes the
Bildungsroman:                                                  Antagonist: the primary character or entity that
                                                                acts to frustrate the goals of the protagonist. The
Novel narrating story of a young person’s coming of             antagonist is typically a character but may also be
age and development.                                            a nonhuman force like nature.
                                                                Stock Character: a common character type that
Balance:                                                        recurs throughout literature. Notable examples
Construction in which both halves of the sentence               include the witty servant, the scheming villain,
are of about the same length and importance,                    the femme fatale, the trusty sidekick, the old
sometimes to emphasize contrast.                                miser, and so on. A stock character that holds a
                                                                central place in the culture’s folklore or
Bucolic:                                                        consciousness may be called an archetype.
                                                                Foil: A character who illuminates the qualities of
Pertaining to descriptions of an idyllic, rural lifestyle.
                                                                another character by means of contrast.
                                                                Round Character: a character drawn with
Ballad:                                                         sufficient complexity to be able to surprise the
A poem that tells a story, often meant to be                    reader without losing credibility. Also dynamic.
performed out loud, often with a refrain.                       Static/Flat: These characters change little if at all.

Blank Verse:                                                 Catharsis:
A poem written in unrhymed verse; unrhymed                   Process by which an unhealthy emotional state
iambic pentameter.                                           produced by an imbalance of feelings is corrected
                                                             and emotional health is restored.
Inflated or extravagant expression.                          Chiasmus:
The boy is definitely the worst behaved child                Arrangement of repeated thoughts in the pattern of
in the world.                                                X Y Y X. Chiasmus is often short and summarizes a
                                                             main idea.
Black Comedy:                                                “Ask not what your country can do for you;
Disturbing or absurd material presented in a                 ask what you can do for your country.”
humorous manner, usually with the intention to
confront uncomfortable truths.                               Caesura:
                                                             A break in poetic rhythm and structure. It usually
                                                             ushers in the turn or shift in the work.

Comedy of Manners:                                        Carpe Diem Poetry:
Deals with the relations and intrigues of gentlemen       “Seize the day” an admonition that means more
and ladies living in a polished and sophisticated         “pluck, as a ripe fruit or flower.” It is a common
society; it evokes laughter mainly at the violations of   theme of 16th and 17th century English Love poetry:
social conventions and decorum and relies on the          yield to love while you are still young and beautiful.
wit and humor of the discourse for its effect.
Cliché:                                                   A rhetorical device which lists people, things, or
Timeworn and commonplace expression;              trite   attributes, used in epics (heroes, ships, armor), the
description.                                              Bible (genealogy), and Elizabethan sonnets (the
         My love has been tried and true.                 physical attributes of the beloved).

Colloquialism:                                            Common Meter:
Informal usage of words or phrases – not formal           Alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and iambic
language.                                                 trimester, in four-line stanzas typically rhyming abab
The cd was banging; I think it’s his greatest             or abcb. Also called hymn meter and ballad
one yet.                                                  meter.

Consonance:                                               Complaint:
The repetition of consonant sounds anywhere within        A lyric poem of lament, regret, and sadness which
words, not just at the beginning.                         may explain the speaker’s mood, describe its cause,
The sailor sings of ropes and things in ships             discuss remedies, and appeal for help. The blues is a
upon the stormy seas.                                     musical counterpart to the literary form.

Comic Relief:                                             Context:
The inclusion of a humorous character or scene to         The matter that surrounds the word or text in
contrast with the tragic elements of a work,              question, lending it significance, even irony. An
therefore intensifying the next tragic event.             accurate analysis of a word or portion of text
                                                          depends upon a full understanding of the overall
Connotation:                                              context.
Interpretive level of a word based on its associated
images rather than its literal meaning. Implications.     Continuous Form:
See Denotation.                                           Poetry not divided into stanzas.

Canto:                                                    Denotation:
Subdivisions or smaller parts (chapters) of the whole     Literal or dictionary meaning of a word.
work.                                                     See Connotation.

Courtly Love:                                             Deus ex Machina:
Stylized code of conduct between lovers, esp. as          Anyone or thing that appears at the end of a play
depicted in Medieval literature.                          and untangles, resolves, or reveals keys to the plot.

Cacophony:                                                Dénouement:
Harsh, dissonant sounds in recited poetry. It is          This is the final unfolding of the plot; resolution or
deliberately used by the poet to bring reader’s           outcome of the work.
attention to the content; opposite of euphony.
                                                          Dystopic Literature:
Caricature:                                               Genre of fiction that presents an imagined future
A description or characterization that exaggerates or     society that purports to be perfect and utopian, but
distorts a character’s prominent features, usually to     the author presents to the reader as horrifyingly
elicit mockery.                                           inhuman. Usually the author intends to warn
                                                          contemporary readers that their own society
                                                          resembles, or is in danger of resembling this flawed
                                                          future world.
Diction:                                                    Epithet:
The author’s choice of words and expressions. It can        An adjective or phrase that describes a prominent
represent the educational, social, and emotional            feature of a person or thing. Richard ‘the
state of the characters or narrator. Patterns of            Lionheart’. Characterizing word or phrase used
diction can be predominantly formal, informal, or           with or in place of name, usually a disparaging
neutral; positive or negative in connotation;               abusive term.
euphonious or cacophonous in sound; concrete or             The old, blind mongoose of a man didn’t know
abstract; specific or general; mono- or polysyllabic.       how to treat people.

