a concept or value that can not be seen (love, honor, courage, death, etc.) which the writer usually tries to illustrate by comparing it metaphorically to a known, concrete, object. Sometimes this knowledge is hidden or esoteric because it is only known by or meant for a select few. example - "I nod to death in passing, aware of the sound of my own feet upon my path." Peter Mathiesson
Latin for "to the man" - attacking the arguer and not the person; also known as mudslinging
the comparison of two things, which are alike in several respects, for the purpose of clarifying some unfamiliar or difficult idea or object by showing how the idea or object is similar to some familiar one.
the repetition of a word or expression at the beginning of successive phrases for rhetorical or poetic effect, as in Lincoln's Gettysburg Address: We cannot dedicate - we cannot consecrate - we cannot hallow this ground And whisper to their souls, to go,
the character in a narrative or play who is in conflict with the main character; it may not even be a person -- or may be the same person as the main character
The intentional use of elevated language to describe the trivial or commonplace, or a sudden transition from a significant thought to a trivial one in order to achieve a humorous or satiric effect; it also occurs in a series in which the ideas ascend toward a climactic conclusion but terminate instead in a thought of lesser importance.
a protagonist who is the antithesis of the hero - graceless, inept, stupid, sometimes dishonest
a figure of speech in which a thought is balanced with a contrasting thought in parallel arrangements of words and phrases, such as "He promised wealth and provided poverty," or "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." or "Give me performance, not promises." Also, the second of two contrasting or opposing constituents, following the thesis.
brief statement which expresses an observation on life, usually intended as a wise observation. Benjamin Franklin's "Poor Richard's Almanac" contains numerous examples, one of which is "Drive thy business; let it not drive thee," which means that one should not allow the demands of business to take control of one's moral or worldly commitments.
refers to the noble qualities of human beings and nature as opposed to the savage and destructive forces
addressing someone or something, usually not present, as though present. EX: Death, be not Proud. A figure of speech wherein the speaker speaks directly to something non-human. Often, a personif the person isn't there, or if the speaker doesn't think the person is there.
a statement delivered by a actor in such a way that the other characters on stage are presumed not have heard him
assertions made based on facts, statistics, logical or objective reasoning, hard evidence, etc
similarity or repetition of a vowel sound in two or more words, especially in a line of verse. Edgar Allen Poe's "The Bells" contains numerous examples: short e in "Hear the mellow wedding bells..." and the long o in in "... the molten-golden notes"
the omission of conjunctions that ordinarily join coordinate words and phrases, as in "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."
a form of verse to be sung or recited and characterized by a dramatic or exciting episode in fairly short narrative; a poem written in a song-like stanza form
begging the question
also called assuming the answer: We must assume the death penalty to end violent crime or I don't like the death penalty because it's killing; circular reasoning. A persuasive fallacy in which the writer assumes the reader will automatically accept an assertion without proper support. example - "Lying is universal; we all do it; we all must do it. Therefore, the wise thing is for us to diligently train ourelves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously." Mark Twain
a combination of harsh, unpleasant sounds which create an effect of discordance. Its opposite is euphony.
a pause for effect in the middle of a line of poetry; (period, dash, semicolon, etc.) it may or may not affect the meter. In scansion, a caesura is usually indicated by the following symbol (//). Here's an example by Alexander Pope: The proper study of Mankind//is Man.
works generally considered by scholars, critics, and teachers to be the most important to study or read, which collectively constitute the "masterpieces" or "classics" of literature.
(Latin -- "Seize the day") A theme, especially common in lyric poetry, that emphasizes that life is short, time is fleeting, and that one should make the most of present pleasures
Aristotle's word for the pity of and fear an audience experiences upon viewing the downfall of a hero
cause and effect relationships
a dominant technique (also called rhetorical device_ in which the author analyzes reasons for a chain of events. This casual analysis can also be the writer's main method of organization or it can be one paragraph used to support a point in an essay developed through another pattern.
the method of a writer uses to reveal the personality of a character in a literary work. Personality may be revealed (1) by what the character says about himself or herself; (2) by what others reveal about the character; and (3) by the character's own actions.
repetition in successive clauses which are usually parallel in syntax, as in Pope's "A fop their passion, but their prize a sot," or Goldsmith's "to stop too fearful, and too faint to go."
an approach to literature which emphasizes reason, harmony, balance, proportion, clarity, and the imitation of ancient writers and philosophers
infromal, not always grammatically correct expressions that find acceptance in certain geographical areas and within certain groups of people - ex: Southerners saying "Ya'll"
something of humor interrupts an otherwise serious, often tragic, literary work; a humorous scene or incident that alleviates tension in an otherwise serious work. In many instances these moments enhance the thematic significance of the story in addition to providing laughter.
where the actual typeset layout of the poem suggest the topic. For example, a poem about trees might be shaped like a tree on the page.
the emotional implications that a word may carry; implied or associated meaning for a particular word.
the repetition of consonant sounds with differing vowel sounds in words near each other in a line or lines of poetry. EX: But yet we trust
three syllable foot consisting of an accented syllable followed by the unaccented syllables. EN: MUR-mur-ing.
