Create an account
A saying or proverb containing a truth based on experience and often couched in metaphorical language
A story in which the narrative or characters carry an underlying symbolic, metaphorical, or possibly an ethical meaning
The repetition of one or more initial consonants in a group of words or lines of poetry or prose
A reference to a person, place, or event meant to create an effect or enhance the meaning of an idea
A vagueness of meaning; a conscious lack of clarity meant to evoke multiple meanings and interpretation
A person, scene, event, or other element in literature that fails to correspond with the time or era in which the work is set
A character or force in a work of literature that, by opposing the protagonist produces tension or conflict
A rhetorical opposition or contrast of ideas by means of a grammatical arrangement of words, clauses, or sentences: "They promised freedom but provided slavery"
In contrast to Dionysian, it refers to the most noble, godlike qualities of human nature and behavior
An abstract or ideal conception of a type; a perfectly typical example; an original model or form
The repetition of two or more vowel sounds in a group of words or lines in poetry and prose
A German word referring to a novel structured as a series of events that take place as the hero travels in quest of a goal
Poetry written in iambic pentameter, the primary meter used in English poetry and the works of Shakespeare and Milton
The works considered most important in a national literature or period; works widely read and studied
Deriving from the orderly qualities of ancient Greek and Roman culture; implies formality, objectivity, simplicity, and restraint
A tale in which a young protagonist experiences an introduction to adulthood. The character may develop understanding via disillusionment, education, doses of reality, or any other experiences that alter his or her emotional or intellectual maturity
A witty or ingenious thought; a diverting or highly fanciful idea, often stated in figurative language
A circumstance in which the audience or reader knows more about a situation than a character, ex. Oedipus Rex
A poem or prose selection that laments or mediates on the passing or death of something or someone of value
A sentence containing a deliberate omission of words. In the sentence "May was hot and June the same," the verb "was" is omitted from the second clause
A term that describes a line of poetry that ends with a natural pause often indicated by a mark of punctuation.
An extended narrative poem that tells of the adventures and exploits of a hero that is generally larger than life and is often considered a legendary figure, i.e. Odysseus, Beowulf, Homer's Iliad, Vergil's Aeneid.
An adjective or phrase that expresses a striking quality of a person or thing, ex. sun-bright topaz, sun-lit lake, sun-bright lake
A mild or less negative usage for a harsh or blunt term; i.e. "pass away" instead of "die"
The background and events that lead to the presentation of the main idea or purpose of a work of literature
A short tale often featuring nonhuman characters that act as people whose actions enable the author to make observations or draw useful lessons about human behavior
The action in a play or story that occurs after the climax and that leads to the conclusion and often to the resolution of the conflict
A comedy that contains an extravagant and nonsensical disregard of seriousness, although it may have a serious, scornful purpose.
Also called figure of speech. In contrast to literal language, it implies meanings. Includes metaphors, similes, and personification, among others.
A narrative told by a character involved in the story, using first-person pronouns such as I and we.
A return to an earlier time in a story or play in order to clarify present action or circumstances.
A novel in which supernatural horrors and an atmosphere of unknown terrors pervades the action
Two rhymed lines written in iambic pentameter and used widely in eighteenth-century verse.
in medias res
"In the middle of things"--a Latin term for a narrative that starts not at the beginning of events, but at some other critical point.
A rendering of a quotation in which actual words are not stated but only approximated or paraphrased
A mode of expression in which the intended meaning is the opposite of what is stated, often implying ridicule or light sarcasm; a state of affairs or events that is the reverse of what might have been expected
A device employed in Anglo-Saxon poetry in which the name of a thing is replaced by one of its functions or qualities, as in "ring-giver" for king and "whale-road" for ocean
A form of understatement in which the negative of the contrary is used to achieve emphasis or intensity. Ex: He's not a bad dancer
A sentence that follows the customary word order of English sentences, i.e. subject-verb-object. The main idea of the sentence is presented first and is then followed by one or more subordinate clauses
Personal, reflective poetry that reveals the speaker's thoughts and feelings about the subject
A literary form in which events are exaggerated in order to create an extreme emotional response
The work of poets, particularly those of the seventeenth century, that uses elaborate conceits, is highly intellectual, and expresses the complexities of love and life
A figure of speech that uses the name of one thing to represent something else with which it is associated. Ex: "The White House says..."