Dialect:                                                    Epigram:
Speech within the same language with marked social          A terse, witty poem, often paradoxical saying with a
or regional differences.                                    clever twist at the end or a concise and witty
Double Rhyme:
Rhyming stressed syllables followed by identical            Erotica:
unstressed syllables. If both syllables are identical, it   Literary work devoted to sexual themes.
is sometimes called compound rhyme. This pattern
was once called “feminine rhyme”, an allusion to its        End Rhyme:
being weaker than full or perfect rhyme (masculine
                                                            Rhymes that occur at the end of lines of poetry.
rhyme). Too much double rhyme in a serious poem
                                                                  I was angry with my friend,
can have an inadvertent comic effect.
                                                                  I told my wrath, my wrath did end.

Diatribe:                                                   Eye Dialect:
Bitter argument, accusation, or harangue.
                                                            Use of misspellings to convey character’s poor
                                                            education or humorous dialect pronunciations.
The primary aim of these works is to teach or               Euphemism:
instruct, esp. the teaching of moral or ethical
                                                            Less offensive, more agreeable words and
                                                            expressions that substitute other more harsh words.
                                                            The slow-witted girl stood speechless in front
Dialogue:                                                   of the class.
Discourse or conversation between characters.
Doggerel:                                                   Literary work recounting deeds of legendary hero;
Unimportant or bad poetry; it is considered of little       this work usually deals with an important theme.
literary value.
Euphony:                                                    A persistent feeling of tiredness or weariness which
The pleasant, mellifluous presentation of sounds in a       often afflicts existential man, often manifesting as
literary work.                                              boredom.

Epistle/Epistolary:                                         Enthymeme:
Letter, esp. formal or elegant one.                         A syllogism in which one of the premises—often the
Works in the form or possessing letters.                    major theme—is unstated, but meant to be
Epilogue:                                                   “Children should be seen and not heard. Shut
Appended summary to the end of a literary piece.            up John.”

Elegy:                                                      Enjambment/Enjambed:
Song, poem, or speech lamenting one who is dead.            A sentence or clause runs into the next line without
                                                            a break. This creates a sense of suspense or
                                                            excitement and gives added emphasis to the word
                                                            at the end of the line.

End-Stopped Line:                                        Fable:
A line of poetry that ends when the grammatical unit     A short prose or narrative verse that illustrates a
ends. Its opposite is enjambment.                        lesson or moral, which often is stated explicitly at
                                                         the end. Frequently, Fables utilize animals as the
Emphasis:                                                major characteristics embodying them with human
The weighting and development of particular
elements by means of climactic order, placement,
repetition, accumulation of detail, or contrast,         Feminine Rhyme:
emphasis indicates the relative importance of such       A rhyme consisting of a stressed syllable followed by
elements to the text.                                    an unstressed syllable, as in the rhyme between
                                                         “mother” and “brother.”
A concrete object that represents something              Freight-Train:
abstract.                                                Sentences consisting of three or more very short
The star of David is always emblemic of                  independent clauses joined by conjunctions.
                                                         Free Verse:
Envoy/Envoi:                                             Unrhymed poetry with lines of varying lengths and
A conventionalized stanza at the close of a poem,        containing no specific metrical pattern.
which is addressed to a prince or a patron, usually
having four lines rhyming abab, and sometimes            Foreshadowing:
repeating the refrain line of the poem. The envoy
may provide a summary or simply serve to                 Hints or clues that a writer uses to suggest what will
dispatch the poem.                                       happen next in the story.

Epiphany:                                                Frame Story:
A realization by a fictional character about the         A narrative that is a framework for another story or
essential mature of being or an event. A sudden          stories. The frame usually explains or sets up the
perception, an intuitive flash of recognition.           interior story; often the narrative returns to the
                                                         frame situation to provide closure at the end. See
The close analysis of the meanings, relationships,       Form:
and ambiguities of words, images, and other small
units of a literary work.                                The organization or pattern of the elementary parts
                                                         of a work of literature in relation to the total effect.
                                                         Verse form refers to the rhythmic units; stanza form
Electra Complex:                                         refers to groups of lines. Open form refers to free-
Sigmund Freud’s theory that a female child feels         verse poems that do not follow a conventional
unconscious jealousy toward her mother and lust for      pattern, but nonetheless have organic forms.
her father. Opposite: Oedipus Complex.
Flashback:                                               See meter.
Technique in which a writer interrupts a story to go
back and explain an earlier event.                       Gothic:
                                                         Fiction with emphasis on horror and macabre,
Foil:                                                    mysterious, or violent events, often in desolate,
A character whose traits are the exact opposite of       remote settings.
Flat Character:
                                                         The aspects of the vehicle that apply to the tenor of
A character constructed around a single idea or
                                                         a metaphor. See vehicle and tenor.
quality; a flat character is immediately recognizable.

Genre:                                                     Idiom:
French word, depicting a type of literary form;            Words used in a special way that may be different
classifications. E.g. tragedy, comedy, novel, essay,       from their actual meaning. They are usually
poetry, etc.                                               universally popular expressions also known as
Hubris:                                                            Speak up! Cat’s got your tongue?
Overwhelming pride or insolence that results in the
misfortune of the protagonist of a tragedy. It is the      Imagery:
particular form of tragic flaw that results from           The use of words to represent things, actions, or
excessive pride, ambition, or overconfidence. Also         ideas by sensory details and descriptions. These
called hybris.                                             sensory details describe, arouse emotions, and
                                                           create atmosphere. Sometimes these images are
High Comedy:                                               symbolic. Visually stimulating language and devices.
Comedy that employs subtle characterizations and
witty language, often to satirize upper class              Inversion:
lifestyles.                                                Variation of the normal word order (subject first,
                                                           then verb, then compliment) which puts a modifier
Homily:                                                    or the verb as first in the sentence. The element
Literary device found in writings that tend to involve     that appears first is emphasized more than the
moral or spiritual advice.                                 subject.

