Honors English 9 Literary Devices
Terms in this set (65)
a list of events, names, and places
a literary element that evokes certain feelings or vibes in readers through words and descriptions. It is referred to as the atmosphere of a literary piece, as it creates an emotional situation that surrounds the readers.
central idea to which all parts refer. Insight about human life that is revealed in a literary work. This is usually a sentence about the subject of the piece that is stated as universal to the human condition.
a play on words in which one word is substituted for another similar or identical sound, but of very different meaning. Often this is played for laughs.
the central character of a literary work who usually initiates the main action of the story, often in conflict with the antagonist
the thing that represents or stands for something else, especially a material object representing something abstract
the process by which the writer shows the character's personality through the speech, actions, and appearance of the character and the speech and reactions of other characters to the character
a character who undergoes little development over the course of a narrative
the part of a play or narrative in which events start moving toward a climax. The protagonist typically begins to engage in the complications of the plot and speed it to decisive moments.
a psychological struggle within the mind of a character, resolution of which creates the plot's suspense
a word that makes the sound it names (buzz, drip, zap)
comparing two unlike things using "like", "as", or other comparative words (She was as fast as lightning. Her speed is compared to the speed of lightning. She and lightning are unlike things.)
those to whom a piece of writing is addressed. The people who the author hoped will read the piece.
the time and place of a literary work. This can be as broad as an era, decade, season, or time of day to as specific a time as few seconds or time on the clock. It could be a region or planet or a particular room in a house or corner in that room.
sayings like "from the bottom of my heart" that have become overused and lose meaning
a foretelling, a sign, a glimpse, a feeling that something terrible might happen. Fearful apprehension. (More ominous than foreshadowing.)
comparing two unlike things by saying one thing is another thing. No comparative language is used. (She is my sunshine. She and sunshine are unlike things. Perhaps she makes the person feel warm like sunshine does.)
prejudice or predisposition toward one side of a subject or issue
a special kind of suspenseful expectation, when the audience understands the meaning or implication of a situation onstage or in the narrative, but the character does not. Characters speak, unaware of the full import of their words; they take action, intending one result but (as the audience realizes instantly) producing another.
opposing forces, can be man vs. man, man vs. society, man vs. nature, man vs. self
a character who is presented in depth and detail in a narrative. These characters often will change significantly.
the process by which the writer tells the audience about the character's personality
a statement that at first appears self-contradictory, but that on reflection reveals some deeper meaning
when the author gives things about what will happen later in the story
"scent" vs. "odor" - words that have the same definition but have different emotional implications ("scent" sounds pleasant but "odor" sounds unpleasant, "old" is demeaning but "elderly" is respectful)
the moment of greatest intensity in a story or drama, which almost always occurs toward the end of the work. It can take the form of a final confrontation, a final piece of information that reorients the dynamics of the characters, or a decision or change that a character is forced to make.
the events in a narrative that follow the climax and bring the story to its conclusion. In general, no new conflicts are introduced, nor are characters furthered developed, the conflicts are worked out and often the crucial developments in the plot are being wrapped up.
the individual writing style of an author, the style and manner of expressing thought in language using syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc.
a series of words that refers to a sensory object, usually an object of sight. It is in effect, a language creation of a perceptual experience, correlating literary language with what is immediately seen, felt, heard, touched, and tasted
the explicit or direct (dictionary) definition meaning of a word
giving human qualities to a non-human entity (The flowers bowed their heads. The stars played peek-a-boo behind the clouds.)
repetition of a vowel sound (I fly high in the sky. Repetition of the "I" sound.)
the final part of a narrative, the concluding action that follows the climax. It marks a period of reflection upon the preceding events, a determination of their consequences.
an occurrence where expectations of something happening are different than what actually happens. Thus, something entirely different happens from what the audience may be expecting to happen.
an element that recurs significantly throughout a narrative. It can be an image, idea, theme, situation, or action and usually serve to underscore a thematic point, but can also operate on a structural level.
background information before or at the beginning of a piece (The very beginning of a story where characters are introduced)
an exaggeration meant to add effect (I am so hungry I could eat a horse. I have a ton of homework.)
convincing someone to believe/do something by appealing to authority or credibility (A speaker presents a topic on the negative effects of smoking. He, himself, is battling lung cancer from smoking. The speaker has established credibility.)
figure of speech
not meant to be taken literally - simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole
convincing someone to believe/do something by appealing to logic (The speaker will persuade the audience by presenting facts, statistics, and logical reasoning. A car dealer wanted a man to buy a new car, so they showed him information about gas mileage and low interest rates.)
expression of something which is contrary to the intended meaning - the words say one thing but mean another. Unexpected. (Saying that it's really hot outside in the middle of a blizzard.)
repetition of a grammatical structure in a sentence or piece of writing ("We the people, by the people, for the people...")
point of view
the perspective of the story. Can be 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person limited, omniscient, or objective
a character, rarely the central character in a narrative, that has only about one prominent trait
a struggle between a character and an outside force including another character, nature, or society
convincing someone to believe/do something by appealing to their emotions (The speaker will persuade the audience by telling an emotional story that makes them feel a certain way. He is appealing to their emotions. For example, commercials featuring trembling shelter animals appeal to your sense of compassion.)
a saying that is unique to a culture or language. It does not make sense when translated literally. (Break a leg! Cat got your tongue? I sat on pins and needles.)
native speech or language of a place (you know, that "warshing" machine). The way people talk based on where they live.
intention or objective in a piece of writing
a story told to make or support a point (To prove how horrible my day has been, I am going to tell you a story about my day, including spilling my coffee, getting stuck behind a tractor, losing my cell phone, and tripping over the curb.)
use of available means of persuasion
a similarity, on which a comparison can be made
to support a claim, the author references to something well-known by the general population (a book, movie, play, etc.) (If I said, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming," I would be referring to the song from "Finding Nemo".)
sentence structure or the use of dashes, colons, hyphens, fragments, and parallelism
repetition of a consonant sound (Sally sells seashells by the seashore.)
a character who experiences a meaningful transformation over the course of the narrative
two or more ideas, places, characters, and their actions are placed side by side in a narrative or a poem for the purpose of developing comparisons and contrasts
speaker's attitude toward the subject or audience
a representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through a concrete story - a literal story with a deeper meaning
two characters that highlight opposite traits in one another (Tybalt and Romeo in "Romeo and Juliet")
the direct representation of conversation between two or more characters
the author or person whose ideas are being presented
against the protagonist, the villain or bad guy or the story
formal writing rules
no contractions, only use 3rd person, correct punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and no slang