Literary Elements


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Literary Terms for AP English III Literature Class

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Literary Elements

  1. 1. Literary work in which characters, events, objects, and ideas have secondary or symbolic meanings One of the most popular allegories of the 20th Century was George Orwell's Animal Farm, about farm animals vying for power. On the surface, it is an entertaining story that even children can enjoy. Beneath the surface, it is the story of ruthless Soviet totalitarianism.
  2. 2. Repetition of initial consonant sounds  But now I am cabined, cribbed, confined, bound into saucy doubts and fears. – Shakespeare
  3. 3. Reference to a historical event or to a mythical or literary figure  Describing someone as a "Romeo" makes an allusion to the famous young lover in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.
  4. 4. A word, phrase, or sentence formed from another by rearranging its letters: “Angel” is an anagram of “glean.” Example: "President Saddam Hussein" anagrams to "Human disaster dispensed".
  5. 5.  Metrical foot composed pf two short syllables followed by one long one  Example: Seventeen  “Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house” (Clement Clarke Moore)
  6. 6.  Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of word groups occurring one after the other  For everything there is a season . . . a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted. –Bible, Ecclesiastes
  7. 7.  A little story, often amusing, inserted in an essay or a speech to help reinforce the thesis
  8. 8.  A character in a writing who goes against the hero  Provides the story’s conflict
  9. 9.  Placement of contrasting or opposing words, phrases, clauses, or sentences side by side  I am tall; you are short.  The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. –Abraham Lincoln, "Gettysburg Address"
  10. 10.  Not the punctuation mark  Addressing an abstraction or a thing, present or absent; addressing an absent entity or person; addressing a deceased person.  Frailty, thy name is woman. –William Shakespeare.
  11. 11.  Also known as imperfect rhyme, near rhyme, slant rhyme, or oblique rhyme.  A term used for words in a rhyming pattern that have some kind of sound correspondence but are not perfect rhymes. Often words at the end of lines at first LOOK like they will rhyme but are not pronounced in perfect rhyme.  Emily Dickinson’s poems are famous for her use of approximate rhyme.
  12. 12.  A universally understood symbol or termor pattern of behavior, a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated  Sometimes noted as stereotype  Examples  The Hero The Trickster  The Wise Old Man The Devil/Satan
  13. 13. Sound similarity Repetition of vowel sounds preceded and followed by different consonant sounds. Use of "bite" and "like" in a line of poetry would constitute assonance. There are no tricks in plain and simple faith. –
  14. 14. The omission of conjunctions in sentence constructions in which they would usually be used
  15. 15. Personal view Someone’s opinions or feelings about something, especially as shown by their behavior
  16. 16. Narrative song Song or poem, especially a traditional one or one in a traditional style, telling a story in a number of short regular stanzas, often with a refrain
  17. 17. A four line stanza (quatrain) Consisting of alternating four and three stress lines. Usually only the second and fourth lines rhyme (a/b/c/b pattern) Often used in hymns
  18. 18. A type of poetry Has a regular meter, but no rhyme Shakespearean plays often use this writing style
  19. 19.  Definition: A mix of annoying sounds; dissonance  Harsh letters/syllables arranged by a poet to make the poem sound angry and callous
  20. 20.  A pause or interruption in a line of verse  Usually marked in the poem by a comma, a semicolon, a full stop, a dash.  Used to make a specific rhyming pattern or a significant portion of the poem.
  21. 21.  Picture or description that extremely exaggerates the peculiarities or defects of a person or thing
  22. 22.  Means to “seize the day” or enjoy the day  Often used as a theme in literature
  23. 23.  Characteristic of ordinary or familiar conversation rather than formal speech or writing  Informal
  24. 24.  In literature, fanciful or unusual image in which apparently dissimilar things are shown to have a relationship  Petrarchan conceit, used in love poetry, exploits a particular set of images for comparisons with the despairing lover and his unpitying but idolized mistress  the lover is a ship on a stormy sea, and his mistress "a cloud of dark disdain"; or else the lady is a sun whose beauty and virtue shine on her lover from a distance  Metaphysical conceit is characteristic of seventeenth-century writers influenced by John Donne, and became popular again in this century after the revival of the metaphysical poets. This type of conceit draws upon a wide range of knowledge, from the commonplace to only be understood or meant for the select few who have special knowledge or interest  John Donne's comparison of two souls with two bullets in "The Dissolution"
  25. 25. • An association that comes along with a particular word • Relate not to a word's actual meaning but rather to the ideas or qualities that are implied by that word.  The word "snake" simply denotes a reptile. But it has the connotation of someone who can not be trusted.