Hyperbole:                                                 In Medias Res:
Conscious exaggeration used to heighten effect.            Latin for: “In the middle of things.” This term refers
“And fired the shot heard around the world.”               to refers to the technique of starting a narrative in
                                                           the middle of the action.
A mode of comedy that is sympathetic and tolerant
                                                           Internal Rhyme:
toward human nature, exposing the ridiculous,              A rhyme between two or more words within a single
ludicrous, and comical in human affairs. Its cousin,       line of verse.
wit, is intellectual, and tends to be satirical and less   “And all is seared with trade; bleared,
tolerant. See Comedy and Wit.                              smeared with toil.”

Haiku:                                                     Invocation:
A compact form of Japanese poetry written in three         A prayer for inspiration to a god or muse, usually
lines of five, seven, and five syllables, respectively.    placed in the beginning of an epic.

Invective:                                                 Intertextuality:
Emotional violent, verbal denunciation or attack           The various relationships a text may have with other
using strong, abusive language.                            texts, through allusions, borrowing of formal or
                                                           thematic elements, or simply by reference to
Irony:                                                     traditional literary form. It is argued that texts relate
                                                           primarily to one another and not to an external
An implied discrepancy between what happens and            reality.
what was intended or expected to happens. Verbal,
situational, and dramatic are the different types.
         Verbal: when an author says one thing and
         means something else.                             The linking of two incompatible things. Such a lack
         Situational: discrepancy between the              of correspondence may be humorous.
         expected results and the actual results.
         Dramatic: when an audience perceives              Jeremiad:
         what a character in literature does not.          A prolonged lamentation or complaint.
* The portly man, called Slim by his friends, made it
to the party.
* The trash can stood in the midst of the swarming

Juxtaposition:                                            Literal Language:
Putting two words, ideas, or graphics together to         The factual sort of discourse that is without
create a new, often ironic meaning.                       embellishment, though not necessarily flat; the
Oh, the joys of winter blizzards!                         opposite of figurative.

Juvenilia:                                                Literary Present Tense:
Writings produced in an author’s youth.                   By convention, the present tense is used when
                                                          writing about imaginative literature, except when
Litotes:                                                  discussing antecedent action.
Opposite of hyperbole; litotes intensifies an idea
understatement by stating through the opposite.           Limerick:
“It wasn’t my best day.” versus                           A fanciful five-line poem with an AABBA rhyme
“It was my worst day.”                                    scheme in which the first, second, and fifth lines
                                                          have three feet and the third and fourth have two
Leitmotif:                                                feet.
Prevailing recurring theme or idea in a work.
Legend:                                                   The name of a subject is substituted by a name
                                                          closely related to it.
A story about a heroic figure, derived from oral
                                                          Calling the head of a committee a CHAIR, the
tradition and is based partially on facts and fiction.
                                                          king the CROWN, a newspaper the PRESS, or
Usually stories are from historical events.
                                                          the old people the GRAY HAIRS.
King Arthur, Robin Hood, Paul Bunyan.

Lyric:                                                    Masculine Rhyme:
                                                          A rhyme consisting of a single stressed syllable, as
A short poetic composition that describes the
                                                          in the rhyme between “car” and “far.”
thoughts of a single speaker. Most modern poetry is
lyrical, employing such common forms of the ode
and sonnet. It is often melodic and euphonious, and       Mood:
creates a single, unified impression. Sonnets, odes,      An atmosphere created by a writer’s word choice
elegies, and countless nonce forms are lyrics, the        (diction) and the details selected. Syntax is also a
most frequent used poetic expression.                     determiner of mood because sentence strength,
                                                          length, and complexity affect pacing.
Harsh satire directed against an individual.              Metaphor:
                                                          A comparison of two things without using like or as,
Low Comedy:                                               and the things are usually unrelated. They may be in
                                                          one sentence or may be the entire work.
Often farcical comedy of action           with   simple
                                                          Thievery is the disease that eats at the heart
characters, burlesque, and horseplay.
                                                          of society.
                                                          Types of metaphors are:
Local Color:                                                       Dead: So overused that its original impact
Use of details that are common in a certain place. A                     has been lost.
story that takes place on a seacoast would                         Extended: one developed at length and
probably contain details about the water and                             involves several points of comparison.
life of people near it.                                            Mixed: 2 metaphors that produce a
                                                                          contradictory or confused image.
Line Length:                                              The actual subject may be called the tenor, and the
The terms for different line lengths use a numerical      thing with which it is identified may be called the
prefix (one – eight) and “meter,” or measure:             vehicle. The grounds are the aspects of the
monometer,     dimeter,      trimester,  tetrameter,      vehicle that apply to the tenor.
pentameter,     hexameter,       heptameter,    and
octameter.                                                Moral:
                                                          The lesson drawn from a fictional or nonfictional
                                                          story. A heavily didactic story.

Meiosis:                                                 Motivation:
Intentional understatement, as, for example, in          The combination of a character’s moral nature and
Romeo and Juliet, when Mercutio is mortally              the circumstances he or she is in. The reasons,
wounded and says it is only a “scratch.” Opposite of     justifications, or explanations for a character’s
Hyperbole.                                               actions.

