Lit Terms

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Lit Terms

  1. 1. Print FormUNIT 1 - LITERARY TERMS Click here for the Terms Worksheet Click here for Terms ProjectDrama - Comedy, Romantic Comedy, Tragedy, Tragicomedy, Playwright, Closet dramaFiction - Novel, Novella, Short StoryPoetry - Epic Poetry, Dramatic Poetry, Lyric Poetry, SatireAdvanced Additional TermsDrama - High Comedy, Low Comedy, Farce, Comedy of Manners, Stock Characters, Classic Tragedy, RevengeTragedy, Domestic Tragedy, Theatre of the AbsurdFiction - Bildungsroman, Historical Novel, Epistolary NovelPoetry - Dramatic Monologue, EpigramDRAMADrama - Literary work with dialogue written in verse and/or prose and spoken by actors playing charactersexperiencing conflict and tension. The English word drama comes from the Greek word "dran," meaning "to do."Comedy - (Stage) Play with a happy ending. The stage comedies in ancient and Renaissance times did notalways contain humor, the staple of the modern stage and film comedy, but they did end happily. By contrast, astage tragedy always ends unhappily.Tragedy - dramatic genre that presents the heroic or moral struggle of an individual, culminating in his or her ultimateRomantic Comedy - a humorous movie, play, or novel about a love story that ends happily for the protagonist.defeat.Tragicomedy - drama that contains elements of tragedy and comedy, which reach a tragic climax but thenlighten to a happy conclusion.Playwright - A writer of playsCloset Drama - A drama written to be read rather than acted on a stage. An example is Samson Agonistes, byJohn Milton, a 1671 tragedy about the final days of the biblical hero Samson.High Comedy - Comedy that relies on wit and subtle irony or sarcasm. High comedy usually focuses on the everydayLow Comedy - Comedy that relies on slapstick and horseplay. It often focuses on the everyday life of lowerlife of upper classes. It is generally verbal rather than physical.classes. Low comedy is generally physical rather than verbal.Farce - Type of comedy that relies on exaggeration, horseplay, and unrealistic or improbable situations toprovoke laughter. In a farce, plotting takes precedence over characterization.Comedy of Manners - Comedy that ridicules the manners (way of life, social customs, etc.) of a certain segmentof society. An example is Oliver Goldsmiths She Stoops to Conquer in which Goldsmith pokes fun at the Englishupper class. The play uses farce (including many mix-ups) to ridicule the class-consciousness of 18th CenturyEnglishmen.
  2. 2. Stock Characters - (stereotype) - Character in a literary work or film who thinks or acts according to certainunvarying patterns simply because of his or her racial, ethnic, religious, or social background. A stereotype isusually an image that society projects or imposes on every member of a group as a result of prejudice or faultyinformation. Examples of stereotypes are the Irish drunk, the Italian mobster, the dishonest car salesman, theplain-Jane librarian, the shyster lawyer, the Machiavellian politician, and the dumb blonde.Classic Tragedy (Greek) - Verse drama written in elevated language in which a noble protagonist falls to ruinduring a struggle caused by a flaw in his character or an error in his rulings or judgments. Following are thecharacteristics of a Sophocles tragedy: (1) It is based on events that already took place and with which theaudience is familiar. (2) The protagonist is a person of noble stature. (3) The protagonist has a weakness and,because of it, becomes isolated and suffers a downfall. (4) Because the protagonists fall is not entirely his or herown fault, the audience may end up pitying him or her. (5) The fallen protagonist gains self-knowledge. He has adeeper insight into himself and understands his weakness. (6) The audience undergoes catharsis, a purging ofemotions, after experiencing pity, fear, shock and other strong feelings. The people go away feeling better. (7)The drama usually unfolds in one place in a short period of time, usually about a day.Revenge Tragedy - form of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama in which revenge provides the mainspring of theaction. It is usually characterized by bloody deeds, intrigue, and high melodrama. Revenge tragedy waspioneered by English dramatist Thomas Kyd with The Spanish Tragedy (1589?); other playwrights who usedthe form are William Shakespeare in Titus Andronicus (1594?) and Cyril Tourneur in The Revengers Tragedy(1607). Its influence is also apparent in tragedies such as Shakespeares Hamlet (1601?) and Macbeth (1606?).Domestic Tragedy - a play in which the tragic protagonists are ordinary middle-class or lower-class individuals.Theatre of the Absurd - term used to identify a body of plays written primarily in France from the mid-1940sthrough the 1950s. These works usually employ illogical situations, unconventional dialogue, and minimal plotsto express the apparent absurdity of human existence. French thinkers such as Albert Camus and Jean PaulSartre used the term absurd in the 1940s in recognition of their inability to find any rational explanation forhuman life. The term described what they understood as the fundamentally meaningless situation of humans ina confusing, hostile, and indifferent world.FICTIONFiction - literary works of imagination: novels and stories that describe imaginary people and eventsNovel - long work of written fiction. Most novels involve many characters and tell a complex story by placing thecharacters in a number of different situations. Because novels are long—generally 200 pages or more—novelists can tell more richly detailed tales than can authors of briefer literary forms such as the short story.Novella - a fictional prose work that is longer than a short story but shorter than a novelShort Story - fictional work depicting one character’s inner conflict or conflict with others, usually having onethematic focus. Short stories generally produce a single, focused emotional and intellectual response in thereader.Bildungsroman - novel about somebodys important and influential years: a novel about the early years ofsomebodys life, exploring the development of his or her character and personalityHistorical Novel - Work of fiction centered around a real world event.Epistolary Novel - a novel written as a series of documents. The usual form is letters although diary entries,newspaper clippings and other documents are sometimes used.
  3. 3. POETRYPoetry - form of literature, spoken or written, that emphasizes rhythm, other intricate patterns of sound andimagery, and the many possible ways that words can suggest meaning. The word itself derives from a Greekword, poesis, meaning “making” or “creating.” Whereas ordinary speech and writing, called prose, are organizedin sentences and paragraphs, poetry in its simplest definition is organized in units called lines as well as insentences, and often in stanzas, which are the paragraphs of poetry.Epic Poetry - Long poem in a lofty style about the exploits of heroic figures. Homers Iliad and Odyssey, as wellas the Old English poem Beowulf, are examples of epics.Dramatic Poetry - in which the writer creates the voice of an invented character or characters.Lyric Poetry - the most varied and widespread kind, is that in which an individual speaker expresses what he orshe feels, perceives, and thinks.Satire - in literature, prose or verse that employs wit in the form of irony, innuendo, or ridicule to expose humanwickedness and folly.Dramatic Monologue - a poem that is spoken by a FICTIONAL NARRATOR who is clearly different from theauthor in age, situation, or gender. It is set at some significant point in the speakers life, and it is oftenaddressed to another character, whose presence is implied by what the speaker says. The major purpose of adramatic monologue is for the speaker to reveal, often unwittingly, significant aspects of his or her qualities,values, and experiences, which are inferred by the reader.Epigram - in literature, a terse, pointed, frequently witty observation, often in verse. Ancient Greek epigramswere inscriptions on tombs or statues.

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