ENG4U Literary Terms
Terms in this set (71)
a narrative that serves as an extended metaphor beyond its literal meaning
the repetition of the initial letter or sound in two or more closely associated words or
stressed syllables: "And how the silence surged softly backward..."
a reference to another well-known work of literature or art, person, or event - enriches the text by association, gives it depth. "He is a real Romeo."
a figurative comparison such that the reader will infer that two objects or events that are alike in one respect, will be alike in another respect.
the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or verses.
A brief, simple narration of a real life event
the contrast or opposition in the meanings of contiguous phrases, emphasized by parallelism—similar order and structure—in the syntax. Just as sound seems loudest on a quiet night, words that are contrasted make for emphasis. "Who so loveth instruction loveth knowledge, but he that hateth reproof is brutish" (The Bible). "Ask not what your country can do for you: ask what you can do for your country" (J. F. Kennedy).
a figure of speech in which someone absent or dead or something nonhuman is addressed as if it were alive and present and could reply.
the resemblance in sound between vowels in two or more syllables, but not a true rhyme—i.e. "moan" and "home" "Writhed like lightning"
sentence structure that omits conjunctions in a list of words, phrases, clauses
unrhymed iambic pentameter (10 syllables, varying stressed, unstressed)
Effect created by language that sounds hard, harsh and discordant sound
Characteristics of the Short Story
- unity of impression & mood (tragic, indignant, violent, pathetic, humorous, eerie, cheerful)
- rejects all details that do not contribute to the total effect
- short time period
- limited setting
- rapid action - compression heightens tension (dramatic effect)
- begins close to climactic incident -poses an intriguing problem or situation that captures the
- severely limited roster of characters
- central character - most essential and memorable details
- reader must actively employ imagination & judgement
- characters are revealed rather than developed
- hero presented at a crucial moment in his life - action may reveal his inflexibility
- the setting is often an active agency in the plot
person presented in a dramatic or narrative work, who is endowed with a particular
moral, intellectual, and emotional quality
the way in which an author develops a character. The method includes (1)
showing the characters appearance, (2) displaying the characters actions, (3) revealing the
characters thoughts, (4) letting the character speak, and (5) getting the reactions of others.
a sequence of two phrases or clauses which are parallel in syntax, but reverse in the order of the corresponding words. &Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds" (Shelley, "Defence of Poetry).
Occurs when in argumentative discourse the author concedes that the opposition is right on a specific point or in one aspect.
The struggle found in fiction. Conflict/Plot may be internal or external and is best seen in (1) human versus human (2) human versus nature (3) Human versus self (4) human versus the unknown
suggested meaning of a word that goes beyond its actual meaning, the emotions and values (positive or negative) attached to the word
two successive lines, usually in the same metre, linked by rhyme
the speech of and between characters
the writer's choice of words
rhyme that occurs at the ends of lines
a line of poetry that ends with a natural speech pause (complete thought), usually marked by punctuation.
a run-on line, a line that has no natural speech pause at its end, allowing the sense to flow uninterruptedly into the succeeding line.
an awakening; a sudden understanding or burst of insight.
a nickname or appellation ("The Weird Sisters" in Macbeth)
a mild or indirect way to express something harsh or unpleasant.
effect created by language that sounds soft, pleasant, and harmonious.
a contrasting character (usually in a parallel situation or status) that helps to emphasize certain traits of a central character.
use of hints or clues to suggest what will happen later in a work of literature.
any scene or episode in a play, novel, story, or poem that is inserted to show an event that happened at an earlier time which is necessary to aid understanding.
non-metrical verse. Poetry written in free verse is arranged in lines, may be more or less rhythmical, but has no fixed metrical pattern, rhyme scheme, or stanza form.
assumption based on a small sample of evidence.
exaggeration or overstatement. "I will die if I fail this test."
an expression that has a meaning different from the usual meaning of the individual word within it. "That test was a piece of cake!"
language used to appeal to one of the senses (an image is a picture made out of words).
a rhyme in which one or both of the thyme-words occur within the line.
the discrepancy between what is said or thought and what is meant or is the truth.
