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31 terms

Important Literary Terms

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Allegory
A representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms; figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another
Alliteration
The commencement of two or more stressed syllables of a word group either with the same consonant sound or sound group or the same letter.
Allusion
A passing or casual reference; an incidental mention of something, either directly or by implication (historical or literary)
Ambiguity
An unclear, indefinite, or equivocal word, expression, meaning, etc.
Anti-hero
A protagonist who lacks the attributes that make a heroic figure, such a s nobility of mind and spirit, a life or attitude marked by action or purpose, and the like.
Archetype
A collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern or thought, image, etc. universally present in individual psyches. The prototype or stereotype.
Conceit
An elaborate, fanciful metaphor, esp. of a strained or far-fetched nature. Extended metaphor that governs a whole poem.
Connotation
The associated or secondary meaning of a word or expression in addition to its explicit or primary meaning; the suggested or implied meaning; the intention.
Denotation
The explicit or direct meaning or a word or expression.
Diction
style or speaking or writing as dependent upon choice or words
Syntax
the formation of grammatical sentences
Irony
The use of words, character, or plot development to convey a meaning that is opposite of its literal meaning
Elegy
a mournful, melancholy, or plaintive poem, esp. a funderal song or a lament for the dead
Foil
A person or thing that makes another seem better by contrast
Genre
A catagory of artistic endeavor having a praticular form, content, technique, or the like; a distinctive literary type
Hamartia
tragic flaw, usually accidental, a moral mistake or an ignorant error
Hubris
excessive pride or self-confidence leading to downfall
Hyperbole
obvious and intentional exaggeration; extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally
Litotes
understatement, esp. in which the affirmative is expresed by the negative of its contrary
Imagery
The formation of mental images, figures, or likenesses of things; figurative description or illustration
Mood
A prevailing emotional tone or general attitude, the reader's attitude toward the text; atmosphere, state of mind
Tone
The author's attitude toward the text; style or manner of expression in speech or writing
Onomatopoeia
A word that imitates the sound made by or associated with its referent
Oxymoron
A figurative speech by which a locution producers in inongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect
Prose
The ordinary form of spoken or written language, without metrical structure, as distinguished from poetry or verse
satire
A literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule
Shift
the change from one tone, attitude, rheterical area to another
Figurative Language
speech or writing that departs from literal meaning in order to achieve a special effect or meaning
simile
a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared, usually using like, as, than, etc.
Metaphor
a figure of speech in which a term or phase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a rsemblance
Persona
The narrator of a literary work, a voice or character representing the speaker in a literary work