113 terms

Cracking the AP English Literature Exam 2013: Literary Terms

from the book by the Princeton Review
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accent
the stessed portion of a word
Not all poetry has a clear ______.
aesthetic, aesthetics
As an adjective, it means "appealing to the senses." As a noun, it is a coherent sense of taste.
allegory
a story in which each aspect of the story has a symbolic meaning outside the tale itself
alliteration
the repetition of initial consonant sounds
allusion
a reference to another work or famous figure
It may be classical, topical, or popular.
anachronism
derived from Greek
means "misplaced in time"
analogy
a comparison usually involving two or more symbolic parts that is employed to clarify an action or a relationship
anecdote
a short narrative
antecedent
the word, phrase, or clause that a pronoun refers to or replaces
anthropomorphism
when inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomena are given human characteristics, behavior, or motivation but are NOT given human form
anticlimax
when an action produces far smaller results than one had been led to expect
antihero
a protagonist who is markedly unheroic: morally weak, cowardly, dishonest, etc.
aphorism
a short and usually witty saying
apostrophe
an address to someone not present, or to a personified object or idea
aside
a speech (usually just a short comment) made by an actor to the audience, as though momentarily stepping outside of the action on stage
aspect
a trait or characteristic
assonance
the repeated use of vowel sounds
atmosphere
the emotional tone or background of a scene
ballad
a long, narrative poem, usually in very regular meter and rhyme
typically has a naive folksy quality
bathos
when writing strains for grandeur it can't support and tries to elicit tears from every little hiccup
pathos
when the writing of a scene evokes feelings of dignified pity and sympathy
black humor
the use of disturbing themes in comedy
bombast
pretentious, exaggeratedly learned language
burlesque
interchangeable with "parody"
cacophony
using deliberately harsh, awkward sounds
cadence
the beat or rhythm of poetry in a general sense
canto
the name for a division in a long work of poetry
caricature
a portrait (verbal or otherwise) that exaggerates a facet of personality
catharsis
the "cleansing" of emotion an audience member experiences, having lived (vicariously) through the experiences presented on stage
chorus
in drama, the group of citizens who stand outside the main action on stage and comment on it
classic
as an adjective, it means "typical"
as a noun, it means an accepted masterpiece
coinage (neologism)
a new word, usually one invented on the spot
colloquialism
word or phrase used in everyday conversational English that isn't a part of accepted "schoolbook" English
complex/dense
it suggests that there is more than one possibility in the meaning of words (image, idea, opposition)
subtleties and variations
multiple layers of interpretation
the meaning is both explicit and implicit
conceit
a startling or unusual metaphor, or a metaphor developed and expanded upon over several lines
connotation
everything that the word suggests or implies
denotation
the literal meaning of a word
consonance
the repetition of consonant sounds within words
couplet
a pair of lines that end in rhyme
diction
the author's choice of words
syntax
the ordering and structuring of the words
dirge
a song for the dead
dissonance
the grating of incompatible sounds
doggerel
crude, simplistic verse, often in sing-song rhyme
dramatic irony
when the audience knows something the characters in the drama do not
dramatic monologue
when a single speaker in literature says something to a silent audience
elegy
a type of poem that meditates on death or mortality in a serious, thoughtful manner
elements
the basic techniques of each genre of literature
enjambment
the continuation of a syntactic unit from one line or couplet of a poem to the next with no pause
epic
a very long narrative poem on a serious theme in a dignified style
epitaph
lines that commemorate the dead at their burial place
may be written on a tombstone or spoken at a funeral
euphemism
a word or phrase that takes the place of harsh, unpleasant, or impolite reality
explicit
to say or write something directly and clearly
farce
extremely broad humor
feminine rhyme
lines rhymed by their final two syllables ("running" and "gunning")
foil
a secondary character whose purpose is to highlight the characteristics of a man character, usually by contrast
foot
the basic rhythmic unit of a line of poetry
foreshadowing
an event or statement in a narrative that suggests, in miniature, a larger event that comes later
free verse
poetry written without a regular rhyme scheme or metrical pattern
genre
a subcategory of literature
gothic/gothic novel
gloomy and suspenseful novels popular in the 18th century
the sensibility derived from these novels
hubris
the excessive pride or ambition that leads to the main character's downfall
hyperbole
exaggeration or deliberate overstatement
implicit
to say or write something that suggests and implies but never says it directly or clearly
in medias res
Latin for "in the midst of things"
interior monologue
writing that records the mental talking that goes on inside a character's head
tends to be coherent, as though the character were actually talking
inversion
switching the customary order of elements in a sentence or phrase
irony
a statement that means the opposite of what it seems to mean
has an undertone of meaning that seems to ask "Do you understand what I really mean?"
