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Literary Terms

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Updated 2008-06-05 01:45

Literary Terms

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Allegorya story or poem in which characters, settings, and events stand for other people, events or abstract ideas or qualities
Allusiona reference to someone or something that is known from history, literature, religion, politics
Analogya comparison made between two things to show how they are alike
Anti-Herothe unconventional central charater who lacks the virtues fo the traditional hero, but for whom we are to feel sympathy nonetheless
Atmospherethe mood or feeling created in a piece of writing
Cataloguea list of things, people, events
Characteran individual in a story or play
Climaxthat point in the plot that creates the greatest intensity, suspense, interest
Crisisthe turning point in the story, may be a recognition, a decision, a resolution; the character understands what he/she has not understood before
Comedyin general, a story that ends with a happy resolution of the conflicts faced by the main character(s)
Conflictthe struggle between opposing forces
Denouementconclusion or resolution fo a story
Descriptiona form of discourse that uses words that appeal to the senses in order to create mood or emotion
Dialecta way of speaking that is characteristic of a certain social group of inhabitants of a certain geographical area
Dialoguewhat characters say
Dictiona speaker or writer's choice of words
Epiphanya sudden realization or insight, can be on the part of a character or on the part of the reader
episodean incident within a larger narrative; has its own beginning, middle, end; but still advances the main plot
Expositionthe technique used to give the information the reader needs to understand the story
Fablea very short story told in prose or poetry that teaches a practical lesson about how to succeed in life
Farcea type of comedy in whcih ridiculous and often stereotyped characters are involved in rather silly, far-fetched situations
Flashbacka scene that interrrupts the normal chronological sequence of events in a story to depict something that happened in an earlier time
Foila character who acts in contrast to another character
Genrecategories of literature, like poetyr, short stories, novels; also specific categories like science fiction, fantasty, horror, romance, etc.
Herothe traditional term for the main character, not as commonly used in contemporary literay conversation
Hyperbolea figure of speech that uses an incredible exaggeration or overstatement
Imagerythe use fo language to evoke a picture or a concrete sensation or a person, a thing, a place, or an experience
Immediacywhen readers feel that they are present, that the narrative is happening right in front of them; comes from sharp description, crisp dialogue, vivid action
Incongruitythe deliberate joining of opposites or of elements that are not appropriate to each other
Interior monologuelets the reader know what the character is thinking, getting into the character's mind to allow the reader to know him from the inside
Ironyin genral, a discrepancy or contrast between appeareances and reality (verbal, situational, dramatic)
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Local color: tending to place special emphasis on a particular setting, including its customs, clothing, dialect, and landscape
Question Answer
Melodramaan exaggerated depiction of dramatic events designed to arouse a strong emotioinal response
Metaphora comparison between two unlike things without the use of "like" or "as"
Motifrecurring element (i.e. an image) in a work; the more oftne something is mentioned the more important it becomes
Motivationthe reasons for a character's behavior
Narrativethe form of discourse that tells about a series of events, the story line
Oxymorona figure of speech that combines opposite or contradictory terms in a brief phrase (deafening silence)
Parablea realtively short story that teaches a moral or lesson about how to lead a good life
Paradoxa statement that appears self-contradictory but that reveals a kind of truth
Parodya work that makes fun of another work by imitating some aspects of the writer's style
Parallel Structurethe repetition of words or phrases that have similar grammatical structures
Personificationattributing human characteristics to an inanimate thing or abstract idea
Plotthe series of related events in a story, novel, or play; sometimes called the storyline; triangle of exposition, complications, (rising action), turning point, falling action, climax, denouement
Poetic justicecharacters in the story get what they deserve
Point of Viewthe vantage point form which a writer tells a story: 1)first person, 2) third person limited, 3)omniscient, 4)objective
Protagonistthe central character in a story, the one who initiates or drives the action; may or may not be the hero
Pyramidthe traditional structure outline of a story or novel: exposition, rising action, turning point, falling action, climax, denouement or resolution
Realismthe believable, plots grow naturally out of the possibilities and dangers of the real world
Regionalismlitature that emphasizes a specific geographic setting and that reproduces the speech, behavior, and attitudes of the people who live in that region
Resolution or Denouementthe conclusion of a story when all or most of the conflicts have been settled
Rhetorical questiona question asked or an effect, and not actually requiring an answer
Romancein general, a story in which an idealized hero or heroine undertakes a quest and is successful
Romanticisma revolt against rationalism marked by the conviction that imagination and emotion are superior to reason, that contemplation of nature reveals truths behind mere reality
Round Charactera character who develops in a literary work, who chages or grows
Satirea type of writing that ridicules the shortcomings of people or institutions in an attempt to bring aobut change
Scenesignificant events in a narrative
Sentimentalityoverly wrought emotion in a literay work
Settingthe time and location where a story takes place
Similea comparison between two unlike things using "like" or "as"
Static or flat charactera character who is not fully developed, and shows little change or growth
Stereotypea fixed idea or conception fo a character or idea which does not allow for any individuality, often based on religious, social, or racial prejudices
Story within a storya shorter narrative, within the whole, which characterizes the teller, advances the plot or introduces ideas
Stream of Consciousnessa style of writing that portrays the inner (sometimes chaotic) workings of a character's mind
Structureoverall design of the work
Stylethe distinctive way a writer uses language
Suspensea feeling of uncertainty about what wil happen next in a story
Symbola person, place, thing, or event hta thas meaning in itself, and that also stands for something more (i.e. the journey which can stand for a search for truth, or redemption from evil)
Tensiona felling created by conflict, intriguing situations, interesting characters, dealing with challenges
Themethe insight about human life that is revealed in a literary work
Titlethe heading or name of a literary work or part of a work i.e. a chapter
Tonethe attitude the writer takes toward the subject, characters, etc.
Tragedyin general, a story in which a heroic character either dies or comes to an unhappy end
Transitionsgetting characters form one period to another, one place to another in a literary work
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Zeugma:verb applies both literally and figuratively to subject
Question Answer
Juxtapositionsetting two people, scenes, etc. next to each other for comparison
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