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English I Honors Final Literary Terms
Terms in this set (53)
is used to highlight and explain the details of a character
1) physical attributes
2) what they say
3) by their actions
4) what others say
The repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or lines.
Example: I will do my best. I will work my hardest. I will succeed.
The character that opposes the main character(s).
Example: Injun Joe in "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer"
Antithesis establishes a clear, contrasting relationship between two ideas by joining them together or juxtaposing them, often in parallel structure.
Example: Patience is bitter, but it has a sweet fruit.
A figure of speech wherein the speaker speaks directly to something nonhuman.
Example: "Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race." ("A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man")
From the Greek word archetypos, meaning "first of its kind", archetype is an original model or pattern from which other later copies are made, especially a character, action, or situation that seems to represent common patterns of human life. They often include a symbol, a theme, a setting, or a character that some critics think have a common meaning in an entire culture or even human race. These images have particular emotional resonance and power. Archetypes recur in different times and places in myth, literature, folklore, fairy tales, dreams, artwork, and religious rituals.
Example: The damsel in distress who gets saved by a hero.
Words spoken by an actor directly to the audience, which are not "heard" by the other characters on stage during a play.
Example: In the first Act of "Hamlet", when Claudius talks to Hamlet by calling him his son and nephew, Hamlet responds with an aside by saying, "A little more than kin, and less than kind."
Unrhymed iambic pentameter. The pattern of stressed, unstressed, stressed, unstressed syllables over ten syllables. Blank verse is the English verse form closest to the natural rhythms of English speech.
Example: The dreams are clues that tell us take chances.
The use of informal words, phrases, or even slang in a piece of writing.
Example: to bamboozle - to deceive
A literary element that involves a struggle between two opposing forces usually a protagonist and an antagonist. Internal Conflicts can be internal or psychological and external (person versus person, society, technology, nature).
Example: Tom Sawyer vs. Injun Joe (person vs. person)
A pair of lines of verse, usually rhymed and of the same number of feet. Shakespearean sonnets usually end in couplets.
Example: "The time is out of joint, O cursed spite
That ever I was born to set it right!" ("Hamlet" by Shakespeare)
A meaning that the word implies apart from the thing which it describes explicitly.
Example: "Wall Street" is literally a street in Lower Manhattan, but it usually has a connotation of wealth and power.
The literal or dictionary meaning of words in contrast to their connotative or associated meanings.
Example: The man is flocking together young sheep. (Lambs)
Word choice intended to convey a certain effect. Writers choose words to achieve a certain tone and mood. Diction also establishes whether a work is formal or informal.
Formal - press conference
Informal - slang
Concrete - couch
Abstract - anxiety
A double entendre is a kind of pun in which a word or phrase has a second, usually sexual, meaning.
Example: When the Cyclops asks his name, Odysseus says his name is "Nobody" and then tries to blind him. When he succeeds, the Cyclops cries out at the top of his voice saying, "Nobody has hurt me. Nobody is going to kill me."
Figure of Speech
An example of figurative language that states something that is not literally true in order to create an effect. Similes, metaphors and personification are figures of speech which are based on comparisons. Apostrophe, oxymoron, and hyperbole are other figures of speech.
Example: The sky was as blue as the ocean.
A scene that interrupts the action of a work to show a previous event.
Example: In the Book of Matthew, we see a flashback has been used when Joseph sees his brothers after several years. He "remembered his dreams" about his brothers and how they sold him into slavery in the past.
A character that shows qualities that are in contrast with the qualities of another character with the objective to highlight the traits of the other character. The term foil, lesser times, may also be used for any comparison that is drawn to portray a difference between two things.
Example: In "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", the author explores the theme of doppelganger in which "Hyde" is both an evil double of the honorable Dr. Jekyll and a foil.
The use of hints or clues in a narrative to suggest future action.
Example: The final graveyard flower is blooming, and its smell drifts through their house, speaking gently the names of their dead. (Foreshadows death)
An exaggeration of something.
Example: This backpack weighs three tons!
A figure of speech that makes an implicit, implied, or hidden comparison between two unrelated objects that share some similar characteristics
Example: This assignment was a breeze.
A comparison between two unlike things that continues throughout a series of sentences in a paragraph or lines in a poem. It is often comprised of more than one sentence and sometimes consists of a full paragraph.
Example: Life is like eating a grapefruit. First, one breaks its skin; then one takes a few bites to get used to its taste, and finally one starts enjoying its flavor.
A metrical pattern in poetry consisting of five iambic feet per line. (An iamb, or iambic foot, consists of one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.)
Example: ("MacBeth" by William Shakespeare) "Henceforth be earls, the first that ever Scotland
In such an honour named. What's more to do..."
The elements in a literary work used to evoke mental images, not only of the visual sense, but of sensation and emotion as well.
Example: It was dark and dim in the forest.
A set expression or a phrase comprising two or more words that is not interpreted literally.
Example: "Every cloud has its silver lining but it is sometimes a little difficult to get it to the mint."
A figure of speech in which words are used in a way that their intended meaning is different from their literal meaning. It may also be a situation that ends up in quite a different way than what is generally anticipated.
a. Verbal irony occurs when a speaker or narrator says one thing while meaning the
Ex. "I just lost $20. What a wonderful day!"
b. Situational irony occurs when a situation turns out differently from what one would
normally expect-though often the twist is oddly appropriate
Example: A police officer committing a crime.
c. Dramatic irony occurs when a speaker or character says or does something that has
different meanings from what he or she thinks it means, though the audience or other characters understand the full implications of the speech or action:
Example: Oedipus curses the murderer of Laius, not realizing that he is himself the murderer so is cursing himself.
