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A list of the most common drama terms used in a high school English II class.


one of the main divisions of a play or opera


short speech heard by the audience but not by the other characters in the play


a repetition of similar sounds, usually consonants or consonant characters, in a group of words


a person, or anything presented as a person, in a literary work


two consecutive lines of poetry that rhyme

closed couplet

A rhymed couplet forming a complete thought or syntactic unit


a literary work which is amusing and ends well


a story acted out, usually on a stage, by actors and actresses who take the parts of specific characters


a conversation between characters

stage directions

A playwright's descriptive or interpretive comments that provide readers (and actors) with information about the dialogue, setting, and action of a play


unrealistic devices or procedures that the reader (or audience) agrees to accept


An appendix (usually a concluding address) to a play


a character in a play who sets off the main character or other characters by comparison

figurative language

language that is not intended to be interpreted in a literal sense

figure of speech

an example of figurative language that states something is not literally true in order to create an effect

iambic pentameter

every line is ten syllables


language that appeals to any sense or any combination of senses

petrarchan sonnet

a fourteen-line lyric poem consisting of two parts: the octave (or first eight lines)and the sestet (or last six lines)


a literary type or form


a long, uninterrupted speech (in a narrative or drama) that is spoken in the presence of other characters

irony of situation

result of an action is the reverse of what the actor and audience expected

dramatic irony

the audience knows something that the characters in the drama do not

verbal irony

contrast is between the literal meaning of what is said and what is meant


usually, stanza or poem of four lines


the return of a work, phrase, stanza form, or effect in any form of literature

Shakespearean sonnet

a fourteen-line lyric poem consisting of three quatrains (four line stanzas) and a concluding couplet (two rhyming lines)


usually, the humorous use of a word or phrase to suggest two or more meanings at the same time


a division with no change of locale or abrupt shift of time


the last six lines or a Petrarchan sonnet


the first eight lines of a Petrarchan sonnet


scenery and staging of a dramatic production


a speech, usually lengthy, in which a character, along on stage, expresses his or her thoughts aloud


a fourteen-line lyric poem, usually written in rhymed iambic pentameter (in lines of ten syllables with a stress on every other syllable)


The spectacle a play presents in performance, including the position of actors on stage, the scenic background, the props and costumes, and the lighting and sound effects


a group of lines forming a unit in a poem

suspension of disbelief

a willingness to suspend one's critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment


in general, a literary work in which the central character meets an unhappy or disastrous end

tragic flaw

A weakness or limitation of character, resulting in the fall of the tragic hero


a comparison between two unlike things with the intent of giving added meaning to one of them

extended metaphor

a metaphor that is extended through a stanza or entire poem, often by multiple comparisons of unlike objects or ideas

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