Literary Terms for Test
Terms in this set (97)
A form of extended metaphor in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative are equated with meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The underlying meaning may have moral, social, religious, or political significance, and characters are often personifications of abstract ideas such as charity, greed, or envy.
The repetition of initial sounds in neighboring words.
An implied or indirect reference in literature to a familiar person, place, or event.
The process or result of identifying the parts of a whole and their relationships to one
A word that is the opposite in meaning to another word.
The position or claim the author establishes. Arguments should be supported with valid evidence and reasoning and balanced by the inclusion of counterarguments that illustrate opposing viewpoints.
The author's intent either to inform or teach someone about something, to
entertain people or to persuade or convince his/her audience to do or not do something.
The subtle presence of a positive or negative approach toward a topic
A written account of another person's life.
A person, animal or inanimate object portrayed in a literary work.
The method an author uses to reveal characters and their various traits and personalities (e.g., direct, indirect).
The turning point in a narrative; the moment when the conflict is at its most intense. Typically, the structure of stories, novels, and plays is one of rising action, in which tension builds to the climax.
Place together characters, situations, or ideas to show common and/or differing features in literary selections.
A struggle or clash between opposing characters, forces, or emotions.
The range of associations that a word or phrase suggests in addition to its dictionary
Words and phrases in a sentence, paragraph, and/or whole text, which help reason out
the meaning of an unfamiliar word.
The generally accepted importance of a work representing a given culture.
Defense of a Claim Support provided to mark an assertion as reasonable.
A variety of a language distinct from the standard variety in pronunciation, grammar, or
In its widest sense, dialogue is simply conversation between characters or speakers in a
literary work; in its most restricted sense, it refers specifically to the speech of characters in a drama.
An author's choice of words, phrases, sentence structures and figurative language, which
combine to help create meaning and tone.
Distinguish, tell apart, and recognize differences between two or more items.
The genre of literature represented by works intended for the stage; a work to be performed by
actors on stage, radio, or television; play
The written text of a play, which includes the dialogue between characters, stage
directions and often other expository information
To make a judgment or decision based on reasoning rather than direct or implicit
Elements of Fiction
Traits that mark a work as imaginative or narrative discourse (e.g., plot, theme,
Elements of Nonfiction
Traits that mark a work as reportorial, analytical, informative or
argumentative (e.g., facts, data, charts, graphics,headings).
Examine and judge carefully. To judge or determine the significance, worth or quality of
something; to assess.
To make understandable, plain or clear.
Clearly expressed or fully stated in the actual text.
A narrative device, often used at the beginning of a work that provides necessary
background information about thecharacters and their circumstances.
A piece of information provided objectively, presented as true.
The part of a literary plot that is characterized by diminishing tensions and the
resolution of the plot's conflicts andcomplications.
Any story that is the product of imagination rather than a documentation of fact. Characters
and events in such narratives may be based in real life, but their ultimate form and configuration is a
creation of the author.
Language that cannot be taken literally since it was written to create a special
effect or feeling.
The "first person" or "personal" point of view relates events as they are perceived by a
single character. The narrating character may offer opinions about the action and characters that differ
from those of the author.
An organizational device used in literature to present action that occurred before current
(present) time of the story. Flashbacks are often introduced as the dreams or recollections of one or
The center of interest or attention.
An organizational device used in literature to create expectation or to set up an
explanation of later developments.
A conclusion drawn from specific information that is used to make a broad statement
about a topic or person.
A category used to classify literary works, usually by form, technique or content (e.g., prose,
Headings, Graphics and Charts
Any visual cues on a page of text that offer additional information
to guide the reader's comprehension. Headings typically are words or phrases in bold print that indicate
a topic or the theme of a portion of text; graphics may bephotographs, drawings, maps or any other
pictorial representation; charts (and tables or graphs) condense data into a series of rows, lines or other
An exaggeration or overstatement (e.g., I had to wait forever.)
Descriptive or figurative language in a literary work; the use of language to create sensory
Implicit =Though unexpressed in the actual text, meaning that may be understood by the
A judgment based on reasoning rather than on a direct or explicit statement. A conclusion
based on facts orcircumstances; understanding gained by "reading between the lines."
Nonfiction written primarily to convey factual information. Informational texts
comprise the majority of printed material adults read (e.g., textbooks, newspapers, reports, directions,
brochures, technical manuals).
To give reasons through an explanation to convey and represent the meaning or
understanding of a text.
The use of a word or phrase to mean the exact opposite of its literal or usual meaning;
incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the expected result.
Points of information in a text that strongly support the meaning or tell the
story. Statements that define, describe, or otherwise provide information about the topic, theme, or
Specific word choices in a text that strongly support the tone, mood, or meaning of the
Tool used by the author to enliven and provide voice to the text (e.g., dialogue,
An essential technique used in literature (e.g., characterization, setting, plot,
The overall structure or shape of a work that frequently follows an established design.
Forms may refer to a literary type (narrative, short story) or to patterns of meter, lines, and rhymes
A trend or pattern of shared beliefs or practices that mark an approach to literature (e.g.,
Realism, Naturalism, Romanticism).
