english Literary definitions

  1. Allegory:
    an extended metaphor - the whole poem or story is representative of another idea. Animal Farm is literally about an animal rebellion against their human oppressors on a farm. Allegorically, it is about the Russian Revolution and the rise of Communism in the USSR. An allegory is intended to teach a moral or lesson.
  2. Alliteration:
    forming word patterns by repeating initial consonant sounds. It depends on sound, not spelling. Allusion: a brief reference to a person, event or thing religious or historical.
  3. Ambiguity:
    This is the quality in a piece of writing that makes it possible to interpret it in more than one way. Analogy: where you explain a complex situation by relating it to a simpler idea.
  4. Antagonist:
    a character, or characters, in a short story, novel, or play, that gives the Protagonist a challenge.
  5. Antithesis:
    Exact opposite; contrast or polarity in meaning (too tall to be short; the hydrogen bomb is the antithesis to anti-war advocates)
  6. Apostrophe:
    directly addressing a person or thing as if it/s/he were really there. (Romeo & Juliet, where Juliet speaks, “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?).
  7. Aside:
    When a character speaks to the audience and the other characters on stage cannot hear the speech.
  8. Assonance:
    the repetition of a stressed vowel sounds (ex: Three/beach; say/played; flame/pain).
  9. Ballad:
    a narrative poem or song of popular origin, usually in short stanzas and often with a refrain (chorus).
  10. Blank verse:
    iambic pentameter lines without rhyme. Rhyme is not necessary.
  11. Climax:
    the high point of a story... when the Protagonist makes his/her decision or faces their challenge
  12. Concrete Poetry:
    where the actual typeset layout of the poem suggest the topic of the poem. For example, a poems about trees, might be shaped like a tree on the page.
  13. Consonance:
    the repetition of consonant sounds at the end of words. Ex. Thick stuck gunk, first and last.
  14. Fiction:
    literature that is not factually true, but may be based on true events.
  15. Free Verse:
    poetry with no structure, no rhyme scheme, and no pattern.
  16. Haiku:
    popular Japanese form of poetry developed in 17th century. It usually had three lines, respectively with 5, 7, then 5 syllables. Haiku often contrasts two opposing images, and presents an implied comment of nature.
  17. Hyperbole:
    exaggeration, either for comic or serious effect. Ex. I cried a river of tears.
  18. Iambic Pentameter:
    the most common meter used in Shakespeare’s plays, and especially sonnets. Pentameter means five feet. Iambic has two syllables (see “foot”), for a total of 10 syllables.
  19. Imagery:
    creating vivid mental pictures through using words that appeal to the senses and emotions. Metaphor: a comparison that doesn’t use comparison words such as like or as.
  20. Metaphor:
    a comparison that doesn’t use comparison words such as like or as
  21. Mood:
    the dominant feeling or atmosphere of a work. Dark, light, happy, sad, are simple moods.
  22. Motif:
    A re-occuring symbol that develops a major theme of the narrative.
  23. Narrator:
    the voice that is telling the story in a novel or short story. There are two popular forms of narration:
  24. First person narrator--
    the story is told through the eyes of a character.
  25. Third person--
    the story is told by a person outside of the story.
  26. Non-Fiction:
    literature that is true or is based on factual events
  27. Ode:
    a form of lyric poetry using elaborate vocabulary. It usually focuses on a single object or person.
  28. Onomatopoeia: .
    words that sound like the sound they are describing. Ex. BANG, buzz, pop
  29. Oxymoron:

    two opposite or conflicting words, side by side. Example:, Dark day, white night
  30. Parody:

    using comedy or satire when imitating a well-known, serious work. It is much like re-writing a story with foolish characters and actions similar to the original. Parodies often make fun of the original author’s style, or criticize the authors’ views.
  31. Protagonist:

    the main character of a short story, novel, or play, who is faced with a challenge or a decision to make.
  32. Prose:

    Ordinary language – written or spoken.
  33. Quatrain:

    a 4 line stanza
  34. Repetition:
    the repeating of lines, words, or phrases for emphasis
  35. Rhyme:

    similar sounding words in the end or within a line.
  36. Single rhyme

    --last syllable only rhymes. Ex. crime/grime
  37. Double rhyme--

    two syllables rhyme. Ex. resenting/consenting
  38. · Triple rhyme--

    3 syllables rhyme. Ex. Pollution/solution
  39. · End rhyme--

    happens at end of line
  40. · Internal rhyme--

    • happens within rhyme

  41. Satire:

    makes fun of some part of human nature, customs, or attitudes in order to make a positive change.
  42. Simile:

    comparison using like or as. Ex. Her hair was like spun gold.
  43. Soliloquy:

    When a character speaks to the audience and there are no other characters on stage.
  44. Sonnet:

    • 14 line poem. Two kinds:
    • · Petrarchan--abba abba rhyme scheme, + cdecde or cdedce or cdccdc. The first 8 lines are the octave, which show the theme or asks the question. The sestet responds to the octave.

    • · English or Shakespearean--4 parts - 3 quatrains and final rhyming couplet. Rhyme scheme is usually abab cdcd efef gg. The 3 quatrains offer 3 examples of the theme, and the final couplet is the final statement, and is often an epigram.

  45. Stress:

    saying certain syllables or words in a line with more emphasis or volume.
  46. Stanza:

    a group of lines of a poem arranged so that the rhyme or rhythm forms a pattern that is repeated throughout the poem.
  47. Symbolism:

    • using an image to represent an idea.
    • · Ex. Storms often symbolize impending disaster

    • · red rose=love

    • · dove=peace

    • · black cat=bad luck

  48. Theme:

    a unifying idea that is a recurrent element in literary or artistic work.

  49. Verse: .

    Written or spoken poetic language
Card Set
english Literary definitions
A list of basic leterary definitions