Adjective used to point out a characteristic of a person or thing.
EX: Goldsmith's "noisy mansions" (for schoolhouses)
Exaggeration. The figure may be used to heighten effect, or it may be used for humor.
The character/s know less than the audience. Usually the character's own interests are involved in a way he or she cannot understand. The irony resides in the contrast between the meaning intended by the speaker and the different significance seen by others.
A given group of circumstances in which characters find themselves; the given conditions in which a story opens before the plot proper actually begins.
A system for describing rhymths by dividing lines into feet and counting syllables.
Marked use of the sibillant (hissing) sounds represented by s, z, sh, zh, and so forth.
EX: Now each visitor shall confess
Uses a part to explain a whole or a whole to explain a part. EX: All hands on deck
Sustitute name, the name of one object is substituted for that of another closely associated with it.
EX: Monarch spoken of as "the crown"
A term for two coupled feet serving as a unit. "Yoking together" of terminal and initial consonants. The use of consonant sounds at the end of one word and at the beginning of another that can be spoken together easily and harmoniously.
The repetition in close proximity of words that have the same roots. May involve the use of the same word but in a different grammatical case.
EX: The Greeks are STRONG and skillful in their STRENGTH.
The concurrent response of two or more of the senses to the stimulation of one.
EX: Loud shirt
A figure of speech in which someone (usually but not always absent), some abstract quality, or a nonexistent personage is directly addressed as though present.
A quick intuitive grasp of reality achieved in a quick flash of recognition in which something, usually simple and commonplace, is seen in a new light.
Any letter, but the term is usually limited to formal compositions written to a distant individual or group.
The repetition of initial identical consonant sounds or any vowel sounds in successive or closley associated syllables. In rare cases "now is winter" that joins the end of the syllable with the beginning of the next.
Named for the poet Karai Senryu, the same form as a the haiku, but in a different spirit, relying on humor or satire rather than conventions related to certain seasons.
A Japanese verse form that lays out a question and answer in three lines consisting of one line of five syllables and two lines of seven syllables.
A stanza of five lines
Similar to haiku, it consists of thirty-one syllables, arranged in five lines, each of seven syllables, except the first and third, which are each of five.
Essentially it would look like this:
Rhyme between primary and secondary stressed syllables, as in such pairs as "childhood" / "wildwood".
EX: Shakespeare's "gainsay me" / "play thee"
Rhyme that appears correct from the spelling but is not so from the pronunciation.
EX: "watch" and "match" or "love" and "move"
A line of verse ending on a stressed syllable, as does any regular iambic line.
Also called double rhyme, a rhyme in which the stressed syllables are followed by an identical unstressed syllable.
EX: "waken" and "foresaken"
Rhyme in which the rhyming stressed syllable is followed by two unstressed syllables.
EX: "Ridiculous" and "Meticulous"
A form of understatement in which a thing is affirmed by stating the negative of its opposite. To say "she is not unmindful" when one means that "she gave careful attention."
A grammatically correct construction in which one word is placed in the same grammatical relationship to two words but in quite differenrt senses
EX: "Or stain her honor, or her new brocade"
A form of extended metaphor in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative are equated with meanings that lie outside the narrative itself.
EX: Young Goodman Brown
Harsh and inharmonious sounds, a marked breaking of the music of poetry, which may be intentional, as it often is in Robert Browning and Hardy.
A musical term used for the effect produced by a temorary displacing or shifting of the regular beat.
A harsh, unpleasant combination of sounds
The treatment of abstractions as concrete things.
EX: "Truth is a deep well", "Love is a many splendored thing"
Words with identical sounds but different meanings, as "stair" and "stare" or "well" (adjective) and "well" (noun).
A three-line stanza, supposedly devised by Dante (for his Divine Comedy) with rhyme scheme aba bcb cdc ded and so forth.
Contrasting light and shade.
A convention much used in verse, rhetorically asking "where are those who were before us?" (ubi sunt qui ante nos fuerunt?).
The braggart solider, a stock character in comedy.
"Seize the day".
fin de siecle
"End of the century," a phrase applied mostly to the last ten years of the nineteenth century, but not much to the end of the twentieth.
A figure poem, a poem so written that the form of the printed words suggests the subject matter.
A French verse form, a variant of the rondeau, to which it is related historically. It consists of fourteen or thirteen lines (depending on whether the two-lined refrain is kept at the close or simply one line). Repittion of rhyme word is not allowed.
One of the most difficult and complex of verse forms. It consists of six six-lined stanzas and three-lined envoy.
Writing the reads the same left to right and right to left.
One or more words repeated at intervals in a poem, usually at the end of a stanza.
Consists characteristically of fifteen lines, the ninth and fifteenth being a short refrain. Only two rhymes (exclusive of the refrain) are allowed, the rhyme scheme running aabba aabc aabbac. The c-rhyme here represents the refrain, a group of words, usually the first half of the line, from the opening.
Concerns an actual person, whose name makes up the first line of a quatrain with a strict aabb rhyme scheme but no regularity or meter.
Also known as near rhyme, off-rhyme and pararhyme. Usually the substitution of assonance or consonance for true rhyme.
Rhyme that occurs at some place before the last syllables in a line.
Novel of the Soil
A special kind of regionalism in the novel, in which the lives of people struggling for existence in remote rural sections are starkly portrayed. Primarily refers to matter rather than manner.
A chronicle, usually autobiographical, presenting the life story of a rascal of low degree engaged in menial tasks and making his living more through his wits than his industry.
