Literary Elements

  1. Allegory
    A story illustrating an idea or moral principle in which objects take on symbollic meanings
  2. alliteration
    repitition of the initial sounds in a group of words
  3. allusion
    a reference in one literary work to something in another literary work
  4. ambiguity
    a statement which can contain two or more meanings
  5. Anecdote
    a very short tale told by a character in a literary work
  6. antagonist
    (the bad guy) a person who opposes the protagonist
  7. aphorism
    a brief statement which expresses an observation on life (wise observation)
  8. apostrophe
    a figure of speech where the speaker speaks directly to something nonhuman
  9. aside
    a character in drama makes a short speech heard by the audience but not the other characters in the play
  10. assonance
    repitition of vowel sounds
  11. Autobiography
    A story of a person's life written by himself/herself
  12. Ballad
    A story in poetic form, often about tragic love and usually sung
  13. Biography
    A story of a person's life written by someone other than the subject of the work
  14. blank verse
    a poem written in unrhymed iambic pentameter
  15. cacophony
    unpleasant combination of sounds
  16. euphony
    a pleasant combination of sounds
  17. Carpe Diem
    A Latin phrase meaning "seize the day"
  18. catastrophe
    A scene in a tragedy which includes the death/moral destruction of the protagonist
  19. character
    a person, or anything presented as a person (e.g. spirit, object, animal, etc.)
  20. Characterization
    a method the writer uses to reveal the personality of a character
  21. classicism
    a movement to retain the characteristics found in work originating in classical Greece and Rome
  22. Climax
    the turning point of the play to which the rising action leads
  23. Comedy
    a literary work which is amusing and ends happily
  24. Conclusion
    (resolution) the point in a drama to which the entire play has been leading
  25. conflict
    when the protagonist is opposed by some person of force in the play
  26. connotation
    the emotional content of a word
  27. denotation
    a word's dictionary definition
  28. consonance
    the repitition of consonant sounds with differing vowel sounds in a group of words
  29. couplet
    a stanza of two lines, usually rhyming
  30. Denouement
    (Day-noo-ma) the part of drama which follows the climax and leads to the resolution
  31. dialogue
    in drama, a conversation between characters
  32. diction
    the author's choice of words
  33. Didactic Literature
    Literature disigned explicitly to instruct
  34. Dramatic Monologue
    the occurence of a single speaker saying something to a silent audience
  35. Elegy
    A lyric poem lamenting death
  36. Epic
    a major work dealing with an important theme
  37. epigraph
    a brief quotation which appears at the beginning of a literay work
  38. epithet
    a word or phrase preceding or following the name which serves to describe the character
  39. euphemism
    a mild word or phrase which substitutes for another which would be undesirable because it is too direct, unpleasant, or offensive
  40. exposition
    in drama, the presentation of essential information reguarding what has occurred prior to the beginning of the play
  41. fable
    a brief tale designed to illustrate a moral lesson
  42. Falling Action
    the series of events which take place after the climax
  43. Figurative Language
    a way of saying one thing and meaning something else
  44. Figure of Speech
    an example of figurative language that states something that is not literally true in order to create an effect
  45. Flashback
    a reference to an event which took place prior to the beginning of the story or play
  46. foil
    a character in a play who sets off the main character or other characters by comparison
  47. foreshadowing
    in drama, a method used to build suspense by providing hints of what is to come
  48. Free Verse
    unrhymed poetry with lines of varying lengths, and containing no specific metrical pattern
  49. genre
    a literary type or form
  50. hyperbole
    an overstatement or exaggeration
  51. imagery
    a word or group of words which appeal to one or more of the senses (sight, taste, touch, etc.)
  52. inference
    a judgement based on reasoning rather than on direct statment
  53. irony
    when the opposite happens from what is expected
  54. metaphor
    a comparison made between two unlike things without using "like" or "as"
  55. metonymy
    a figure of speech in which a word represents someting else which it suggests
  56. mood
    an atmosphere or feeling created by a literary work
  57. myth
    an unverifiable story based on a religious belief
  58. narrative poem
    a poem which tells a story
  59. Novel
    a fictional prose work of substantial length
  60. Ode
    a poem in praise of something divine or expressing some noble idea
  61. Onomatopoeia
    where the sound of the word echoes the sound it represents
  62. oxymoron
    a combination of contradictory terms
  63. parable
    a brief story, told or written in order to teach a moral lesson
  64. paradox
    a situation or statement that seems to contradict itself, but does not
  65. parallel structure
    a repitition of sentences using the same structure
  66. parody
    a literary work that imitates the style of another literary work
  67. Pathetic Fallacy
    a fallacy of reason in suggesting that nonhuman phenomena act from human feelings
  68. personification
    a figure of speech in which something nonhuman is given human characteristics
  69. Plot
    the structure of a story
  70. Point of View
    a piece of literature contains a speaker who is speaking either in first person (telling things from his/her own perspective), or in the third person (perspective of an onlooker)
  71. protagonist
    a hero or central character
  72. pun
    a play on words wherein a word is used to convey two meanings
  73. quatrain
    A four-line stanza which may be rhymed or unrhymed
  74. Resolution
    the part of the story or drama which occurs after the climax and which establishes a new norm
  75. rhyme
    in poetry, a pattern of repeated sounds
  76. Rhythm
    recurrences of stressed and unstressed syllables at equal intervals, similar to meter
  77. Rising Action
    the part of a drama which begins with the exposition and sets the stage for the climax
  78. satire
    a piece of literature designed to ridicule the subject of the work
  79. setting
    the time and place in which a story unfolds
  80. Short Story
    a short fictional narrative
  81. simile
    a comparison of two unlike things using the words "like" or "as"
  82. soliloquy
    in drama, a moment when a character is alone a speaks his/her thoughts aloud
  83. sonnet
    a lyric poem of fourteen lines whose rhyme scheme is fixed
  84. stereotype
    an author's method of treating a character so that the character is immediately identified with a group
  85. Style
    the author's use of figurative language, diction, sound effects and other literary devices
  86. Suspense
    in fiction, results from two factors: the reader's identification with and concern for the welfare of a convincing and sympathetic character, and an anticipation of violence
  87. symbolism
    a device where an object represents an idea
  88. theme
    an ingredient of a literary work which gives the work unity (what the work is mainly about)
  89. Tone
    expresses the author's attitude toward his/her subject
  90. Tragedy
    a type of drama which is pre-eminently the story of one person, the hero
  91. understatement
    a statement which lessens or minimizes the importance of what is meant
Card Set
Literary Elements
English Literary Terms and Devices