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These are the terms for Mrs. Dunlap's Elements of Literature Test. Be familiar with the definitions. Good Luck.


A person or animal in literary work.


The main character in a work of literature. The protagonist is involved in the work's central conflict. He/she may or may not be human.


The character or force that creates conflict for the protagonist.


A character that doesn't change through the course of the story.


A character that changes throughout the course of the story.


The struggle between opposing forces or characters.

Internal Conflict

The struggle within the character (needs, desires, emotions)

External Conflict

The struggle with another character, society, nature, or supernatural.


The way the writer reveals the personality of the character.

Direct Characterization

The author clearly states what the character is like.

Indirect Characterization

The author reveals what the character is like through inferences.


A character that has only two traits, which can be described in one or two words.


A character who, like a real person, has many different traits, some are admirable, and some are not. The reader can see many different sides


Focus on physical descriptions that reveal internal character.


Consider that actions often tell more than words.

Character's Words

Watch for tone, dialect, and language to learn about the character.

Others' Reactions

The reader must determine if others' reactions accurately portray the character.

Character's Thoughts or Feelings

Sometimes feelings are obvious other times feelings might be implied.

Point Of View

The vantage point from which a story is told.


The narrator knows everything including the thoughts of the multiple characters.

Third Person Limited

Narrator focuses on the thoughts and feelings of only one character.

First Person

The narrator is one of the characters; uses the pronoun "I" to tell the story (Usually the protagonist)


The reason a character behaves a certain way or performs an action that appears uncharacteristic.


Conclusions based on information in the text and what we know, often reveals character.


The term that clarifies how believable the character is. Characters that are too good or too bad may lack plausibility.

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