Text that includes literary elements and devices usually associated with fiction to
report on actual persons, places, or events. Examples include nature and travel text, biography, memoir
and the essay.
The author's central thought; the chief topic of a text expressed or implied in a word or
phrase; the topic sentence of a paragraph.
The comparison of two unlike things in which no words of comparison (like or as) are used
(e.g., The speech gave me food for thought.)
An extended speech spoken by one speaker, either to others or as if alone.
The prevailing emotions or atmosphere of a work derived from literary devices such as dialogue
and literary elements such as setting. The mood of a work is not always what might be expected based
on its subject matter.
A recurring subject, theme, or idea in a literary work.
Words that have several meanings depending upon how they are used in a
A story, actual or fictional, expressed orally or in text.
A person, animal, or thing telling the story or giving an account of something.
Text that is not fictional; designed primarily to explain, argue, instruct or describe rather
than entertain. For the most part, its emphasis is factual.
A personal view, attitude, or appraisal.
An object or abstract idea given human qualities or human form (e.g., Flowers
danced about the lawn.)
The structure of a story. The sequence in which the author arranges events in a story. The
structure often includes the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the resolution. The plot may
have a protagonist who is opposed by an antagonist, creating what is called conflict.
In its broadest sense, text that aims to present ideas and evoke an emotional experience in the
reader through the use of meter, imagery and connotative and concrete words. Some poetry has a
carefully constructed structure based on rhythmic patterns. Poetry typically relies on words and
expressions that have several layers of meaning (figurative
language). It may also make use of the effects of regular rhythm on the ear and may make a
strongappeal to the sensesthrough the use of imagery.
Point of View
The position of the narrator in relation to the story, as indicated by the narrator's
outlook from which the events aredepicted (e.g., first person, third person limited, third person
omniscient, etc). The perspective from which a speaker or author recounts a narrative or presents
information. The author's manner in revealing characters, events, and ideas; the vantage point from
which a story is told.
Groups of letters placed before a word to alter its meaning.
Information aimed at positively or negatively influencing the opinions or behaviors of
large numbers of people.
Propaganda techniques and persuasive tactics are used to influence people
to believe, buy or do something. Students should be able to identify and comprehend the propaganda
techniques and persuasive tactics listed below.
an attack on a person instead of an issue.
tries to persuade the reader to do, think or buy something because it is popular or
because "everyone" is doing it.
an attempt to distract the reader with details not relevant to the argument.
tries to persuade the reader by using words that appeal to the reader's emotions
instead of to logic or reason.
attempts to persuade the reader by using a famous person to endorse a product or idea
(for instance, the celebrity endorsement).
attempts to persuade the reader by repeating a message over and over again.
Sweeping generalization (stereotyping) makes an oversimplified statement about a group based
on limited information.
states a conclusion as part of the proof of the argument.
Appeal to numbers, facts, or statistics
attempts to persuade the reader by showing how many
people think something is true.
The portion of a story following the climax in which the conflict is resolved. The resolution
of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey is neatly summed up in the following sentence: "Henry and
Catherine were married, the bells rang and everybody smiled."
The part of a story where the plot becomes increasingly complicated. Rising action leads
up to the climax, or turning Point
A literary approach that ridicules or examines human vice or weakness.
Various sentence structures, styles, and lengths that can enhance the rhythm of or
add emphasis to a piece of text. The presence of multiple sentence structures in a text (simple,complex,
compound, compound-complex) and/or varioussentence beginnings (e.g., dependent and independent
clauses, phrases, single words).
Sequence of Steps
A literary organizational form that presents the order in which tasks are to be
A dramatic speech, revealing inner thoughts and feelings, spoken aloud by one character
while alone on the stage.
Elements of literature that emphasize sound (e.g., assonance, consonance,
alliteration, rhyme, onomatopoeia).
A playwright's written instructions provided in the text of a play about the setting or
how the actors are to move and behave in a play.
The author's choices regarding language, sentence structure, voice, and tone in order to
communicate with the reader.
Groups of letters placed after a word to alter its meaning or change it into a different kind of
word, from an adjective to an adverb, etc.
A device in literature where an object represents an idea.
The ordering of words into meaningful verbal patterns such as phrases, clauses, and sentences.
The author's method of structuring a text; the way a text is structured
from beginning to end. In literary works, the structure could include flashback and foreshadowing, for
example. In nonfiction works, the structure could include
sequence, question-answer, cause-effect, etc.
A topic of discussion or work; a major idea broad enough to cover the entire scope of a literary work.
A perspective in literature, the "third person" point of view presents the events of the
story from outside of any single character's perception, much like the omniscient point of view, but the
reader must understand the action as it takes place and without any special insight into characters'
minds or motivations.
The attitude of the author toward the audience, characters, subject or the work itself (e.g.,
A character that symbolically embodies well-known meanings and basic human
experiences, regardless of when or where he/she lives (e.g., hero, villain, intellectual, dreamer).
The generally accepted importance or value of a work to represent human
experience regardless of culture or time period.