Literary Terms

  1. Allegory
    • A narration or description usually restricted to
    • a single meaning because its events, actions, characters, settings, and objects
    • represent specific abstractions or ideas
  2. Alliteration
    • The repetition of the same consonant sounds in a
    • sequence of words, usually at the beginning of a word or stressed syllable
  3. Allusion
    a brief reference to a person, place, thing, event, or idea in history orliterature.
  4. Ambiguity
    • Allows for two or more simultaneous
    • interpretations of a word, phrase, action, or situation, all of which can be
    • supported by the context of a work
  5. Allows
    • for two or more simultaneous interpretations of a word, phrase, action, or
    • situation, all of which can be supported by the context of a work.
  6. Anapest
    • a metrical foot used in formal poetry. In
    • classical quantitative meters it consists of two short syllables followed by a
    • long one; in accentual stress meters it consists of two unstressed syllables
    • followed by one stressed syllable
  7. Archetype
    An address, either to someone who is absent and therefore cannot hear the speaker or to something nonhuman that cannot comprehend.
  8. Assonance
    The repetition of internal vowel sounds in nearby words that do not end the same.
  9. Blank Verse
    Unrhymed iambic pentameter.
  10. Cacophony
    Language that is discordant and difficult to pronounce.
  11. Caesura
    • A pause within a line of poetry that contributes
    • to the rhythm of the line. Can occur anywhere within a line and need not be
    • indicates by punctuation.
  12. Catharsis
    meaning “purgation” catharsis describes the release of the emotions of pity andfear by the audience at the end of a tragedy.
  13. Flat Character
    • embodies one or two qualities that can be
    • readily describe in a brief summary
  14. Round Character
    • more complex and often display inconsistencies and
    • internal conflicts.
  15. Climax
    the moment of greatest emotional tension in a narrative usually marking aturning point in the plot at which the rising action reverses to becomethe falling action.
  16. Classiciam
    • an approach to literature and the other arts
    • that stresses reason, balance, clarity, ideal beauty, and orderly form in imitation of the arts of ancient Greece and Rome.
  17. Complication
    • A series of difficulties forming the central
    • action in a narrative
  18. Couplet
    • Two consecutive line of poetry that usually
    • rhyme and have the same meter
  19. Crisis
    a turning point in the action of a story that has a powerful effect on theprotagonist. Opposing forces come together decisively to lead to theclimax of the plot.
  20. Dactyl
    • One stressed syllable followed by two unstressed
    • ones
  21. Denouement
    • A French term meaning “unraveling” or
    • “unknotting,” used to describe the resolution of the plot following the climax
  22. Elegy
    • A mournful, contemplative lyric poem written to
    • commemorate someone who is dead, often ending in a consolation
  23. Ellipsis
    • deliberate omission of a word or of words which
    • are readily implied by the context
  24. End-Stopped Line
    • A poetic line that has a pause at the end. They
    • reflect normal speech patterns and are often marked by punctuation
  25. Epigram
    • A brief, pointed, and witty poem that usually
    • makes a satiric or humorous point
  26. Euphony
    • Refers to language that is smooth and musically
    • pleasant to the ear
  27. Existentialism
    attempt to make meaning in a chaotic world
  28. Fable
    • A brief story or poem that is told to present a
    • moral, or practical lesson
  29. Falling Action
    • The third part of the plot, characterized by
    • diminishing tensions and resolution of the plot’s conflicts and complications
  30. Fantasy
    • imagination, especially when extravagant and
    • unrestrained
  31. Figurative Language
    • of the nature of or involving a figure of
    • speech, especially a metaphor; metaphorical and not literal, as in figurative
    • language
  32. Foil
    • A character whose behavior and values contrast
    • with those of another in order to highlight the distinctive temperament of that
    • character (usually the protagonist)
  33. Folk Tale
    • a tale or legend originating and traditional
    • among a people especially one forming part of the oral tradition of
    • the common people
  34. Foot
    • The metrical unit by which poetry is measured. A
    • foot normally consists of one stressed and one or two unstressed syllables
  35. Iambic Foot
    • consists of one unstressed syllable followed by
    • one stressed syllable
  36. Trochaic Foot
    • foot consists of one stressed syllable followed
    • by an unstressed syllable
  37. heroic couplet
    a couplet written in rhymed iambicpentamete
  38. Spondee
    • a foot consisting of two
    • stressed syllables
  39. Form
    • The overall structure of a work, which
    • frequently follows an established design
  40. Frame
    • A narrative structure that provides a setting
    • and exposition for the main narrative in a novel
  41. Free Verse
    • to poems characterized by their nonconformity to
    • established patterns of meter, rhyme, and stanza
  42. Gothic
    • noting or pertaining to a style of literature
    • characterized by a gloomy setting, grotesque, mysterious, or violent events,
    • and an atmosphere of degeneration and decay
  43. Hamartia
    • A term coined by Aristotle to describe “some
    • error or fraility” that brings about misfortune for a tragic hero
  44. Hubris
    • Excessive pride or self-confidence that leads a
