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english exam literary terms
Terms in this set (38)
A brief reference to a person, place, thing or idea of historical, cultural, literary or political significance. It does not describe in detail the person or thing to which it refers. It is just a passing comment and the writer expects the reader to possess enough knowledge to spot the allusion and grasp its importance in a text.
A figure of speech in which an absent or dead person, an abstract quality, or something inanimate or nonhuman is addressed directly. Example: Poe addresses a bird in his poem "The Raven."
A figure of speech in which two or more clauses are related to each other through a reversal of structures in order to make a larger point; that is, the clauses display inverted parallelism.
Example - "You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget." --The Road, Cormac McCarthy
A figure of speech using exaggeration or overstatement for special effect.Example - "I tried to call you a thousand times last night."
A figure of speech in which understatement is used to create emphasis by negation.
Examples - "not bad"; "no mean feat"
A figure of speech in which something very closely associated with a thing is used to stand for or suggest the thing itself.
Examples - Crown for King; White House for President.
A figure of speech that combines opposite or contradictory ideas or terms. Not to be confused with paradox, which reveals a kind of truth. e.g. "madness is sense".
Examples - "wise fool"; "sweet sorrow"
Statement that appears self-contradictory but contains truth.
"Much madness is divinest Sense"
A figure of speech in which an inanimate thing is given human attributes.
For example, in saying "The sky weeps" we are giving the sky the ability to cry, which is a human quality.
Simile - a comparison between two things using "like" or "as"
Metaphor - a direct comparison between two things
Analogy - a comparison between two things, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification.
A figure of speech in which part of a thing is used to stand for or suggest the whole.
Example - "Can you give me a hand?"
The repetition of consonant sounds in a line of poetry.
"We lurk late / We strike straight"
The repetition of vowel sounds in a group of words.
"We real cool / We left school"
Verse written in unrhymed iambic pentameter.
"In sooth I know not why I am so sad.
It wearies me you say it wearies you."
A line of poetry with a pause at the end, often signaled by a comma, dash, or period.
"The tide rises, the tide falls," -Longfellow
The running over of a sentence or thought into the next couplet or line without a pause at the end of the line; a run-on line.
"Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds Or bends with the remover to remove. . ." - Shakespeare
Unrhymed verse that has either no metrical pattern or an irregular pattern.
The use of a word whose sound in some degree imitates or suggests its meaning.
Examples - buzz, clang, snap.
A type of metaphor that makes a comparison between two startlingly different things. It may be brief or extended throughout the poem.
A monologue in which a character speaks his/her thoughts.
Simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (such as attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action.
The repetition of the same word or words at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences.
"To think on death is misery,/ To think on life it is a vanity,/ To think on the world verily it is,/ To think that here man hath no perfect bliss." -Peacham
A short statement that expresses a wise or clever observation about life
"He that lives upon hope will die fasting" - Ben Franklin
Language that is used in or characteristic of familiar and informal conversation.
A subordinate clause most commonly introduced by "if" or "unless."
"If you want to do well on the exam, you should study."
The emotional and psychological associations that you make with certain words or ideas.
The omission of an unnecessary word or words from speech or writing.
"You went to the restaurant. And...?"
A descriptive name or phrase used to characterize someone or something.
The substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend.
Collateral Damage: unintentional killing or damage; bystander deaths and injuries
The Imperative is a grammatical mood that forms a command or request.
"Please be quiet!"
Assuming power or authority without justification; arrogant and domineering.
The writing device of placing two or more things together, especially in order to suggest a link between them or emphasize the contrast between them.
Example - images of black and white in Othello
Marked by or exhibiting a fawning attentiveness.
The use of phrases, clauses, or sentences that are similar or complimentary in structure or in meaning.
The quality in a work that arouses a feeling of pity, or sorrow, or compassion in the reader.
A question suggesting its own answer or not requiring an answer
"Are you kidding me?"
Modest about or critical of oneself, especially humorously so.
The order in which words are placed in a sentence. In English, most sentences follow a Subject-Verb-Object syntax.
In Shakespeare, syntax is often inverted/modified for various purposes.
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