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15 terms

Literary and Rhetorical Terms 1

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Allegory
An extended narrative that carries a second meaning along with the surface story. The second meaning usually involves incarnations of abstract ideas.
Alliteration
The repetition of accented consonant sounds either at the beginning of words (or a stressed syllable within a word) that are close to each other.
Allusion
A reference in literature to previous literature, history, mythology, pop culture, or especially the Bible.
Ambiguity
The quality of being intentionally unclear. Makes the situation able to be interpreted in more than one way. For example, when Hamlet says to Ophelia :get thee to a nunnery: is he literally urging her to go to a convent or is he calling her a whore?
American Renaissance
The writing of the peiod before the Civil War, Beginning with Emerson and Thoreau and the Transcendentalist movement including Whitman, Hawthorne, and Melville. These writers are essentially Romantics of a distinctively American stripe.
Anachronism
In a literary work, something placed in an inappropriate period in time e. g. a clock with hands in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Often, but not always, a mistake on the part of the author
Analogy
A comparison, usually extended, of two different things
Anaphora
The repetition of an identical word or group of words in successive verses or clauses:
I gaver her cakes and I gave her Ale,
I gave her sack and Sherry
I kissed her once and I kissed her twice,
And we were wonderous merry
Anastrophe
The inversion of normal word order to achieve a particular effect, usually rhyme or meter
Anecdote
A brief account of a story about an individual or incident
Antagonist
A character who functions as a resisting force to the goals of the protagonist, without association of good or evil e.g. the creature in Fankenstein.
Anticlimax
A drop, often sudden and unexpected, from a dignified or important idea or situation to one that is trivial or humorous. Also, a sudden descent from something sublime to something ridiculous.
Antihero
A protagonist who carries the action of the literary piece but does not embody the classic characteristics of courage, strength, and nobility.
Antithesis
A rhetorical opposition or contrast of ideas expressed within a balanced grammatical structure, "They promised freedom but provided slavery."
Aphorism
A short pithy statement of a truth or accepted doctrine.