Literary Terms

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alliteration
the repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables (as wild and woolly, threatening throngs) —called also head rhyme, initial rhyme
analogy
drawing a comparison in order to show a similarity in some respect
anecdote
brief entertaining story
antagonist
the character who works against the protagonist in the story
atmosphere
The emotional mood created by the entirety of a literary work, established partly by the setting and partly by the author's choice of objects that are described.
ballad
a narrative poem of popular origin
character
an imaginary person represented in a work of fiction (play or film or story)
characterization
the act of describing distinctive characteristics or essential features
climax
the decisive moment in a novel or play
concrete poem
A poem in which the words are arranged on a page to suggest a visual representation of the subject.
conflict
opposition in a work of drama or fiction between characters or forces (especially an opposition that motivates the development of the plot)
connotations
something implied or suggested
couplet
a stanza consisting of two successive lines of verse
denotation
the most direct or specific meaning of a word or expression
dialect
the usage or vocabulary that is characteristic of a specific group of people
dialogue
a literary composition in the form of a conversation between two people
drama
a dramatic work intended for performance by actors on a stage
epic poem
a long narrative poem telling of a hero's deeds
epithat
a breif descriptive phrase that points out traits associated with a particular person or thing.
exposition
introduces the characters, setting, and basic situation (conflict)
expository writing
writing that explains or informs
fable
a short moral story (often with animal characters)
fiction
a literary work based on the imagination and not necessarily on fact
figurative language
writing or speech that is not meant to be taken literally
folk tale
a tale circulated by word of mouth among the common folk
foreshadowing
the act of providing vague advance indications
genre
a kind of literary or artistic work
haiku
3 unrhymed lines (each line has a certain amount of syllables 5, 7, 5) usually focusing on nature
historical fiction
made up but based on actual historical events
idiom
an expression whose meanings cannot be inferred from the meanings of the words that make it up
juxtaposition
Placement of two things closely together to emphasize comparisons or contrasts
oxymoron
A figure of speech that combines two apparently contradictory elements
paradox
A rhetorical device making an assertion which on one level appears to be a contradiction but which on another level may be actually true.
motif
(n.) a principal idea, feature, theme, or element; a repeated or dominant figure in a design
suspense
A feeling of uncertainty and curiosity about what will happen next in a story; key element in fiction and drama;
tragedy
A serious form of drama dealing with the downfall of a heroic or noble character