Myth:                                                    Noir:
A story about the origins of a culture’s beliefs and     A fiction genre, popularized in the 1940s, with a
practices, or of supernatural phenomena, usually         cynical, disillusioned, loner protagonist. Noir often
derived from oral tradition and set in an imagined       involves crime or the criminal underworld.
supernatural past. Possess both fictional characters
and events.
                                                         Nonce Form:
                                                         A stanzaic form that a poet uses for only one
Monologue:                                               poem—no other type is written in that form.
Long speech given by one individual; dramatic
soliloquy. It usually gives insight to the individual
situation or thoughts. Types are:                        Novella:
         Dramatic: The occurrence of a single            A work of fiction of middle length, often divided into
speaker saying something to a silent audience. A         a few short chapters.
dramatic monologue is used to reveal both the
situation at hand and the character him/herself.         Novel:
         Interior: A record of a character’s thoughts,   A fictional prose narrative of significant length.
unmediated by a narrator. Interior monologue             Types of these are:
sometimes takes the form of stream-of-                      Autobiographical: autobiographical in nature, but
consciousness narration, but is not as structured and    may use fictional dialogue and anecdotes, to add
logical as stream-of-consciousness.                      color, immediacy, or thematic unity.
                                                            Bildungsroman: German term that chronicles the
Mimesis:                                                 development of a child or adolescent as he/she
Imitation or mimicry of another’s style or language.     ventures on a quest for identity. Coming of Age.
                                                            Epistolary: novel written in the form of letters
Meter:                                                   exchanged by characters in the story.
                                                            Historical: Set in an earlier historical period that
The repeated pattern of stressed and unstressed
                                                         features a plot shaped by the historical
syllables in a line of poetry. Of the four common
                                                         circumstances of that period.
meters in English, two are duple (two syllables in a
                                                            Novel of Ideas: the author uses the novel as a
foot) and two are triple (three syllables in a foot).
                                                         platform to discuss ideas. Character and plot are of
Each kind of foot may be either rising (accented
                                                         secondary importance.
syllable at the end) or falling (accented syllable at
                                                            Novel of Manners: works that focus on the social
the beginning). The Greek names for the meters
                                                         customs of a certain class of people, often with a
are iambic for duple rising, trochaic for duple
                                                         sharp eye for irony.
falling, anapestic for triple rising, and dactylic
                                                            Picaresque: A realistic novel detailing the a
for triple falling. The meter is a predominant
                                                         scoundrel’s exploits.
pattern, with judicious substitutions for
                                                            Social Protest: work in which the author’s aim is
varied and emphasis, variations on a theme.
                                                         to tell a story that illuminates and draws attention to
    Iamb: an unstressed syllable followed by a
                                                         contemporary social problems with a goal of inciting
            stressed syllable: “today”
                                                         change for the better.
    Trochee: a stressed syllable followed by an
                                                             Verse: a full-length fictional that is novelistic in
            unstressed syllable: “carry”
                                                         nature but written in verse rather than prose.
     Dactyl: A stressed syllable followed by two
             unstressed syllables: “difficult”
     Anapest: Two unstressed syllables followed by a     Ode:
             stressed syllable: “it is time”             A poem in praise of something, usually divine, or
     Spondee: Two successive syllables with strong       expressing some noble idea. It frequently uses
             stresses: “stop, thief”                     apostrophe.
     Pyrrhic: Two successive syllables with light
             stresses: “up to”

Onomatopoeia:                                            Parody:
The use of a word whose sound makes you think of         An exaggerated imitation of a usually more serious
its meaning.                                             work for humorous purposes. The writer of a parody
The dripping of the water kept me up all                 uses the quirks of style of the imitated piece in
night.                                                   extreme or ridiculous ways.

Oxymoron:                                                Prosody:
Two words with opposite meanings put together for        Principles of versification, especially meter, line
a special effect; juxtaposed opposites.                  length, rhyme scheme, and stanza form.
Jumbo shrimp, deafening silence, old news
Oedipus Complex:
                                                         Reversal in the hero’s fortune.
Sigmund Freud’s theory that a male child feels
unconscious jealousy toward his father and lust for
his mother. Opposite: Electra Complex.                   Pathos:
                                                         Qualities of a fictional or nonfictional work that
Occasion:                                                evoke sorrow or pity. Over-emotionalism can be the
                                                         result of an excess of pathos.
The immediate context of a poetic utterance; the
situation which motivated the persona’s words.
Octave:                                                  Technique of drawing attention to something by
                                                         claiming not to mention it.
Any eight-line stanza, but most frequently applied to
the first eight lines of an Italian sonnet, typically
rhyming abbabba and ending with a full stop.             Parallelism:
See Sonnet.                                              Similarities between elements in a narrative (such as
                                                         two characters or two plot lines).
                                                         Grammatically: the use of similar structures or word
Parable:                                                 order in two sentences or phrases to suggest a
A short story from which a lesson may be drawn by        comparison or contrast between them.
means of allegory.
        The Prodigal Son and 12 Virgins                  Prothalamion:
                                                         Song or poem written to celebrate a marriage.
A work that imitates the style of a previous author,     Pun:
work, or literary genre. Alternatively, the term may
refer to a work that contains a hodgepodge of            The usage of words that seemingly bring a funny
elements or fragments from different sources or          effect. The similarity in sound between two words
influences. Pastiche differs from a parody in that its   with distinctly different meanings.
imitation is not meant as a form of mockery. John        The fisherman thought that something fishy
Fowle’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman was                when he saw that his bait was missing.
written in the 1960s but imitates the style of
the Victorian novel.                                     Paraenesis:
                                                         Written piece containing advice and admonition.
A statement that is true even though it seems to be      Prose:
saying two different or opposite things.                 Any composition not written in verse. The basic unit
The more free time I have, the less I get done.          of prose is the sentence, which distinguishes it from
                                                         free verse.
Giving human characteristics to animals, objects, or     Pastoral:
ideas.                                                   A celebration of the simple, rustic life of shepherd
The low-hanging clouds ran and hid behind                and shepherdesses, usually written by a
the mountains; the sun had come out to play.             sophisticated, urban writer.

