Andershock/Paul AP English Lit Terms

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epistolary novel

A novel in letter form written by one or more of the characters. The novelist can use this technique to present varying first-person points of view and does not need a narrator.

euphemism

Substitution of an inoffensive word or phrase for another that would be harsh, offensive, or embarrassing. It makes something sound better than it is but is usually more wordy that the original.

euphony

The quality of a pleasant or harmonious sound of a word or group of words as an intended effect. Often achieved through long vowels and some consonants, such as "sh."

farce

A kind of comedy that depends on exaggerated or improbable situations, physical disasters, and sexual innuendo to amuse the audience.

figurative language

Unlike literal expression, this uses figures of speech such as a metaphor, simile, metonymy, personification, and hyperbole. Appeals to one's senses.

first person

A character in the story tells the story, using the pronoun I. This is a limited point of view since the narrator can relate only events that he or she sees or is told about.

flashback

Interruption of a narrative by the introduction of an earlier event or by an image of a past experience.

flat character

A simple, one-dimensional character who remains the same, and about whom little or nothing is revealed throughout the course of the work. May serve as symbols of types of people, similar to stereotypical characters.

foil

A character whose contrasting personal characteristics draw attention to, enhance, or contrast with those of the main character. A character who, by displaying opposite traits, emphasizes certain aspects of another character.

Foreshadowing

Hints at what is to come. It is sometimes noticeable only in hindsight, but usually it is obvious enough to set the reader wondering.

free verse

Poetry that does not have regular rhythm or rhyme.

genre

The category into which a piece of writing can be classified-poetry, prose, drama.

hubris

Insolence, arrogance, or pride. In Greek tragedy, this is usually the protagonist's tragic flaw that leads to his or her downfall.

hyperbole

An extreme exaggeration for literary effect that is not meant to be interpreted literally.

iambic pentameter

A five-foot line made up of an unaccented followed by an accented syllable. It is the most common metric foot in English-language poetry.

imagery

Anything that affects or appeals to the reader's senses: Sight, sound, touch, taste, or smell.

in medias res

In literature, a work that begins in the middle of the story.

interior monologue

A literary technique used in poetry and prose that reveals a character's unspoken thoughts and feelings. It may be presented directly by the character, or through a narrator.

internal rhyme

A rhyme that is within the line, rather than at the end. The rhyming may also be within two lines, but again, each rhyming word will be within its line, rather than at the beginning or end.

inversion

A switch in the normal work order, often used for emphasis or for rhyme scheme. (ex. strong he was.)

Italian (Petrarchan) sonnet

Fourteen-line poem divided into two parts; the first is eight lines (abbaabba) and the second is six(cdcdcd or cdecde)

litotes

Affirmation of an idea by using a negative understatement. The opposite of hyperbole.

lyric poem

A fairly short, emotionally expressive poem that expresses the feelings and observations of a single speaker.

metamorphosis

A radical change in a character, either physical or emotional.

metaphor

A figure of speech which compares two dissimilar things, asserting that one thing is another thing, not just that one is like another.

meter

The rhythmical pattern of a poem. Just as all words are pronounced with accented (or stressed) syllables and unaccented (or unstressed) syllables, lines of poetry are assigned similar rhythms.

metonymy

A figure of speech that replaces the name of something with a word of phrase closely associated with it. Similar to synecdoche(many authors do not distinguish between the two).

narrative poem

A poem that tells a story.

near, off, or slant rhyme

A rhyme based on an imperfect or incomplete correspondence of end syllable sounds.

onomatopoeia

Words that imitate sounds.

oxymoron

A figure of speech that combines two contradictory words, placed side by side. (ex. bitter sweet, wise fool, living death)

paradox

A statement of situation that at first seems impossible or oxymoronic, but which solves itself and reveals meaning. (ex. fair is foul and foul is fair"

parallelism

The repeated use of the same grammatical structure in a sentence or a series of sentences. This device tends to emphasize what is said and thus underscores the meaning. Can also refer to two or more stories within a literary work that are told simultaneously and that reinforce one another.

parody

A comical imitation of a serious piece with the intent of ridiculing the author or his work.

pastoral

A poem, play, or story that celebrates and idealizes the simple life of shepherds and shepherdesses. This highly conventional form was popular until the late 18th century. The term has also come to refer to an artistic work that portrays rural life in an idyllic or idealistic way.

pathos

The quality of a literary work or passage which appeals to the reader's or viewer's emotions-especially pity, compassion, and sympathy. This is different from the pity one feels for a tragic hero in that the pathetic figure seems to suffer through no fault of his or her own.