  26. 26.  The repetition of the same consonant two or more times in short succession  Pitt patter
  27. 27. A pair of successive lines of verse that rhyme  Decorator Hermit Crab There was a little hermit crab Who thought his tank was rather drab At first he didn't know what to do Then decorated with pink and blue. Now he is no longer crabby With his new home, he's rather happy!
  28. 28. Metrical foot consisting of one long and two short syllables or of one stressed and two unstressed syllables (as in tenderly)
  29. 29.  Word that names or signifies something specific; a word’s literal meaning  The “dictionary definition”  The word "snake" simply denotes a reptile. But it has the connotation of someone who can not be trusted.
  30. 30.  In French it means the "unraveling" or "unknotting" of the story  The outcome or resolution of the plot, occurring after the climax
  31. 31.  A regional or social variety of a language distinguished by pronunciation, grammar, or vocabulary, especially a way of speaking that differs from the standard variety of the language  South: "Y'all“ South: “Howdy” North: "You guys“ North: “Hello” South: "Fixin' to“ South: “Twixt” North: "About to“ North: “Between”
  32. 32.  Style of speaking or writing as dependent upon choice of words
  33. 33.  When a character speaks out loud that reveals his/her thoughts are feelings. Usually addressed to the reader or a presumed listener.
  34. 34.  A somber poem or song that praises or laments the dead.
  35. 35.  Rhymes that occur at the end of a verse.  Dock  Clock
  36. 36.  The continuation from one line or couplet of a poem to the next with no pause. This you couldn’t believe. It was a man Who didn’t think for himself, and never had a plan.
  37. 37.  An epic is a narrative poem that tells the story of a character who has heroic traits. In the lengthened poem, the hero takes on values of a society.  An example of an epic is The Odyssey by Homer.
  38. 38.  Term used in argumentative/persuasive writing  Ethos (Greek for 'character') refers to the trustworthiness or credibility of the writer or speaker. Ethos is often conveyed through tone and style of the message and through the way the writer or speaker refers to differing views. It can also be affected by the writer's reputation as it exists independently from the message--his or her expertise in the field, his or her previous record or integrity, and so forth. The impact of ethos is often called the argument's 'ethical appeal' or the 'appeal from credibility.'
  39. 39.  A euphony is a series of words that are pleasing to the ear. They are usually in harmony.
  40. 40.  An exposition is when the reader is exposed to the background needed to understand the novel.  It explains the setting, characters, and the problems.
  41. 41.  An extended metaphor is different from a normal metaphor because it is explained in a few lines with more than one example.
  42. 42.  A brief story illustrating human tendencies through animal characters. Unlike the parables, fables often include talking animals or animated objects as the principal characters. The interaction of these animals or objects reveals general truths about human nature.  “The Tortoise and the Hare” is an example of a fable.
  43. 43.  The sequence of events that follow the climax and end in the resolution
  44. 44.  A farce is a form of low comedy designed to provoke laughter through highly exaggerated caricatures of people in improbable or silly situations.  Traits of farce include  (1) physical bustle such as slapstick  (2) sexual misunderstandings and mix-ups  (3) broad verbal humor such as puns
  45. 45.  A method of narration in which present action is temporarily interrupted so that the reader can witness past events--usually in the form of a character's memories, dreams, narration, or even authorial commentary  Flashback allows an author to fill in the reader about a place or a character, or it can be used to delay important details until just before a dramatic moment.