Persona:                                                   Purple Prose:
A writer often adopts a fictional voice to tell a story.   Excessively affected or sentimental writing intended
Persona or voice is usually determined by a                to manipulate reader’s feelings and emotions.
combination of subject matter and audience.
Play:                                                      System of actions represented in a dramatic or
A story meant to be performed in a theater before          narrative work.
an audience. Most plays are written in dialogue form       Elements of plot:
and are divided into several acts. Many include stage              Exposition: Introduces the story’s characters
directions and instructions for sets and costumes.                 and setting.
Types include:                                                     Rising Action: Develops and builds
         Comedy: a light-hearted play characterized                momentum and narrative’s conflict.
         by humor and a happy ending.                              Climax: Moment of highest tension, at which
         Farce: a form of high-energy that plays on                the conflict comes to a head. An
         confusions     and      deceptions   between              anticlimax occurs when the plot builds up
         characters and features a convoluted and                  to an expected climax only to tease the
         fast-paced     plot.    It   uses   slapstick,            reader with a frustrating non-event.
         buffoonery, and stock characters to provoke               Falling Action: Also called the denouement,
         uproarious laughter.                                      this is the latter part of the narrative, during
         Miracle: Plays of the Middle Ages featuring               which the protagonist responds to the
         saints or miraculous appearances by the                   events of the climax and various plot
         Virgin Mary.                                              elements introduced in the rising action are
         Morality: written in the 15th/16th centuries              resolved.
         that presents an allegory of the Christian                Reversal: Sometimes called peripetia, a
         struggle for salvation.                                   reversal is sudden shift that sends the
         Mystery: a short play based on a biblical                 protagonist’s fortunes from good to bad or
         story.                                                    vice versa.
         Problem: these confront a contemporary                    Resolution: an ending that satisfactorily
         social problem with the intent of changing                answer all the questions raised over the
         public opinion on the matter.                             course of the plot.
         Tragedy: A serious play that ends unhappily       Types of Plot:
         for the protagonist.                                      Chronological Plot: events are arranged in
         One-Act: Consisting of a single act, without              the sequence in which they occur.
         intermission and running usually less than                Straightforward from beginning to the end.
         an hour.                                                  Achronological Plot: events not arranged in
                                                                   the sequence in which they occur.
Periodic Sentence:                                                 Incorporates flashbacks and digressions.
                                                                   Climactic Plot: all the action focuses toward
Sentence that places the main idea or central
                                                                   a single climax.
complete thought at the end of the sentence, after
                                                                   Episodic Plot: A series of loosely connected
all introductory elements.
“Across the stream, beyond the clearing, from
                                                                   Non Sequitur Plot: more of an “anti-plot”;
behind a fallen tree, the lion emerged.”
                                                                   does not follow the traditional logic by
                                                                   presenting events without any clear
Pathetic Fallacy:                                                  sequence and characters without any clear
The attrition of human feelings or motivation to a                 motivation.
nonhuman object, especially an object found in                     Subplot: a secondary plot that is less
nature. John Keats uses this in “Ode to Melancholy.”               important to the overall story but may serve
                                                                   as a point of contrast or comparison to the
Polysyndeton:                                                      main plot.
Sentence which uses and or another conjunction,
with no comas, to separate the items in a series,          Poetic Diction:
usually appearing in the form X and Y and Z,               The use of specific types of words, phrases, or
stressing equally each member of the series. It            literary structures that are not common in
makes the sentence slower and the items more               contemporary speech or prose. Using old language
emphatic than in the asyndeton.                            in newer works.

