Beowulf and Canterbury Tales Literary Terms

35 terms by khginley 

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Epic Hero

a character involved in heroic battles. Most undertake quests to achieve something of tremendous value to themselves or their society

Alliteration

repetition of initial consonant sounds (ie: window wiper; mighty man)

Assonance

repetition of vowel sounds in the middle or end of words

Consonance

repetition of consonant sounds in the middle or end of words

Simile

a comparison using like or as

Metaphor

comparison of two unlike things not using like or as

Allusion

a brief indirect reference to a person, place, thing, or idea. In Beowulf, there are several Biblical allusions

Imagery

vivid description using the 5 senses, description that appeals to the senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste)

Kenning

Renaming a person or thing by their qualities or actions, a metaphorical description (ie: bone-house = body; whale-road = sea; ring-giver = lord; flashing-light = sword)

Caesura

a break in the middle of a line of Old English poetry

Elegy

a poem which is a funeral song or lament

Christian allusion

a reference to Biblical figures or stories

Pagan allusion

a reference to mythological figures or stories (gods and goddesses, demons or Monsters, heroes)

Allusion

a reference to major literary works or characters

Epic Poem

Long narrative poem presented in an elevated style (poetic language: figures of speech), Supernatural beings (in Christian epic: God; in pagan epic: gods and goddesses), Begins in the middle of the action: in medias res, Begins with an Invocation (generally, to one of the Muses), Covers a vast scope of time and place and focuses on characters of noble birth,Concerns a central conflict that involves a person's or nation's fate, Has a hero figure with extraordinary abilities, Includes a catalogue effect (in Beowulf, the lists of gifts awarded to the hero)

Simile

a comparison between two unlike things using like, as, than, similar to, resembles or seems (Example His fist seems a mighty hammer.)

Foreshadowing

Hints beforehand of what is to come

Verbal Irony

What is meant is the opposite of what is said, sarcasm can be a form of it

Situational Irony

What actually happens is opposite of what is expected or appropriate

Narrative

a poem which tells a story

Narrative Digression

The narrator departs from the central story or plot line to tell a related story that serves as a point of comparison or contrast. In Beowulf, this is a method of showing rather than telling. Careful readers will note how the many digressions in the poem serve to advance theme.

Narrative Intrusion

The narrator interrupts the flow of the story to express a personal opinion or to comment on the action of the story.

First person

The narrator is a character in the work narrating the action as he or she perceives and understands it

Third person omniscient

The narrator is outside the action and all-knowing and can see into the mind of more than one character.

Third person limited

The narrator only has insight into the perspective of one or a few characters. The reader learns only knows exterior action and what that character thinks, feels, explores, or experiences.

Scop

An Old English poet or bard, counterpart of the Old Norse skald.

Tone

The writer's or speaker's attitude toward the subject

Theme

The central idea of a literary work

Extended metaphor

The comparison between two things is continued beyond the first point of comparison. This extends and deepens a description.

Persona

the speaker, voice, or character assumed by the author of a piece of writing

Satire

form of literature in which irony, sarcasm, and ridicule are employed to attack human vice and folly

Frame Narrative

a story within a story

Direct Characterization

the author directly states a character's personality traits

Indirect Characterization

the character is revealed through their personality, appearance, words, actions, and effect on others

Unreliable Narrator

a narrator whose account of events appears to be faulty, misleadingly biased, or otherwise distorted

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