47 terms

Literary Terms: Tier 1

These are terms that all high school students should master. It is not an exhaustive list, but it does include literary features that will always be relevant depending on the genre of study.
STUDY
PLAY
alliteration
a series of similar sounds
allusion
a reference to another work of literature, person, or event
aside
in drama, lines spoken by a character in an undertone or aloud directly to the audience (assumed not to be heard by other actors)
blank verse
unrhymed poetry that has a regular rhythm and line length, especially iambic pentameter
characterization
achieved through description, thoughts, words, actions, and reactions of characters
conflict
opposition between or among characters or forces in a literary work that spurs or motivates the action of a plot (internal, external; person vs. person, self, nature, society)
connotation
the additional (sometimes figurative) meanings that a word may carry (e.g., gold may connote greed)
couplet
two lines of verse that form a unit alone or as part of a poem, especially two that rhyme and have the same meter
denotation
the exact/literal meaning of a word, as found in the dictionary
resolution
the final unraveling or solution of the plot
dialect
a regional variety of a language, with differences in vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation; also a form of a language spoken by members of a particular social class or profession
diction
the use and choice of words
dynamic character
one whose character changes in the course of the play or story
flashback
a scene or event from the past that appears in a narrative out of chronological order, to fill in information or explain something in the present
foil
a character, object, or scene that sets off another by contrast (e.g., Ned Flanders for Homer Simpson)
foreshadowing
events or information presented to prepare for later events
free verse
verse without a fixed metrical pattern, usually having unrhymed lines of varying length (a.k.a., vers libre)
iambic pentameter
the most common rhythm in English poetry, consisting of five iambs in each line (iamb=unit of one short/unstressed syllable followed by one long/stressed syllable)
imagery
description that appeals to the senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste)
inversion
an alteration of the normal order of words or phrases in a grammatical construction, usually for rhetorical effect
irony
when reality is different from appearance; the implied meaning of a statement is the opposite of its literal or obvious meaning
situational irony
occurs when the outcome of a work is unexpected, or events turn out to be the opposite from what one had expected
verbal irony
occurs when what is said contradicts what is meant or thought
dramatic irony
occurs when another character(s) and/or the audience know more than one or more characters on stage about what is happening
metaphor
an imaginative comparison used to enhance the meaning of what is being compared; may be direct (X is Y) or implied ("He wanted to win her heart" comparing love to a battle)
meter
an arranged pattern of rhythm in a line of verse
narrator
tells the story in a prose piece
speaker
tells the story in a poetic piece
onomatopoeia
the use of words that by their sound suggest their meaning
oxymoron
a figure of speech consisting of two apparently contradictory terms
personification
when something nonhuman is given human characteristics (must be HUMAN, or it's a metaphor)
plot
the pattern of events in a play, poem, or fictional work.
point of view
the perspective from which the writer tells the story (1st, 2nd, 3rd person; omniscient, limited omniscient)
pun
a play on words involving the use of words with similar sounds but different meanings (collar, color), words with 2+ meanings (plain), or words with the same sound but different meanings (sun/son)
repetition
repeating a word or phrase, or rewording the same idea
rhyme
similar or identical sounds near each other (usually in two or more lines of poetry)
rhyme scheme
the pattern of rhyme in a poem
rhythm
a mood or effect in a text created from repeated elements (could be euphonous, cacophanous, staccato, etc.)
setting
the time(s) and place(s) of a story
simile
a similarity between two objects or ideas, using like or as (and sometimes than)
soliloquy
in drama, a character speaks alone on stage to allow his/her thoughts and ideas to be conveyed to the audience
sonnet
a short poem with fourteen lines, usually ten-syllable rhyming lines, divided into two, three, or four sections
stanza
a group of lines in a poem or song that constitute a division (in prose: paragraph)
static character
a character who does not change at all, or who remains almost entirely the same, throughout the course of a play or story
symbol
something that stands for itself at a literal level but which also suggests something (or several things) at the same time; frequently a concrete object or animal that represents a quality or abstract idea
theme
central idea
tone
the mood of a work (often several in one work)