English Midterm Literary Terms

94 terms by qandrew 

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limited narrator

A form of narration in which the narrator cannot tell the story from multiple point of views

limited omniscient narrator

A form of narration that combines limited and omniscient narration

omniscient narrator

A type of narrator that can move from character to character or place to place freely with access to all of the characters' feelings.

theme

A key idea expressed in a work, either directly or indirectly

foreshadowing

The technique of arranging events that later events are implied in previous events, giving a thematic and structural unity

vernacular

The native dialect of a particular region. (Wuthering heights)

hamartia

the flaw or error of a hero that leads to his or her downfall

symbol

something that stands for something else due to a relationship in the novel

mood

the atmosphere of a work

foil

a character whose personality and attitude contrast sharply with those of another

natural imagery

Imagery drawn from the created world and its non-human inhabitants that are related to the plot or the character's feelings (Macbeth)

thesis

the primary thought taken by a writer or speaker, usually in an essay

moral ambiguity

there is no such thing as absolute right or wrong. Each person chooses what they want to do. (Macbeth)

reliable narrator

A narrator that is trustworthy. This type of narrator can tell the truth in the story.

unreliable narrator

A type of narrator that may distort or exaggerate events in the story

pathetic fallacy

The poetic practice in a story in which nature or other objects imitate the emotions of the human character

situational irony

The awareness of the difference between appearance and reality.

dramatic irony

This type of irony occurs when the audience knows more than the character [in the play] and knows the consequences of a situation

verbal irony

the awareness of an unexpected difference between words and their meaning

audience

the reader/viewer/listener of a work of art

purpose

the reason for which something is done or for which something exists.

voice

an opinion or attitude of an author or a means by which it is expressed

tone

the reflection of a writers attitude manner mood and moral outlook in his work

mood

The emotional atmosphere of a work

diction

the word choices made by a writer

style

the choices a writer makes; the combination of distinctive features of a literary work

first person narrator

A point of view in which a narrator, referred to as "I," who is a character in the story and relates the actions through his or her own perspective, also revealing his or her own thoughts

3rd person narrator

one who tells a story from the third person point of view. The author chooses a character and relates the story in terms of that character.

subjective

influenced by personal opinion, biased

objective

belonging to immediate experience of actual things or events

theme

a unifying idea that is a recurrent element in a literary or artistic work expressed directly or indirectly

exposition

The introductory material which gives the setting, creates the tone, presents the characters, and presents other facts necessary to understanding the story.

resolution

those events which form the outcome of the play

subplot

A subsidiary or subordinate or parallel plot in a play or story that coexists with the main plot

subtext

the implicit or metaphorical meaning

flashback

a transition (in literary or theatrical works or films) to an earlier event or scene that interrupts the normal chronological development of the story

antithesis

the juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas to give a feeling of balance

nemesis

punishment that overtakes a tragic hero

local color

writing which presents the mannerisms, dress, speech and customs of a particular geographical region

vernacular

the everyday speech of the people (as distinguished from literary language)

dialect

the usage or vocabulary that is characteristic of a specific group of people

flat character

a character who embodies a single quality and who does not develop in the course of a story

round character

a character who demonstrates some complexity and who develops or changes in the course of a work

persona

(Jungian psychology) a personal facade that one presents to the world

foil

anything that serves by contrast to call attention to another thing's good qualities

hero

a man distinguished by exceptional courage and nobility and strength

archetype

an original model on which something is patterned

drama

verse or prose composition intended to potray life or character or to tell a story usually involving conflicts and emotions through action and dialogue

tragedy

drama in which the protagonist is overcome by some superior force or circumstance

comedy

light and humorous drama with a happy ending

short story

a prose narrative shorter than a novel

poetry

A kind of rhythmic, compressed language that uses figures of speech and imagery designed to appeal to our emotions and imaginations

frame story

A narrative structure containing or connecting a series of otherwise unrelated tales.

existentialism

a philosophy based on the idea that people give meaning to their lives through their choices and actions

naturalism

(philosophy) the doctrine that the world can be understood in scientific terms without recourse to spiritual or supernatural explanations

realism

the attribute of accepting the facts of life and favoring practicality and literal truth

gothic

18th - 19th century style of fiction medieval settings murky horror and gloom, mysterious and violent incidents

modernism

The deliberate departure from tradition and the use of innovative forms of expression that distinguish many styles in the arts and literature of the 20th century.

Lost Generation

Group of writers in 1920s who shared the belief that they were lost in a greedy, materialistic world that lacked moral values and often choose to flee to Europe

nihilism

the delusion that things (or everything, including the self) do not exist

expressionism

emphasizes the life of the mind and feelings rather than the realistic external details of everyday life

fatalism

the belief that all events are determined in advance by fate and cannot be changed by human means

determinism

The philosophical theory that every human act or decision is the inevitable result of specific influences (physical, psychological, environmental) that are independent of human will

situational irony

occurs when the outcome of a work is unexpected, or events turn out to be the opposite from what one had expected

dramatic irony

(theater) irony that occurs when the meaning of the situation is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play

verbal irony

The contrast between what is said and what is actually meant.

tragic flaw

the character flaw or error of a tragic hero that leads to his downfall

hubris

overbearing pride or presumption

chorus

a company of actors who comment (by speaking or singing in unison) on the action in a classical Greek play

soliloquy

a (usually long) dramatic speech intended to give the illusion of unspoken reflections

monologue

a long utterance by one person (especially one that prevents others from participating in the conversation)

montage

any combination of disparate elements that form a unified, single image

stream of consciousness

a style of writing in which the author tries to reproduce the random flow of thoughts in the human mind

interior monologue

presents the private sensations, thoughts, and emotions of a character

motif

a unifying idea that is a recurrent element in a literary or artistic work

allegory

an expressive style that uses fictional characters and events to describe some subject by suggestive resemblances

pathetic fallacy

The attribution of human emotions or characteristics to inanimate objects or to nature; for example angry clouds; a cruel wind.`

pathos

a quality that arouses emotions (especially pity or sorrow)

ambiguity

an expression whose meaning cannot be determined from its context

catharsis

(psychoanalysis) purging of emotional tensions

poetic justice

the operation of justice in a play with fair distribution of rewards for good deeds and punishment for wrongdoing

abstract

a concept or idea not associated with any specific instance

concrete

capable of being perceived by the senses

figurative

Words used in a symbolic way

denotation

the most direct or specific meaning of a word or expression

connotation

an idea that is implied or suggested not direct meaning

allusion

passing reference or indirect mention

rhetorical question

a question that is emphasizes the obvious answer to what is asked

imagery

The use of language to evoke a picture or a concrete sensation of a person, thing, place, or experience

simile

a figure of speech that expresses a resemblance between things of different kinds (usually formed with 'like' or 'as')

metaphor

a figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity

extended simile

running many lines comparisons elaborate in detail

oxymoron

an expression in which two words that contradict each other are joined

epithet

any word or phrase applied to a person or thing to describe an actual or attributed quality

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