English Literary Techniques Glossary

  1. alliteration
    repittion of initial consonant sounds at the beginnings of words; for example ladies' lips
  2. aside
    a short speech spoken by one character to the audience, as if thinking aloud, or to another character; not meant to be heard by others on stage
  3. foreshadowing
    giving hints or clues of what is to come later in the story
  4. blank verse
    unrhymed verse that Shakespeare wrote, with five pairs of syllables to each line, with the stress always on the second syllable, unrhymed iambic penameter
  5. repitition
    the repeating of a word, phrase, or an idea for emphasis or rhyming effect
  6. irony
    using a word or phrase to mean the exact opposite of it's literal or normal meaning
  7. dramatic irony
    where at least one character on stage is unaware of an important fact that the audience knows about, and that is somehow hinted at
  8. verbal irony
    the writer says one thing and means another
  9. situational irony
    a great difference between the purpose of a particular action and the result
  10. image
    a word picture used to make an idea come alive, as in a metaphor, simile, or personification
  11. metaphor
    a comparison of two unlike things in which no word of comparison (as or like) is used. For example, descrivibing love as a smoke made with the fume of sighs.
  12. simile
    a comparison of two unlike things using the words like and as, as in, It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night/As a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear
  13. personification
    a description of something as if it were a person
  14. imagery
    the use of words to create a certain picture in the reader's mind. Imagery is usually based on sensory details. "The sky was dark and gloomy, the air was damp and raw, the streets were wet and sloppy."
  15. antithesis
    an opposition, or contrast, of ideas
  16. hyperbole
    an exaggeration or overstatement
  17. oxymoron
    poetic use of opposites to express paradox; a combination of contraditory terms. Ex. feather of lead, cold fire, etc.
  18. paradox
    a statement that seems contrary to common sense, yet may, in fact, be true: "The coach considered this a good loss"
  19. pun
    use of a word with two meanings, or of two similar-sounding words, where both meanings are appropriate in different ways
  20. foil
    someone who serves as a contrast or challenge to another character
  21. drama
    the form of literature known as plays; but drama also refers to the type of serious play that is often concerned with the leading character's relationship to society.
  22. dramatic monologue
    a literary work (or part of a literary work) in which a character is speaking about him or herself as if another person were present. The words of the speaker reveal something important about his or her character
  23. soliloquy
    a dramatic monologue that represents a series of unspoken reflections
  24. prose
    language in which, unlike verse, there is no set number of syllables in a line, and no rhyming
  25. rhyming couplet
    a pair of rhyming lines, often used at the end of a speech
  26. iambic pentameter
    verse with five pairs of syllables to a line, with the stress always on the second syllable
  27. sonnet
    a poem with 14 lines, broken into three sections: the first eight lines, rhyming ABABCDCD; the next four lines, rhyming EFEF, and a rhyming couplet at the end, rhyming GG; written in iambic pentameter. The question or theme is posed in the quatrains while the answer or resolution appears in the final couplet.
  28. theme
    an idea explored by an author; examples: conflict, love, etc.
  29. tragedy
    a play focusing on a tragic hero, a character whose nobility or achievement we admire, and whose downfall and death through a weakness or error, coupled with fate, arouses our sympathy
  30. protagonist
    the main character or the person driving hte action
  31. antagonist
    the person or thing owrking against the protagnoist of the work
  32. characterization
    the method an author uses to reveal characters and their personalitites
  33. plot
    the action of sequence of events in a story. Usually a series of related incidents that build upon one another as the story develops
  34. exposition
    writing that is intended to explain something that might otherwixe be difficult to understand. In a play or a novel, it would be the portion that gives the background or situation surrounding the story
  35. rising action
    the complication or exciting force; the protagonist takes some action to resolve the conflic and meets with more problems or complications; the series of struggles or conflicts that build a story or play toward the climax
  36. climax
    the turning point; usually the most intense point in a story; A series of struggles or conflicts build a story or play toward the climax
  37. falling action
    the part of a play or short story that works out the decision arrived at during the climax
  38. resolution
    the final outcome of a play or story
Card Set
English Literary Techniques Glossary
Literary terms from packet about Romeo and Juliet