    • protagonist to disregard a divine warning or to violate an important moral law
  45. Iamb
    • a foot of two syllables, a short followed by a
    • long in quantitative meter, or an unstressed followed by a stressed in
    • accentual meter
  46. Image
    • A word or phrase or figure of speech that
    • addresses the senses
  47. Legend
    • a nonhistorical or unverifiable story handed
    • down by tradition from earlier times and popularly accepted as historical
  48. Mask (persona)
    • a piece of cloth, silk, or plastic material
    • covering the face of an actor to symbolize the character being represented
  49. Melodrama
    • A term applied to any literary work that relies
    • on implausible event and sensational action for its effect
  50. Metaphysical
    highly abstract, subtle, or abstruse
  51. Meter
    • When a rhythmic pattern of stresses occur in a
    • poem
  52. Rising Meter
    • metrical feet which move from unstressed to
    • stressed sounds
  53. Falling Meter
    • to metrical feet which move from stressed to
    • unstressed sounds
  54. Metonymy
    • A type of metaphor in which something closely
    • associated with a subject substituted for it
  55. Myth
    • a traditional or legendary story, usually
    • concerning some being or hero or event
  56. Naturalism
    • a deterministic theory of writing in which it is
    • held that a writer should adopt an objective view toward the material written
    • about, be free of preconceived ideas as to form and content, and represent with
    • clinical accuracy and frankness the details of life
  57. Neoclassicism
    • based on the imitation of surviving classical
    • models and types
  58. Novel
    • a fictitious prose narrative of considerable
    • length and complexity, portraying characters and usually presenting a
    • sequential organization of action and scenes
  59. Octave
    • A poetic stanza of eight lines, usually
    • forming one part of a sonnet
  60. Ode
    • A relatively lengthy lyric poem that often
    • expresses lofty emotions in a dignified style
  61. Prose
    • the ordinary form of spoken or written language,
    • without metrical structure
  62. Pyrrhic
    • a metrical foot consisting of two short or
    • unaccented syllables
  63. Realism
    • a representation of daily reality with a lack of
    • romantic idealization or dramatization
  64. Rhythm
    • the recurrence of stressed and unstressed sounds
    • in poetry
  65. Rhyme Scheme
    the pattern of end rhymes
  66. Rising Action
    • a related series of incidents in a literary plot
    • that build toward the point of greatest interest; starts with the introduction
    • of conflict
  67. Romance
    • a style of heroic prose and verse narrative that
    • was popular in the aristocratic circles of High Medieval and Early Modern
    • Europe
  68. Run-on Line (Enjambment)
    • in poetry, when one line ends without a pause
    • and continues into the next line for its meaning
  69. Sarcasm
    • strong form of verbal irony that is calculated
    • to hurt someone through, for example, false praise
  70. Scansion
    • the process of measuring the stresses in a line
    • of verse in order to determine the metrical patter of the line
  71. Sentimentality
    • a pejorative term used to describe the effort by
    • an author to induce emotional responses in the reader that exceed what the
    • situation warrants
  72. Sestet
    a stanza consisting of exactly six lines
  73. Slice of Life
    • a phrase describing the use of mundane realism
    • depicting everyday experiences in art and entertainment
  74. Stanza
    • in poetry, a group of lines, set off by a space
    • that usually has a set pattern of meter and rhyme
  75. Stream of Consciousness
    • when the author takes a reader in a character’s
    • mind to reveal perceptions, thoughts, and feelings on a conscious or
    • unconscious level
  76. Structure
    • the relationship or organization of the
    • component parts of a work of literature
  77. Style
    • the distinctive and unique manner in which a
    • writer arranges words to achieve particular effects
  78. Subplot
    • the secondary action of a story, complete and
    • interesting in its own right
  79. Synecdoche
    • a kind of metaphor in which a part of
    • something is used to signify the whole
  80. Syntax
    • ordering of words into meaningful verbal
    • patterns such as phrases, clauses, and sentences
  81. Theme
    • the central meaning or dominant idea in a
    • literary work
  82. Tone
    • the author’s implicit attitude toward the reader or
    • the people, places, and events in a work as revealed by the elements of the
    • author’s style
  83. Tragedy
    • a story that prevents courageous individuals
    • who confront powerful forces within or outside themselves with a dignity that
    • reveals the breadth and depth of the human spirit in the face of failure,
    • defeat, and even death
  84. Tragic Flaw
    • an error or defect in the tragic hero that leads
    • to his downfall, such as greed, pride, or ambition
  85. Trochee
    • a metrical foot used in formal poetry consisting of a stressed syllable
    • followed by an unstressed one
  86. Trope
    • the usage of figurative language in literature,
    • or a figure of speech in which words are used in a sense different from their
    • literal meaning
  87. Understatement
    • the opposite of hyperbole, refers to a figure of
    • speech that says less than is intended
  88. Versimilitude
    a likeness or resemblance of the truth, reality or a fact's probability
  89. Verse
    • a generic term used to describe poetic lines
    • composed in a measured rhythmical pattern
Card Set
Literary Terms
literary terms