Novel of Manners
A novel dominated by social customs, manners, conventions, and habits of a definite social class. (Think Jane Austen)
A novel with a tightly constructed plot, freedom from extraneous incidents or subplots, clear motivation for the actions of its characters, and a sense of economy and inevitability.
Stream of Consciousness Novel
The total range of awareness and emotive-mental response of an individual, from the lowest prespeech level to highest fully articulated level of rational thought.
A violation of prescriptive grammatical rules. "He don't" and "between you and I". Loosely, any error in diction, grammar, or propriety is called a solecism.
Though there are many forms, the general structure of wellerism calls for three parts: (1) an utterance, usually conventional, metaphorical, or proverbial; (2) a speaker; (3) a situation. One gives a literal sense to a figurative expression: "I've got you covered, as the rug said to the floor".
A nearby type involves a pun.
An inappropriateness of speech resulting from the use of one word for another, which resembles it.
EX: The nurse in Romeo and Juliet says "confidence" for "conference"
A new word introduced into a language, especially for enhancing style. Many have not gained permanent foothold in vocabulary.
A phrase coined by Ruskin to denote tendency to credit nature with human emotions
EX: "The cruel, crawling foam"
The judging of the meaning of success or a work of art by the author's expressed or ostensible intention in producing it.
The name of a person so commonly associated with some widely recognized attribute that the name comes to stand for the attribute, as Helen for beauty.
A rhetorical term applied to the repetition of the closing word or phrase at the end of several clauses, as in Sidney's "And all night he did nothing but weep Philoclea, sigh Philoclea, and cry out Philoclea"
A pithy saying. An epigram is often antithetical, as "Man proposes but God disposes."
An inscription used to mark burial places.
A tail-rhyme stanza, one in which two lines, usually in tetrameter, are followed by a short line, usually in trimeter, two successive short lines rhyming -- as for example, aabccb, where the a and c lines are tetrameter and the b trimeter.
One or more words repeated at intervals in a poem, usually at the end of each stanza.
A form of light verse. In its proper form it concerns an actual person, whose name makes up the first line of a quatrain with a strict aabb rhyme scheme but no regularity of rhythm or meter.
A term denoting one or more extra unaccented syllables at the beginning of a VERSE before the regular rhythm of the line makes its appearance. Literally an upward or back beat. The third line of the following stanza by Shelley is an example:
What thou art we know not;
What is most like thee?
From rainbow clouds there flow not
Drops so bright to see
As from they prescence showers a rain of melody.
Incompleteness of the last foot of a line; truncation by omission of one or two final syllables. The opposite of anacrusis.
In metrics the omission of a syllable or syllables at the beginning or end of a line.
From the German for "gaudy trash"; shallow, flashy art designed to have popular appeal and commercial success.
A French word for a PARODY or literary immitation.
A rhetorical disposition applied to a statement or situation to shape its reception and interpretation. Usually applied to politics but also available for any circumstance in which rhetoric applies.
IRONY, the satirical or humorous use of a word or phrase to convey an idea exactly opposite to its real significance. It informs a good deal of casual speech, such as "bad" meaning "good".
A kind of PUN in which language is so used that it has two different but appropriate meanings. If the equivivoque is used with the intention to deceive, the result is equavocation, as in "Nothing is too good for him," which sounds like a compliment but is intended as a commenation. Like a backhand compliment.
A figurative phrase used in Old Germanic languages as a synonym for a simple noun.
EX: In Beowulf "the bent-necked wood," "the sea-wood," and "the ringed prow" for the word "sword."
The use of the morbid and the ABSURD for darkly comic purposes in modern literature.
An anticipating; the type of anachronism in which an event is pictured as taking place before it could have done so, the treating of a future event as if past.
Yoking together of ideas. Similar to syllepsis
A statement that is deliberately ambiguous, one of whose possible meanings is risque or suggestive of some impropriety.
The internal rhyming of the last stressed syllable before the CAESURA with the last stressed syllable of the line. Ordinarily it's restricted to pentameters and hexameters.
The operatin of various forces of prevention, such as dicontinuity and disruption.
The reversal of fortune for a protagonist - possibly either a fall, as in a tragedy, or a success as in a comedy
A speech delivered while the speaker is alone (solus), calculated to inform the audience of what is passing in the character's mind. Hamlet's famous "To be or not to be" is an obvious example.
A vehement speech designed to arouse strong emotions.
reductio ad absurdum
A "reducing to absurdity" to show the falsity of an argument or position.
Theater of Cruelty
A concept, originated in the 1930s by Antonin Artaud, whereby the theaters becomes a ceremonial act of magic purgation. Artaud meant a theater that could demonstrate human beings' inescapable enslavement to things and to circumstance.
Theater of Absurd
A term invented by Martin Esslin for the kind of drama that presents a vew of the absurdity of the human condition by the abandoning of the usual or rational devices and by the use of nonrealistic form.
tragedy of blood
An intensified form of the REVENGE TRAGEDY popular on the Elizabethan stage. It works out the theme of revenge and retribution (borrowed from Seneca) through murder, assassination, mutilation, and carnage.
A play that employs a plot suitable to TRAGEDY but ends happily, like a COMEDY. The action seems to be leading to a tragic CATASTROPHE until an unexpected turn in events, often in the form of a DEUS EX MACHINA, brings about the happy DENOUEMENT.
An extrametrical unstressed syllable added to the end of a line in IAMBIC or ANAPESTIC rhythm.
A line of verse that ends on a stressed syllable, as does any regular iambic line.