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Literary Terms

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theme
main idea of a literary work
simile
a comparison between two unlike things, using "like" or "as" with the intent of giving a meaning to one of them
foreshadowing
hints or clues of things to come
personification
a figure of speech in which a non-human or inanimate object, quality, or idea is given lifelike characteristics or powers
metaphor
a comparison between two unlike things with the intent of giving added meaning to one of them
imagery
language that appeals to one or more of the senses and creates pictures and impressions in the reader's mind
hyperbole
a deliberate exaggeration for the purpose of emphasis or humor; overstatement
mood
the dominant emotional climate that the reader senses or feels
tone
an author's attitude towards the reader
flashback
a device by which an author interrupts the logical time sequence of a story or play to relate an episode that occurred prior to the poening situation
allusion
a reference to a person, place, event, or artistic work that the author expects the reader to recognize
setting
the time and place of the events in a story
jargon
language that is used or understood by a select group of people
conflict
a struggle between opposing forces, people, or ideas in a story, novel, play, or narrative poem
irony
a contrast between what is stated and what is really meant or between what is expected and what actually happened
dramatic irony
when the audience knows more than the characters
verbal irony
difference between what is said and what is meant
symbolism
a person, place, event, or object that is real in itself and also suggests something larger than itself, such as a quality, an attitude, a belief or a value
motif
recurring structures or ideas
foil
character who by contrast emphasizes the qualities of another
dialogue
conversation between two or more characters in a story
atmosphere
dominant emotional climate the reader senses or feels (mood)
characterization
words the author uses to describe a character, what a character says, does, and feels
climax
highest point of a story
protagonist
main character
antagonist
main character's enemy
alliteration
repeating letters or sounds
onomatopoeia
sound word