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Selected Literary Terms


undefined, object
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a brief, often indirect reference to a well-known person, event, sotry, or work of art. It is used to evoke associations which enrich the meaning of the passage in which it occurs
a comparision made between two, frequently dissimilar, items or situations in order to provide insight into the nature of one or both of them.
a character of force that stands directly opposed to the protagonist
a kind of protagonist frequently found in modern, existential literature. He lacks the conventionally heroic qualities of nobility, courage, and dedication to a cause. He is frequently an outsider who passibely observes the futile lives of those about him.
an image, story pattern, or character type which recurs frequently enough in literature to be recognizable and to evoke strong often unconscious associations in the reader.
the prevailing emotional aura of a literaty work; for example, it may be fanciful, bleak, violent, or cheerful. This is achieved in part by the setting, but character, dialogue, and action contribute to it.
Static character
a "flat" or one-dimensional character who shows very little development or change
Kinetic character
a "round" character or one that learns, developes and changes as the story progresses
as a term of dramatic structure, this refers to the decidive point in the plot, where the action changes course and begins to resolbe itself (the turning point of the conflict).
a play with a happy ending written to amuse the audience. It is often used to instruct them about the follies of certain social conventions and human foibles
the struggle that grown out of the interplay between two OPPOSING FORCES which is crucial to most plots
the emotional associations surrounding a word, as opposed to ist strict dictionary definition.
the strict dictionary meaning of a word
when the conflict is resolved and the actions resulting from the climax are completed or explained
the conversation between two or more characters in a literary work. It can serve many purposed such as development of plot and theme, expostion of character, creation of mood, etc...
a sudden insight or realization
the explanation of a literary text derived from a close reading and careful internal analysis
the beginning of a work of fiction, wherein the author sets the atmosphere and tone, and provides the reader with the information he will need in order to understand the unfolding of the plot
a brief tale, in which the characters are often animals, told to point out a moral truth
a work which takes place in an unreal world, concerns incredible characters, or employs scientific principles not yet discovered. It may be used for its own sake as a source of amusement, or it may be a technique employed for some other end; for example, to express a comment on society's flaws or corruption
Figurative language
a writer's use of words in such a way as to attempt to restore vitality and freshness to them. This is achieved by departing from words' common, dulled meanings to gain renewed meaning through imaginative transformations. Three of the most common tecniquesare simile, metaphor, and personification
a comparision between things essentially unlike, expressed directly through the use of a comparing word such as "like" or "as"
an implied comparison
a figure of speech in which the characteristivs of a human being are attributed to an animal, thing, or an idea
an interlude in the unfolding of the plot that shows something that occurred earlier in the story or before the story began. It usually gives more meaning to current happenings in the story
a hint given to the reader of what is to happen later in the plot.
a form of type of literary work. ex: novel, short story, or poem
the sensory details in a literary work. These are vivid and concrete, and usually appeal to the visual sense. They tend to evoke in the reader emotional suggestions.
a term used to describe any situation where two meanings or interpretations are at odds
Verbal irony
the actual meaning of a statement is different, often the oppostite from what the statemetn literally says ex: sarcasm, understatement, overstatement
Irony of situation
refers to a situation which is contrary to what is expected or appropriate
Dramatic Irony
describes a situation where one or more characters in a literary work are unaware of a significant fact known by the reader or other characters
a statement which appears to be self-contradictory, but upon closer examination may actually be true
the arrangement of events in a story or drama that is carefully structured by the author not only to indicate a passage of time, but more importantly, to establish a realationship between cause and effect.
Point of View
the manner in which the author decides to tell his story (the kind of narrator)
the leading character in a work of fiction. He/she is the character who undergoes the central experience and often changes as a result
the technique which employ wit to redicule a subject, usually some social institution or human foible. The goal is usually to inspire reform
the literal time and place in which the action of a work of fiction occurs
Stream of Conciousness
the depiction of a character's flow of thoughts without any apparent attempt at clarification. The character often freely associates and the words flow like a river.
the distinctive use of language by a given author
the use of literature, of objects, characters, and situations which represent something abstract
a central idea developed in a work of fiction
the attitudes and feelings of an author expressed in his work. These may be inferred from what he says and how he says it.
a drama in which the protagonist suffers disaster but in doing so gains heroic stature.

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