AP Literary Terms


Terms in this set (...)

stress on the syllables of the text
story or poem in which characters, settings, and events stand for other people or events or for abstract ideas or qualities
a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned
the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words
reference to someone or something that is known from history, literature, religion, politics, sports, science, or another branch of culture. An indirect reference to something (usually from literature, etc.)
opponent who struggles against or blocks the hero, or protagonist, in a story
Approximate Rhyme
a very stressed, or forced, rhyming scheme
a term used to describe a character's dialogue that is spoken, and heard by the audience, but is not heard by other characters in a work of literature, (usually a play)
the repetition of similar vowel sounds followed by different consonant sounds especially in words that are together
a poem or piece of music appropriate to the dawn or early morning. (sometimes also referred to as a"morning love song")
a poem or song narrating a story in short stanzas
Blank Verse
verse without rhyme, especially that which uses iambic pentameter
a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds
any interruption or break. (in Greek and Latin verse): a break between words within a metrical foot. (A pause near the middle of a line)
a type of story/style of writing that releases an emotional discharge in order to portray a feeling of relief of stress
A song or a group of singer that perform during a play or tragedy; A group of characters from a Greek tragedy; A musical composition usually in four or more parts written for a large number of singers
the most intense, exciting, or important point of something; a culmination or apex.
(Shakespearean): a play or work of literature in which the main character, or protagonist achieves his goal. (modern): a type of entertainment
a struggle between two or more characters or objects (e.g. protagonist vs. antagonist)
the non-literal, associative meaning of a word; the implied, suggested meaning. Connotations may involve ideas, emotions, or attitudes
Consonance- a literary device in which a consonant sound is repeated in words that are in close proximity. The repeated sound can appear anywhere in the words, (unlike in alliterations)
a successive pair of lines in a poem. (two lines that follow each other)
Denotation- the actual dictionary definition of a word
the conclusion or resolution of a work of literature, comes after the falling action
Didactic Poetry
a form of poetry intended for instruction such as to give out knowledge or to teach
a rhetorical device in which a conflicting situation arises for a person to choose between right and wrong
a form of literature that is written in honor of someone deceased. Is usually a poem or song in the form of elegiac couplets
End Rhyme
in a poem, the final, rhyming couplet.
English/Shakespearean Sonnet- a small or little song or lyric. In poetry, a sonnet has 14 fourteen lines and is written in iambic pentameter
a form of poem, often written in blank verse, lengthy in size in which poet shows protagonist in action of historical significance or great mythic
Escape Literature
literature that is written primarily for entertainment purposes, (to be read in order to "escape" out of daily life)
Euphony- the use of words and phrases that are distinguished as having a wide range of noteworthy melody or loveliness in the sounds they create. It gives pleasing and soothing effects to the ears due to repeated vowels and smooth consonants.
Extended Metaphor- a comparison between two unlike things that continues throughout a series of sentences in a paragraph or lines in a poem (rather than being just one, single-line metaphor).
Falling Action- the parts of a story after the climax and before the very end.
Farce- a literary genre and the type of a comedy that makes the use of highly exaggerated and funny situations aimed at entertaining the audience
Just read the term - it'll tell you. (To be completed later).
Free Verse- a literary device that can be defined as poetry that is free from limitations of regular meter or rhythm and does not rhyme with fixed forms.
Hyperbole- a figure of speech, which involves an exaggeration of ideas for the sake of emphasis.
Italian/Petrarchan Sonnet- A type of sonnet in which the rhyme scheme has a set of first eight lines (called an octet) that rhymes as abba -abba -cdc-dcd. The remaining six lines called sestet might have a range of rhyme schemes.
Metaphor- a figure of speech which makes an implicit, implied or hidden comparison between two things or objects.
Motif- an object or idea that repeats itself throughout a literary work.
Motivation- the reasons behind why characters/objects in works of literature do what they do, whether it be Extrinsic (influenced by some physical reward) or Intrinsic (influenced by some internal reward, such as knowledge or good health).
Narrator- the person or character telling the story, whether it be 1st-, 2nd-, or 3rd-person POV.
Octave- in a poem or song, an 8-line stanza.
Onomatopoeia- a figure of speech in which natural sounds are imitated in the sounds of words. Simple examples include such words as buzz, hiss, hum, crack, whinny, and murmur. If you note examples of onomatopoeia in an essay passage, note the effect.
Parable- a figure of speech, which presents a short story that uses symbols, similes, and/or metaphors in order to teach a moral lesson or theme.
Paradox- a statement that appears to be self-contradictory or opposed to common sense but upon closer inspection contains some degree of truth or validity. ("It was the best of times, it was the worst of times").
Parody- a work that closely imitates the style or content of another with the specific aim of comic effect and/or ridicule.
Personification- a figure of speech in which the author presents or describes concepts, animals, or inanimate objects by endowing them with human attributes or emotions.
Playwright- someone who writes plays.
Plot- the series of related events in a story or play, sometimes called the storyline.
Protagonist- a protagonist is the central character or leading figure in poetry, narrative, novel or any other story. A protagonist struggles against or blocks the enemy, or antagonist.
Quatrain- a poem or verse of a poem that has four lines, as well as its own separate theme.
Realism- the movement or style of representing familiar things as they actually are, or as accurately as possible.
Refrain- a verse, a line, a set, or a group of some lines that appears more than once, (and usually repeats) throughout a poem. Not to be confused with Chorus.
Rising Action- a related series of incidents in a literary plot that build toward the point of greatest interest.
Satire- Satire is a technique employed by writers to expose and criticize foolishness and corruption of an individual or a society by using humor, irony, exaggeration or ridicule. It intends to improve humanity by criticizing its follies and foibles.
Scansion- refers to the rhythm of, or the action of scanning the rhythm of, a line of verse/poetry.
Sestet- a type of poetical stanza, usually referring to the last six lines of a sonnet.
Setting- an environment or surrounding in which an event or story takes place.
Shaped Verse (Concrete Poetry)- a poem that forms a picture of the topic or follows the contours of a shape that is suggested by the topic.
Simile- a figure of speech that makes a direct comparison between to objects using words such as "like" or "as"
Soliloquy- a popular literary device often used in drama to reveal the innermost thoughts of a character, and in doing so, will also help to identify the character indirectly.
Speaker- a person who speaks, usually gives out information or dictates a speech. Similar to, although can be different from, narrator.
Stanza- in a poem, a division of four or more lines having fixed length, meter, and/or rhyming scheme.
Style- the way a writer writes and it is the technique which an individual author uses in his writing. It varies from author to author and depends upon one's syntax, word choice, and tone.
Suspense- sense of uncertainty or anxiety of what will happen later in a story.
Symbol- a thing that represents or stands for something else, especially a material object representing something abstract.
Terza rima- a rhyming verse stanza form that consists of an interlocking three-line rhyme scheme.
Theme- a main idea or an underlying meaning of a literary work that may be stated directly or indirectly.
Tone- an attitude of a writer toward a subject or an audience. Tone is generally conveyed through the choice of words or the viewpoint of a writer on a particular subject.
Tragedy- (Shakespearean): a play or work of literature in which the main character, or protagonist is unable to achieve his goal. (modern): an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe.