lament
a poem of sadness or grief over the death of a loved one or over some other intense loss
lampoon
a satire
loose sentence
sentence that is complete before its end
periodic sentence
sentence that is not complete until it has reached its final phrase
lyric
a type of poetry that explores the poet's personal interpretation of and feelings about the world
when it describes tone, it refers to a sweet, emotional melodiousness
masculine rhyme
a rhyme ending on the final stressed syllable (a regular rhyme)
melodrama
a form of cheesy theater in which the hero is very, very good, the villain mean and rotten, and the heroine oh-so-pure
metonym
a word that is used to stand for something else that it has attributes of or is associated with
nemesis
the protagonist's archenemy or supreme and persistent difficulty
onomatopoeia
words that sounds like what they mean
opposition
a pair of elements that contrast sharply but that do not make a "conflict"
the stronger the differences in the images, the more striking and informative the effect
oxymoron
a phrase composed of opposites; a contradiction
parable
like a fable or an allegory, a story that instructs
paradox
a situation or statement that seems to contradict itself, but on closer inspection, does not
parallelism
repeated syntactical similarities used for effect
paraphrase
to restate phrases and sentence in your own words; to rephrase
parenthetical phrase
a phrase set off by commas that interrupts the flow of a sentence with some commentary or added detail
pastoral
a poem set in a tranquil nature, or even more especially, one about shepherds
persona
the narrator in a non-first-person novel
the author's personality that manipulates the reader's impressions of the book
personification
giving an inanimate object human qualities or FORM
point of view
the perspective from which the action of a novel (or narrative poem) is presented
omniscient narrator
third-person narrator who sees, like god, into each character's mind and understands all the action going on
limited omniscient narrator
third-person narrator who generally reports only what one character (usually the main character) sees, and who only reports the thoughts of that one privileged character
objective (camera-eye) narrator
third-person narrator who only reports on what would be visible to a camera
does not know what the character is thinking unless the character speaks of it
first-person narrator
a character in the story who tells the tale from his or her point of view
stream of consciousness technique
like first-person narration but, instead of the character telling the story, the author places the reader inside the main character's head and makes the reader privy to all of the character's thoughts as they scroll through her consciousness
prelude
an introductory poem to a longer work of verse
protagonist
the main character of a novel or play
pun
the usually humorous use of a word in such a way to suggest two or more meanings
refrain
a line or set of lines repeated several times over the course of a poem
requiem
a song of prayer for the dead
rhetorical question
a question that suggests an answer
satire
exposes common character flaws to the cold light of humor
usually attempts to improve things by pointing our people's mistakes in the hope that once exposed, such behavior will become less common
soliloquy
a speech spoken by a character alone on stage
meant to convey the impression that the audience is listening to the character's thoughts
the actor does not acknowledge the audience's presence
stanza
a group of lines in verse, roughly analogous in function to the paragraph in prose
suggest
to imply, infer, indicate
summary
a simple retelling of what has just been read
suspension of disbelief
the demand made of a theater audience to accept the limitations of staging and supply the details with imagination
the acceptance on an audience's or reader's part of the incidents of plot in a play or story
symbolism
a device in literature where an object represents an idea
technique
the methods and tools of the author
theme
the main idea of the overall work; the central idea
the topic of discourse or discussion
thesis
the main position of an argument
the central contention that will be supported
tragic flaw
in a tragedy, this is the weakness of character in an otherwise good (or even great) individual that ultimately leads to his demise
travesty
a grotesque parody
utopia
an idealized place
imaginary communities in which people are able to live in happiness, prosperity, and peace