  46. 46. • The use of hints and clues in order to suggest an upcoming plot event
  47. 47. • Very proper choice of words and phrases following the rules of grammar and etiquette closely. Used to convey a lofty tone
  48. 48.  Form of poetry characterized by its natural rhythms and cadence rather than having a fixed structure
  49. 49. • Term used to classify forms of literature into respective categories • E.g. novel, essay, comedy, etc
  50. 50. Definition:  Is an intentional exaggeration used for effect. Example: “My sister uses so much makeup, she has to use a sandblaster to get it off at night”
  51. 51. Definition:  of, relating to, consisting of, or using an iamb or iambs (a foot of two syllables, the first short or unstressed, the second long or stressed.)  The da-DUM of a human heartbeat is the most common example of this rhythm
  52. 52. Definition:  The use of vivid or figurative language to represent objects, actions, or ideas. Example: “From the family tree of old school hip hop Kick off your shoes and relax your socks The rhymes will spread just like a pox Cause the music is live like an electric shock” --Beastie Boys
  53. 53. Definition:  (Latin)- In or into the middle of a sequence of events, as in a literary narrative. Example: A murder story starts after the person is murdered. The story then gradually reveals why and how the murder took place.
  54. 54.  Language that is not as structured or formal; it is more like everyday speech. Ex. Abbreviating words or shortening them like T.V. Using I, me, my, etc.
  55. 55.  Rhyme that occurs within a line. Ex. The cat sat on the mat.
  56. 56.  An outcome of events or words contrary to what was, or might have been, expected  There are three types: situational, dramatic, verbal Ex. In 1912, the Titanic was said to be unsinkable, but on its maiden voyage, it sank.
  57. 57.  Jargon is the special language of a certain group or profession, such as psychological jargon, legal jargon, or medical jargon. Ex. An example of internet jargon would be OMG or BTW.
  58. 58.  “Juxtaposition” literally means to place side by side.  In a literary sense it has the same idea, but it is the act of positioning close together words, phrases, or ideas in order to compare or contrast.  The purpose of this literary device is to accentuate the relationship between the two ideas and to create an insightful meaning.  “Wealth and poverty, guilt and grief, orange and apple, God and Satan; let us settle ourselves and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and the slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance..” --Henry David Thoreau
  59. 59.  Used in argumentative/persuasive writing  Logos (Greek for 'word') refers to the internal consistency of the message--the clarity of the claim, the logic of its reasons, and the effectiveness of its supporting evidence. The impact of logos on an audience is sometimes called the argument's logical appeal.
  60. 60.  A limited point of view only follows one character, in either first or third person point of view.  Due to the limited view, the reader does not know what the other characters are thinking and can only follow the narrator.
  61. 61.  A figure of speech, and also a form of irony, where an understatement is expressed by negating the opposite.  “They aren’t the happiest people around” would be an example.
  62. 62.  A song-like poem written mainly to express the feelings of emotions or thought from a particular person.  Lyric poems are generally short and express vivid imagination as well as emotion.
  63. 63.  Comparing one thing to an unlike thing without using like, as or than.  The assignment was a breeze.  Her home is a prison.
  64. 64.  In verse and poetry, meter is a recurring pattern of stressed (accented, or long) and unstressed (unaccented, or short) syllables in lines of a set length That time | of year | thou mayst | in me | behold iambic pentameter (5 iambs, 10 syllables) Tell me | not in | mournful | numbers trochaic tetrameter (4 trochees, 8 syllables)
  65. 65.  A figure of speech in which something closely related to an object is substituted for the object itself. • Ex.: The history department needs new blood (instead of new teachers).
  66. 66.  The atmosphere or feeling that the reader experiences when reading a passage  Suggested by descriptive details
  67. 67.  A recurring subject, theme, idea, etc. in a literary work
  68. 68.  Structural framework that underlies the order and manner in which a narrative is presented to a reader  Linear  Nonlinear
  69. 69.  A person who tells the story in a certain piece of literature
  70. 70.  Poem written for a particular occasion, such as a dedication, birthday, or victory
  71. 71.  In ancient Greece, a lyric poem on a serious subject that develops its theme with dignified language intended to be sung
  72. 72.  Omniscient" means "all-knowing."  An omniscient narrator can see and report everything. The telling of the story can reveal actions performed by any character, tell the thoughts of any character, and show events from the perspective of any character. The reader might be able to see inside the mind and motivations of all the characters.
