Essential Terms: Characters

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AP English Literature and Composition essential terms for Mr. Pierce's class

antagonist

The character pitted against the protagonist of a work. Often the villain, but not always so.

antihero

A protagonist who does not exhibit the qualities of the traditional hero. Instead of being a grand or admirable figure, an antihero is all too ordinary and may even be petty or criminal.

caricature

An exaggeration or other distortion of an individual's prominent features or characteristics that makes the person appear ridiculous.

characterization

Refers to the various means by which an author describes and develops the characters in a literary work.

comic relief

A humorous scene or passage inserted into an otherwise serious work. Comic relief often takes the form of a character.

confidant

A character who plays only a minor role, but serves the protagonist as a trusted friend to whom he or she confesses intimate thoughts, problems, and feelings.

dialect

A way of speaking or using a language that is particular to a geographic region or social group and that varies considerably from the predominant speech and usage within the language.

dialogue

Conversation between two or more characters.

dichotomy

The splitting of a whole into two non-overlapping parts. The term often used to examine conflicting attitudes or behaviors of a character.

epithet

An adjective or phrase applied to a character to accentuate a particular characteristic.

flat character

A character that does not undergo any significant emotional, ideological or spiritual transformation.

foil

A character whose contrast with the protagonist serves to accentuate the protagonist's qualities or characteristics.

hubris

Excessive pride that often leads to a character's downfall.

monologue

An extended narrative delivered uninterrupted and exclusively by one person.

persona

The speaker in a literary work, often a first-person narrator.

protagonist

The main character in a work, often a hero but not exclusively so.

round character

A character that undergoes a significant emotional, ideological, or spiritual transformation.

soliloquy

A monologue delivered by a character while alone that reveals inner thoughts, emotions, or other information.

stock character

An established, instantly recognizable character type to whom the reader ascribes specific characteristics by virtue of convention.

tragic hero

A character in a tragedy that evokes both pity and terror. A morally elevated character that suffers a change in fortune from happiness to misery because of his or her own mistaken action or choice.

voice

The manner of expression of the speaker(or narrator) in a work.

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