AP Literature Terms
for the AP Lit and Composition test
Terms in this set (76)
story or poem in which characters, settings, and events stand for other
people or events or for abstract ideas or qualities.
EXAMPLE: Animal Farm; Dante's Inferno; Lord of the Flies
repetition of the same or similar consonant sounds in words that are
reference to someone or something that is known from history, literature,
religion, politics, sports, science, or another branch of culture. An indirect reference to
something (usually from literature, etc.).
Comparison made between two things to show how they are alike
Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of two or more
sentences in a row. This is a deliberate form of repetition and helps make the writer's
point more coherent.
attributing human characteristics to an animal or inanimate
brief, cleverly worded statement that makes a wise observation about life,
or of a principle or accepted general truth. Also called maxim, epigram.
calling out to an imaginary, dead, or absent person, or to a place or
thing, or a personified abstract idea. If the character is asking a god or goddess for
inspiration it is called an invocation.
Josiah Holland ---"Loacöon! Thou great embodiment/ Of human life and human history!"
the repetition of similar vowel sounds followed by different consonant
sounds especially in words that are together.
one who does not change much in the course of a story
one who changes in some important way as a result of the story's action
has only one or two personality traits. They're one-dimensional
has more dimensions to their personalities. They're complex, like real people.
a word or phrase in everyday use in conversation and informal writing but is inappropriate for formal situations.
a story that ends with a happy resolution of conflicts
an elaborate metaphor that compares two things that are absurdly different. Often an extended metaphor
the associations and emotional overtones that have become attached to a word or phrase IN ADDITION to its strict definition
two consecutive rhyming lines of poetry
a writer's word choice
form of fiction or nonfiction that teaches a specific lesson or moral or
provides a model of correct behavior or thinking.
a poem of mourning, usually about someone who has died
a long narrative poem, written in heightened language, which recounts the deeds of a heroic character who embodies the values of a particular society. Ex: Beowulf
quotation or aphorism at the beginning of a literary work suggestive of the theme
Device of repetition in which the same expression (single word or
phrase) is repeated at the end of two or more lines, clauses, or sentences (it is the opposite
an adjective or adjective phrase applied to a person or thing that is frequently
used to emphasize a characteristic quality. "Father of our country" and "the great
Emancipator" are examples.
act of interpreting or discovering the meaning of a text, usually involves close reading and special attention to figurative language.
very short story told in prose of poetry that teaches a practical lesson about how to succeed in life
type of comedy in which ridiculous and often stereotyped characters are involved in silly and far-fetched situations
scene that interrupts the normal chronological sequence of events in a story to depict something that happened earlier
character who contrasts another character.
poetry that does not conform to a regular meter or rhyme scheme
figure of speech that uses an incredible exaggeration or overstatement. "If I told you once, I've told you a million times.."
the use of language to evoke a picture or a concrete sensation of a person ,
a thing, a place, or an experience.
a discrepancy between appearances and reality.
when someone says one thing but really means something else
when there is a discrepancy between
what is expected to happen, or what would be appropriate to happen, and what
really does happen.
so called because it is often used on stage. A
character in the play or story thinks one thing is true, but the audience or reader
poetic and rhetorical device in which normally unassociated ideas,
words, or phrases are placed next to one another, creating an effect of surprise and wit.
Ezra Pound: "The apparition of these faces in the crowd;/ Petals on a wet, black bough."
Juxtaposition is also a form of contrast by which writers call attention to
dissimilar ideas or images or metaphors.
Martin Luther King: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
a form of understatement in which the positive form is emphasized through
the negation of a negative form: Hawthorne--- "...the wearers of petticoat and
farthingale...stepping forth into the public ways, and wedging their not unsubstantial
persons, if occasion were, into the throng..."
a poem that does not tell a story but expresses the personal feelings or
thoughts of the speaker. A ballad tells a story.
figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things
without the use of such specific words of comparison as like, as, than, or resembles.
does not state explicitly the two terms of the
comparison: "I like to see it lap the miles" is an implied metaphor in which the
verb lap implies a comparison between "it" and some animal that "laps" up
figure of speech in which a person, place, or thing, is referred to by
something closely associated with it. "We requested from the crown support for our
petition." The crown is used to represent the monarch.
an atmosphere created by a writer's diction and the details selected
a recurring image, word, phrase, action, idea, object, or situation used
throughout a work (or in several works by one author), unifying the work by tying the
current situation to previous ones, or new ideas to the theme. Kurt Vonnegut uses "So it
goes" throughout Slaughterhouse-Five to remind the reader of the senselessness of death.
the use of words whose sounds echo their sense. "Pop." "Zap."
figure of speech that combines opposite or contradictory terms in a
brief phrase. "Jumbo shrimp." "Pretty ugly." "Bitter-sweet"
a relatively short story that teaches a moral, or lesson about how to lead a
a statement that appears self-contradictory, but reveals a kind of truth
(parallelism) the repetition of words or phrases that have
similar grammatical structures.
a work that makes fun of another work by imitating some aspect of the
a figure of speech in which an object or animal is given human
feelings, thoughts, or attitudes.
point of view
vantage point from which the writer tells the story
unknown narrator tells story, but focuses on the thoughts and feelings of only one character
third person omniscient
all knowing narrator tells story using third person pronouns. tells us everything about many characters.
narrator is totally impersonal and tells story with no comment on any characters or events.
the central character in a story, the one who initiates or drives the
a "play on words" based on the multiple meanings of a single word or on words
that sound alike but mean different things.
a poem consisting of four lines, or four lines of a poem that can be
considered as a unit.
Art of effective communication, especially persuasive discourse.
a story in which an idealized hero or heroine undertakes a quest
and is successful.
a type of writing that ridicules the shortcomings of people or institutions in an
attempt to bring about a change
a figure of speech that makes an explicitly comparison between two unlike
things, using words such as like, as , than, or resembles.
long speech made by a character in a play while no other characters are
a fixed idea or conception of a character or an idea which does not
allow for any individuality, often based on religious, social, or racial prejudices.
the distinctive way in which a writer uses language: a writer's distinctive use of
diction, tone, and syntax.
a person, place, thing, or event that has meaning in itself and that also stands
for something more than itself.
figure of speech in which a part represents the whole. "If you don't
drive properly, you will lose your wheels." The wheels represent the entire car.
the insight about human life that is revealed in a literary work
the attitude a writer takes toward the subject of a work, the characters in it, or
the audience, revealed through diction, figurative language, and organization.
in general, a story in which a heroic character either dies or comes to some
other unhappy end.
a term for the bold new experimental styles and forms that swept the
arts during the first third of the twentieth century.
a nineteenth century literary movement that was an extension of
realism and that claimed to portray life exactly as it was.
a style of writing, developed in the nineteenth century, that attempts to
depict life accurately without idealizing or romanticizing it.
a revolt against Rationalism that affected literature and the other arts,
beginning in the late eighteenth century and remaining strong throughout most of the
in movement in art and literature that started in Europe during the
1920s. Surrealists wanted to replace conventional realism with the full expression of the
unconscious mind, which they considered to be more real than the "real" world of
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