GLOSSARY OF LITERARY TERMS

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Glossary of Literary Terms Mr Wheeler 2, Aside A line spoken by an actor to the audience but not intended for others on stage. Assonance Repetition of a vowel sound in a line of poetry as in the following example from Poe s The Raven. The silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain. Autobiography An author s account or story of his her own life. Backdrop setting A setting this is relatively unimportant to the plot. Ballad A poem that tells a story and usually rhymes every other line. Bard A poet traditionally one reciting epics and associated with a particular oral tradition. Bias An attitude or tendency by a speaker or author to favor one thing over another. Biography The story of a person s life written by another person. Blank verse An unrhymed form of poetry that normally consists of ten syllables in which every other syllable. beginning with the second is stressed Most of the characters in Shakespeare s dramas speak in blank verse See. IAMBIC PENTAMETER,Burlesque See PARODY, Caesura SEH zur uh A pause or sudden break in a line of poetry usually in the middle of the line. Canon A list of literary works considered to be permanently established as being sacred or of the highest quality. Canto A division of a long poem, Caricature A comical or ludicrous representation of a person e g Davy Crockett Casey Jones or type of person. e g lumberjack miner bandit See also TALL TALE, Cause and effect Events in a story are linked one event leads to another. Character See CHARACTERIZATION, Characterization A character is a person presented in a dramatic or narrative work and characterization is the.
process by which an author reveals or describes his characters and their various personalities This can be done. through a variety of ways such as description of appearance dialogue behavior other characters reactions or. thoughts or first person narration A hero or heroine often called the PROTAGONIST is the central character who. engages the reader s interest and empathy The ANTAGONIST is the character force or collection of forces that. stands directly opposed to the protagonist and gives rise to the conflict of the story A static character does not. change throughout the work and the reader s knowledge of that character does not grow whereas as a dynamic. character undergoes some kind of change because of the action in the plot A flat character embodies one or two. qualities ideas or traits that can t be readily described in a brief summary They are not psychologically complex. characters and therefore are readily accessible to readers Some flat characters are recognized as stock characters. they embody stereotypes such as the dumb blonde the mean stepfather or the absent minded scientist They. become types rather than individuals Round characters are more complex than flat or stock characters and often. display the inconsistencies and internal conflicts found in most real people They are more fully developed and. therefore are harder to summarize Authors have two major methods of presenting characters showing and telling. Showing also called indirect characterization allows the author to present a character talking and acting and. lets the reader infer what kind of person the character is In telling also referred to as direct characterization. the author intervenes to describe and sometimes evaluate the character for the reader Characters can be convincing. whether they are presented by showing or by telling as long as their actions are motivated Motivated action by the. character occurs when the reader or audience is offered reasons for how the characters behave what they say and. Glossary of Literary Terms Mr Wheeler 3, the decisions they make Plausible action is action by a character in a story that seems reasonable given the. motivations presented See also PLOT, Character Foil Another character in the story sometimes a sidekick who contrasts with and so emphasizes and. enhances the qualities of the protagonist See CHARACTERIZATION PROTAGONIST. Chorus A group of people who serve mainly as commentators on the characters and events in Greek tragedies. especially those of Aeschylus and Sophocles They add to the audience s understanding of the play by expressing. traditional moral religious and social attitudes The role of the chorus in dramatic works evolved through the. sixteenth century and the chorus occasionally is still used by modern playwrights See also DRAMA. Clich A word or phrase so overused that it is no longer effective in most writing situations as in I slept like a. log or as busy as a bee Clich s often anesthetize readers and are usually a sign of weak writing. Climax The high point or turning point in a work usually the most emotionally intense point See also CONFLICT. Codex An ancient MANUSCRIPT text in book form, Colloquialism An expression that is usually accepted in informal writing or speaking but not in a formal situation. as in Hey man what s happenin See DICTION, Comedy Literature dealing with comic or serious subject matter in life in a light humorous or satiric manner In. comedy human errors or problems appear funny, Comic relief A humorous scene or incident that alleviates tension in an otherwise serious work In many instances.
these moments enhance the thematic significance of the story in addition to providing laughter When Hamlet jokes. with the gravediggers we laugh but something hauntingly serious about the humor also intensifies our more serious. Concrete adj Describes a word that refers to an object that can be heard seen felt tasted or smelled also. referred to as literal Wall desk car and cow are examples of concrete objects See ABSTRACT for contrast. Conflict The struggle between the protagonist and an opposing force the problem in a story that triggers the. action Conflicts can be EXTERNAL protagonist vs some force other himself or INTERNAL self vs self Almost all. stories will have an internal and external conflict There are five basic types of external conflict. Man vs Man One character in a story has a problem with one or more of the other characters. A character has a conflict or problem with some element of society the school the law the. Man vs Society,accepted way of doing things and so on. Man vs Himself A character has trouble deciding what to do in a particular situation. A character has a problem with some natural happening a snowstorm an avalanche the bitter. Man vs Nature,cold or any of the common elements of nature. A character has to battle what seems to be an uncontrollable problem Whenever the problem. Man vs Fate God seems to be a strange or unbelievable coincidence fate can be considered as the cause of the. Connotation The emotions or feelings a word can arouse such as the negative or bad feeling associated with the. word pig or the positive or good feeling associated with the word love Contrast with DENOTATION. Consonance A common type of NEAR RHYME that consists of identical consonant sounds preceded by different. vowel sounds home same worth breath See also RHYME. Glossary of Literary Terms Mr Wheeler 4, Context The environment of a word that is the words sentences and paragraphs that surround a particular word. and help to determine or deepen its meaning Context can be thought of as the physical or notional circumstances. surrounding a word phrase or idea,Cosmic irony See IRONY. Crisis The moment when the character faces a harsh situation or when the character is faced with his her internal. conflict and realizes she he must make a decision See also CLIMAX PLOT. Cycle A series of songs stories plays or poems composed around a particular theme and usually intended to be. performed or read in sequence Homer s epic poem the Iliad is a product of the Trojan War cycle of ancient Greece. just as Sir Thomas Malory s stories of the Knights of the Round Table stem from the Arthurian cycle of medieval. Denotation The literal or dictionary meaning of a word Contrast with CONNOTATION. Denouement See RESOLUTION, Deus ex machina Latin for god from the machine In ancient Greek theater sometimes gods were lowered from.
