A passing reference to historical or fictional characters, places, or events, or to other works that the writer assumes the reader will recognize. Allusions to the Bible and to William Shakespeare's works are common because both enjoy a vast readership. Older literature contains many allusions to Greek and Roman literature, which formerly played an important role in education. Allusions may refer to mythology, religion, literature, history, or art. Their power lies in suggestion and connotation. They serve to evoke emotions, convey information concisely, and establish character, mood, and setting. Often in poetry an allusion may be central to the reader's understanding and response. "Out, Out" is a poem by Robert Frost about the accidental death of a young boy. Its theme is the unpredictability of life, the waste of premature death. Frost's title is an allusion to the key phrase of a famous speech in Act V, scene 5, of Macbeth. "Out, out, brief candle!" Frost's brief allusion evokes the scene in which Macbeth mourns the death of his wife and the brevity, uncertainty, and meaninglessness of life: The method by which an author creates the appearance and personality of imaginary persons and reveals their character. Characterization, the ability to bring the people of his or her imagination to life for the reader, is judged one of the most important attributes of a writer of fiction. Successful characterization is also crucial to the development of a narrative, since the events that move the story forward are often strongly influenced by the natures of the persons involved. Characters who are fully developed and almost seem to be real people are called three dimensional. Characters who are not fully developed are called flat. Basically, there are three methods of characterization:
1. Direct description of physical appearance and explanation of character traits and attributes. This description may occur either in an introduction or in statements distributed throughout the work. Essentially, the author tells the reader what sort of person the character is.
2. Presentation of the character in action, without interpretive comment by the author. Essentially, the author shows the reader what sort of person the character is through what the
character says and does and what is said by other characters. As a "witness" to the character's actions, the reader is free to draw his or her own conclusions.
3. Representation of the character's inner self. Essentially, the author describes the thoughts and emotions triggered in the character by external events. A classic example is Molly Bloom's stream-of-consciousness soliloquy in James Joyce's Ulysses. In extended fiction, such as the novel, all three of these approaches may be used.
dynamic character—A character who changes and develops during the course of a story.
static character—A character who does not change significantly during the course of a story; the opposite of a dynamic character.
stock character—In fiction, a character who represents a stereotype, or a universally recognizable type, like the hard-boiled private eye of detective stories.
The struggle between opposing forces that determines the action in drama and most narrative fiction. The earliest type of story conflict pits a character against nature: storms at sea, wild beasts, or even insects, as in Carl Stephenson's adventure story, "Leiningen Versus the Ants." A variation of the physical struggle against nature is the conflict with natural law or with fate. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the main character undertakes a perilous journey in the hope of overcoming death, his human destiny. The plots of many stories and most dramas are based on the struggle of the main character against another character (the protagonist versus the antagonist). Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Cask of Amontillado" grows out of the simplest kind of character-against-character conflict: Montresor carries out a plan of revenge against Fortunato. Sometimes the main character is in conflict with a group of other people, even a whole society, as in Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People.
A character's struggle against nature or against another character is an external conflict; the main character is in conflict with an outside force. The focus in some stories, however, is on an internal conflict. The main character struggles against himself or herself . James Joyce's "Eveline" is an example of a story that takes place entirely inside the mind of a character making a difficult decision.
The greatest works of fiction offer rich combinations of external and internal conflicts. In William Shakespeare's "Macbeth," the murder of Duncan is given psychological significance by the internal conflicts that torture Macbeth before and after the murder; Macbeth's inner turmoil is fueled by his external conflict with Lady Macbeth.
Word choice. There are two basic standards not mutually exclusive by which a speaker's or writer's diction is usually judged: clarity and appropriateness. Clear diction is both precise and concrete, including a high proportion (approximately one out of every six words) of strong verbs and verbals.
