Literary Terms

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56 terms · English I, Schindler, Story and Structure

Allegory

A narrative or description that has a second meaning beneath the surface, ofter relating to each literal term to a fixed, corresponding abstract idea or moral principle; usually, the ulterior meanings belong to a pre-existing system of ideas or principles.

Antagonist

Any force in a story or play that is in conflict with the protagonist. It may be man vs. man, man vs. self, or man vs. nature.

Artisitc Unity

The condition of a successful literary work whereby all its elements work together for the acheivement of its central purpose. In an artistically unified work, nothing is included that isn't relevent the central purpose, nothing is omitted that is essential to it, and the parts are arranged in the most effective order for the achievement of that purpose.

Chance

The occurance of an event that has no apparent cause in antecedent events or in predisposition of a character.

Character

any of the persons presented in a story or play.

Characterization

The various literary means by which characters are presented.

Climax

The highest/ turning point of a plot.

Coincidence

The chance cocurrence of two events having a peculiar correspondence between them.

Commercial Fiction

Fiction written to meet the taste of a wide popular audience and relying usually on tested formulas for satisfying such taste.

Conflict

A clash of actions, desires, ideas, or goals in the plot of a story. It may occur between either man vs. man, man vs. self, or man vs. nature/ fate(of their nature).

Denouement

That portion of a plot that reveals the final outcome of its conflicts or the solution of its mysteries.

Deux ex Machina

("god from the machine") The resolution of a plot by use of a highly improbable chance or coincidence (to rescue the protagonist from an impossible situation)

Developing Character

(Dynamic) A character who during the course of a work undergoes a permenant change in some distinguishing moral qualities or personal traits or outlook

Direct Presentation of Character

That method of characterization in which the author, by exposing or analysis, tells us directly what a character is like, or has someone else in the story do so.

Dramatic Irony

An incongruity or discrepancy between what a character says or thinks and that the reader knows to be true (Or between the reader and what the author wants only the reader to know.)

Dramatic Point of View

(Objective) The author tells the story useing the third person, but it is limited to reporting what the characters say or do; the author does not interpret the characters' behavior or tell us their private thoughts or feelings.

Dramatization

The presentaion of character or of emotion through the speech or action of characters rathar than through exposition analyses, or description by the author.

Editorializing

Writing that departs from the narrative or dramatic mode and instructs the reader how to think or feel about the events od a story or the behaior of a character.

Epiphany

A moment or event in which a character achieves a spiritual insight into life or into her or his own circumstances.

Falling Action

That segment of the plot that comes between the climax and the conclusion.

Fantasy

A kind of fiction that pictures creatures or events beyond the boundaries of known reality.

First Person Point of View

The story is told by one its characters, using first person.

Flat Character

A character whose distinguishing moral qualities or personal traits are summed up in one or two traits.

Foil Character

A minor character whose situation or actions parallel those of a major character, and thus by contrast sets off or illuminates the major character; most often the contrast is complimentary to the major character.

Happy Ending

An ending in which events turn out well for a sympathetic protagonist.

Intermediate Ending

An ending in which the central problem or conflict is left unresolved.

Indirect Presentation of Character

That method of characterization in which the author shows us a character in action, compelling us to infer what the character is like from what is said or done by the character.

Irony

A situation or use of language involving some kind of incongruity or discepancy.

Literary Fiction

Fiction written with serious artistic intentions, providing an imagined experience yielding authentic insights into some significant aspect of life.

Moral

A rule of conduct or maxim for living expressed or implied as the "point" of the literary work.(compare to Theme).

Motivation

The incentives or goals that in combination with the inherent natures of characters, cause them to behave as they do. In commercial fiction actions ma be unmotivated, insufficiently motivated, or implausibly motivated.

Mystery

An unusual set of circumstances for which the reader craves as explination; used to create suspense.

Omniscient Point of View

The author tells the story using the third person, knowing all and free to tell us anything, including what the characters are thinking or feeling and why they act as they do.

Plot

The sequence of incidents or events of which a story is composed.

Plot Manipulation

A situation in which an author gives the plot a twist or turn unjustified by preceding action or by the characters involved.

Poeticizing

Writing that uses immoderately heightened or distended language to sway the reader's feelings.

Point of View

The angle of vision from which a story is told.

Protagonist

The central character in the story.

Rising Action

The development of plot in a story that precedes and leads up to the climax.

Round Character

A character whose distinguishing moral qualities or personal traits are complex and many-sided.

Sentimentality

Unmerited or contrived tender feeling; that quality in a work that elicits or seeks to elicit tears through an oversimplification or falsification of reality.

Setting

The context in time and place in which the action of a story occurs.

Static Character

A character who is the same sort of person at the end of a story as the beginning.

Stock Character

A stereotyped character; one whose nature is familiar to us from pototypes in previous fiction.

Stream of Consciousness

Narrative that presents the private thoughts of a character without commentary or interpretation by the author.

Structure

The sequential arrangement of plot elements.

Surprise

An unexpected turn in the develoopment of a plot.

Surprise Ending

A completely unexpected revelation or turn of plot at the conclusion of a story.

Suspense

That quality in a story that makes the reader eager to discover what happens next and how it will end.

Symbol

Something that means more that what it is; an object, person, situation, or actionthat in addition to its literal meaning suggeests other meanings as well.

Theme

The central idea or unifying generalization implied or stated by a literary work.

Third Person Limited

The author tells the story using the third person, but is limited to a complete knowledge of one character in the story and tells us only what that one character thinks, feels, seees, or hears.

Unhappy Ending

An ending that turns out unhappily for a sympathetc protagonist.

Verbal Irony

A figure of speech in which what is said is the opposite of what is meant.

Macrocosm

in the world; human nature,"the whole"

Microcosm

a small repression and logic to a larger system, the point that reflects "the whole"

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