Three kinds of irony:
verbal irony -- an author says one thing and means something else.
dramatic irony -- an audience perceives something that a character in the literature does not know.
irony of situation is a discrepancy between the expected result and actual results.
language and expressions specific to a profession or group that can sometimes be difficult for others to understand.
two contrasting ideas, situations, tones, styles, characters, or settings placed together for emphasis.
a figurative comparison between two things. "the dream decays"
the literal term for one thing is applied to another with which it has become closely associated. "The crown" or "The sceptre" can stand for a king.
combines two or more diverse metaphoric vehicles. Usually ludicrous ("he pulled up to a crossroads on the great sea of life"), but can be effective (Hamlet's expression of his troubled mind "to take arms against a sea of troubles, / And by opposing end them.").
the feeling that the reader gets from the story (Similar to atmosphere, but atmosphere is generally the feeling of the characters)
a recurrent element (often an image pattern or symbol) in an artistic or literary work.
the formation and use of words to imitate sounds. "Dong, crackle, moo, pop, whizz, whoosh, zoom!"
putting two contradictory words together. "jumbo shrimp" "small crowd" "genuine imitation"
an apparently self-contradictory (even absurd) statement, which on closer inspection, is found to contain a truth reconciling the conflicting opposites. Hamlet says, "I must be cruel only to be kind."
when nature takes on human qualities to complement the situation or emotions taking place in the story. (i.e. The murder took place on a dark and stormy night.)
the ability of the author to make the reader feel sorry for a character or empathize with a situation.
the application of human qualities to inanimate (not living) objects.
Point of View
the style of narrator; the perspective from which the story is told.
First-Person (Point of View)
The story is told from the point of view 'I.' The "I" narrator may be part of the action or an observer. As readers, we cannot know or witness anything the narrator does not tell us. We therefore share all the limitations of the narrator. This technique has the advantage of a sharp and precise focus. It could also make us question the reliability and biases of the narrator.
This narrator speaks directly to the reader. i.e. "You walk in the room and what do you see? It's Mullins again, and you say, 'Out. I've done with him.'" This point of view is rare primarily because it is artificial and self-conscious.
Third Person Limited
The most common form of narrator, but the story is limited to what that character could possible witness or recall. One emotional effect of the technique is the acceptance of the authority of the narrator. In essence, the narrator sounds like the author.
The narrator knows everything about the character's thoughts, feelings action, and motives; the narrator is free to move in time and place, to shift from characters to character (God-like narrator).
sentence structure which includes the repetition of a number of conjunctions in close succession. Most often it involves the conjunction "and" to create emphasis.
Reference to authority
naming and quoting or paraphrasing an expert on the topic who supports the writer's argument.
the device of repeating words or phrases for emphasis. ". . . cliff upon cliff, ridge upon ridge, tower upon tower . . . " (James Ramsey Ullman).
the art or technique of persuasion and the devices that the author uses to persuade .
is a question asked, not to evoke a reply, but to achieve an emphasis stronger than a direct statement. "O, Wind, / If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"(Shelley)
the time and place.
a figurative comparison using "like" or "as" - one thing is likened to another in order to clarify or enhance an image.
an author's characteristic way of writing. A discussion of style may include a commentary on diction, arrangement of words and sentences, use of figurative language, description, dialogue, humour, etc.
an object that stand for something else (i.e. the rose symbolizes love)
part of something is used to signify the whole or (more rarely) the whole is used to signify a part. The term "ten hands" is used for ten workmen. "The hand that signed the paper felled a city" (Dylan Thomas).
the central idea of a work that may be stated directly or indirectly. In literary analysis, theme should always be a complete statement of the author's view on a topic as evidenced by his/her work.
the attitude a writer (or narrator) shows towards a subject and/or audience: serious, humorous, sarcastic, ironic, satirical, tongue-in-cheek, solemn, objective. It is revealed through diction, structure, characterization, etc.
Deliberately represents something as much less in magnitude or importance than it really is. The effect is usually ironic, such as in Mark Twain's comment "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."
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