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Allusion

A reference to another event, person, place, or work of literature - usually implied rather than explicit and often provides another layer of meaning to what is being said

Ambiguity

Use of language where the meaning is unclear or has two or more possible interpretations or meanings

Ambivalence

Indicates more than one possible attitude is being displayed by the writer towards a character, theme, or idea, etc

Antithesis

Contrasting ideas or words that are balanced against each other

Atmosphere

The prevailing mood created by a piece of writing

Caricature

A character described through the exaggeration of a small number of features that he or she possesses

Catharsis

A purging of the emotions which takes place at the end of a tragedy

Cliché

A phrase, idea, or image that has been used so much that it has lost much of its original meaning, impact, and freshness

Colloquial

Ordinary, everyday speech, and language

Connotation

An implication or association attached to a word or phrase

Consonance

The repetition of the same consonant sounds in two or more words in which the vowel sounds are different

Dénouement

The ending of a play, novel, or drama where 'all is revealed' and the plot is unraveled

Empathy

A feeling on the part of the reader of sharing the particular experience being described by the character or writer

Figurative language

Language that is symbolic or metaphorical and not meant to be taken literally

Genre

The term for any category of literature

Imagery

The use of words to create a picture or 'image' in the mind of the reader

Irony

At its simplest level, it means saying one thing while meaning another

Metaphor

A comparison of one thing to another in order to make description more vivid; it actually states that one thing is the other

Motif

Any recurring element that has symbolic significance in a story

Narrative

A piece of writing that tells a story

Oxymoron

A figure of speech which joins together words of opposite meanings

Paradox

A statement that appears contradictory, but when considered more closely is seen to contain a good deal of truth

Pastoral

Generally, literature concerning rural life with idealizes settings and rustic characters

Pathos

The effect in literature which makes the reader feel sadness or pity

Personification

The attribution of human feelings, emotions, or sensations to an inanimate object

Plot

The sequence of events in a poem, play, novel, or short story that make up the main story line

Prose

Any kind of writing which is not verse - usually divided into fiction and non-fiction

Protagonist

The main character or speaker in a poem, monologue, play, or story

Simile

A comparison of one thing to another in order to make description more vivid; uses the words 'like' or 'as' in this comparison

Structure

The way that a poem or play or other piece of writing has been put together

Style

The individual way in which a writer has used language to express his or her ideas

Sub-plot

A secondary storyline in a story or play

Symbol

A word, place, character, or object that means something beyond what it is on a literal level.

Syntax

The way in which sentences are structured

Theme

The central idea or ideas that the writer explores through a text

Tone

This is the perspective or attitude that the author adopts with regards to a specific character, place, or development. It can portray a variety of emotions ranging from solemn, grave, and critical to witty, wry and humorous. It helps the reader ascertain the writer's feelings towards a particular topic and this in turn influences the reader's understanding of the story.

Conventions

Widely used and accepted devices or techniques, as in drama, literature, or painting: the theatrical convention of the aside

Connotation vs. Denotation

Connotation is the emotional and imaginative association surrounding a word. Denotation is the strict dictionary meaning of a word

Dichotomy

A split into two parts which are considered to be either contradictory or mutually exclusive. For example, the colors black and white.

Diction

Refers to the writer's or the speaker's distinctive vocabulary choices in a poem or story

Figurative vs. Literal language

Literal language refers to words that do not deviate from their defined meaning. Figurative language refers to words, and groups of words, that exaggerate or alter the usual meanings of the component words e.g. idiom, metaphor, simile, hyperbole, or personification

Foil

A character who contrasts with another character (usually the protagonist) in order to highlight particular qualities of the other character

Subtext

The content of a book, play, musical work, film, video game, or television series which is not announced explicitly by the characters (or author) but is implicit or becomes something understood by the observer of the work

Voice

The author's style, the quality that makes his or her writing unique, and which conveys the author's attitude, personality, and character. It is a combination of the use of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works)

Juxtaposition

The arrangement of two opposing ideas, characters, objects, etc. side-by-side or in similar narratives for effect e.g. it serves to contrast opposing emotions, abstract concepts, character traits/values, or images

Epiphany

A sudden revelation of an underlying truth about a person or situation

Reversal

The point at which the action of the plot turns in an unexpected direction for the protagonist.

