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Literary Terms

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Allegory: A story which has meaning on both the literal and figurative or moral level.

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Allegory: A story which has meaning on both the literal and figurative or moral level. e.g. The Matrix Star Wars Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Alliteration: The repetition of sounds in a group of words as in “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers.”

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Allusion: A reference to a person, place, or thing--often literary, mythological, or historical. The infinitive of allusion is to allude.

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Allusion: A reference to a person, place, or thing--often literary, mythological, or historical. The infinitive of allusion is to allude. e.g. “Neo” means “New, Recent, Revived or Modified.” Neo in the Matrix is often referred to as “The One” or “Savior.” These are all allusions to Christ in the Bible. Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Neo is Resurrected After Dying - Allusion to Christ

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Neo is Resurrected After Dying - Allusion to Christ

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Antagonist: A major character who opposes the protagonist in a story or play.

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Antagonist: A major character who opposes the protagonist in a story or play. e.g. Mr. Smith in the Matrix Darth Vader in Star Wars

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Mr. Smith

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Mr. Smith

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Darth Vader

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Darth Vader

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Archetype: A character who represents a certain type of person.

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Archetype: A character who represents a certain type of person. e.g. mother/father figure hero/heroine the know-it-all Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Atmosphere: The overall feeling of a work, which is related to tone and mood.

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Audience: The audience for a piece of literature may be a single person or a group of people. To what person or group is the text directed? Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Characterization: The means by which an author establishes character. An author may directly describe the appearance and personality of character or show it through action or dialogue. Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Climax: The point at which the action in a story or play reaches its emotional peak.

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Conflict: The struggle in the story. Traditionally, there are four main conflicts: person vs. self (internal) person vs. person (external) person vs. society (external) person vs. nature (external) Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Contrast: To explain how two things differ. To compare and contrast is to explain how two things are alike and how they are different. Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Denouement: The resolution of the conflict in a plot after the climax. It also refers to the resolution of the action in a story or play after the principal drama is resolved.

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Denouement: The resolution of the conflict in a plot after the climax. It also refers to the resolution of the action in a story or play after the principal drama is resolved. e.g. After Neo deletes (kills) Mr. Smith, he dies but peace is made between humans and the machines. Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Diction

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Diction 1)Word choice. 2) The author’s choice of words. An author has the option of choosing any word from our language, why does he/she choose to use certain words and not others? In order to create a certain tone. Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Denotation

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Denotation 1)The definition of a word found in the dictionary. 2)Literal meaning of a word. 3) The verb form is “to denote” which means “to mean.”

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Denotation 1)The definition of a word found in the dictionary. 2)Literal meaning of a word. 3) The verb form is “to denote” which means “to mean.” e.g. The word “indolence” denotes “laziness.” Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Connotation

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Connotation 1)The definition of a word found outside of the dictionary. 2)Figurative meaning of a word. 3) The verb form is “to connote” which means “to suggest or imply a meaning beyond the literal meaning of a word.”

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Connotation 1)The definition of a word found outside of the dictionary. 2)Figurative meaning of a word. 3) The verb form is “to connote” which means “to suggest or imply a meaning beyond the literal meaning of a word.” e.g. The word “cool” connotes “an awesome or exciting thing.” Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Claim What the writer wants to prove. Also called an assertion, position, or thesis.

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Counter-claim or Counter-argument

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Counter-claim or Counter-argument An opinion that challenges the reasoning behind a position and shows that there are grounds for having an opposite view. Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Figurative Language:

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Figurative Language: Figurative language is also called figures of speech. The most common figures of speech are these: • A simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole • Apostrophe: a direct address to a person, thing, or abstraction, such as "O Western Wind," or "Ah, Sorrow, you consume us." Apostrophes are generally capitalized. • Onomatopoeia • Oxymoron: a statement with two parts which seem contradictory; examples: sad joy, a wise fool, the sound of silence, or Hamlet's saying, "I must be cruel only to be kind" Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Foreshadowing: A technique in which an author gives clues about something that will happen later in the story.

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Hyperbole: An extreme exaggeration.

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Hyperbole: An extreme exaggeration. e.g. To say that it took you hours to walk home when in reality it was only 10 mins would be a hyperbole. Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Imagery: The use of description that helps the reader imagine how something looks, sounds, feels, smells, or tastes. Most of the time, it refers to appearance.

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Imagery: The use of description that helps the reader imagine how something looks, sounds, feels, smells, or tastes. Most of the time, it refers to appearance. e.g. “I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. [pause] Time to die.�

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Imagery: The use of description that helps the reader imagine how something looks, sounds, feels, smells, or tastes. Most of the time, it refers to appearance. e.g. “I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. [pause] Time to die.� In Blade Runner, the dying replicant, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), introspectively says this phrase, during a rain downpour, regarding his own death. Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Irony: The discrepancy between what is said and what is meant, what is said and what is done, what is expected or intended and what happens, what is meant or said and what others understand. Sometimes irony is classified into types: in situational irony, expectations aroused by a situation are reversed; in cosmic irony or the irony of fate, misfortune is the result of fate, chance, or God; in dramatic irony. the audience knows more than the characters in the play, so that words and action have additional meaning for the audience.