Appropriate diction is diction at a level: formal, informal, colloquial, language suitable to the occasion. (Other types of diction include: archaic words, colloquialism, jargon, profanity, slang, trite expressions, vulgarity)
A situation in a play or other fiction in which a character unwittingly makes a remark that the audience is intended to understand as ironic, or in contradiction to the full truth. In Euripides' Medea, Creon postpones Medea's banishment until morning, asking, "What harm could she do in the tail of one day?" The Greek audience, who already knew the legend of Medea, must have shivered in recognition of the terrible irony of his question; they knew, as Creon could not, that Medea would destroy both Creon's daughter and Creon himself. For audiences new to a play and for first-time readers of fiction, dramatic irony can serve as foreshadowing. In Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, Judge Brack's complacent remark to Hedda about suicide, "People say such things, but they don't do them," would not have struck the original audience as ironic until the end of the play, when Hedda shoots herself and the shocked Brack says again, "Good God! People don't do such things." One of the satisfactions of seeing certain plays again or of re-reading fiction comes from recognizing the dramatic irony the second time around. A moment of revelation or profound insight. In Greek mythology, an epiphany was the sudden revelation to a human being of the hidden or disguised divinity of a god or goddess. The Christian feast of Epiphany commemorates the revelation of Christ's divinity to the three wise men. The modern literary use of the term epiphany originates with James Joyce, who discussed it in his novel Stephen Hero. According to Joyce, any event, however trivial, may have a "sudden spiritual manifestation" when "its soul, its whatness, leaps to us." It might be a bird flying by, a clock striking, a smile, or a street noise. Stephen Hero "believed that it was for the man of letters to record these epiphanies with extreme care, seeing that they themselves are the most delicate and evanescent of moments." Because such an epiphany lies at the heart of many of Joyce's stories, the stories themselves have been called epiphanies. In drama or other fiction, the immediate or gradual revelation to the audience of the setting, relationship between characters, and other background information needed for understanding the plot. Traditionally, the exposition occurs at the beginning of the play, either in the speech of one character, the nurse in Euripides' Medea, the Chorus in Romeo and Juliet, or in conversation between two characters. In Sophocles' Antigone, a few swift exchanges between Antigone and her sister inform the audience that their two brothers are dead and that the king has buried one brother with a military funeral but refused burial to the other. Beginning with the plays of Henrik Ibsen, who rebelled against artificiality and is known for his gradual exposition, most modern drama and fiction present background information a little at a time, as it is needed, or through a flashback. In some contemporary drama, notably that of the theater of the absurd, exposition is minimal, which is one way the dramatist can suggest a meaningless world in which nothing is explained. Language that contains figures of speech, such as metaphor, simile, personification, and hyperbole, expressions that make comparisons or associations meant to be interpreted imaginatively rather than literally:
Yet all experience is an arch where through
Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades
Forever and forever when I move.
In these lines from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "Ulysses," "experience" is not literally an "arch"; it is being imaginatively compared to one. Nor does the "untraveled world" literally "gleam." But the use of gleam wonderfully suggests that world's allure. Although figures of speech occur in all vivid speech and writing, figurative language is essentially the language of poetry. Poetry is more densely figurative than ordinary conversation or than most prose writing, and its figures, especially metaphors, are more evocative and compelling.
. In fiction and film, a way of presenting scenes or incidents that took place before the opening scene. The flashback can be introduced in a number of ways. A character may tell another character about past events, have a dream about them, or simply think back to the events. In Anne Tyler's Breathing Lessons, Maggie, who is trying to get her son and his ex-wife back together, recalls events from the early days of their marriage, giving the reader an opportunity to find out what went wrong. In film, there is usually no introduction to the flashback. The camera simply cuts back to the earlier event, and the viewer relates it to the story. The advantage of using a flashback is that a story can start in the middle or near the end, get the reader involved, and then fill in what led up to that point. In Thornton Wilder's "The Bridge of San Luis Rey," several people are on a bridge when it collapses. The rest of the story consists of flashbacks narrating the events in each character's life that destined him or her to be at that bridge at that moment. The organizing principle that shapes a work of literature. The nineteenth-century romantic poet and critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge distinguished two ways of thinking about form, a distinction that continues to be useful: (1) Form may be viewed as a preexisting structure imposed on and restricting the content of an individual work; (2) Form may be viewed as the unique way content takes shape in a particular work. In the second view, form and content develop simultaneously, modifying each other, as a work is written. There is no such thing as the same form with different content; a change in one results in a change in the other.
To determine what is unique about the form of a particular work, it is often necessary to combine these two ideas of form, to see the work against the form of the genre, for example, detective story, melodrama, ballad, that restricts it and is transformed by it, and also to analyze the unique way content is shaped in the particular work.
Language referring to something that can be perceived through one or more of the senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, the sense of motion, or the sense of heat or cold. The following lines from John Masefield's "Sea Fever" contain images referring to sight, touch, hearing, and motion:
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white
And a gray mist on the sea's face and a gray dawn breaking.
An image may simply name something; it may describe it. It may be a metaphor, simile, or personification. An image can also be a symbol.
The making of "pictures in words," the pictorial quality of a literary work achieved through a collection of images. In a broader sense, imagery is often used as synonymous with figure of speech or figurative language (simile, metaphor, or symbol). Imagery appeals to the senses of taste, smell, hearing, and touch, and to internal feelings, as well as to the sense of sight. It evokes a complex of emotional suggestions and communicates mood, tone, and meaning. It can be both figurative and literal, as these lines from Elinor Wylie's "Puritan Sonnet" demonstrate: In its broadest sense, it is the opposite of what might be expected. The recognition of the incongruity, the difference between reality (what is) and appearance (what seems to be).
A. verbal irony is a figure of speech in which there is a contrast between what is said and what is actually meant. For example, when in Julius Caesar Antony repeatedly insists that "Brutus is an honourable man," he is being ironic. In speech, tone of voice makes ironic intent obvious: "That's just wonderful!'' can clearly mean "That is terrible! " The writer has to convey irony more obliquely, and so it is more difficult for the reader to recognize. Sarcasm as verbal irony is harsh and heavy-handed rather than clever and incisive.
A. situational irony refers to the contrast between what is intended or expected and what actually
occurs. This passage from Anne Tyler's The Accidental Tourist presents an irony of situation:
"Seated in a stenographer's chair, tapping away at a typewriter that had served him through years of college, he wrote a series of guidebooks for people forced to travel for business. Ridiculous, when you thought about it: Macon hated travel."
B. dramatic irony involves the audience's being aware of a character's real situation before the character is.
C. irony of fate is a phrase used to identify the view that fate, destiny, or God, seeking diversion or amusement, manipulates human beings like puppets and thwarts their plans. Thus, it is an irony of fate that a pardon is delivered too late to stay an execution, or that the miserly Silas Marner recovers his long-lost gold after he ceases to have any desire for it. Writers known for their masterful use of irony include Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Voltaire, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, and Henry James.
The use in writing of the physical setting, dialect, customs, and attitudes that typify a particular region. The novels of Thomas Hardy, for example, provide so detailed and colorful a picture of "Wessex" (Dorsetshire) that that portion of England has become known as Thomas Hardy country. From 1870 to 1890, post-Civil War sectionalism gave rise in American literature to a local-color movement, involving such writers as Sara Orne Jewett (New England), Bret Harte (California), Joel Chandler Harris (the Old South), Mary E. Wilkins Freeman (Massachusetts and Vermont), Hamlin Garland (the Middle Border). The term regional writer is often applied to local-color writers, especially to writers of fiction that is enhanced rather than overshadowed by its feeling of locale. Hardy, Mark Twain, and William Faulkner are among the great regional writers. In literature, a recurring image, word, phrase, action, idea, object, or situation that appears in various works or throughout the same work. When applied to several different works, motif refers to a recurrent theme, such as the carpe diem motif, the idea that life is short, time is fleeting, and one must make the most of the present moment. When applied to a single work, motif (sometimes leitmotif) refers to any repetition that tends to unify the work by bringing to mind its earlier occurrences and the impressions that surround them. Some examples are the periodic striking of clocks in Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs. Dalloway and the repetition of patterns of a garden, a dress, a fan, and of life itself in Amy Lowell's poem "Patterns." The psychological and moral impulses and external circumstances that cause a literary character to act, think, or feel a certain way. Showing what motivates the actions of characters helps make the characters believable and their actions satisfying, even inevitable. In "The Revolt of Mother" by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Mother moves her household to the barn that Father has just built, an unusual, yet satisfying action because the reader has been made aware (1) that forty years ago Father promised to build Mother a new house where the barn is, (2) that the house Mother presently has is wretched, not at all suitable as the site of her daughter's upcoming marriage, and (3) that when Mother tried to discuss the matter with Father, he had nothing to say in return. On the other hand, giving characters inadequate motivation makes them seem shallow, their actions contrived for the sake of the plot. The vantage point assumed by a writer from which an "I" narrator experiences (sees, hears, and understands) the story he or she is telling: "I remember the first time I saw Emily, standing in the rain at my bus stop." The "I' narrator may be the central character, the first-person protagonist, a minor character, the first-person participant; or a character who is not directly involved in the action but who functions only as an observer and recorder, the first-person observer. All first-person narration requires the author to create a persona mask, or "second self," through which the author tells the story. If this narrator does not fully understand the implications of his or her tale, the character is called a naive narrator. If the first-person narration presents only the unspoken thoughts of the protagonist, the result is an interior monologue. Employing a first-person point of view has several advantages. One of these is credibility. A strange or fantastic story is easier to believe if told by someone who is supposedly relating a firsthand experience. And it is far more natural for a character to reveal her own thoughts than it is for the author to tell us what she is thinking and feeling. Another advantage is intimacy. The "I" narrator seems to address the reader directly and from the heart, sharing his personal observations and insights with an interested listener. But first-person narration also has disadvantages. The readers can see, hear, and know only what the narrator sees, hears, knows. The reader's perceptions of other characters are colored by the narrator's predispositions, prejudices, and personal limitations. Characterization of a first-person protagonist is difficult. For instance, an "I" narrator can not tell the reader that he or she is an admirable person. The reader must form an opinion indirectly, evaluating what the narrator says, thinks, and does. Some of these difficulties are overcome, however, when the "I" narrator is a minor character, a participant who can describe the protagonist from the outside. Generally, accuracy in the portrayal of life or reality, or verisimilitude; a recurring goal of literature, often seen in contrast to the aims of romanticism, impressionism, and expressionism. Realism is also the name of a literary movement in Europe--particularly France, America, and England in the nineteenth century that established the novel as the genre uniquely capable of reflecting the ordinary life of the average person. Nineteenth-century realists included novelists as diverse in outlook and style as Honor de Balzac and Gustave Flaubert in France; George Eliot, George Meredith, Anthony Trollope, and Thomas Hardy in England; William Dean Howells, Mark Twain, and Henry James in the United States; and Ivan Turgenev, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Leo Tolstoy in Russia. term used to describe any form of literature that blends ironic humor and wit with criticism for the purpose of ridiculing folly, vice, stupidity, the whole range of human foibles and
frailties, in individuals and institutions. Satire differs from comedy in that satire seeks to correct, improve, or reform through ridicule, while comedy aims simply to amuse. It differs from invective, direct denunciation or name-calling, and mere insult in the sharp wit of its presentation. If in MacFlecknoe John Dryden had called Thomas Shadwell "a dolt, a numskull," he would simply have been insulting. But he was being satirical when he wrote:
The design or arrangement of the parts of a work of literature to form a unified whole; the planned framework or "architecture" of a literary work. In narrative fiction, the arrangement of events from first to last--beginning, middle, ending--is a matter of structure. Structure involves both mechanical and logical arrangement. A play, for instance, is structured mechanically as a sequence of acts and scenes; it is structured logically as a movement through rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement. The structure of an Italian sonnet consists not only of its mechanical division into eight lines (octave) followed by six lines (sestet), but also of its logical division in which a question, problem, or generalization presented in the octave is answered, solved, or made particular in the sestet. A writer's characteristic way of saying things. Style includes arrangement of ideas, word choice, imagery, sentence structure and variety, rhythm, repetition, coherence, emphasis, unity, and tone. One of the two most famous definitions of style, that by Jonathan Swift, emphasizes that style should be appropriate to both the subject matter and the writing occasion or audience. Swift said style is "proper words in proper places." The other famous definition focuses on style as an expression of the writer's attitudes and personality. Broadly, anything that signifies, or stands for something else. In literature, a symbol is usually something concrete--an object, a place, a character, an action--that stands for or suggests something abstract. In Joseph Conrad's story, "The Lagoon," darkness is a symbol of evil and light a symbol of good. A symbol may be universal or private. Darkness and light are universal symbols of evil and good. Climbing is a universal symbol of progress; descending, of failure. The dove is a universal symbol of peace. In contrast, the great white whale in Herman Melville's novel, Moby Dick is a private symbol and a complex one. Many books and articles have been written in an effort to explain it, but like many great private symbols in literature and art, this significance is complex and elusive. In literature, the central or dominating idea, the "message," implicit in a work. The theme of a work is seldom stated directly. It is an abstract concept indirectly expressed through recurrent images, actions, characters, and symbols, and must be inferred by the reader or spectator. Theme differs from subject (the topic or thing described in a work) in that theme is a comment, observation, or insight about the subject. For example, the subject of a poem may be a flower; its theme, a comment on the fleeting nature of existence.