AP Lit Review Book Chapter 3: Key Terms

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Allegory

a prose or poetic narrative in which the characters, behavior, and even the setting demonstrates multiple levels of meaning and significance. Often Allegory is a universal symbol or personified abstraction.

Alliteration

the sequential repetition of a similar initial sound, usually applied to consonants, usually heard in closely proximate stressed syllables.

Allusion

a reference to a literary or historical event, person, or place.

Anapestic

a metrical foot in poetry that consists of two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed.

Anaphora

the regular repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases or clauses.

Anecdote

a brief story or tale told by a character in a piece of literature.

Antagonist

any force that is in opposition to the main character, or protagonist.

Antithesis

the juxtaposition of sharply contrasting ideas in balanced or parallel words, phrases, gramatical structures, or ideas.

Apostrophe

an address or invocation to something that is inanimate

Archetype

recurrent designs, patterns of action, character types, themes or images in which are identifiable in a wide range of literature.

Assonance

a repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds, usually thouse found in stressed syllables of close proximity.

Asyndeton

a style in which conjunctions are omitted, usually producing a fast-paced, more rapid prose.

Attitude

the sense expressed by the tone of voice and/or the mood of a piece of writing; the feeling the author holds towards his subject, the people in his narrative, the events, the setting or even the theme. It might even be the feeling he holds for the reader.

Ballad

a narrative poem that is, or originally was, meant to be smug. Repetition and refrain (recurring phrase or phrases) characterize the ballad.

Ballad stanze

a common stanza form, consisting of a quatrain (a stanza of four lines) that alternates four-beat and three-beat lines: one and three are unrhymed iambic tetrameter (four beats), and two and four are rhymed iambic trimeter (three beats)

Blank Verse

the verse from that most resembles common speeh, blank verse consists of unrhymed lines in iambic pentameter.

Caesura

a pause in a line if verse, indicated by natural speech patterns rather than due to specific metrical patterns.

Caricature

a depiction in which a character's characteristics or features are so deliberately exaggerated as to render them absurd.

Chiasmus

a figure of speech by which the order of the terms in the first of two parallel clauses is reversed in the second. This may involve a repetition of the same words.

Colloquial

ordinary language, the vernacular.

conceit

a comparison of two unlikely things that is drawn out within a piece of literature, in particular an extended metaphor within a poem.

Connotation

what is suggested by a word, apart from what it explicitly describes, often referred to as the implied meaning of a word.

Consonance

the repetition of a sequence of two or more consonants, but with a change in the intervening vowels, such as pitter-patter, pish-posh, cligning and clanging.

Couplet

two rhyming lines of iambic pentameter that together represent a single idea or connection.

Dactylic

a metrical foot in poetry that consists of two stressed syllables followed by one unstressed syllable.

Denotation

a direct and specific meaning, often referred to as the dictionary meaning of a word.

Dialect

the language and speech idiosyncrasies of a specific region or group of people.

Diction

the specific word choice an author uses to persuade or convey tone, purpose or effect.

Dramatic monologue

a monologue set in a specific situation and spoken to an imaginary audience. Another term for this could be soliloquy.

Elegy

a poetic lament upon the death of a particular person, usually ending in consolation.

Enjambent

the continuation of a sentence from one line or couplet of a poem to the next.

Epic

a poem that celebrates, in continuous narrative, the achievements of mighty heroes and heroines, often concerned with the founding of a nation or developing of a culture; it uses elevated language and grand, high style.

Exposition

that part of the structure that sets the scene, introduces and identifies characters, and establishes the situation at the beginning of a story or play.

Extended metaphor

a detailed and complex metaphor that extends over a long section of a work, also known as a conceit

Fable

a legend or a short moral story often using animals as characters. Aesop is the best-known teller of fables.

Falling action

that part of plot structure in which the complications of the rising action are untangled. This is also known as the denouement.

Farce

a play or scene in a play or book that is characterized by broad humor, wild antics, and often slapstick and physical humor.

Foreshadowing

to hint at or to present an indication of the future beforehand.

Formal diction

language that is lofty, dignified, and impersonal. Such diction is often used in narrative epic poetry.

Flashback

retrospection, where an earlier even is inserted into the normal chronology of the narrative.

Free verse

poetry that is characterized by varying lengths, lack of traditional meter, and nonrhyming lines.

Genre

a type or class of literature such as epic or narrative or poetry or belles letters.

Hyperbole

overstatement characterized by exaggerated language.

