Allegory is a form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative, are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The underlying meaning has moral, social, religious, or political significance, and characters are often personifications of abstract ideas as charity, greed, or envy. Thus an allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning. Plato’s The Cave, Aesop’s fables
Alliteration use of the same initial sound at the beginning of each stressed syllable in a line of verse around the rock the ragged rascal ran Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers Sally sells seashells by the seashore How much wood can a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Allusion is a figure of speech that makes a reference to, or representation of, a place, event, literary work, myth, or work of art, either directly or by implication. M.H. Abrams defined allusion as “a brief reference, explicit or indirect, to a person, place or event, or to another literary work or passage”. It is left to the reader or hearer to make the connection where the connection is detailed in depth by the author, it is preferable to call it “a reference” April is the cruellest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing / Memory and desire, stirring / Dull roots with spring rain. The Wasteland, T.S. Eliot
Anthropomorphism the representation of objects (especially a god) as having human form or traits Greek gods appearing in human form Arthur the Aardvark
Apostrophe an address to a dead or absent person or personification as if he or she were present. Busy old fool, unruly sun,Why dost thou thus,Through windows, and through curtains call on us? John Donne, The Sun Rising
Archetypes something in the world, and described in literature, that, according to the psychologist Karl Jung, manifests a dominant theme in the collective unconscious of human beings. Northrop Frye in his Anatomy of Criticism argues for a taxonomy of consciously literary archetypes in Western literature. Archetypes include: the wise wo/man, a trickster, mentor, child, hero etc
Assonance the repetition of similar or identical vowel sounds (though with different consonants), usually in literature or poetry “On either side the river lieLong fields of barley and of rye,That clothe the wold and meet the sky;And thro‘ the field the road runs byTo many-tower’d Camelot…” Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Lady of Shalott
Caesura In meter, a term to denote an audible pause that breaks up a line of a verse. In most cases, caesura is indicated by punctuation marks which cause a pause in speech: a comma, a semicolon, a full stop (period), a dash, etc. Punctuation, however, is not necessary for a caesura to occur. Who since they went to their account / Have settled with the year!— Paid all that life had earned Emily Dickinson, How Dare the Robin Sing
Canon someone's list of authors or works considered to be "classic," that is, central to the identity of a given literary tradition or culture. Considered Western Canon: Kafka, Joyce, Emerson, Newton, Chaucer, Einstein, Tolstoy, Dewey, Sartre, Wittgenstein, Proust, Freud What do you notice is similar about this Western Canon? This problem plagues the majority of lists of “canon” works
Conceit a complicated intellectual metaphor. Metaphysical conceits were characterized by esoteric, abstract associations and surprising effects. John Donne and other so-called metaphysical poets used conceits in ways that fused the sensory and the abstract. Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate. / Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, / And summer's lease hath all too short a date. William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18
Connotation Connotation is a subjective cultural and/or emotional coloration in addition to the explicit or denotative meaning of any specific word or phrase in a language, i.e. emotional association with a word. Communism, poetry, December, college
Denotation The primary, literal or explicit meaning of a word, phrase or symbol Home: (noun) the place where one resides on a consistent basis, the dwelling where one lives.
