English Regents Terms

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Allegory
A narrative or description having a second meaning beneath the surface one. A story, fictional or nonfiction, in which characters, things, and events represent qualities or concepts.
Alliteration
The repetition at close intervals of initial identical consonant sounds. Or, vowel sounds in successive words or syllables that repeat.
Allusion
An indirect reference to something with which the reader is expected to be familiar. Allusions are usually literary, historical, Biblical, or mythological.
Anachronism
Assignment of something to a time when it was not in existence, e.g. the watch Merlyn wore in The Once and Future King.
Analogy
An analogy is a comparison to a directly parallel case. When a writer uses an analogy, he or she argues that a claim reasonable for one case is reasonable for the analogous case.
Anaphora
Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of two or more sentences in a row.
Anecdote
A brief recounting of a relevant episode. Anecdotes are often inserted into fictional or nonfiction texts as a way of developing a point or injecting humor.
Antithesis
A balancing of two opposite or contrasting words, phrases, or clauses.
Apostrophe
An address to the dead as if living; to the inanimate as if animate; to the absent as if present; to the unborn as if alive. Examples: "O Julius Caesar thou are mighty yet; thy spirit walks abroad," or "Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll."
Archetype
—"images" of character, plot pattern, symbols recur in literature and evoke profound emotional responses in the reader because they resonate with an image already existing in our unconscious mind, e.g. death, rebirth.
Aside
A dramatic convention by which an actor directly addresses the audience but it is not supposed to be heard by the other actors on the stage.
Assonance
Repetition of a vowel sound within two or more words in close proximity. "Fake" and "lake" denote rhyme; "lake" and "fate" demonstrate assonance.
Characterization
The method an author uses to develop characters in a work. In direct characterization, the author straightforwardly states the character's traits. With indirect characterization, those traits are implied through what the character says, does, how the character dresses, interacts with other characters, etc.
Chiasmus
Arrangement of repeated thoughts in the pattern of X Y Y X. Chiasmus is often short and summarizes a main idea
Comic relief
Humorous speeches and incidents in the course of the serious action of a tragedy; frequently comic relief widens and enriches the tragic significance of the work.
Connotation
Rather than the dictionary definition, the associations associated by a word. Implied meaning rather than literal meaning or denotation.
Convention
Following certain conventions, or traditional techniques of writing.
Diction
Word choice, particularly as an element of style.
Didactic
A term used to describe fiction or nonfiction that teaches a specific lesson or moral or provides a model or correct behavior or thinking.
Elegy
A formal sustained poem lamenting the death of a particular person.
Epiphany
A major character's moment of realization or awareness.
Euphemism
The use of a word or phrase that is less direct, but is also considered less distasteful or less offensive than another. E.g. "He is at rest" instead of "He is dead."
Exposition
Introduction to setting, characters, and conflict; often provides background
Farce
A type of comedy in which one-dimensional characters are put into ludicrous situations; ordinary standards of probability and motivation are freely violated in order to evoke laughter.
Flat Character
A character constructed around a single idea or quality; a flat character is immediately recognizable.
Foil
A character whose traits are the opposite of another and who thus points up the strengths and weaknesses of the other character.
Genre
a literary form or type; classification. e.g. tragedy, comedy, novel, essay, poetry.
Hubris
Overwhelming pride or insolence that results in the misfortune of the protagonist of a tragedy. It is the particular form of tragic flaw that results from excessive pride, ambition, or overconfidence.
Hyperbole
Conscious exaggeration used to heighten effect. Not intended literally,
Image
A word or group of words, either figurative or literal, used to describe a sensory experience or an object perceived by the senses. An image is always a concrete representation.
Imagery
The use of images, especially in a pattern of related images, often figurative, to create a strong unified sensory impression.
Irony
When a reader is aware of a reality that differs from a character's perception of reality (dramatic irony)/ The literal meaning of a writer's words may be verbal irony. Generally speaking, a discrepancy between expectation and reality.
Litotes
Opposite of hyperbole; litotes intensifies an idea understatement by stating through the opposite. E.g. saying "It wasn't my best day" instead of "It was my worst day."
Metaphor
A comparison of two things, often unrelated. A figurative verbal equation results where both "parts" illuminate one another.
Mood
An atmosphere created by a writer's word choice (diction) and the details selected. Syntax is also a determiner of mood because sentence strength, length, and complexity affect pacing.
Moral
The lesson drawn from a fictional or nonfictional story. A heavily didactic story.
Motif
A frequently recurrent character, incident, or concept in literature.
Novel
An extended piece of prose fiction.
sociological novel
emphasizes the influence of economic and social conditions on characters and events and often embodies an implicit thesis for social reform.
historical novel
takes its setting and a number of its characters and events from history.
regional novel
emphasizes setting and mores of a particular locality as these affect character and action (local color); e.g. Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.
epistolary novel
tells narrative through letters (beginning of Frankenstein by Mary Shelly).
