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rhetorical figures

(Schemes) Changes in standard word order or patterns

figures of speech

The literary devices used to connote meaning beyond the dictionary definition

hero (heroine)

The protagonist, or main character, of a literary text


The character who is opposition to the main character


The main character


The name given the tragic flaw of excessive pride, which generally leads to the characters downfall


A sudden insight or understanding


A protagonist who does not exhibit the traditional, heroic qualities usually associated with the main character

tragic flaw

The protagonists shortcoming that brings about his or her downfall

stock character

A type of flat character that embodies stereotypical qualities and becomes a type rather than a real person

static character

A character that stays the same during the course of a literary text

round character

A fully developed, multifaceted character that exhibits the complexity of a real person


A character who serves as a contrast to another character

flat character

One that is not fully developed, one that is defined by singular qualities

dynamic character

One who goes through a change during the course of the text

methods of a characterization

The techniques a writer uses to develop a character


Refers to attitude and is revealed by word choice


The manner in which a writer constructs a sentence and how it affects a readers understanding


The lowest form of verbal irony, usually with intent to harm

poetic license

The liberty a writer sometimes takes with the typical rules of grammar, punctuation, and/or syntax in order to fulfill his or creative process


The speaker

passive voice

When the subject of a sentence is acted upon instead of committing an action

literal language

Refers to the denotative meaning of words


Refers to the specialized and often technical language and vocabulary of a particular group

Literal imagery

Descriptive, appealing to the senses and relating to concrete information

Figurative imagery

The use of figures of speech to describe abstract ideas, attempting to make the abstract more concrete

general diction

Refers to the speech of educated native speakers

concrete diction

Refers to the language that is marked by extensive details, creating clear images

colloquial diction

The word choice of everyday usage


A detailed explanation of a literary text


The use of something more familiar to explain something new and/or complex

active voice

When the subject of the sentence is doing something, as opposed to being acted upon

abstract diction

The use of language in general terms

levels of diction

The formality of word choice (formal, general, colloquial, vulgate)


The lowest level of diction


A rather vague, metaphorical term used to refer to the distinctive features of a particular writer or text


The way in which a text is written (The message, material, and the medium are included)


The dictionary definition of a word


The association people have with words beyond the dictionary definition


Word choice (Abstract or concrete and formal or informal)


The deliberate use of a series of conjunctions, usually for emphasis


The repetition of similar grammatical terms or syntactical patterns


The positioning point of things close together or site by side

inverted sentence

Digress from the normal English pattern of subject, verb, object


A short poem with a brief, witty ending


A concise, pointed statement that reveals a truth or principal

rhetorical question

A question asked for effect rather than to elicit an answer


The placement of a sentence or one of its parts against another to which it is opposed

complex sentence

A sentence that contains one main clause and at least one dependent clause

compound sentence

A sentence that contains two or more main clauses


Both the art of composing verse as well as the form of verse used in a particular poem


A form of poetical meter consisting first of one stressed syllable, followed by one unstressed (-~)

stanzaic form

Poems are divided into regular stanzas, or sections of lines of verse


A form of poetical meter consisting of two stressed syllables ( - - )


The varying rate, intensity, pitch, and volume of speech


Repetition of identical vowel sounds


The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in poetry

internal rhyme

Rhyme that occurs within a line of verse

iambic pentameter

Ten syllables of alternating stressed-unstressed


Line of verse with six metrical feet


Harsh, discordant sounds


Repetition of consonant sounds, following different vowel sounds


Harsh Sounds


Repetition of identical or similar sounds followed by different consonant sounds


Repetition of the initial sounds


A group of lines in a poem

metrical foot

The rhythmic unit in which a lie of verse in divided

heroic couplet

A pair of rhymic lines written in iambic pentameter


The subdivision of a line of metrical verse


A break or a pause in a line of poetry


A form of poetical meter consisting of one unstressed and stressed syllable


Pleasing, harmonic sounds


A form of accentual poetical meter, beginning stressed then two unstressed


Three syllables: Two unstressed then one stressed


The speaker that an author uses to present a story

third-person point of view

A story told by someone other than the character

rising action

Part of the narrative in which the plot becomes complicated


The final outcome of the plot

omiscient point of view

All knowing, third person

framing technique

The main story is in another story

falling action

The plot after the crisis


The part of the narrative in which you find out background information


The source of tension


The point of the plot that achieves the greatest emotional intensity

stream of consciousness

A narrative technique in which an author attempts to capture the flow of thoughts and sensory impressions of characters as the pass though his or her mind.