Iambic

a metrical foot in poetry that consists of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Often iambs are used in sets of five called iambic pentameter

Imagery

broadly defined, any sensory detail or evocation in a work; more narrowly, the use of figurative language to evoke a feeling, to call to mind an idea, or to describe an object. Basically,imagery involves any or all of the five senses.

Informal diction

language that is not as lofty or impersonal as formal diction; similar to everyday speech.

In medias res

"in the midst of things"; refers to opening a story in the middle of the action, necessitating filling in past details by exposition or flashback.

Irony

a situation or statement characterized by significant difference between what is expected or understood and what actually happens or is meant. Irony is often humorous, and sometimes sarcastic when it uses words to imply the opposite of what they normally mean. A form of humor in which the outcome is the opposite of what was expected.

Jargon

specialized or technical language of a trade, profession, or similar group.

Juxtaposition

the location of one thing as being adjacent or juxtaposed with another. This placing of two items side by side creates a certain effect, reveals an attitude, or accomplishes some purpose of the writer.

Limited point of view

a perspective confined to a single character, whether a first person or third person; the reader cannot know for sure what is going on in the minds of other characters

Litote

a figure of speech that emphasizes its subject by conscious understatement.

Loose sentence

a sentence grammatically complete, and usually stating its main idea, before the end.

Lyric

originally designated poems meant to be snug to the accompaniment of a lyre; now any short poem in which the speaker expresses intense personal emotion rather than describing a narrative or dramatic situation. The sonnet and the ode are two types of lyric poetry.

Message

a misleading term for theme; the centreal idea or statement of a story, or area of inquiry or explanation; misleading because it suggests a simple, packaged statement that pre-exists and for the simple communication of which the story is written.

Metaphor

one thing pictured as if it were something else, suggesting likeness or analogy between them. It is an implicit comparison or identification of one thing with another unlike itself without the use of verbal signals such as like or as. Sometimes the term metaphor is used as a general term for figure of speech.

Meter

the more or less regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry. This is determined by the kind of "foot" (iambic or dactylic, for example) and by the number of feet per line (five feet = pentameter, six feet = hexameter, for example)

Metonymy

a figure of speech in which an attribute or commonly associated feature is used to name or designate something.

Mood

a feeling or ambience resulting from the tone of a piece as well as the writer/narrator's attitude and point of view. This effect is fabricated through descriptions of feelings or objects that establish a sense of fear, patriotism, sanctity, hope, etc.

Motif

a recurrent device, formula, or situation that often serves as a signal for the appearance of a character or event.

Narrative structure

a textual organization based on sequences of connected events, usually presented in a straightforward, chronological framework.

Narrator

the "character" who "tells" the story, or in poetry, the persona.

Occasional poem

a poem written about or for a specific occasion, public or private.

Ode

a lyric poem that is somewhat serious in subject and treatment, elevated in style and sometimes uses elaborate stanza structure, which is often patterned in sets of three. Odes are written to praise and exalt a person, characteristic, quality or object.

Omniscient point of view

also called unlimited focus: a perspective that can be seen from one character's view, then another's, then another's, or can be moved in or out of the mind of any character at any time. The reader has access to the perceptions and thoughts of all the characters in the story.

Onomatopoeia

a word capturing or approximating the sound of what it describes. The purpose of these words is to make a passage more effective for the reader or listener.

Overstatement

exaggerated language; also called hyperbole.

Oxymoron

a figure of speech that combines two apparently contradictory elements, sometimes resulting in a humorous image or statement.

Parable

a short fiction that illustrates an explicit moral lesson throught the use of analogy.

Paradox

a statement that seems contradictory but may actually be true.

Parallel structure

the use of similar forms in writing for nouns, verbs, phrasesm or throughts. Good writers rely on parallel structure to maintain balance and symmetry.

Parody

a work that imitates another work for comic effect by exaggerating the style and changing the content of the original.

Pastoral

a work (also called an ecologue, a bucolic, or an idyll) that describes the simple life of country folk, usually shepherds who live a timeless, painless (and sheepless) life in a world full of beauty, music, and love.

Periodic sentence

a sentence which is not grammatically complete until the end.

Persona

the voice or figure of the author who tells and structures the story and who may nor may not share the values of the actual author.

Personification

treating an abstraction or nonhuman object as if it were a person by endowing it with human qualities.

Petrarchan sonnet

also called Italian sonnet: a sonnet form that divides the poem into one section of eight lines (octave) and a second section of six lines (sestet), usually following the abba abba ced ced rhyme scheme though the sestet's rhyme varies.

