AP Literary Terms I
Terms in this set (45)
a work that functions on a symbolic level.
Example: "Lord of the Flies", "Animal Farm", and Pilgrim's Progress
the repetition of initial consonant sounds, such as "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers."
a reference contained in a work.
Example: "To act or not to act, that was Maria's dilemma" (reference to Shakespeare)
the multiple meanings, either intentional or unintentional, of a word, phrase, sentence, or passage
Example: The title of the country song "Heaven's Just a Sin Away". At a religious level, it means that committing a sin keeps us out of heaven, but at a physical level, it means that committing a sin (sex) will bring heaven (pleasure).
involves repeating a word or expression while adding more detail to it, in order to emphasize what otherwise might be passed over.
Example: "He showed a rather simple taste, a taste for good art, good food, and good friends."
a literary device employed to serve as a basis for comparison. It is assumed that what applies to the parallel situation also applies to the original circumstance. In other words, it is the comparison between two different items.
Example: UNCLE is to NEPHEW as AUNT is to NIECE
WATCH is to WRIST as STILETTOS is to FEET
the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or lines.
Example: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..." - A Tale of Two Cities
a story or brief episode told by the writer or a character to illustrate to a point.
Example: My sons are very tall. When my oldest boy was getting taller and taller, people always asked him, "Do you play basketball?" He would answer, "Why? Do you play miniature golf?" He stopped saying that when he decided it was a smart aleck thing to say.
repetition of the same word or phrase at the end of successive clauses.
Example: "In 1931, ten years ago, Japan invaded Manchukuo -- without warning. In 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia -- without warning. In 1938, Hitler occupied Austria -- without warning. In 1939, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia -- without warning. Later in 1939, Hitler invaded Poland -- without warning. And now Japan has attacked Malaya and Thailand -- and the United States --without warning." Franklin D. Roosevelt
the presentation of two contrasting images. The ideas are balanced by word, phrase, clause, or paragraphs.
Example: "To be or not to be..." "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country..."
a terse statement of known authorship which expresses a general truth or moral principle. (If the authorship is unknown, the statement is generally considered to be a folk proverb.) This can be a memorable summation of the author's point.
Example: "If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got."
a form of ellipse by which a speaker comes to an abrupt halt, seemingly overcome by passion (fear, excitement, etc.) or modesty.
Example: "why, you..." "Why, I'll..." Get out, or else--"
a figure of speech that directly addresses an absent or imaginary person or personified abstraction, such as liberty or love. The effect may add familiarity or emotional intensity.
Example: William Wordsworth addresses John Milton as he writes, "Milton, thou shouldst be living at this hour: England hath need of thee."
use of an older or obsolete form.
Example: I saw thee in the next room.
repetition of the same sound in words close together.
Example: Fleet feet sweet by sleeping geese.
the relationship an author has toward his or her subject, and/or his or her audience.
Example: George Bernard Shaw's whimsical and nostalgic look at his mother and her cremation.
harsh and discordant sounds in a line or passage in a literary work.
Example: "And squared and stuck there squares of soft white chalk, And with a fish-tooth, scratched a moon on each."
Browning, "Caliban Upon Setebos"
two corresponding pairs arranged not in parallels (a-b-a-b) but in inverted order (a-b-b-a)
Inverting the second of two phrases that would otherwise be in parallel form.
"I flee who chases me, and chase who flees me."
an overused common expression. The term is derived from a French word for a stereotype printing block. These are typically words and phrases used so frequently that they become stale and ineffective.
Example: "in less than no time" they "spring to mind," but "in the last analysis," a writer ought to "avoid them like the plague," even though they always seem "to hit the nail on the head."
arrangement of words, phrases, or clauses in an order of ascending power.
Example- To strive, to seek, to find.
a particular kind of dialect; the use of slang in writing, often to create local color and to provide an informal tone. Mark Twain often uses this.
Example: "Hey Ya'll, I live in Alabama."
the inclusion of a humorous character or scene to contrast with the tragic elements of a work, thereby intensifying the next tragic event.
Example: Ron Weasley in Harry Potter. Ron acts as the sidekick to Harry providing breaks to the scenes of intense tension.
a fanciful expression, usually in the form of an extended metaphor or surprising analogy between seemingly dissimilar objects. This term displays intellectual cleverness due to the unusual comparison being made.
Example: "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?" William Shakespeare. In this poem, Shakespeare compares a woman to beautiful summer day - two seemingly disparate things.
words describe things that exist and can be experienced through the senses. Abstractions are rendered understandable and specific through these kinds of examples.
Example: "The apparition of these faces in the croed; Petals on a wet, black bough."
the interpretive level of a word based on its associated images rather than its literal meaning.
Example: The wall in Frost's "Mending Wall" refers to the emotional barrier which prevents interaction between neighbors.
the process of moving from a general rule to a specific example.
Example: All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
the literal or dictionary meaning of a word.
Example: In Frost's "Mending Wall", the wall is the physical boundary separating the two neighbors.
the recreation of regional spoken language.
Example: Jim is jus' ez happy ez Ah is.
is the choice of words used in speaking or writing. It is frequently divided into four levels: formal, informal, colloquial, and slang.
Examples: I Love You
From the Greek, this literally means "teaching." These works have the primary aim of teaching or instructing, especially the teaching of moral or ethical principles.
Example: Proverbs and Parables in the Bible
the use of a quotation at the beginning of a work that hints at its theme.
Hemingway begins The Sun Also Rises with this.
a more acceptable and usually more pleasant way of saying something that might be inappropriate or uncomfortable.
Example: "He went to his final reward" is a common way of saying "he died." These also often used to obscure the reality of a situation. The military uses "collateral damage" to indicate civilian deaths in a military operation.
the pleasant, mellifluous presentation of sounds in a literary work.
Example: "The gray sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low"
Browning "Meeting at Night"
a sustained comparison, often referred to as a conceit. This is developed throughout a piece of writing.
Example: "The Flea" by John Donne
a kind of comedy that depends on exaggerate or improbable situations, physical disasters, and sexual innuendo to amuse the audience.
Example: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. The characters are stereotypical and he makes fun of the elite.
Figurative Language -
the body of devices that uses figures of speech to enable the writer to operate on levels other than the literal one. It includes metaphor, simile, symbol, motif, and hyperbole, etc.
Figures of Speech -
are deliberate departures from the ordinary and literal meanings of words in order to provide fresh, insightful perspectives or emphasis.
Examples: Simile, Metaphor, Personification, Hyperbole, Etc...
a character who, by displaying opposite traits, emphasizes certain aspects of another character.
Example: Mercutio is this to Romeo. He is witty and lighthearted, while Romeo is gloomy.
hints at what is to come.
Example: Harriet Bird shooting Roy in the pregame section hints at Memo's destruction of him later in life.
the shape or structure of a literary work.
Example: "Easter Wings" by George Herbert - the poem is actually in the shape of an angel wings.
are assertions or conclusions based on some specific instances. The value of a this is determined by the quality and quantity of examples on which it is based.
Example: All dogs hate cats
the category to which a piece of writing can be classified.
Example: The Natural is a novel; "The Sick Rose" is a poem
insolence, arrogance, or pride. In Greek tragedy, is usually the tragic flaw that leads to his or her downfall.
Example: Roy Hobbs' overeating, Hamlet's indecision
extreme exaggeration, often humorous, it can also be ironic; the opposite of understatement.
Example: "A greenhouse arrived from Gatsby's." (the greenhouse refers to the abundance of flowers Gatsby sent)
anything that affects or appeals to the reader's senses.
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
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