deus ex machina
an unexpected, artificial, or improbable character, device, or event introduced suddenly in a work of fiction or drama to resolve a situation or untangle a plot
a term for a poem that teaches, almost preaches. IT often discusses the "proper" way to behave. The lesson being taught is more important to the writer than the artistic quality of the work
irony in which the character use words which mean one thing to them but another to those who understand the situation better
lyrical poem about death; a serious poem, usually meant to express grief or sorrow. The theme is serious, usually death
a long narrative, usually written in elevated language, which related the adventures of a hero upon whom rests the fate of a nation
a witty saying, usually at the end of a poem, about 2 lines long; a brief, witty observation about a person, institution, or experience
a term applied to a group of attitudes which emphasize existence rather than the essence, and sees the inadequacy of human reason to explain the enigma of the universe
the introductory material which sets the tone, gives the setting, introduces the characters, and supplies necessary facts; may be the first section of the typical Plot, in which Characters are introduced, the setting is described, and any necessary background information is given.
A form of rhyme wherein the look rather than the sound is important. "Cough" and "tough" do not sound enough alike to constitute a rhyme. However, if these two words appeared at the ends of successive lines of poetry, they would be considered this.
Double rhyme - two syllables rhyme. Ex. resenting/consenting triple rhyme - 3 syllables rhyme, Ex. pollution/solution
a character who is not fully developed by an author; character who has only one outstanding trait or feature, or at the most a few distinguishing marks.
character who provides a contrast to another character, thus emphasizing the other's traits; a character in a play who sets off the main character or other characters by comparison.
a unit of meter; it can have two or three syllables; the basic unit of measurement in a line of poetry. In scansion, it represents one instance of metrical pattern an is shown either between or to the right or left of vertical lines. Most common type: iamb.
The basic foot of this verse, consisting (when complete) of an unaccented syllable, a lightly accented syllable, an unaccented syllable, and a heavy accented syllable, in that succession. However, this verse accommodates a tremendous amount of variety
a tragic flaw or error in judgment. In literature, the tragic hero's error of judgment or inherent defect of character, usually less literally translated as "fatal flaw." This, combined with essential elements of chance and other external forces, brings about a catastrophe. Often the error or flaw results from nothing more than personal traits like probity, pride, and overconfidence, but can arise from any failure of the protagonist's action or knowledge ranging from a simple unwittingness to a moral deficiency.
A long speech denouncing someone or something; a story or lecture on a religious or moral theme; a didactic lecture
the pride or overconfidence which often leads a hero to overlook divine warning or to break a moral law
exaggeration for effect and emphasis, overstatement; figure of speech in which an overstatement or exaggeration occurs
expressions that do not translate exactly into what a speaker means; they are culturally relevant; when a person uses one of these expressions, he or she truly "thinks" in the language
devices which appeal to the senses: visual, tactile, auditory, gustatory, olfactory, kinetic; a group of words that create a mental "picture" (ie., animal, water, death, plant, decay, war, etc.).
reversing the normal subject - verb - complement order. Poets do this sometimes to conform to normal rhyme and rhythm patterns. Prose writers sometimes do this for emphasis.
a type of meiosis (understatement) in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of the contrary, as in "not unhappy" or "a poet of no small stature"
loose or cumulative sentence
A sentence that has an independent clause first, followed by a series of phrases and clauses - ex. The family used to gather around the hearth, doing such chores as polishing shoes, mending ripped clothing, reading, chatting, always warmed by one another's presence as much as by the flames.
a play based upon a dramatic plot and developed sensationally; a type of drama related to tragedy but featuring sensational incidents, emphasizing plot at the expense of characterization, relying on cruder conflicts (virtuous protagonist versus villainous antagonist), and having a happy ending in which good triumphs over evil.
a figure of speech wherein a comparison between two unlike quantities without the use of the words "like" or "as."
although sometimes used in the broad sense of philosophical poetry, the term usually applies to the work of seventeenth-century poets, such as John Donne. It is characterized by the use of conceits, condensed metaphysical language, unusual comparisons between medicine, love, death, and religion, and complex imagery.
substituting a word naming an object for another word closely associated with it. Ex. Pay tribute to the crown; figure of speech in which a word represents something else which it suggests.
a metaphor whose elements are either incongruent or contradictory by the use of incompatible identifications, such as "the dog pulled in its horns."
(leitmotiv) a recurring concept or story element in literature. It includes concepts such as types of incident or situation, as in parting of lovers at dawn; plot devices; patterns of imagery; or archetypes and character types, such as despairing lover, conquering hero, or wicked stepmother.