Plot

the arrangement of the narration based on the cause-effect relationship of the events

Protagonist

the main character in a work, who may or may not be a hero.

Quatrain

a poetic stanza of four lines

Realism

the practice in literature of attempting to describe nature and life without idealization and with attention to detail.

Refrain

a repeated stanza or line(s) in a poem or song.

Rising action

the development of action in a work, usually at the beginning. The first part of plot structure.

Rhetorical question

a question that is asked simply for stylistic effect and is not expected to be answered.

Rhyme

the repetition of the same or similar sounds, most often at the ends of lines.

Rhythm

the modulation of weak and strong (stressed and unstressed elements in the flow of speech.

Sarcasm

a form of verbal irony in which apparent praise is actually harshly or bitterly critical.

Satire

a literary work that holds up human failings to ridicule and censure.

Scansion

the analysis of verse to show its meter.

Setting

the time and place of the action in a story, poem, or play.

Shakespearean sonnet

also called an English sonnet: a sonnet form that divides the poem into three units of four lines each and a final unit of two lines, usually abab cdcd efef gg.

Shaped verse

another name for concrete poetry: poetry that is shaped to look like an object.

Simile

a direct, explicit comparison of one thing to another, usually using the words "like" or "as" to draw the connection.

Soliloquy

a monologue in which the character in a play is alone and speaking only to himself or herself.

Speaker

the person, not necessarily the author, who is the voice of the poem.

Stanza

a section of a poem demarcated by extra line spacing. Some distinguish a stanza, a division marked by a single pattern of meter or rhyme, from a verse paragraph, a division marked by thought rather than pattern, not unlike a paragraph in prose writing. Stanzas can be identified by the number of their lines.

Couplet

two lines

Tercet

three lines

Quatrain

four lines

Cinquain

five lines

Sestet

six lines

Heptatich

seven lines

Octave

eight lines

Stereotype

a characterization based on concious or unconscious assumptions that some one aspect, such as gender, age, ethnic or national identity, religion, occupation, marital status, and so on, are predictably accompanied by certain character traits, actions, even values. In literature, stereotyped or stock characters are often used to fulfill a particular purpose of the author. Sometimes an author will create a main character that actually represents all of us. This would be an Everyman character, based on the medieval morality play, Everyman.

Stock Character

one who appears in a number of stories or plays such as the cruel stepmother, the femme fatale, etc.

Style

a distinctive manner of expression; each author's style is expressed through his or her diction, rhythm, imagery, and so on. It is a writer's typical way of writing. Style includes word choice, tone, degree of formaility, figurative language, rhythm, grammar, structure, sentence length, organization, and every other feature of a writer's use of language.

symbolism

a person, place, thing, event, or pattern in a literary work that designates itself and at the same time figuratively represents or "stands for" something else. Often the thing or idea represented is more abstract, general, nor- or superrational that the symbol, which is more concrete and particular.

Synecdoche

when a part is used to signify a whole.

Syntax

the way words are put together to form phrases, clauses, and sentences. Syntax is sentence structure and how it influences the way the reader receives a particualr piece of writing.

Terza rima

a verse form consisting of three-line stanzas in which the second line of each rhymes with the first and third of the next.

Theme

a generalized, abstract paraphrase of the inferred central or dominant idea or concern of a work; the statement a poem makes about its subject.

Tone

the attitude a literary work takes toward its subject and theme; the tenor of a piece of writing based on particular stylistic devices employed by the writer. Tone reflects the narrator's attitude.

Tragedy

a drama in which a character (usually good and noble and of high rank) is brought to a disastrous end in his or her confrontation with a superior force. Often the protagonist's downfall is a direct result of a fatal flaw in his or her character.

Trochaic

a metrical foot in poetry that is the opposite of iambic. The first syllable is stressed, the second is not.

Turning point

the third part of plot structure, the point at which the action stops rising and begins falling or reversing. Sometimes referred to as the climax of the story.

Villanelle

a verse form consisting of nineteen lines divided into six stanzas - five tercets (three-line stanzas) and one quatrain (four-line stanza). The first and third line of the first tercet rhyme, and this rhyme is repeated through each of the next four tercets and in the last two lines of the concluding quatrain.

Voice

the acknowledged or unacknowledged source of the words of the story; the speaker; the "person" telling the story or poem. When referring to voice in a literary passage, you should look closely at all the elements of the author's style and just how these elements come together in the particular piece of literature you are reading.

Zeugma

a figure of speech in which one word governs a series of succeeding words or phrases (ex: GIVE them thy fingers, me thy lips).

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