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.
a series of similar sounds
a reference to another work of literature, person, or event
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
achieved through description, thoughts, words, actions, and reactions of characters
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)
the additional (sometimes figurative) meanings that a word may carry (e.g., gold may connote greed)
two lines of verse that form a unit alone or as part of a poem, especially two that rhyme and have the same meter
the exact/literal meaning of a word, as found in the dictionary
the final unraveling or solution of the plot
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
the use and choice of words
dynamic character
one whose character changes in the course of the play or story
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
a character, object, or scene that sets off another by contrast (e.g., Ned Flanders for Homer Simpson)
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)
description that appeals to the senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste)
an alteration of the normal order of words or phrases in a grammatical construction, usually for rhetorical effect
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
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)
an arranged pattern of rhythm in a line of verse
tells the story in a prose piece
tells the story in a poetic piece
the use of words that by their sound suggest their meaning
a figure of speech consisting of two apparently contradictory terms
when something nonhuman is given human characteristics (must be HUMAN, or it's a metaphor)
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)
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)
repeating a word or phrase, or rewording the same idea
similar or identical sounds near each other (usually in two or more lines of poetry)
rhyme scheme
the pattern of rhyme in a poem
a mood or effect in a text created from repeated elements (could be euphonous, cacophanous, staccato, etc.)
the time(s) and place(s) of a story
a similarity between two objects or ideas, using like or as (and sometimes than)
in drama, a character speaks alone on stage to allow his/her thoughts and ideas to be conveyed to the audience
a short poem with fourteen lines, usually ten-syllable rhyming lines, divided into two, three, or four sections
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
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
central idea
the mood of a work (often several in one work)