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Epic Hero

a character involved in heroic battles. Most undertake quests to achieve something of tremendous value to themselves or their society


repetition of initial consonant sounds (ie: window wiper; mighty man)


repetition of vowel sounds in the middle or end of words


repetition of consonant sounds in the middle or end of words


a comparison using like or as


comparison of two unlike things not using like or as


a brief indirect reference to a person, place, thing, or idea. In Beowulf, there are several Biblical allusions


vivid description using the 5 senses, description that appeals to the senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste)


Renaming a person or thing by their qualities or actions, a metaphorical description (ie: bone-house = body; whale-road = sea; ring-giver = lord; flashing-light = sword)


a break in the middle of a line of Old English poetry


a poem which is a funeral song or lament

Christian allusion

a reference to Biblical figures or stories

Pagan allusion

a reference to mythological figures or stories (gods and goddesses, demons or Monsters, heroes)


a reference to major literary works or characters

Epic Poem

Long narrative poem presented in an elevated style (poetic language: figures of speech), Supernatural beings (in Christian epic: God; in pagan epic: gods and goddesses), Begins in the middle of the action: in medias res, Begins with an Invocation (generally, to one of the Muses), Covers a vast scope of time and place and focuses on characters of noble birth,Concerns a central conflict that involves a person's or nation's fate, Has a hero figure with extraordinary abilities, Includes a catalogue effect (in Beowulf, the lists of gifts awarded to the hero)


a comparison between two unlike things using like, as, than, similar to, resembles or seems (Example His fist seems a mighty hammer.)


Hints beforehand of what is to come

Verbal Irony

What is meant is the opposite of what is said, sarcasm can be a form of it

Situational Irony

What actually happens is opposite of what is expected or appropriate


a poem which tells a story

Narrative Digression

The narrator departs from the central story or plot line to tell a related story that serves as a point of comparison or contrast. In Beowulf, this is a method of showing rather than telling. Careful readers will note how the many digressions in the poem serve to advance theme.

Narrative Intrusion

The narrator interrupts the flow of the story to express a personal opinion or to comment on the action of the story.

First person

The narrator is a character in the work narrating the action as he or she perceives and understands it

Third person omniscient

The narrator is outside the action and all-knowing and can see into the mind of more than one character.

Third person limited

The narrator only has insight into the perspective of one or a few characters. The reader learns only knows exterior action and what that character thinks, feels, explores, or experiences.


An Old English poet or bard, counterpart of the Old Norse skald.


The writer's or speaker's attitude toward the subject


The central idea of a literary work

Extended metaphor

The comparison between two things is continued beyond the first point of comparison. This extends and deepens a description.


the speaker, voice, or character assumed by the author of a piece of writing


form of literature in which irony, sarcasm, and ridicule are employed to attack human vice and folly

Frame Narrative

a story within a story

Direct Characterization

the author directly states a character's personality traits

Indirect Characterization

the character is revealed through their personality, appearance, words, actions, and effect on others

Unreliable Narrator

a narrator whose account of events appears to be faulty, misleadingly biased, or otherwise distorted

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