  73. 73.  Figure of speech in which  (1) a word mimics a sound  (2) an arrangement of words in a rhythmic pattern suggests a sound or an image  burp, varoom, oink, crackle, moo, hiss, gong, thud, splash, zip, creak, boom, slurp, crunch, quack, twitter, honk, hoot, squeak, buzz, and zoom
  74. 74.  These two terms are closely related and often confused.  It’s like telling the difference between a crocodile and an alligator.  Follow the definitions and examples of these two terms to be able to note the difference
  75. 75.  Phrases that often contradict themselves  Almost always consist of at least two words  Look at the first word and then the second and see if they mean two completely different things
  76. 76.  Paradoxes are much, much different, in that they often require many words, even a whole paragraph to explain them.  A self-contradictory and false proposition  "If there is an exception to every rule, then every rule must have at least one exception; the exception to this one being that it has no exception."
  77. 77.  A short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson The Good Samaritan
  78. 78.  Uses the same patterns of words to show that two or more ideas have the same level of importance.  Usual way to join parallel structures is with the use of coordinating conjunctions such as “and” or “or”.
  79. 79.  A humorous or ironic imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing  Weird Al Yankovich’s song “Eat It” poked fun at Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”
  80. 80.  Used in argumentative/persuasive writing  [P]athos (Greek for 'suffering' or 'experience') is often associated with emotional appeal. But a better equivalent might be 'appeal to the audience's sympathies and imagination.' An appeal to pathos causes an audience not just to respond emotionally but to identify with the writer's point of view--to feel what the writer feels. In this sense, pathos evokes a meaning implicit in the verb 'to suffer'--to feel pain imaginatively.... Perhaps the most common way of conveying a pathetic appeal is through narrative or story, which can turn the abstractions of logic into something palpable and present. The values, beliefs, and understandings of the writer are implicit in the story and conveyed imaginatively to the reader. Pathos thus refers to both the emotional and the imaginative impact of the message on an audience, the power with which the writer's message moves the audience to decision or action.
  81. 81.  A line of verse containing five metrical feet  Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?  ....1.............. 2.................3..............4................ 5 Shall.I..||..thee.TO..|..a.SUM..|..mer’s DAY?
  82. 82.  the narrator of or a character in a literary work, sometimes identified with the author
  83. 83.  A figure of speech (generally considered a type of metaphor) in which an inanimate object or abstraction is given human qualities or abilities.  "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing gloves." (P.G. Wodehouse)  "Oreo: Milk’s favorite cookie."
  84. 84. CLIMAX RESOLUTION/ DENOUMENT EXPOSITION The events that unfold in a story; the action and direction of a story; the story line.
  85. 85.  The leader character  A hero or heroine of a drama or other literary work
  86. 86.  Stanza or poem of four lines, usually with alternate rhymes  Usually has a rhyme scheme, such as abab, abba, or abcb The Mountain (Donna Brock) The mountain frames the sky As a shadow of an eagle flies by. With clouds hanging at its edge A climber proves his courage on its rocky ledge.
  87. 87.  A literature movement that stressed the presentation of life as it is, without embellishment or idealization  Chiefly concerned with the commonplaces of everyday life among the middle and lower classes, where character is a product of social factors and environment is the integral element in the dramatic complications
  88. 88.  Group of words repeated at key intervals in a poem The Cruel Sister There lived a lady by the North Sea shore, Lay the bent to the bonny broom Two daughters were the babes she bore. Fa la la la la la la la la. As one grew bright as is the sun, Lay the bent to the bonny broom So coal black grew the other one. Fa la la la la la la la.
  89. 89.  DEFINTION:  A question that is not expected to be answered. EXAMPLES: “Who knows?” “Do bears live in the woods?” “Is the Pope Catholic?”
  90. 90.  DEFINTION:  A pattern established by the arrangement of rhymes in a stanza of a poem or a song.  FOR EXAMPLE: ABAB indicates a four line stanza where the first and third lines rhyme, and the second and fourth rhyme. Bid me to weep, While I have eyes to see. And having none, yet I will keep. A heart to weep for thee.
