Semester Exam Literary Terms

38 terms by Prasi1

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paradox

A seemingly contradictory statement or situation which is actually true. This rhetorical device is often used for emphasis or simply to attract attention.

Resolution

The part of the story or drama where all the problems or mysteries of the plot are unraveled.

Suspense

The uncertainty or anxiety that a reader feels about what will happen next in a story, novel, or drama.

Hortative Sentence

sentence that exhorts, advises, calls to action

Epiphany

A major character's moment of realization or awareness.

Comic Relief

Humorous speeches and incidents in the course of the serious action of a tragedy; frequently comic relief widens and enriches the tragic significance of the work.

Cumulative sentence

a sentence in which the main independent clause is elaborated by the successive addition of modifying clauses or phrases

Dramatic Irony

When the reader is aware of an inconsistency between a fictional or non-fictional character's perception of a situation and the truth of that situation.

Mood

An atmosphere created by a writer's word choice (diction) and the details selected. Syntax is also a determiner of mood because sentence strength, length, and complexity affect pacing.

Symbol

A thing, event, or person that represents or stands for some idea or event. Symbols also simultaneously retain their own literal meanings. A figure of speech in which a concrete object is used to stand for an abstract idea, e.g., the cross for Christianity.

Catharsis

emotional purgation/cleansing

Flashback

Interruption in the present action of a plot to show events that happened at an earlier time.

Polysyndeton

the deliberate use of many conjunctions for special emphasis - to highlight quantity or mass of detail or to create a flowing continuous sentence pattern. It slows the pace of the sentence.

Epiphet

adj or other descriptive phrase regularly used to characterize a person, place, or thing

Idiom

An expression peculiar to a particular language that means something different from the literal meaning of the words.

Euphemism

The use of a word or phrase that is less direct, but that is also less distasteful or less offensive than another. e.g. "He is at rest" instead of "He is dead."

Perepetia

a turn of fate that leaves the tragic figure destitute

Parallelism

refers to a grammatical or structural similarity between sentences or parts of a sentence.

Juxtaposition

placing two elements side by side to present a comparison or contrast

Anecdote

A brief recounting of a relevant episode. Anecdotes are often inserted into fictional or non-fictional texts as a way of developing a point or injecting humor.

Style

The choices in diction, tone, and syntax that a writer makes. In combination they create a work's manner of expression. Style is thought to be conscious and unconscious and may be altered to suit specific occasions. Style is often habitual and evolves over time.

Asyndeton

a deliberate omission of conjunctions in a series of related clauses; it speeds the pace of the sentence.

Rhetorical Shift

A change from one tone, attitude, etc. Look for key words like but, however, even though, although, yet, etc.

Verisimilitude

The appearance of truth, actuality, or reality; what seems to be true in fiction.

Anaphora

the repetition of words or phrases at the beginning of consecutive lines or sentences

Tone

A writer's attitude toward his or her subject matter revealed through diction, figurative language, and organization of the sentence and global levels.

Theme

The central idea or ideas of a work of fiction or nonfiction, revealed and developed in the course of a story or explored through argument.

Prose

Any writing that is not poetry.

Hubris

Excessive pride

Antithesis

A balancing of two opposite or contrasting words, phrases, or clauses.

Inversion

constructing a sentence so the predicate comes before the subject. This creates an emphatic or rhythmic effect.

Non sequitur

a statement that does not follow logically from evidence

Ad hominem argument

an argument attacking an individual's character rather than his or her position on an issue.

Circular reasoning

Reasoning that ends and begins in the same place. No evidence is offered

Deductive reasoning

reasoning in which a conclusion is reached by stating a general principle and then applying that principle to a specific case

False analogy

When two cases are not sufficiently parallel to lead readers to accept a claim of connection between them.

Tautology

needless repetition of an idea by using different but equivalent words; a redundancy

Conceit

feelings of excessive pride (not hubris)

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