Literary Terms to know

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64 terms

Absurd

use of ridiculous situations to point out the meaningless of life in a worl which is without absolutes and in which man is given no dignity as a human

Allegory

story in which characters, action, and/or setting represent abstract concepts or moral qualities

Allusion

reference to a well-known person, event, story, place, or work of art meant to evoke certain associations

Analogy

comparison between two seemingly unlike items or situations to provide insight into the nature of one or both

Antagonist

character in conflict with the protagonist, often the villian

Anit-hero

flawed protagonist who lacks the conventional qualities of a classic hero

Archetype

image, story patterns, or character type used often enough to be recognized on its own and evokes an unconscious response

Atmosphere

emotional aura of a piece

Characterization

mean by which a writer reveals a character's personality

Direct characterization

telling you directly the idea of the character

Indirect characterization

through character's description, speech, actions, thoughts/emotions, and/or other character's views

Classical Comedy

play with a happy ending written to amuse, which appeals to the intellect; instructs people and society to be better by using humor

Classical tragedy

drama where the protagonist suffers disaster but in doing so attains heroic stature

Classic hero

protagonist who possesses superhuman qualities, aka a romantic hero

Climax

decisive point in the plot; the point of greatest intensity or interest; point where problems start to be resolved

Conflict

the struggle between two or more opposing forces kor characters in a plot; man vs man; man vs nature; man vs society

Connotation

the emotional meaning of a word

Denotation

the dictionary meaning of a word

Denouement

the resolution of the conflict

Dialogue

pupose of this is for characterization, exposition, mood, plot, theme, commentary on action

Diction

author's word choice

Drama

story told by means of dialogue

Dramatic irony

occurs when the audience or reader knows more than the characters

Dynamic character

character that experiences some kind of change in personality or attitude during the course of the story

Existentialism

belief that man merely exists upon birth, and his life has no meaning; life is meaningless; if there is a meaning the pepole create it; on meaning is the meaning you bring to it

Exposition

section of the plot that presents information essential to understanding the story

Fantasy

work that takes place in an unreal world, concerns incredible characters, or employs physical and scientific principles not yet discovered

Farce

comedy that depends on outlandish situations and often features slapstick

Figurative language

language that is not intended to be interpreted in a literal sense

Flashback

scene that interrupts the actions to show an event that happened earlier, providing background information

Flat character

one-dimensional character that is only known from one limited aspect

Foil

character established as opposite of another character to emphasize certain qualities of that other character

Foreshadowing

the use of clues to hint at events that will occur later in the plot

Genre

a major category or type of literature

Grotesque

character who has become bizarre, usually through some kind of obsession with an idea, a value, or an assumption; usually one-dimensional and possesses one or more exagerated personality traits

Hyperbole

use of extreme exaggeration to either ezalt or diminish

Imagery

creating a mental picture through the use of words or phrases; use of five senses

Metaphor

comparison of two unlike things for descriptive purposes

Modernism

emphasizes new ways of expression and such themes as the chaotic and alienating nature of modern life

Mood

atmosphere; tone

Motif

a reoccuring feature that generally contributes to the theme or mood of a literary work

Novella

a short novel; longer than a short story

Paradox

statement that seems to be self-contradictory on the surface

Parody

the humorous imitation of a work of literature

Personification

giving a non-human thing human characteristics for descriptive purposes

1st person

the narrator is a character in the story "I"

3rd person limited

the narrator reveals thoughts, feelings, and observations of only one character "he" or "she"

3rd person omniscient

narrator isn't a character, but someone who stands outside the story and comments on the action

Protagonist

main character

Realism

tendancy to stress the limitations that everyday living imposes on humanity and to show how these limitations affect the nature of life

Resolution

end of a story

Round character

fully-developed character

Satire

technique used to ridicule a subject, usually some human foible or insitiution; use humor to encourage reform

Simile

comparing two unluike things for descriptive purposes while using like or as

Situational irony

refers to a happening that is the opposite of what is expected or intended

Static character

character that remains the same throughout the story

Structure

pattern that underlies a piece; important starting point when analyzing a work of literature

Style

author's use of language in terms of diction, syntax, figurative language, etc.

Suspense

quality of a literary work that makes the reader or audience uncertain or tense about the outcome of events

Sybolism

any object, person, place, or action that has meaning in itself and that also stands for something larger than itself

Syntax

use of sentence structure to enhance or reinforce imagery

Theme

the main idea of a story

Tone

the attitude and feelings an author expresses, which may be inferred from what he sayd and how he says it

Verbal irony

contrast between what is said and what actually is or meant

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