Diction the manner in which something is expressed in words I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox and which you were probably saving for breakfast Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold William Carlos Williams, This is Just to Say
Dissonance cacophony, or harsh-sounding language. Deliberately avoiding assonance Also called cacophony 'Twasbrillig, and the slithytovesDid gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogoves, And the momerathsoutgrabe. Lewis Carroll, The Jabberwocky
Ellision omission of a consonant or a vowel, usually to achieve a metrical effect. Ere = ever T’was = It was O’er = over
Enjambment the continuation of a syntactic unit from one line of verse into the next line without a pause A glooming peace this morning with it brings. The sun for sorrow will not show his head. Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things. Some shall be pardon’d, and some punished. William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Euphony a pleasing harmony of sounds. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run John Keats, To Autumn
Foot a group of 2 or 3 syllables forming the basic unit of poetic rhythm
Hyperbole Extreme exaggeration or overstatement; especially as a literary or rhetorical device; deliberate exaggeration I could eat a horse I have a million things to do today
Imagery an iconic mental representation Let us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherised upon a table; Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets, The muttering retreats Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock
Irony A figure of speech referring to a difference between the way something appears and what is actually true. It allows us to say something but to mean something else, whether we are being sarcastic, exaggerating, or understating. Water, water, every where,And all the boards did shrink;Water, water, every where,Nor any drop to drink. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Metaphor a figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity Time is flying/running out/ is money
Meter the basic rhythmic structure of a verse or lines in verse Monometer= One Foot Dimeter = Two Feet Trimeter = Three Feet Tetrameter = Four Feet Pentameter = Five Feet Hexameter = Six Feet Heptameter = Seven Feet Octameter = Eight Feet e.g., iambic pentameter: five feet in a line with the stressed/unstressed pattern
Metonymy substituting the name of an attribute or feature for the name of the thing itself They counted heads The White House Parliament, Ottawa
Motif an image or action in a literary work that is shared by other works and that is sometimes thought to belong to a collective unconsciousness. Good triumphing over evil is a common motif in Harry Potter novels
Onomatopoeia using words that imitate the sound they denote Pow, bam, kerplunk, splash
Pathetic Fallacy an expression that endows inanimate things with human feelings. "Nature must be gladsome when I was so happy“ Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre Angry clouds, harsh wind, happy sunshine
Personification the act of attributing human characteristics to abstract ideas etc. I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.Whatever I see, I swallow immediately.Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislikeI am not cruel, only truthful – Sylvia Plath, Mirror
Pun an expression that uses a homonym (two different words spelled identically) to deliver two or more meanings at the same time. (it’s usually pretty punny) I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. It's impossible to put down. I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me. The psychotic florist created many flower derangements.
Repetitions repeating a word or a phrase in a poem to give that word or phrase extra meaning or emphasis And miles to go before I sleep,And miles to go before I sleep. Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Because I do not hope to turn againBecause I do not hopeBecause I do not hope to turn.... T.S. Eliot,Ash Wednesday
Rhyme be similar in sound, especially with respect to the last syllable Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.All the King's horses, And all the King's menCouldn't put Humpty together again!
Rhythm the arrangement of spoken words alternating stressed and unstressed elements When IN / dis GRACE / with FOR / tune AND / men’s EYESI ALL / a LONE / be WEEP / my OUT/ cast STATE William Shakespeare, Sonnet 29
Simile a figure of speech that expresses a resemblance between things of different kinds (usually formed with `like' or `as') As pretty as a picture, as red as a rose, quiet as a mouse
Stanza A subdivision of a poem consisting of lines grouped together, often in recurring patterns of rhyme, line length, and meter. Stanzas may also serve as units of thought in a poem much like paragraphs in prose "WHY, William, on that old grey stone, Thus for the length of half a day, Why, William, sit you thus alone, And dream your time away? "Where are your books?--that light bequeathed To Beings else forlorn and blind! Up! up! and drink the spirit breathed From dead men to their kind. William Wordsworth, Expostulation and Reply
Style the way in which a poem is written. It includes the length of meters, number of stanzas, subject matter, rhyming technique, rhythm etc. Haiku: A three-line poem in any language, with five syllables in the first and last lines and seven syllables in the second, usually with an emphasis on the season or a naturalistic theme. Haiku, a poemfive beats, then seven, then fiveends as it began.
Symbol Something visible that by association or convention represents something else that is invisible. Some symbols are widespread others are more fluid and change along with society. Pumpkin representing Hallowe’en Black indicating a sad, dark, morose feeling Dove representing purity and peace Lamb representing innocence and sacrifice
Synecdoche a figure of speech where the part stands for the whole; often treated as a part of metonymy I’ve got wheels = I own a car England won the World Cup Campbell is holding a Gala
Theme a unifying idea that is a recurrent element in literary work. The controlling message or idea of a poem. It may be suggested by a title or repetition, but it is almost never explicitly stated. A theme in Wordsworth’s poems are innocence and the loss of innocence
Tone the mood a poem creates within the reader. Much of the tone depends on the interpretation of the poem. Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -Only this, and nothing more.‘ Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven