60 terms

AP Literature - Key Terminology Master

Key terms in AP English Literature and Composition from the Kaplan study guide.
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allegory
a prose or poetic narrative in which the characters, behavior, or setting demonstrate multiple levels of meaning or significance
allusion
a reference to a literary or historical event, person, or place
anaphora
the regular repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases or clauses
archetypes
recurrent designs, patterns of action, character types, themes, or images which are identifiable in a wide range of literature
colloquial
ordinary language, the vernacular
conceit
a comparison of two unlikely things that is drawn out within a piece of literature, particularly a piece of extended metaphor within a POEM
connotation
what is suggested by a word, apart from what it implicitly describes
elegy
a poetic lament upon the death of a particular person, usually ending in consolation
exposition
that part of the structure that sets the scene, introduces or identifies characters, and establishes the situation at the beginning of a story or play
extended metaphor
a detailed or complex metaphor that extends over a long section of a work, also known as a conceit
fable
a legend or short story often using animals as characters
falling action
that part of plot structure in which the complications of the rising action are untangled; also known as the denouement
farce
a play or scene in a play or book that is characterized by broad humor, wild antics, and often slapstick or physical jokes
foreshadowing
to hint at or to present an indication of the future beforehand
formal diction
language that is lofty, dignified, and impersonal
genre
a type or class of literature such as epic or narrative poetry or belles lettres
hyperbole
overstatement characterized by exaggerated language
idyll
a short poem describing a country or pastoral scene, praising the simplicity of rustic life
informal diction
language that is not as lofty or impersonal as formal diction; similar to everyday speech
in medias res
"in the midst of things"; refers to opening a story in the middle of the action, necessitating filling in past details by exposition or flashback
irony
a situation or statement characterized by significant difference between what is expected or understood and what actually happens or is meant
juxtaposition
the location of one thing as being adjacent or juxtaposed with another, to create a certain effect
limited point of view
a perspective confined to a single character, whether a first person or a third person
message
a misleading term for theme; the central statement or idea of a story, misleading because it suggests a simple, packaged statement that pre-exists and for the simple communication of which the story was written
metaphor
one thing pictured as if it were something else, suggesting a likeness or analogy between them
metonymy
a figure of speech in which an attribute or commonly associated feature is used to name or designate something: "The White House announced today," "The pen is mightier than the sword."
**The White House. (Referring to the American administration.)
**Pen. (For the written word.)
**Sword - (For military force.)
**Hand. (For help.)
mood
a feeling or ambiance resulting from the tone of the piece as well as the writer/narrator's attitude and point of view
motif
a recurrent device, formula, or situation that often serves as a signal for the appearance of a character or event
narrative structure
a textual organization based on sequences of connected events, usually presented in a straightforward, chronological framework
narrator
the character who "tells" the story, or in poetry, the persona
omniscient point of view
also called unlimited focus; a perspective that can be seen from one character's view, then another's, then another's and can be moved at any time
oxymoron
a figure of speech that combines to apparently contradictory elements: "jumbo shrimp," "deafening silence"
parable
a short fictional story that illustrates an explicit moral lesson through the use of analogy
paradox
a statement that seems contradictory but may actually be true: "fight for peace"
parallel structure
the use of similar forms in writing for nouns, verbs, phrases, or thoughts: "Jane likes reading, writing, and skiing," NOT "Martha takes notes quickly, thoroughly, and in a detailed manner."
parody
a work that imitates another work for comic effect by exaggerating the style and changing the content of the original
periodic sentence
a sentence that is not grammatically complete until the end: "The child, who looked as if she were being chased by demons, ran."
personification
treating an abstraction or nonhuman object as if it were a person by endowing it with human qualities
persona
the voice or figure of the author who tells and structures the story and who may or may not share the values of the actual author (e.g. adult Scout in 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' Watson in 'Sherlock Holmes')
plot
the arrangement of the narration based on the cause-effect relationship of the events
protagonist
the main character in a work, who may or may not be heroic
quatrain
a poetic stanza of four lines
realism
the practice in literature of attempting to describe nature and life without idealism and with attention to detail
refrain
a repeated stanza or line(s) in a poem or song
rhetorical question
a question that is simply asked for stylistic effect and is not expected to be answered
rhyme
the repetition of the same or similar sounds, most often at the ends of lines
rising action
the development of action in a work, usually at the beginning
satire
a literary work that holds up human failings to ridicule and censure
setting
the time and place of the action in a story, poem, or play
stereotype
a characterization based on conscious or unconscious assumptions that some aspect, such as gender, age, ethnic or national identity, religion, occupation, marital status, and so on, are predictable accompanied by certain character traits, action, and even values
Everyman character
main character that actually represents all people
stock character
character who appears in a number of stories or plays such as the cruel stepmother, the femme fatale, etc.
structure
the organization or arrangement of the various elements in a work
style
a distinctive manner of expression
symbol
a person, place, thing, event, or pattern in a literary work that designates itself and at the same time figuratively represents or "stands for" something else
syntax
the way words are put together to form phrases, clauses, and sentences
theme
a generalized, abstract paraphrase of the inferred central or dominant idea or concern of a work
tone
the attitude a literary work takes toward its subject and theme
tragedy
a drama in which a character (usually good and noble and of high rank) is brought to a disastrous end in his or her confrontation with a superior force due to a fatal flaw in his or her character
turning point
the third part of plot structure, the point at which the action stops rising and begins falling or reversing; also called the climax