Point of View:                                              Refrain:
The perspective from which a fictional or                   A phrase or group of lines that is repeated at
nonfictional story is told.                                 significant moments within a poem, usually at the
First-Person narration: the narrator tells the story from   end of a stanza.
his/her own point of view and refers to him/herself
as “I.” The narrator may be an active participant or        Rhetorical Question:
just an observer.                                           A question that is asked not to elicit a response but
Third-Person Narration: the narrator remains outside
                                                            to make an impact or call attention to something.
the story and describes the characters in the story
using proper names ad third-person pronouns: “he,”
“she,” “they,” or “it.”                                     Rhetorical Accent/Stress:
3rd person Omniscient: the narrator knows all the           In opposition to metrical accent, a stress on what
actions, feelings, and motivations of all the               would normally be an unaccented syllable, which
characters.                                                 clarifies the meaning or intention of the sentence.
3rd person Limited Omniscient: the narrator
knows the actions, feelings, and motivation of only
                                                            Rhetorical Devices:
one or a handful of characters.
Free Indirect Discourse: the narrator conveys a             Figures of speech that are not the figurative
character’s inner thoughts while staying in the 3rd         language of metaphor. These include anaphora,
person.                                                     antithesis, apostrophe, parallelism, balance, pun,
Objective narration: a style in which the narrator          and the rhetorical question.
reports neutrally on the outward behavior of the
characters, but offers no interpretation of their           Rime Royal:
actions or their inner states.                              See Stanza.
Unreliable narration: the narrator is revealed over time
to be an untrustworthy source of information.
Stream-Of-Consciousness: the narrator conveys a
subject’s thoughts, impressions, and perceptions            Unrealistic fiction with extravagant characters,
exactly as they occur, often in disjointed fashion and      remote and exotic settings, heroic events,
without the logic and grammar of typical speech and         passionate love, and elements of mystery and the
writing. See Interior Monologue.                            supernatural. This mode is free of the restrictions of
                                                            realism and verisimilitude. Although love often plays
                                                            a significant role, the association of “romance” with
Poetic License:                                             “love” is a modern phenomenon. Romances were
When authors use their liberty to sometimes change          popular in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
the ordinary rules of syntax and grammar,                   Chivalric Romances: a romance that describes the
employing unusual vocabulary, metrical devices, or          adventures of medieval knights and celebrates their
figures of speech or committing factual errors in           strict code of honor, loyalty, and respectful devotion
order to strengthen a passage of writing. Works by          to women.
e.e. cummings uses this a lot.
                                                            Slant Rhyme:
Perfect Rhyme:
                                                            An imperfect rhyme, also called oblique rhyme or
An exact match of sounds in a rhyme.                        off rhyme, in which the sounds are similar but not
                                                            exactly the same, as between “port” and “heart.”
Rest:                                                       Modern poets often use slant rhyme as a subtler
As in music, a pause counted as an elephant of              alternative to perfect rhyme.
prosody, for example a short line of poetry followed
by a dramatic silence.                                      Simile:
                                                            Figure of speech that compares two, often
Repetition:                                                 dissimilar, things using like or as.
Words, phrases, sounds, lines, or elements of syntax        The ice cubes glistened like little diamonds in
may repeat within a poem. Sometimes they add                my glass.
meaning to a work, but other times they dilute or
dissipate the meaning. Types include: alliteration,
assonance, and refrain.

                                                           Stream of Consciousness:
Satire:                                                    Technique of writing that undertakes to reproduce
A work that ridicules as it criticizes the foibles and     the raw flow of consciousness, with the perceptions,
follies of society without necessarily finding a           thoughts, judgments, feelings, associations, and
solution; it is usually funny or outlandish. These         memories. Characters train-of-thoughts are involved.
works while they ridicule the shortcomings of
individuals, institutions, and society, they often         Scansion:
make a political point. There are major two types:
   Horatio: Satire which is indulgent, tolerant,           The system of dividing the rise and falls (syllables)
    amused, and witty, wryly and gently ridiculing         of a line of poetry. It is related to the number and
    human absurdities and follies, exemplified by the      type of feet in a line.
    dramatic form known as the comedy of manners.
    Juvenalian: This mode of satire attacks vice and       Symbolism:
    error with contempt and indignation. It is realistic   An object, character, figure, or color that is used to
    and harsh in tone.                                     represent an abstract idea or concept. Unlike an
                                                           emblem, a symbol may have different meanings in
A minor Satire:                                            different contexts.
  Mock Epic: A satiric mode that applies the lofty
  style of the epic to a trivial subject, giving it
  dignity which it does not deserve and thus
  ridiculing it. This mode may also mock epics             A form of metonymy in which a part of an entity is
  themselves, and the absurdity of the epic hero’s         used to refer to the whole.
  pretentious qualities. Also called burlesque.            “All hands on deck!” is frequently used by
                                                           Hands represent the whole person/sailor.
                                                           “threads” for clothes; “wheels” for cars.
A simple form of verbal irony in which it is obvious
from context and tone that the speaker means the
opposite of what he/she says. Sarcasm usually, but
not always, expresses scorn.
                                                           A major subdivision in a poem. Some of the
                                                           subdivisions are:
                                                             Couplet: two rhymed lines.
Locale and period in which the action takes place.           Heroic Couplet: A pair of rhyming lines in iambic
Typically, setting is important to pay attention to as       pentameter.
it dictates the actions, feelings and emotions of            Tercet: a grouping of three lines, often bearing a
some characters. Setting may include the                     single rhyme.
geographical location, the daily manner of                   Quatrain: a four-line stanza.
living, the epoch or season or time of day, the              Heroic Quatrain: written in iambic pentameter
atmosphere, and the general environment,                     with an ABAB rhyme scheme.
including religious, mental, moral, social, or               Terza rima: a system of interlaced tercets linked
emotional conditions and their symbolic                      by common rhymes: ABA BCB CDC etc.
meaning. Setting usually symbolizes some things              Ottava rima: an eight-line stanza with rhyme
and can sometimes represent the antagonist.                  scheme: ABABABCC
                                                             Sestina: six six-line stanzas followed by a three-
Suspense:                                                    line stanza. The same six words are repeated at
Use of uncertainty and anxiety to build excitement.          the end of lines throughout the poem in a
It uses the element if anticipation.                         predetermined pattern. The last word in the last
                                                             line of one stanza becomes the last word of the
Syntax:                                                      first line of the next. All six end-words appear in
                                                             the final three-line stanza.
The arrangement of words in a sentence. Includes
sentence length and complexity; the variety and
pattern of sentence form; inversion of natural word        Shift:
order; unusual juxtaposition; repetition; parallelism;     See turn.
use of active or passive voice; level of discourse (see
Usage); order, including emphatic or subordinate
position of elements, etc.