A parody of traditional epic form. It usually treats a frivolous topic with extreme seriousness, using conventions such as invocations to the Muse, action-packed battle scenes, and accounts of heroic exploits.
A phrase, idea, or event that through repetition serves to unify or convey a theme in a work of literature
One of the ancient Greek goddesses presiding over the arts. The imaginary source of inspiration for an artist or writer
An imaginary story that has become an accepted part of the cultural or religious tradition of a group or society
A term often used as a synonym for realism, also a view of experience that is generally characterized as bleak and pessimistic.
A work of fiction of roughly 20,000 to 50,000 words--longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel
novel of manners
A novel focusing on and describing the social customs and habits of a particular social group
The Anglo-Saxon language spoken in what is now England from approximately 450 to 1150 A.D.
A narrator with unlimited awareness, understanding, and insight of characters, setting, background, and all other elements of the story
Faulty reasoning that inappropriately ascribes human feelings to nature or nonhuman objects
A sentence that departs from the usual word order of English sentences by expressing its main though only at the end. In other words, the particulars in the sentence are presented before the idea they support.
The role or facade that a character assumes or depicts to a reader, a viewer, or the world at large
The interrelationship among the events in a story; the plot line is the pattern of events, including exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
An episodic novel about a roguelike wanderer who lives off his wits. Ex: Don Quixote, Moll Flanders
point of view
The relation in which a narrator or speaker stands to the story or subject matter of a poem.
Also called "pen name" or "nom de plume"; a false name or alias used by writers. Ex: Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
A humorous play on words, using similar-sounding or identical words to suggest different meanings
The depiction of people, things, and events as they really are without idealization or exaggeration for effect.
The language of a work and its style; words, often highly emotional, used to convince or sway an audience
Language that conveys a speaker's attitude or opinion with regard to a particular subject
roman a clef
French for a novel in which hisotrical events and actual people appear under the guise of fiction
A sharp, caustic expression or remark; a bitter jibe or taunt; different from irony, which is more subtle
A literary style used to poke fun at, attack, or ridicule an idea, vice, or foible, often for the purpose of inducing change
A term that describes characters' excessive emotional response to experience; also nauseatingly nostalgic and mawkish
The total environment for the action in a novel or play. It includes time, place, historical milieu, and social, political, and even spiritual circumstances
A group of two or more lines in poetry combined according to subject matter, rhyme, or some other plan
stream of consciousness
A style of writing in which the author tries to reproduce the random flow of thoughts in the human mind
A subordinate or minor collection of events in a novel or play, usually connected to the main plot
The use of one object to evoke ideas and associations not literally part of the original object
A figure of speech in which a part signifies the whole ("fifty masts" for fifty ships) or the whole signifies the part ("days" for life, as in "He lived his days in Canada"). Also when the name of the material stands for the thing itself ("pigskin" for football)
The organization of language into meaningful structure; every sentence has a particular pattern of words
A character whose name appears in the title of the novel or play; also known as the eponymous character
The author's attitude toward the subject being written about. The spirit or quality that is the work's emotional essence
A form of literature in which the hero is destroyed by some character flaw and a set of forces that cause the hero considerable anguish
A discrepancy between the true meaning of a situation and the literal meaning of the written or spoken words
Similar to the truth; the quality of realism in a work that persuades readers that they are getting a vision of life as it is.
The structural form of a line of verse as revealed by the number of feet it contains. For example: monometer = 1foot; tetrameter = 4 feet; pentameter = 5 feet, and so forth
A French verse form calculated to appear simple and spontaneous but consisting of nineteen lines and a prescribed pattern of rhymes
Please allow access to your computer’s microphone to use Voice Recording.
Having trouble? Click here for help.
We can’t access your microphone!
Click the icon above to update your browser permissions and try again
Reload the page to try again!Reload
Press Cmd-0 to reset your zoom
Press Ctrl-0 to reset your zoom
It looks like your browser might be zoomed in or out. Your browser needs to be zoomed to a normal size to record audio.
Please upgrade Flash or install Chrome
to use Voice Recording.
For more help, see our troubleshooting page.
Your microphone is muted
For help fixing this issue, see this FAQ.
Star this term
You can study starred terms together