How can we help?

You can also find more resources in our Help Center.

94 terms

English Midterm Literary Terms

STUDY
PLAY
limited narrator
A form of narration in which the narrator cannot tell the story from multiple point of views
limited omniscient narrator
A form of narration that combines limited and omniscient narration
omniscient narrator
A type of narrator that can move from character to character or place to place freely with access to all of the characters' feelings.
theme
A key idea expressed in a work, either directly or indirectly
foreshadowing
The technique of arranging events that later events are implied in previous events, giving a thematic and structural unity
vernacular
The native dialect of a particular region. (Wuthering heights)
hamartia
the flaw or error of a hero that leads to his or her downfall
symbol
something that stands for something else due to a relationship in the novel
mood
the atmosphere of a work
foil
a character whose personality and attitude contrast sharply with those of another
natural imagery
Imagery drawn from the created world and its non-human inhabitants that are related to the plot or the character's feelings (Macbeth)
thesis
the primary thought taken by a writer or speaker, usually in an essay
moral ambiguity
there is no such thing as absolute right or wrong. Each person chooses what they want to do. (Macbeth)
reliable narrator
A narrator that is trustworthy. This type of narrator can tell the truth in the story.
unreliable narrator
A type of narrator that may distort or exaggerate events in the story
pathetic fallacy
The poetic practice in a story in which nature or other objects imitate the emotions of the human character
situational irony
The awareness of the difference between appearance and reality.
dramatic irony
This type of irony occurs when the audience knows more than the character [in the play] and knows the consequences of a situation
verbal irony
the awareness of an unexpected difference between words and their meaning
audience
the reader/viewer/listener of a work of art
purpose
the reason for which something is done or for which something exists.
voice
an opinion or attitude of an author or a means by which it is expressed
tone
the reflection of a writers attitude manner mood and moral outlook in his work
mood
The emotional atmosphere of a work
diction
the word choices made by a writer
style
the choices a writer makes; the combination of distinctive features of a literary work
first person narrator
A point of view in which a narrator, referred to as "I," who is a character in the story and relates the actions through his or her own perspective, also revealing his or her own thoughts
3rd person narrator
one who tells a story from the third person point of view. The author chooses a character and relates the story in terms of that character.
subjective
influenced by personal opinion, biased
objective
belonging to immediate experience of actual things or events
theme
a unifying idea that is a recurrent element in a literary or artistic work expressed directly or indirectly
exposition
The introductory material which gives the setting, creates the tone, presents the characters, and presents other facts necessary to understanding the story.
resolution
those events which form the outcome of the play
subplot
A subsidiary or subordinate or parallel plot in a play or story that coexists with the main plot
subtext
the implicit or metaphorical meaning
flashback
a transition (in literary or theatrical works or films) to an earlier event or scene that interrupts the normal chronological development of the story
antithesis
the juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas to give a feeling of balance
nemesis
punishment that overtakes a tragic hero
local color
writing which presents the mannerisms, dress, speech and customs of a particular geographical region
vernacular
the everyday speech of the people (as distinguished from literary language)
dialect
the usage or vocabulary that is characteristic of a specific group of people
flat character
a character who embodies a single quality and who does not develop in the course of a story
round character
a character who demonstrates some complexity and who develops or changes in the course of a work
persona
(Jungian psychology) a personal facade that one presents to the world
foil
anything that serves by contrast to call attention to another thing's good qualities
hero
a man distinguished by exceptional courage and nobility and strength
archetype
an original model on which something is patterned
drama
verse or prose composition intended to potray life or character or to tell a story usually involving conflicts and emotions through action and dialogue
tragedy
drama in which the protagonist is overcome by some superior force or circumstance
comedy
light and humorous drama with a happy ending
short story
a prose narrative shorter than a novel
poetry
A kind of rhythmic, compressed language that uses figures of speech and imagery designed to appeal to our emotions and imaginations
frame story
A narrative structure containing or connecting a series of otherwise unrelated tales.
existentialism
a philosophy based on the idea that people give meaning to their lives through their choices and actions
naturalism
(philosophy) the doctrine that the world can be understood in scientific terms without recourse to spiritual or supernatural explanations
realism
the attribute of accepting the facts of life and favoring practicality and literal truth
gothic
18th - 19th century style of fiction medieval settings murky horror and gloom, mysterious and violent incidents
modernism
The deliberate departure from tradition and the use of innovative forms of expression that distinguish many styles in the arts and literature of the 20th century.
Lost Generation
Group of writers in 1920s who shared the belief that they were lost in a greedy, materialistic world that lacked moral values and often choose to flee to Europe
nihilism
the delusion that things (or everything, including the self) do not exist
expressionism
emphasizes the life of the mind and feelings rather than the realistic external details of everyday life
fatalism
the belief that all events are determined in advance by fate and cannot be changed by human means
determinism
The philosophical theory that every human act or decision is the inevitable result of specific influences (physical, psychological, environmental) that are independent of human will
situational irony
occurs when the outcome of a work is unexpected, or events turn out to be the opposite from what one had expected
dramatic irony
(theater) irony that occurs when the meaning of the situation is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play
verbal irony
The contrast between what is said and what is actually meant.
tragic flaw
the character flaw or error of a tragic hero that leads to his downfall
hubris
overbearing pride or presumption
chorus
a company of actors who comment (by speaking or singing in unison) on the action in a classical Greek play
soliloquy
a (usually long) dramatic speech intended to give the illusion of unspoken reflections
monologue
a long utterance by one person (especially one that prevents others from participating in the conversation)
montage
any combination of disparate elements that form a unified, single image
stream of consciousness
a style of writing in which the author tries to reproduce the random flow of thoughts in the human mind
interior monologue
presents the private sensations, thoughts, and emotions of a character
motif
a unifying idea that is a recurrent element in a literary or artistic work
allegory
an expressive style that uses fictional characters and events to describe some subject by suggestive resemblances
pathetic fallacy
The attribution of human emotions or characteristics to inanimate objects or to nature; for example angry clouds; a cruel wind.`
pathos
a quality that arouses emotions (especially pity or sorrow)
ambiguity
an expression whose meaning cannot be determined from its context
catharsis
(psychoanalysis) purging of emotional tensions
poetic justice
the operation of justice in a play with fair distribution of rewards for good deeds and punishment for wrongdoing
abstract
a concept or idea not associated with any specific instance
concrete
capable of being perceived by the senses
figurative
Words used in a symbolic way
denotation
the most direct or specific meaning of a word or expression
connotation
an idea that is implied or suggested not direct meaning
allusion
passing reference or indirect mention
rhetorical question
a question that is emphasizes the obvious answer to what is asked
imagery
The use of language to evoke a picture or a concrete sensation of a person, thing, place, or experience
simile
a figure of speech that expresses a resemblance between things of different kinds (usually formed with 'like' or 'as')
metaphor
a figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity
extended simile
running many lines comparisons elaborate in detail
oxymoron
an expression in which two words that contradict each other are joined
epithet
any word or phrase applied to a person or thing to describe an actual or attributed quality