Characterization

A. direct- the author tells the reader directly about the character: B. indirect-the author shows the character in action and lets the reader draw his/her own conclusion

Climax

The highest point of dramatic conflict

Conflict

The main sources of tension in the story. Internal or external? What type Man vs. Nature

Flashback

A dramatic scene that is presented out of chronological plot sequence. It takes the reader back to an earlier time

Foreshadowing

A writing technique that gives the reader clues about events that will happen later in the story

Narrator

The speaker who tells the story. Be careful not to confuse the author with the narrator. Reliable or unrealiable?

Setting

Where, when.

Theme

The main message or deeper meaning about life or human nature the author intends to communicate to the reader

Point of View

A literary device that depicts the manner in which a story is narrated/ depicted and who it is that tells the story. Simply put, it determines the angle and perception of the story unfolding, and thus influences the tone in which the story takes place.

Protagonist

The main character who is faced with a problem

Antagonist

The person, place, idea, or physical force opposing the protagonist

Archetype

A universal symbol

Static Characters

Minor characters in a work of fiction who do not undergo substantial change or growth in the course of a story

Dynamic Characters

Major characters in a work of fiction who encounter conflict and are changed by it

Round Characters

Characters that are convincing, true to life and have many character traits

Flat Characters

Characters that are stereotyped, shallow, often symbolic. They have one or two personality traits

Tragedy

A narrative that shows the fall of a heroic, high-born character from prominence to misery and often death

Tragic Hero

A character of noble stature. He is not an ordinary man, but a man with outstanding quality and greatness about him. ***It should be noted that the hero's downfall is his own fault as a result of his own free choice, but his misfortune is not wholly deserved. Usually his death is seen as a waste of human potential.

Tragic Flaw

An inherent defect or shortcoming in the hero of a tragedy, who is in other respects a superior being favored by fortune. Usually "HUBRIS," which means extreme pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power.

Suspense

Excitement or tension in a narrative

Oral Tradition

Cultural material and tradition transmitted orally from one generation to another in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants.

Parataxis

A literary technique, in writing or speaking, that favors short, simple sentences,

Modulate

To alter or adapt according to the circumstances

Subjectivity

Refers to individual interpretations of experiences consisting of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual perceptions and misperceptions

Vernacular

Native or indigenous language (opposed to literary or learned)

Epigraph

In literature it is a phrase, quotation, or poem that is set at the beginning of a text.

Fate vs. Destiny

Fate: the preordained course of your life that will occur because of or in spite of your actions.
Destiny: a set of predetermined events within your life that you take an active course in shaping.

Anti-hero

A central character in a work of literature who lacks traditional heroic qualities such as courage, physical prowess, and fortitude. They typically distrust conventional values and are unable to commit themselves to any ideals. They generally feel helpless in a world over which they have no control. They usually accept, and often celebrate, their positions as social outcasts.

Chronicle

A record of events presented in chronological order.

Convention

Any widely accepted literary device, style, or form. A soliloquy, in which a character reveals to the audience his or her private thoughts, is an example of this drama.

Flashback

A device used in literature to present action that occurred before the beginning of the story. Flashbacks are often introduced as the dreams or recollections of one or more characters.

Foil

A character in a work of literature whose physical or psychological qualities contrast strongly with, and therefore highlight, the corresponding qualities of another character.

Folklore

Traditions and myths preserved in a culture or group of people. Typically, these are passed on by word of mouth in various forms — such as legends, songs, and proverbs — or preserved in customs and ceremonies.

Modernism

Modern literary practices. Also, the principles of a literary school that lasted from roughly the beginning of the twentieth century until the end of World War II. It is defined by its rejection of the literary conventions of the nineteenth century and by its opposition to conventional morality, taste, traditions, and economic values.

Objectivity

A quality in writing characterized by the absence of the author's opinion or feeling about the subject matter. It is an important factor in criticism.

Parable

A story intended to teach a moral lesson or answer an ethical question. In the West, the best examples of parables are those of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, notably "The Prodigal Son," but parables also are used in Sufism, rabbinic literature, Hasidism, and Zen Buddhism.

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