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Glossary of English 2: Literary Terms

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Theme
A central idea, concern, or purpose of a literary work.
Hyberbole
A deliberate exageration or overstatement that is not meant to be taken literally.
Genre
A division or type of literature.
Tragedy
A type of drama or literature that shows the downfall or destruction of a noble or outstanding person.
Protagonist
The main character in a literary work.
Foreshadowing
The use, in literary work, of clues that suggest events that have yet to occur.
Biography
A form of nonfiction in which a writer tells the life story of another person.
Setting
Time and place of action in a literary work.
Allegory
A story with more than one level of meaning.
Personification
A type of figurative language in which a nonhuman subject is given human qualities.
Satire
A type of writing that ridicules or criticizes the faults of individuals.
Myth
A fictional tale that explains the actions of gods or heroes or the causes of natural phenomena.
Analogy
A comparison of two different things to point out how they are similar.
Metaphor
A figure of speech in which one thing is spoken of as though it were something else.
Irony
Literary techniques that involve suprising, interesting, or amusing contradictions.
Paradox
A statement that seems to be contradictory but that actually presents a truth.
Alliteration
The repetition of initial consonant sounds.
Oxymoron
A figure of speech that puts together two opposing or contradictory ideas.
Suspense
A feeling of growing curiosity or anxious uncertainty about the outcome of events in a literary work.
Connotation
A set of associations that a word calls to mind.
Climax
The high point of interest or suspense in a literary work.
Fiction
Writing that tells about imaginary characters and events.
Imagery
The descriptive language used in literature to re-create sensory experiences.
Denotation
The literal or exact meaning of a word.
Autobiography
Form of nonfiction in which a person tells his or her own life story.
Moral
A lesson taught by a literary work.
Hero
A character whose actions are inspiring or noble.
Allusion
A reference to a well known person, place, event, literary work, or work of art.
Mood
The feeling created in the reader by a literary work or passage.
Legend
A widely told story about the past, one that may or may not have a foundation in fact.
Narration
Writing that tells a story.
Tone
The writer's attitude toward the readers and toward the subject.
Symbol
Anything that stands for or represents something else.
Simile
A figure of speech that makes a direct comparison between two subjects using either "like" or "as".
Conflict
A struggle between opposing forces.
Antagonist
A character or force in conflict with the main character.
Nonfiction
Writing that presents and explains ideas or that tells about real people, places, objects, or events.

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