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Some dramatic, extreme examples of Irony

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Some dramatic, extreme examples of Irony 1. The average cost of rehabilitating a seal after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska was $80,000. At a special ceremony, two of the most expensively saved animals were released back into the wild amid cheers and applause from onlookers. A minute later they were both eaten by a killer whale. 2. In 1992, Frank Perkins of Los Angeles made an attempt on the world flagpole-sitting record. Suffering from the flu, he came down eight hours short of the 400-day record, to find that his sponsor had gone bankrupt, his girlfriend had left him and his phone and electricity had been cut off. 3. Iraqi terrorist Khay Rahnajet didn't pay enough postage on a letter bomb. It came back with "return to sender" stamped on it. Forgetting it was the bomb, he opened it and was blown to bits. Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Literal Language: Language that means exactly what it says.

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Logos: An appeal to the audience’s logic—common sense—in rhetoric.

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Ethos: An appeal to the audience’s ethics—knowing right from wrong—in rhetoric.

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Pathos: An appeal to the audience’s emotions in rhetoric.

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Metaphor: A comparison of two unlike things using any form of the verb “to be”–-i.e. am, are, is, was, were.

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Metaphor: A comparison of two unlike things using any form of the verb “to be”–-i.e. am, are, is, was, were. e.g.: “This chair is a rock,” or “I am an island.” Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Mood: The feeling created in the reader by a literary work or passage. The mood may be suggested by the writer's choice of words, by events in the work, or by the physical setting.   Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Motif: A recurrent image, word, phrase, or action that tends to unify the literary work or that forms the theme in a work of literature. Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Myth: A legend that embodies the beliefs of people and offers some explanation for natural and social phenomena. Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Onomatopoeia: The use of words that sound like what they mean such as “buzz,” “bang,” or “tic-tock.”

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Paradox: a statement that is apparently self-contradictory or absurd but really contains a possible truth.

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Paradox: a statement that is apparently self-contradictory or absurd but really contains a possible truth. e.g. Cowards die many times before their deaths. --Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Parallelism:

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Parallelism: The use of similar grammatical structure for effect.

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Parallelism: The use of similar grammatical structure for effect. e.g. I came, I saw, I conquered.

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Parallelism: The use of similar grammatical structure for effect. e.g. I came, I saw, I conquered. Also, a requirement in grammar to use the same grammatical form for cojoined ideas. e.g. We went biking, sailing, and hiking on our trip, not We went biking, sailing, and hiked on our trip. Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Parody: A humorous, exaggerated imitation of a work of literature, movie, radioshow, etc. Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Spaceballs: A Parody on Star Wars and Star Trek

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Spaceballs: A Parody on Star Wars and Star Trek

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Personification: Giving inanimate objects human thought, ideas or intentions

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Personification: Giving inanimate objects human thought, ideas or intentions e.g. “The wind howled through the night.� Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Anthropomorphism

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Anthropomorphism takes personification one step further and acribes human gesture, movements, as well as thought, intentions, etc.

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Plot: The series of events that form the story.

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Point of View (P.O.V): The perspective from which the story is told. Narrators of stories can take on three points of view: 1st person= “I/we” 2nd person= “you” 3rd person= “he/she, they/them” Omniscient Point of view The narrator is an all-knowing outsider who can enter the minds of all of the characters. Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Protagonist: The main character of a novel, play, or story.

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Sarcasm: is one kind of irony; it is praise which is really an insult; sarcasm generally invovles malice, the desire to put someone down.

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Sarcasm: is one kind of irony; it is praise which is really an insult; sarcasm generally invovles malice, the desire to put someone down. e.g., "This is my brilliant son, who failed out of college."

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Satire: A work that makes fun of something or someone, particularly important or famous people. e.g. The Simpsons South Park Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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A Literary Satire Cobert Report Style

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A Literary Satire Cobert Report Style

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Simile: Comparing two unlike things using “like” or “as.”

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Simile: Comparing two unlike things using “like” or “as.” e.g. As agile as a monkey As alike as two peas in a pod As annoying as nails scratching against a chalkboard.

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Subplot: The secondary action of a story, complete and interesting in its own right, that reinforces or contrasts with the main plot. There may be more than one subplot, and sometimes as many as three, four, or even more, running through a piece of fiction. Subplots are generally either analogous to the main plot, thereby enhancing our understanding of it, or extraneous to the main plot, to provide relief from it. Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Theme: The central idea of a work.

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Tone: The author’s attitude toward the subject of the work. Usually positive or negative. e.g. The tone of a piece of literature could be pessimistic, optimistic, angry, or sarcastic. Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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Narrator/Speaker: The narrator of a work of fiction or the speaker of a poem is a creation of the author, just as the characters in the work are. It's easy to confuse the author and the narrator because, in fact, some narrators do speak in a voice that may closely echo that of the writer (for example, in interviews with the writer that you have read). This confusion can also occur easily when a work is autobiographical and has a first-person narrator. Nevertheless, the narrator is a construction---not the same person as the author. Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Literary Terms  

An Overview of Literary Terms

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