  91. 91.  DEFINTION:  A continuous and reoccurring beat  Rhythm is most the most important element in music.  Shows significance in poems because poetry is intense and sometimes emotional.
  92. 92.  DEFINITION:  A series of events that lead to the climax of a story  Usually the conflicts of the protagonist
  93. 93.  - - - An ironic remark used to mock or taunt  Example: “Oh, a sarcasm detector. That’s a really useful invention!” (Comic Book Guy, The Simpsons)
  94. 94.  - - - A play, novel, etc. that uses irony to ridicule  Example: Joseph Heller’s Catch- 22 ridicules things such as war, military, and communism.
  95. 95.  - - - Identifying a poem’s rhyme and meter  Example: Rhythms: Monometer, Dimeter, Trimeter, Tetrameter, Pentameter, Hexameter, Heptameter, or Octometer Meters: Iambic, Anapest, Trochaic, Dactyl
  96. 96.  A flaw in a literary work or film in which the author relies on tear-jerking or heart-wrenching scenes rather than writing talent or cinematic skill to evoke a response in readers
  97. 97. Definition: a poem of six, six-line stanzas and a three-line envoy, originally without rhyme, in which each stanza repeats the end words of the lines of the first stanza, but in different order, the envoy using the six words again, three in the middle of the lines and three at the end. Example: “Homes” by Charlotte Anna Perkins Gilman
  98. 98. Definition: the locale or period in which the action of a novel, play, film, etc., takes place Example: The foggy air made the malevolent mood of the night carry out through the mysterious woods.
  99. 99. Definition: A verse shaped in a way that it works with the other verses to make a physical object Example:
  100. 100. Definition: Figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared using “like” or “as” Example: Joseph’s cheeks turned red like the skin on an apple.
  101. 101.  Recitation in a play in which a character reveals his thoughts to the audience but not to other characters in the play
  102. 102.  Form of lyric poetry invented in Italy that has 14 lines with a specific rhyme scheme
  103. 103.  Person who tells the story to the audience  Term usually associated with poetry
  104. 104.  Lines that form a division or unit of a poem  It is like a paragraph of a poem
  105. 105.  Character who thinks or acts according to certain unvarying patterns simply because of his or her racial, ethnic, religious, or social background  Usually an image that society projects or imposes on every member of a group as a result of prejudice or faulty information
  106. 106.  A familiar character who is the same type in every play  These characters are based on what it has done or said in a previous play  The hero, the villain, the clever servant, the fool, and the heroine are expected to look and act the same in every play
  107. 107. Framework of a work of literature; the organization or over-all design of a work
  108. 108. The way an author writes a literary work  The choice of words and phrases  The structure of sentences  The length of paragraphs  The tone of the work, etc.
  109. 109. Person, place, thing or idea that represents something else  Snake (evil)  Eagle (strength)  Flag (patriotism)  Sea (life)
  110. 110.  The substitution of a part for the whole (or vice versa).  Ex.: Five hundred hands were needed to build the bridge.
  111. 111.  The study of the patterns of formation of sentences and phrases from words
  112. 112.  Idea or message about life, society, or human nature  Rarely stated; mostly implied
  113. 113.  The attitude that an author takes toward the audience, the subject, or the character  Conveyed through the author's words and details
  114. 114.  Verse drama written in elevated language in which a noble protagonist falls to ruin during a struggle caused by a flaw in his character or an error in his rulings or judgments
  115. 115.  A kind of metrical foot. A trochee (the adjective is "trochaic") is a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one:  Róund abóut the cáuldron gó, Ín the póisoned éntrails thrów.
  116. 116.  A verse form of French origin consisting of 19 lines arranged in five tercets and a quatrain.  The first and third lines of the first tercet reoccur alternately at the end of each subsequent tercet and both together at the end of the quatrain  Example: “The House on the Hill”  Edgar Arlington Robinson
  117. 117.  Voice is the author's style, the quality that makes his or her writing unique, and which conveys the author's attitude, personality, and character