Style:                                                    Sentimentalism:
The choice in diction, tone, and syntax that a writer     Overindulgence in emotion, especially the conscious
makes. In combination, they create a work’s manner        effort to induce emotion in order to enjoy it; often
of expression. Style is thought to be conscious and       an excess of romanticism. The reader is aksed for an
unconscious and may be altered to suit specific           emotional response in excess of what the occasion
occasions. Styles can be flowery, laconic,                merits; emotion replaces ethical and intellectual
explicit, succinct, incisive, rambling, or                judgment.
bombastic, and commonplace.
Syllogism:                                                Hissing sounds represented by s, z, or sh.
An argument or deductive system of logic that
presents two premises that inevitably lead to a           Stereotype:
conclusion. The two premises are (i) major and (2)
minor.                                                    May be a character who lacks individualizing traits;
  Major Premise: All men are mortal.                      the word also refers to any oversimplified mental
  Minor Premise: Socrates is a man.                       pictures or judgments.
  Conclusion: Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
                                                          Short Story:
Synaesthesia:                                             A work of prose fiction that is much shorter than a
The use of one kind of sensory experience to              novel (rarely more than 40 pages) and focused more
describe another, such as in the line “Herald             tightly on a single event.
melodies are sweet” in Keats’s “Ode on a
Grecian Urn.”                                             Theme:
                                                          Main message or central idea that offers insights to
Soliloquy:                                                life; underlying ideas that the author illustrates
When a character in a play speaks his thoughts            through characterization, motifs, language plots,
aloud---usually by him or herself.                        argument, etc.

Sonnet:                                                   Tone:
A single-stanza lyric poem containing fourteen lines      A writer’s attitude toward his/her subject matter
written in a fixed rhyme scheme. In some                  (implied or related directly) that is revealed through
formulations, the first eight lines (octave) pose a       the use of diction, figurative language, and syntax;
question or dilemma that is resolved in the final six-    the general atmosphere created in the story. Some
lines (sestet). There are 3 major types:                  words that describe tone are playful, serious,
   Italian or Petrarchan sonnet: developed by the         businesslike, sarcastic, humorous, formal,
   Italian poet Petrarchan, this sonnet is divided into   ornate, cheeky, and somber. Shifts in tone may
   an octave with the rhyme scheme ABBAABBA or            be indicated by transitional words (but, yet,
   ABBACDDC and a sestet with the rhyme scheme            nevertheless, however, although) that signal a turn;
   CDECDE or CDCCDC.                                      by a sharp contrast in diction; or by a change in
   Shakespearian Sonnet: Also called the English or       sentence length. See Voice.
   Elizabethan sonnet, this poetic form, which
   Shakespeare made famous, contains three                Tragedy:
   quatrains and a final couplet. The rhyme scheme
                                                          Representations of serious actions which turn out to
                                                          be disastrous and tragic.
   Spenserian Sonnet: A variant that the poet
   Edmund       Spenser      developed     from     the
   Shakespearian sonnet. The Spenserian sonnet has        Tragic Hero:
   the rhyme scheme ABAB BCBC CDCD EE; this               A basically good person of noble birth or exalted
   sonnet utilizes an interlocking rhyme scheme.          position who has a fatal flaw or commits an error in
                                                          judgment that leads to his downfall. The tragic hero
Stage Directions:                                         must have a moment realization and live and suffer.
Added to the text of a play to indicate movement,
attitude, manner, style, or quality of speech,            Tragic Flaw:
character, or action.                                     Tragic error in judgment; a mistaken act which
                                                          changes the fortune of the tragic hero from
                                                          happiness to misery, also known as harmatia.
Tenor:                                                     Verisimilitude:
The main subject of a metaphor; it is the main thing       Depiction of characters and setting, giving them the
being compared. See Metaphor.                              appearance of truth; realism.

Thesis:                                                    Vehicle:
An attitude or position on a problem taken by a            The point of comparison in a metaphor; the thing
writer with the intention of proving or supporting it      that is being compared to the tenor.
with specific evidence. What is the premise of             See Metaphor.
the work? What claim is the author making?
Also known as the literary argument.                       Vignette:
                                                           Brief, incident, scene or story.
A category of figures of speech that extend the            Voice:
literal meanings of words by inviting a comparison to
                                                           Author’s distinguishing style, tone, point of view,
other words, things, or ideas. Metaphor, metonymy
                                                           and use of language. May be used by the author
and simile are three common tropes.
                                                           explicitly or through the speaker of the work.

Turn:                                                      Verse:
A rhetorical figure that provides a change in thought
                                                           Poetry; a line of poetry.
signaled by words like but, however, and yet. In the
Italian sonnet, a turn begins the sestet (line 9); in
the Elizabethan sonnet, it may occur after the             Villanelle:
quatrains, as the couplet begins in line 13. A turn        A nineteen line long poem consisting of five tercets
also may be indicated by the break between                 and one concluding quatrain. There are two refrains,
stanzas. Also called a shift. See Sonnet.                  alternating between the ends of each tercet and
                                                           then forming the last two lines of the quatrain.
In a work of literature, a title may function to set       Versification:
expectations, suggest interpretations, name the            This term includes all the elements of poetic
occasion or the literary type, or address someone          composition, including accent, rhythm, meter,
directly. The tile is a part of the work, and often        rhyme, verse form, stanza form, assonance,
helps to illuminate its theme.                             onomatopoeia, and alliteration.

Understatement:                                            Wit:
Deliberately representing something as much less           Intellectually amusing language that indicates the
than it really is.                                         speaker’s verbal prowess in creating ingenious and
“Last week I saw a woman flayed, and you                   perceptive remarks. It uses terse language that
will hardly believe how much it altered her                makes a pointed statement. A form of wordplay,
appearance.” –Jonathon Swift.                              usually depicting humor.
                                                             Most sitcoms, works by Jane Austen.
A work of fiction or nonfiction is said to be unified as   Word Play:
all the parts are related to one central idea or           Use of rhetorical figures of speech and verbal wit to
organizing principle. Thus, unity is dependent upon        enhance literary work.
Usage:                                                     The writer uses one word to govern several
In literature, refers to the level of discourse;           successive words or clauses; the word may imply
characteristics of those words that are not standard       two different meanings.
and require a dictionary level, such as: informal,         She discovered New York and her world.
slang, offensive, cliché, jargon, regional, technical,     Mr. Pickwick took his hat and his leave.
archaic, obsolete, and chiefly British. Use of such
nonstandard words may help create characterization
and tone in a work of literature.

Literary Terms
Arranged by Category
Character                     Figurative Language
And anything related to it    And anything related to it

Antagonist                    Apostrophe
Caricature                    Conceit
Characterization              Metaphor
       Direct and Indirect*           Grounds
Dynamic/Round Character               Tenor
Foil                                  Vehicle
Motivation                            Extended
Narrator/Persona/Speaker              Dead
Stereotype                            Mixed
Static/Flat character         Metonymy
Stock Character               Personification
Context                       Synecdoche
And anything related to it    Synesthesia

Mood                          Fixed Forms of Poetry
Occasion                      And anything related to it
Speaker/Persona               Ballad
Stream of Consciousness       Cinquain*
Diction                                Elizabethan (Shakespearian)
And anything related to it                  - Couplet
                                            - Quatrain
Abstract Language                      Italian (Petrarchan)
Ambiguity                                   - Octave
Cliché                                      - Sestet
Concrete Language                           - Turn
Connotation                            Spenserian
Denotation                                  - Interlocking
Dialect                                     - Variation on Elizabethan
Epithet                       Villanelle
Literal Language
                              And anything related to it
And anything related to it    Auditory*
Aside                         Olfactory*
Dialogue                      Tactile*
Soliloquy                     Visual*
Stage Directions
Literary Criticism, Terms                       Meter/Prosody/Versification
And anything related to it                      And anything related to it

Analysis                          Explication   Duple meters:
Inference*            Literary Present Tense                    -   Iambic (rising)
Paraphrase*                       Summary*                      -   Trochaic (falling)
Thesis                                          Falling Meter
                                                Foot, Feet
                                                Line Length (note prefixes):
                                                               - Monometer
Literary Devices                                               - Dimeter
And anything related to it                                     - Trimeter
                                                               - Tetrameter
Archetype                          Epiphany                    - Pentameter
Motif                          Poetic Justice                  - Hexameter
Theme                                   Title                  - Septameter
                                                               - Octameter
                                                Metrical Substitutions:
                                                               - Pyrrhic
Literary Modes                                                 - Rest
And anything related to it                                     - Spondee
                                                               - Trochee
                                                Rising Meter
Carpe Diem
Comedy/Comedy of Manners
                                                Triple Meters:
Dramatic Monologue
                                                               - Anapestic (rising)
Elegy, elegiac verse*
                                                               - Dactylic (falling)
Epic/Mock Epic/Mock Heroic
Lyric Verse
                                                Poetic Forms
                                                And anything related to it
               - Horatian Satire
               - Juvenalian Satire              Blank Verse
Tragedy                                         Common meter/Hymn Meter/Ballad Stanza
                                                Continuous Form
                                                             - Closed Couplet*
Plot                                                         - Heroic Couplet
And anything related to it                                   - Open Couplet
                                                Free Verse
                                                Nonce Form
Antecedent Action                    Climax
                                                Verse Paragraph*
Conflict                      Denouement
Exposition                   Falling Action
Flashback                    Foreshadowing
Frame/Frame Story                 Resolution
                                                Poetic Line
Rising Action                        Subplot
                                                And anything related to it

                                                End-Stopped Line
                                                Enjambment Line/Enjambment

Point of View                              Stanza Form
And anything related to it                 And anything related to it

Interior Monologue                         Ballad Stanza/Hymn Stanza
Narrator:                                  Cinquain*
              - First person               Couplet
              - Limited Omniscient         Envoy
              - Naïve                      Nonce Form
              - Objective                  Ottava Rima
              - Omniscient                 Quatrain
              - Second Person              Refrain
              - Unreliable                 Rime Royal
Stream OF Consciousness                    Septet
                                           Spenserian Stanza
Sound Devices
And anything related to it

Alliteration                               Syntax
Assonance                                  And anything related to it
Consonance                                 Emphasis               Juxtaposition
Euphony                                    Inversion of word order (grammatical inversion)
                                           Level of Discourse (usage)
                                                         - Emphatic position
                                                         - Subordinate Position
                                           Sentence length, complexity, variety, pattern
Rhetorical Devices                         Sentence Type:
And anything related to it                               - Loose Sentence
                                                         - Periodic Sentence
Allusion                       Analogy     Usage/Level of Discourse
Anaphora                     Anticlimax    Voice:
Antithesis    Caesura/Rhetorical Pause                   - Active vs. Passive*
Catalog                     Incongruity
Oxymoron                       Paradox
Parallelism                         Pun
Repetition    Rhetorical Accent/Stress     Tone
Rhetorical Question           Structure    And anything related to it
                                           Authorial Voice*
                                           Humor               Hyperbole
                                                         - Dramatic
                                                         - Situational
Rhyme                                                    - Verbal
And anything related to it                 Sarcasm
Couplet                    Double Rhyme    Understatement
End Rhyme        Full/Perfect/True Rhyme   Wit
Internal Rhyme             Rhyme Scheme
Slant/Near/Partial/Imperfect/Half Rhyme
Triple Rhyme

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