When two or more ideas, places, characters and their actions are placed side by side in for the purpose of developing comparisons and contrasts.
Example: In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare uses juxtaposition of light and dark
A malapropism occurs when a character mistakenly uses a word that he or she has confused with another word.
Example: His capacity for hard liquor is incredulous (incredible).
A recurring object, concept, or structure in a work of literature. A motif may also be two contrasting elements in a work, such as good and evil.
Example: In Mark Twain's "The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn", we see several motifs that support the narrative's central idea. The motif of childhood gives the novel a lighter tone and makes it enjoyable to read despite its grave central idea like slavery and racism.
Meter is a stressed and unstressed syllabic pattern in a verse, or within the lines of a poem.
Example: The safest place on planet earth.(Iambic meter)
A literary element that evokes certain feelings or vibes in readers through words and descriptions.
Example: "The river, reflecting the clear blue of the sky, glistened and sparkled as it flowed noiselessly on." (Calm and peaceful)(Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens)
A figure of speech in which two opposite ideas are joined to create an effect.
Example: Jumbo shrimp
The use of components in a sentence that are grammatically the same; or similar in their construction, sound, meaning, or meter.
Example: Like father, like son.
A kind of metaphor that gives animals, inanimate objects or abstract ideas human characteristics.
Example: The wind howled.
The sequence of events in a literary work; generally contains an exposition, inciting moment, rising action, climax, falling action, and a resolution.
Point of View
The perspective from which the narrative is being told.
First person - a narrative voice within the story
Third person - a narrative voice outside the story
Third person omniscient - the narrator sees inside the mind of most or all of the characters
Third person limited omniscient - the narrator knows only what one character is thinking
Example: I thought I knew where we were going, but I was wrong. (first person)
The central character or leading figure in poetry, narrative, novel or any other story.
Example: Harry Potter in the Harry Potter series
A play on words that are identical or similar in sound but have sharply diverse meanings. Puns can have serious as well as humorous uses:
Example: Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
A literary device that repeats the same words or phrases a few times to make an idea clearer.
Example: If you think you can do it, you can do it.
Rhetoric (Ethos, Pathos, Logos)
A technique of using language effectively and persuasively in spoken or written form.
Example: How did this idiot get elected? (A rhetorical question to convince others that the "idiot" does not deserve to be elected.)
A question that is asked just for effect or to lay emphasis on some point discussed when no real answer is expected.
Example: "Who knows?
A technique employed by writers to expose and criticize foolishness and corruption of an individual or a society by using humor, irony, exaggeration or ridicule.
Example: "What's the use you learning to do right, when it's troublesome to do right and isn't no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?" (Chap 16) (Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn")
An environment or surrounding in which an event or story takes place.
Example: For a large portion of the series, Harry Potter's setting is Hogwarts
A simile is a figure of speech that makes a comparison, showing similarities between two different things. Unlike a metaphor, a simile draws resemblance with the help of the words "like" or "as". Therefore, it is a direct comparison.
Example: Sweet as pie.
A speech in a play that is meant to be heard by the audience but not by other characters on the stage. If there are no other characters present, the soliloquy represents the character thinking aloud.
Example: "O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name; Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I'll no longer be a Capulet." (Juliet is thinking aloud.) (Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare)
The "voice" of a poem; not to be confused with the poet him/herself. Analogous to the narrator in prose fiction.
Example: The speaker in Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" is a conflicted person, who does not tell anything about himself. However, the readers know that he is undergoing a big decision, that he has chosen a single path according to which he is directing his life, and this splits into two options ahead.
Stanzas are to poetry what paragraphs are to prose. They are groups of lines that have been separated from other groups of lines in the poem.
Example: As I behold the beautiful sunrise
It is like seeing a lovely surprise.
The quality of a short story, novel, play, or narrative poem that makes the reader or audience uncertain or tense about the outcome of events.
Example: In his novel, Tarzan of the Apes, Edgar Rice Burroughs builds suspense through different verbal clues.
Any object, person, place, or action that has both meaning in itself and stands for something larger than itself, such as a quality, attitude, belief or value.
Example: The dove is a symbol of peace.
In an inverted sentence, the verb comes before the subject. Some lines will be easier to understand if you put the subject first and reword the sentence.
Example: Usually, we say say, "I cannot go out" to convey our inability to go out. P J Kavanagh in his poem Beyond Decoration instead shifts the syntax and says "Go out I cannot", which emphasizes much more on the inability to go out conveyed by the word "cannot".
The central message of a literary work; the idea the author wishes to convey about that subject. It is expressed as a sentence or general statement about life or human nature. There can be more than one theme; most themes are not directly stated but are implied. The reader must think about all the elements of the work to make inferences as to which themes seem to be implied.
Example: Their marriage ceremony was taking place in a grand hotel. All the eminent people of the city were invited, the reason that the celebration was excellent. (Theme of happiness)
An attitude of a writer toward a subject or an audience. Tone is generally conveyed through the choice of words, or the viewpoint of a writer on a particular subject.
Example: Father: "We are going on a vacation."
Son: "That's great!!!"
- The tone of son's response is very cheerful.
An understatement is a figure of speech to intentionally make a situation seem less important than it really is. It understates the obvious. Understatement is the opposite of hyperbole.
Example: "He is not too thin" while describing an obese person.
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