50 terms

Honors English II Literary Terms

Honors English 9 & 10 literary Terms
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Apostrophe
A figure of speech where the speaker speaks directly to something nonhuman. This term gives the character the opportunity to think aloud.
Aside
A device in which a character in a drama makes a short speech which is heard by the audience but not by the other characters in the play.
Catharsis
Meaning "purgation," this term describes the release of the emotions of pity and fear by the audience at the end of a tragedy.
Comedy
A literary work which is amusing and ends happily.
Enjambment
"To straddle or bestride" -- a linguistic unit moves into or "straddles" the next line before its meaning is completed.
Genre
A recognizable and established category of written work employing such common conventions as will prevent readers or audiences from mistaking it [with] another kind.
Hyperbole
A figure of speech in which an overstatement or exaggeration is used for deliberate effect.
Irony
A device that depends on the existence of at least two separate and contrasting levels of meaning embedded in one message. Verbal irony occurs when someone says one thing and means another. It is similar to sarcasm. Situational irony occurs when a character or reader expects one thing to happen and something entirely different occurs. Dramatic irony refers to the contrast between what the reader or the audience and what the character knows.
Malapropism
An incorrect usage of a word, usually with comic effect.
Meter
In English poetry -- rhythms of stressed and unstressed syllables-- iambic, trochaic, spondaic, anapestic, dactylic --
Scansion
The analysis of a poem's meter - usually done by marking stressed and unstressed syllables in each line and then, based on the pattern of the stresses, dividing the line into feet.
Tone
The writer's attitude toward the material and/or the reader.
Theme
The abstract concept explored in a literary work, or frequently recurring ideas, or repetition of a meaningful element in a work.
Tragic flaw
The character flaw or error of a tragic hero that leads to his downfall or error; also means any disproportion in the character's makeup that leads to downfall; also known as hamartia
Allusion
An indirect or passing reference to some event, person, place, or artistic work, the nature of which is not explained by the writer but relies on the reader's familiarity with what is thus mentioned.
Antagonist
The character, force, or collection of forces in fiction or drama that opposes the protagonist and gives rise to the conflict in the story.
Archetype
A term used to describe universal symbols that evoke deep and sometimes unconscious responses in a reader.
Climax
The decisive moment in a drama -- the turning point to which the rising action leads.
Hubris
A common theme in Greek tragedies and mythology -- excessive pride or arrogance.
Idiom
A specialized vocabulary used by a group of people, jargon.
Imagery
The collection of images within a literary work used to evoke atmosphere, mood, tension.
In media res
In or into the middle of a sequence of events.
Metaphor
A type of figurative language in which, for the purposes of exploring a common, shared quality, a statement is made that says that one thing is something else, but literally, it is not.
Monologue
Thoughts of a single person, directed outward.
Personification
A figure of speech where animals, ideas, or inorganic objects are given human characteristics.
Point of view
The way the events of a story are conveyed to a reader -- the vantage point from which the narrative is passed from author to reader.
Protagonist
The central character in a literary work.
Soliloquy
A dramatic or literary form of discourse in which a character talks to himself or herself or reveals his/her thoughts without addressing a listener.
Tragedy
A serious play in which the chief figures, by some peculiarity of character, pass through a series of misfortunes leading to a final, devastating catastrophe
Alliteration
Repetition of the same sound beginning several words in a sequence
Comic Relief
The inclusion of humorous scenes or characters in a serious drama. Writers use it to ease the building emotional intensity.
Couplet
A pair of rhyming lines, usually of the same length and meter. It generally expresses a single idea.
Figurative Language
Writing or speech not meant to be interpreted literally. It is often used to create vivid impressions by setting up comparisons between dissimilar things.
Foreshadowing
The use in a literary work of clues that suggest events that have yet to occur. Use of this technique helps to create suspense.
Oxymoron
A phrase consisting of words that seem the opposite in meaning, such as "sweet sorrow".
Pun
A play on words based on different meanings of words that sound alike.
Simile
A figure of speech in which like or as is used to make a comparison between two basically unlike ideas. "Claire is as flighty as a sparrow"
Epic Simile
An elaborate comparison of unlike objects using like or as
Epithet
In literature a word or phrase preceding or following a name which serves to describe the character. "Horse-taming Hector"
Stanza
A group of lines within a poem (functions like a paragraph in prose)
Symbol
Roughly defined as something that means more than what is said. Something that stands in the place of another thing
Speaker
The voice, often a created identity and not automatically equated with the author's self, used by an author to tell a story or speak a poem.
Free Verse
Refers to poems characterized by their non-conformity to established patterns of meter, rhyme, and stanza. Usually does not rhyme.
Blank Verse
Unrhymed iambic pentameter. The English verse form closest to the natural rhythms of English speech.
Rhyme
The repetition of the same or similar sounds at the end of two or more words most often at the ends of lines.
Internal Rhyme
Rhyme that occurs within a line or passage, whether randomly or in some kind of pattern
Slant Rhyme
The words are similar but lack perfect correspondence. Example: found and kind, grime and game.
Onomatopoeia
A term referring to the use of a word that resembles the sound it denotes. Examples are buzz, rattle, sizzle, and bang.
Iamb
A metrical foot consisting of an unaccented syllable (noted by "x") and an accented or stressed one (noted by "/").
Trochee
A metrical foot consisting of an accented syllable (noted by "/") and an unaccented (noted by "x").