AP Literary Terms

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ambiguity

uncertainty or inexactness of meaning in language.

anachronism

a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, esp. a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned/modern.

archetype

a very typical example of a certain person or thing.

concrete language

Specific, literal word usage

connotation

an idea or feeling that a word invokes

denotation

the literal or primary meaning of a word

details

an individual feature, fact, or item

didactic

intended to teach, particularly in having moral instruction as an ulterior motive

epigraph

a quotation at the beginning of a poem, short story, book chapter, or other piece of literature

explication

the act of making clear or removing obscurity from the meaning of a word or symbol or expression; a detailed explanation of the meaning of something

foreshadowing

be a warning or indication of (a future event)

image

a representation of the external form of a person or thing

imagery

visually descriptive

mood

a temporary state of mind or feeling conceived by the speaker

moral

a lesson

motif

a unifying idea that is a recurrent element

parable

a short moral story

syntax

the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language.

theme

the subject of a talk, a unifying idea

tone

the quality of something that reveals the attitudes and presuppositions of the author

allegory

a story that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one

allusion

an indirect or passing reference

apostrophe

a speaker or writer breaks off and directs speech to an imaginary person or abstract quality or idea

epithet

glorified nickname

euphemism

the substitution of a mild, indirect expression for one thought to be offensive

figurative language

words that exaggerate the usual meanings of the component words

hyperbole

a deliberate, extravagant and often outrageous exaggeration used for either serious or comic effect

dramatic irony

the reader/audience knows the future but the actors/characters do not

verbal irony

what is stated is the opposite of what is meant

situational irony

outcome is opposite to what was expected

litotes

ironical understatement as a double negative

romantic irony

the procedure by which apparently significant gestures, assertions, or decisions are made only to immediately collapse

direct metaphor

direct comparison between 2 like things
Ex: Juliet is the sun.

implied/indirect metaphor

reader builds metaphor from what is implied
Ex: Juliet shines.

conceit metaphor

extended metaphor that uses shocking or unrelated comparison

metonymy

something is called not by its own name but rather by the name of something else associated in meaning with it; nickname(sorta)
Ex: Hollywood

oxymoron

contradiction of two words

paradox

contrasting themes

personification

describing an inanimate object with human-like qualities

pun

humorous or rhetorical use of a word or phrase to suggest different meanings or homophonic qualities

simile

compare 2 unlike things with like or as

symbol

object or idea that represents something

synaesthesia

one sense leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sense

synedoche

a part refers to the whole
Ex: all hands on deck

understatement

the presentation of something as being smaller, worse, or less important than it actually is

climax

high point of story; most exciting part

internal conflict

within self

external conflict

against outside forces

denouement/resolution

outcome/conclusion/ending (conflict is resolved)

exposition

introduces the situation, characters, setting, conflict

falling action

excitement starts falling; action slows

fiction

made up

epiphany

an experience of sudden and striking realization

inciting events

where the action begins; the part that grabs the reader's attention

motivation

the reasons behind a character's behavior

sociological novel

defined as a work of fiction that focuses on the sociological and economical conditions of characters or events

historical novel

a novel set in the past and intended to evoke the conditions of a past period.

regional novel

type of novel that concentrates on the people in a specific location

novel of ideas

Philosophical novels

epistolary

a novel written as a series of documents

gothic roman

a genre or mode of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance

bildungsroman

a novel about the moral and psychological growth of the main character

plot

sequence of events in a story; "what happens"

rising action

action is building, excitement and suspense grow

setting

the time, place, and circumstances in which the action takes place.

style

the way a writer uses the language in a work

unity

The sense that all the elements in a piece of writing fit together to create a harmonious effect

quixotic

a novel that is extravagantly chivalrous or romantic

antagonist

opponent

catharsis

cleansing

direct characterization

the narrator or a character in the story tells us what we need to know about a character

indirect characterization

we find out about characters indirectly through thoughts, comments, or actions of the characters

epiphany

sudden realization

flat character

does not undergo substantial change or growth in the course of a story

foil

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

hamartia

tragic and fatal flaw

hubris

extreme self pride/arrogance

peripety

a

protagonist

a

round character

a

static character

a

stock character

a

first person point of view

a

point of view

a

second person point of view

a

third person point of view

a

third person limited

aa

third person omniscient

a

third person objective

a

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