periodic sentence

A sentence that delivers its point at the end; usually constructed as a subordinate clause followed by a main clause. (ex. At the piano she practiced scales)

personification

The attribution of human characteristics to an animal or to an inanimate object.

point of view

Perspective of the speaker or narrator in a literary work.

pun

Humorous play on words that have several meanings or words that sound the same but have different meanings.

quatrain

Four-line stanza.

satire

The use of humor or to ridicule and expose the shortcomings and failings of society, individuals and institutions, often in the hope that change and reform are possible.

shift

In writing, a movement from one thought or idea to another; a change.

simile

A comparison of unlike things using the word like, as, or so.

soliloquy

A character's speech to the audience, in which emotions and ideas are revealed. A monologue is only this if the character is alone on the stage.

stanza

A grouping of poetic lines; a deliberate arrangement of lines of poetry.

stock character

A stereotypical character; a type. The audience expects the character to have certain characteristics. Similar to conventional character and flat character.

stream of consciousness

A form of writing which replicates the way the human mind works. Ideas are presented in random order; thoughts are often unfinished.

symbol

A concrete object, scene, or action which has deeper significance because it is associated with something else, often an important idea or theme in the work.

synecdoche

A figure of speech where one part represents the entire object, or vice versa.

theme

The central idea of a literary work.

tone

Refers to the author's attitude toward the subject, and often sets the mood of the piece.

tragic flaw

Traditionally, a defect in a hero or heroine that leads to his or her downfall.

terza rima

A verse of Italian origin that has tercets of 10 or 11 syllables with the middle line rhyming with the 1st and 3rd lines of the following tercet. aba, bcb, cdc, etc...

Alliteration

The repetition of accented consonant sounds at the beginning of words that are close to each other, usually to create an effect, rhythm, or emphasis.

Allusion

A reference in literature or in art to previous literature, history, mythology, pop culture/current events, or the Bible.

Analogy

Clarifies or explains an unfamiliar concept or object, or one that cannot be put into words, by comparing it with one which is familiar.

Antecedent

The word or phrase to which a pronoun refers.

Antihero

A protagonist who carries the action of the literary piece but does not embody the classic characteristics of courage, strength, and nobility.

Antithesis

A concept that is directly opposed to a previously presented idea.

Aphorism

A terse statement that expresses a general truth or moral principle.

Apostrophe

A rhetorical figure of direct address to a person, object, or abstract entity.

Archetype

A character, situation, or symbol that is familiar to people from all cultures because it occurs frequently in literature, myth, religion, or folklore.

Aside

A short speech or remark made by an actor to the audience rather than to the other characters, who do not hear him or her.

Assonance

The repeated use of a vowel sound.

Ballad

A folk song or poem passed down orally that tells a story which may be derived from an actual incident or from legend or folklore.

Blank Verse

Unrhymed poetry of iambic pentameter.

Cacophony

Harsh, discordant sounds, unpleasant to the ear.

Catharsis

An emotional cleansing or feeling of relief.

Chiasmus

The opposite of parallel construction; inverting the second of two phrases that would otherwise be in parallel form.

Colloquial

Of or relating to slang or regional dialect, used in familiar everyday conversation.

Conceit

A far-fetched comparison between two seemingly unlike things.

Connotation

Associations a word calls to mind.

Couplet

Two successive rhyming lines of the same number of syllables, with matching cadence.

Didactic Literature

Literature that intends to instruct or teach.

Denotation

The dictionary or literal meaning of a word or phrase.

Diction

The deliberate choice of a style of language for a desired effect or tone.

Elegy

Poem that deals solemnly with death.

Emblematic Poems

Poems that take the shape of the subject of the poem.

Enjambment

The running over of a sentence from one verse or stanza into the next without stopping at the end of the first.

Epic

Long and serious narrative poem about a hero and his heroic companions.

Epigram

"Inscription." Usually a short, solemn poem.

Epigraph

A brief quotation found at the beginning of a literary work. Reflective of theme.

Epiphany

A sudden flash of insight. A startling discovery.

Epitaph

Burial inscription, usually serious but sometimes humorous.

Eulogy

Poem praising the memory of the living or the dead.

Free Verse

Poem composed of rhythmical lines varying in length, following no fixed metrical pattern, usually unrhymed.

Ode

Was usually a song in honor of gods or heroes, but now usually a very long lyric poem characterized by elevated feelings.

Sonnet

A poem of fourteen lines written in iambic pentameter.

Villanelle

Poetic form that not only rhymes but also repeats lines in a predetermined manner, both as a refrain and as an important part of the poem itself.

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