the roof by mechanical devices to set matters right among the mortals below The term is now used to describe any. improbable means by which an author provides a too easy resolution for a story. Dialect A type of informational diction Dialects are spoken by definable groups of people from a particular. geographic region economic group or social class Writers use dialect to bring an element of authenticity to their. story and to contrast and express differences in educational class social and regional backgrounds of their. characters See also DICTION, Dialogue The conversation carried on by the characters in a literary work See also DICTION. Diction An author s choice and arrangement of words based on their correctness clearness or effectiveness It is. comprised of VOCABULARY and SYNTAX See ARCHAIC COLLOQUIALISM DIALECT. Direct characterization When the author explicitly tells the reader about the character such as Helen is. intelligent Also called telling See CHARACTERIZATION. Drama Derived from the Greek word dram meaning to do or to perform the term drama refers to a form of. literature known as plays Drama is designed for performance in a theater actors take on the roles of characters. perform indicated actions and speak the dialogue written in the SCRIPT Play is a general term for a work of. dramatic literature and a playwright is a writer who makes plays. Dramatic irony See IRONY, Dramatic monologue A piece of spoken verse that offers great insight into the feelings of the speaker Not to be. confused with a SOLILOQUY in a play when the character speaking speaks to himself a dramatic monologue. suggests there are listeners or even other characters in the speaker s presence though they remain silent. Dynamic character A character that is altered is some way by the end of the story See CHARACTERIZATION as. well as STATIC CHARACTER for contrast, Eclogue A short poem about country life See PASTORAL. Editorial omniscience See NARRATOR, Elegy A formal poem mourning the death of a certain individual. End rhyme See RHYME,Glossary of Literary Terms Mr Wheeler 5.
End stopped line A poetic line that has a pause at the end End stopped lines reflect normal speech patterns and. are often marked by punctuation The first line of Keats s Endymion is an example of an end stopped line the. natural pause coincides with the end of the line and is marked by a period. A thing of beauty is a joy forever,English sonnet See SONNET. Enjambment In poetry enjambment is the running over of a sentence or thought from one verse or line to another. Epic A long poem typically one derived from ancient oral tradition narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic or. legendary figures or the history of a nation Some examples are the Greek poems Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer. the Anglo Saxon tale Beowulf and Paradise Lost by English poet John Milton. Epigraph A short quotation or saying at the beginning of a book or chapter intended to suggest its theme. Epigram A short witty verse or saying often ending with a wry twist such as this Artemus Ward epigram Let us. all be happy and live within our means even if we have to borrow the money to do it with. Epithet An adjective or descriptive phrase expressing a quality or characteristic of the person or thing mentioned. e g swift footed Achilles Zeus father of gods and men. Exact rhyme See RHYME, Exclamation A sudden cry or shout that conveys extreme emotion. Exposition How things are before the action of a story starts Exposition is a narrative device that provides. necessary background information about the characters and their circumstances Exposition explains what has. occurred prior to the story s beginning the relationships between characters the development of a theme and the. introduction of a conflict See also FLASHBACK, External Conflict A CONFLICT that exists outside the character It involves person vs nature person vs person. person vs society person vs fate person vs monster or sometimes a combination See INTERNAL CONFLICT for. Eye rhyme See RHYME, Fable A brief tale in which the characters are often animals told to point out a moral truth See PARABLE for. Falling action See PLOT, Fantasy A work that takes place in an unreal world and that often concerns incredible characters.
First person narrator See NARRATOR POINT OF VIEW, Flashback A scene in a story that is set in a time earlier than the main story. Flat character See CHARACTERIZATION,Foil See CHARACTER FOIL. Folklore The customs proverbs legends superstitions songs and tales of a people or nation Literature often. borrows elements from folklore,Glossary of Literary Terms Mr Wheeler 6. Foot Unit of meter that denotes the combination of stressed and unstressed syllables See LINE. Foreshadow A hint clue or warning of an event that will occur later in the story. Frame Story A story told within a story This narrative structure provides a setting and exposition for the main. narrative in a novel Often a narrator will describe where he found the manuscript of the novel e g The Scarlet. Letter or where he heard someone tell the story he is about to relate e g A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur s. Court The frame helps control the reader s perception of the work and has been used in the past to help give. credibility to the main section of the novel through the implication or claim that the novel represents a true account. of events written by someone other than the author. Glossary of Literary Terms Mr Wheeler 2 Aside A line spoken by an actor to the audience but not intended for others on stage Assonance Repetition of a vowel sound in a line of poetry as in the following example from Poe s The Raven The silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain Autobiography An author s account or story of his her own life

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