Types of Irony
Irony- is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words. It can be a situation that turns out as the opposite of what is expected, or in general can mean the difference between appearance and reality.
Verbal Irony- iron that occurs when a speaker speaks something contradictory to what he intends to. It is an intentional product of the speaker and is contradictory to his/her emotions and actions.
Dramatic Irony- a useful plot device (and a type of irony) for creating situations where audience knows more about the situations, the causes of conflicts and their resolutions before leading characters or actors. That is why the readers observe that the speech of actors takes on unusual meanings
Situational Irony- irony that occurs when incongruity appears between expectations of something to happen, and what actually happens instead. Thus, the outcome is different from what the audience is expecting.

Types of Characters
Characterization- a literary device that is used step by step in literature to highlight and explain the details about a character in a story.
Dynamic Character- characters that undergo many specific changes throughout a work, to show character development. Opposite of a Flat Character.
Round Character- a character who is complicated throughout the story and may even sometimes surprise the reader. A character who is well-developed, well-rounded. (eg. Harry Potter from the Harry Potter Series). Opposite of a Static Character.
Flat Character- characters with no "depth", and no or little personality is ever identified from these characters, and will probably never will.
Static Character- characters that are "2 dimensional" and do not change at all during the course of an entire work. Opposite of a Dynamic Character.
Foil Character- characters used in order to be contrasted with other characters (typically the protagonist) in order to highlight certain characteristics off of each character.
Stock Character- characters who are seen and identified as stereotypical people, as well as are also usually Flat Characters.

Types of Situations
Dramatic Situation- a situation, in a narrative or dramatic work, in which characters or objects are involved in conflicts that try to get the audience to understand and feel bad for the characters going through the conflict.
Just read the term - it'll tell you. (To be completed later).