A form of writing that has a moral purpose



point of view

Refers to the angle from which a story is told


The effect of feeling pity or sorrow, based on a passage or text as a whole


A technique of inserting material into a narrative that provides the reader with clues of future events

first-person point of view

A narrative being told from the perspective of a character who uses the word "I"


The conversation between two or more characters in a literary text


The emotional release an audience feels at the end of a tragedy


(Mood) the general feeling created by a text

epistolary novel

A novel in which the plot is developed solely though letters, diaries, journals, and blogs


The final section of a text that occurs after the conclusion of the main plot


The writing at the beginning of a narrative that tends to establish either tone or theme


A reversal of expectations, a kind of disappointment

picaresque novel

A realistic novel that resounds the adventures of a rogue


A short, realistic story that teaches a moral lesson

limited narrator

One whose point of view is not all-knowing


A scene that interrupts the present action of the narrative in order to depict an earlier event


A scene that interrupts the present action of a narrative in order to preview future events


The opposite of a utopia


A temporary departure from one topic to another related topic

circular narrative

A narrative technique where an author gradually reveals information as the narrative is repeated


A coming-of-age novel; A narrative that traces the physical, emotional, and/or spiritual development of the protagonist


The main idea of a literary text


The time and place in which a narrative takes place


Refers to the trustworthiness of a narrator

in media res

Means "in the middle of the action"


Refers to the use of objects that have meaning in and of themselves to stand for, or represent, something else


The creation and use of words that sounds like what they mean


Refers to the interconnectedness of various literary texts


An adjective or phrase used to emphasize certain characteristics


Something that exists out of place and time


An indirect reference to something


A sense of uncertainty that leaves the text open of interpretation


A recurring element of a literary text that serves as a unifying element

intentional fallacy

Refers to the practice of basing interpretations on either the expressed of implied intentions of a writer


A form of literary criticism that analyzes texts from the perspective that all texts are the results of an elaborate system of signs

reader-response criticism

Focuses on the transaction that takes place between the reader and the text

psychological criticism

Analyzes literature in terms of mental processes

New Historicism criticism

Focuses on when a text was created as well as the situation in which the text is currently being read

New Criticism

The name given to the type of literary criticism that focuses on a close reading of a text

Marxism criticism

The type of literary criticism that focuses on the struggle for power and its effect on social class

feminism criticism

The type of literary criticism that focuses on the role of women


A modern philosophy that maintains that existence precedes essence, and everyone is responsible for his or her own actions

authorial intention

Refers to the motivations a writer had in writing a text

Archetypal criticism

A form of criticism focusing on patterns that exist across cultures and time periods


Refers to a line of poetry, to differentiate between poetry and other less serious forms of metrical writing, or it is used to refer to poetry in general and specific poems.


(The turning point) The part of the plot where the conflict has intensified to a point where the fortunes of the protagonist begin to change, for the better or worse.


Refers to any text that attempts to accurately portray life, in direct opposition of sensationalism or melodrama


A desire for the past, usually a condition that cannot be duplicated

narrative poetry

Refers to typed of poems that tell a story


A form of narration that emphasizes plot or action at the expense of developing character

light verse

Refers to poetry that has neither a serious purpose nor a solemn tone

free verse

Refers to poetry that does not conform to any regular meter and does not rhyme


Occurs when a complete thought extends over two more lines of poetry


A literary form intended for performances before an audience


Can be broadly defined as any amusing and entertaining literary text. Refers to a specific type of drama, which contrasts with tragedy

carpe diem

Latin for "seize the day". The idea of living for the moment is a popular literary theme.

blank verse

Unrhymed iambic pentameter and is the preferred English verse form


An elaborate, formal lyrical poem

Italian Sonnet

(Petrarchan) A two-part sonnet that consists of an octave (eight lines) and a sestet (six lines)

interior monologue

A stream-of-consciousness technique in which the subjective thoughts of a character are revealed to the reader

end-stopped line

Occurs when the physical end of the line verse corresponds with a grammatical pause


A reflective poem that laments the loss of someone


The nonfictionalized account of a person's life, told by that person

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