Onomatopoeia
The use of a word whose pronunciation suggests its meaning. "Buzz," "hiss," "slam," and "pop" are commonly used examples.
Oxymoron
A rhetorical antithesis. Juxtaposing two contradictory terms, like "wise fool" or "deafening silence."
Parable
A short story from which a lesson may be drawn.
Paradox
A seemingly contradictory statement or situation which is actually true. This rhetorical device is often used for emphasis or simply to attract attention.
Parody
An exaggerated imitation of a usually more serious work for humorous purposes. The writer of a parody uses the quirks of style of the imitated piece in extreme or ridiculous ways.
Pathos
Qualities of a fictional or nonfictional work that evoke sorrow or pity. Over-emotionalism can be the result of an excess of pathos.
Personification
Figurative Language in which inanimate objects, animals, ideas, or abstractions are endowed with human traits or human form—e.g. "When Duty whispers..."
Plot
System of actions represented in a dramatic or narrative work.
Point of View
The perspective from which a fictional or nonfictional story is told. First-person, third-person, or third-person omniscient points of view are commonly used.
Protagonist
Chief character in a dramatic or narrative work, usually trying to accomplish some objective or working toward some goal.
Pun
A play on words that are identical or similar in sound but have sharply diverse meanings.
Repetition
Word or phrase used two or more times in close proximity.
Rhetorical Question
A question asked for rhetorical effect to emphasize a point; no answer is expected.
Round Character
A character drawn with sufficient complexity to be able to surprise the reader without losing credibility.
Satire
A work that reveals a critical attitude toward some element of human behavior by portraying it in an extreme way.
Sarcasm
A type of verbal irony in which, under the guise of praise, a caustic and bitter expression of strong and personal disapproval is given.
Setting
Locale and period in which the action takes place.
Simile
A figurative comparison of two things, often dissimilar, using the connecting words: "like," "as," or "then."
Soliloquy
When a character in a play speaks his thoughts aloud —usually by him or herself.
Style
The choices in diction, tone, and syntax that a writer makes. In combination they create a work's manner of expression.
Symbol
A thing, event, or person that represents or stands for some idea or event.
Syntax
In grammar, the arrangement of words as elements in a sentence to show their relationship.
Theme
A central idea of a work of fiction or nonfiction, revealed and developed in the course of a story or explored through argument.
Tone
A writer's attitude toward his or her subject matter revealed through diction, figurative language, and organization of the sentence and global levels.
Tragedy
Representations of serious actions which turn out disastrously.
Tragic Flaw
Tragic error in judgment; a mistaken act which changes the fortune of the tragic hero from happiness to misery; also known as hamartia.
Understatement
Deliberately representing something as much less than it really is —e.g. "Last week I saw a woman flayed, and you will hardly believe how much it altered her appearance."
Verbal Irony
When the reader is aware of a discrepancy between the real meaning of a situation and the literal meaning of the writer's words.
Dynamic Character
Character who undergoes changes during the course of a literary work; he/she is not the same at the beginning and the end of a work.
Static Character
Character who remains the same throughout the story; he/she is no different at the end than he/she was at the beginning. He/she doesn't learn, grow, or change
Situational Irony
an incongruity between what is expected or intended and what actually occurs, including missed meetings, mix-ups, and comedic happenings
Cosmic Irony
Type of irony where it seems that God or fate is manipulating events so as to inspire false hopes, which are inevitably dashed.
Dramatic Irony
The contrast between a character's limited understanding of his situation in some particular moment of the unfolding action and what the audience, at the same instant, understands the character's situation actually to be.
Man versus Man
Theme in literature where there is a disagreement between two individuals, two small groups, or two large groups over an issue of importance
Man versus Self
Type of Internal conflict where an individual is torn about what to do in a given situation
Man versus Society
Theme in fiction in which a main character's, or group of main characters', main source of disagreement is social traditions, practices, or concepts.
Man versus God
Theme in literature where the individual questions the existence, justice, or mercy of God.
Man versus Technology
Theme in literature where technology is a source of evil and trouble for humans
Man versus Nature
theme in literature that places a character against forces of nature, like flood and fire
Antagonist
The adversary of the hero or protagonist of a drama or other literary work; he/she often seeks out evil, greed, and injustice.
Denouement
Tying up of loose ends; what happens to characters after the story
Resolution
Ultimate working out of problem; it often contains a death or a marriage
Falling Action
Conflict starts to get worked out; story is working towards a conclusion
Climax
Moment of highest tension where a critical decision must be made
Rising Action
Characters and conflicts develop leading to the climax
Inciting Incident
Moment in the story that sets the conflict in motion; the "powder keg"