Everything this narrator says is true, and the narrator knows everything that is necessary to the story
Narrator who may or may not know all the relevant information; may be intoxicated or mentally ill; may lie to the audience
writing that demonstrates a deep interest in nature (often sees nature as indifferent to the plight of man); also used to describe any form of extreme realism
Restoration literacy movement in which writers turned to Greek/Roman models for inspiration
a long, formal lyric poem with a serious theme; a form of lyric poetry using elaborate, sophisticated vocabulary in iambic pentameter. It usually focuses on a single object or person.
the use of a word to represent or to imitate natural sounds. EN: sizzle, buzz, pop, hiss;
a statement which contains seemingly contradictory elements or appears contrary to common sense, yet can be seen as perhaps true when view from another angle. (A statement that is seemingly impossible at first, but very logical once it is explained. Ex. The child is father to the man)
a repetition of syntactical similarities in passages closely connected for rhetorical effect.The repetitive structure lends wit or emphasis to the meanings of the separate clauses, thus being particularly effective in antithesis.
ludicrous imitation, usually for comic effect but sometimes for ridicule, of the style and content of another work. The humor depends upon the reader's familiarity with the original. A literary work that imitates the style of another literary work. It can be simply amusing or it can be mocking in tone, such as a poem which exaggerates the use of alliteration in order to show the ridiculous effect of overuse.
a literary work that has to do with shepherds and rustic settings. Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shephard to His Love" and Robert Burn's "Sweet Afton" are examples.
overdone writing that sees the inadequacy of human reason to explain the enigma of the universe. Writing that uses clichés to show nature mirroring what happens in real life. Evil always happens on dark and stormy nights, while spring days are when new lovers meet.
Greek term for deep emotion, passion, or suffering. When applied to literature, its meaning is usually narrowed to refer to tragic emotions, describing the language and situations which deeply move the audience or reader by arousing sadness, sympathy, or pity. When it seems excessive or exaggerated it becomes melodramatic or sentimental.
Saves the subject and verb of the independent clause until the end of the sentence.
Figure of speech in which inanimate objects are given qualities of speech and/or movement.
point of view
the narrator or speaker perspective from which the story is told - personal, objective, omniscient, partial or limited omniscient. It is the perspective from which a narrative is presented; it is analogous to the point from which the camera sees the action in cinema. The two main ones of these are those of third-person (omniscient) narrator, who stands outside the story itself, and the first-person narrator, who participates in the story. The first type always uses third-person pronouns, while the latter also uses the first-person.
post hoc, ergo propter hoc
Latin for "It happened after, so it was caused by." e.g., I know of a 26-year-old who looks 60 because she takes contraceptive pills," OR "Before women got the vote, there were no nuclear weapons."
A phrase or line, usually pertinent to the central topic, which is repeated at regular intervals throughout a poem, usually at the end of a stanza.
The part of a story or drama which occurs after the climax and which establishes a new norm, or a new state of affairs - the way things are going to be from then on.
works having extravagant characters, remote or exotic settings, adventure, magic, chivalry, and love
A fully developed character; a character who is complex, multi-dimensional, and convincing.
A piece of literature designed to ridicule the subject of the work. While satire can be funny, its aim is not to amuse, but to arouse contempt.They arouse laughter or scorn as means of ridicule and derision, with the avowed intention of correcting human faults.
to mark off lines of poetry into rhythmic units, or feet, so as to show their metrical structure.
A long speech by a character who is alone on the stage in which he reveals his innermost thoughts and feelings
The English, or Shakespearean version is divided into three quatrains (four-line groupings) and a final couplet (14 lines). The meter is iambic pentameter, with a set rhyme of abab cdcd efef gg. The change of rhyme in the English version is coincidental with a change of theme in the poem. The structure of the English version explores variations on a theme in the first three quatrains and concludes with an epigrammatic couplet. A Spenserian version is a nine-line stanza, with the first eight lines in iambic pentameter and the last line in iambic hexameter.
a character who is the same sort of person at the end of the story as he/she was at the beginning.
stream of consciousness
narrative technique which presents thoughts as if they were coming directly from a character's mind
The underlying structure of deductive reasoning, having a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion based on logic. They are either valid or invalid.
a figure of speech in which a part of something stands for the whole or the whole for a part, as wheels for automobile or society for high society.
the perception or description of one kind of sense impression in words normally used to describe a different sense, like a "sweet voice" or a "velvety smile." It can be very effective for creating vivid imagery. One sensory experience described in terms of another sensory experience.
an ingredient of a literary work which gives the work unity. It provides an answer to the question, "What is the work about?" Each literary work carries its own. Unlike plot, which deals with the action of a work, it concerns itself with a work's message or contains the general idea of a work and is worded in a complete sentence.
(Partial omniscient): Narrator can only tell what one person is thinking or feeling.
expresses the author's attitude toward his or her subject. Since there are as many of these in literature as there are of these in real relationships, the one in a literary work may be one of anger or approval, pride or piety; the entire gamut of attitudes towards life's phenomena.
statement in which the literal sense of what is said falls short of the magnitude of what is being talked about (a litote is a type of this). Where we deliberately say less than we mean, and let the audience understand the real meaning.
a kind of irony in which words are used to suggest the opposite of their actual meaning.
a poem with five triplets and a final quatrain; only two rhyme sounds are permitted in the entire poem, and the first and third lines of the first stanza are repeated, alternately, as the third line of subsequent stanzas until the last, when they appear as the last two lines of the poem.