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Literary Terms for Western Lit final


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The repetition of similar sounds, usually consonants or consonant clusters, in a group of words.
A reference to a person, a place, an event, or a literary work that a writer expects the reader to recognize and respond to.
A comparison made between two things to show the similarities between them.
A person or force opposing the protagonist in a narrative; a rival of the hero or heroine.
A concise, pointed statement expressing a wise or clever observation about life.
In drama, lines spoken by a character in an undertone or directly to the audience.
The repetition of similar vowel sounds, especially in poetry.
The prevailing mood or feeling of a literary work.
A story told in verse and usually meant to be sung.
Ballad Stanza
A type of four-line stanza. The first and third lines have four stressed words or syllables; the second and fourth lines have three stresses.
Blank Verse
Verse written in unrhymed iambic pentameter.
A section or division of a long poem.
Carpe diem tradition
A tradition dating back to classical Greek and Latin poetry and particularly popular among English Cavalier poets. Carpe diem means, literally, "seize the day" - that is, "live for today."
The personality a character displays; also, the means by which a writer reveals that personality.
A movement or tendency in art, literature, or music that reflects the principles manifested in the art of ancient Greece and Rome
The point of greatest intensity, interest, or suspense in a narrative.
In general, a literary work that ends happily with a healthy, amicable armistice between the protagonist and society.
A kind of metaphor that makes a comparison between two startlingly different things.
A struggle between two opposing forces or characters in a short story, novel, play, or narrative poem.
All the emotions and associations that a word or phrase may arouse.
The repetition of similar consonant sounds in a group of words.
Two consecutive lines of poetry that rhyme.
A writer's choice of words, particularly for clarity, effectiveness, and precision.
A poem of mourning, usually over the death of an individual.
A long narrative poem telling about the deeds of a great hero and reflecting the values of the society from which it originated.
A short, witty, pointed statement often in the form of a poem.
A short addition or conclusion at the end of a literary work.
An inscription on a gravestone or a short poem written in memory of someone who has died.
A piece of prose writing, usually short, that deals with a subject in a limited way and expresses a particular point of view.
A tale, usually inserted into the text of a sermon, that illustrates a moral principle.
That part of a narrative or drama in which important background information is revealed.
Figurative language
Language that is not intended to be interpreted in a literal sense.
The use of hints or clues in a narrative to suggest what will happen later.
Heroic couplet
A couplet in iambic pentameter.
Iambic pentameter
A poetic line consisting of five verse feet, with each foot an iamb - that is, an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.
Words or phrases that create pictures, or images, in the reader's mind.
Incremental repetition
The repetition of a previous line, or lines, but with a slight variation each time, that advances the narrative stanza by stanza.
The technique of reversing, or inverting, the normal word order (subject, verb, object) of a sentence.
A contrast or an incongruity between what is stated and what is really meant, or between what is expected to happen and what actually happens.
A poem, usually a short one, that expresses a speaker's personal thoughts or feelings. The elegy, ode, and sonnet are all forms of the lyric.
A descriptive name or phrase used to characterize someone or something. "Pious Aeneas"
A figure of speech that makes a comparison between two things that are basically dissimilar. Unlike a simile, a metaphor does not use connective words. "Life is a dream"
Metaphysical poetry
The poetry of John Donne and other seventeenth-century poets who wrote in a similar style. Characterized by verbal wit and excess, ingenious structure, irregular meter, colloquial language, elaborate imagery, and a drawing together of dissimilar ideas.
A generally regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in poetry.
Mock epic
A comic literary form that treats a trivial subject in the grand, heroic style of the epic. (The rape of the Lock)
The reasons, either stated or implied, for a character's behavior.
A story, often about immortals and sometimes connected with religious rituals, that is intended to give meaning to the mysteries of the world.
A revival in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries of classical standards of order, balance, and harmony in literature. (POPE)
A book-length fictional prose narrative, having many characters and often a complex plot.
An eight-line poem or stanza.
A complex and often lengthy lyric poem, written in a dignified formal style on some lofty or serious subject.
The use of a word whose sound in some degree imitates or suggests its meaning.
A figure of speech that combines opposite or contradictory ideas or terms.
A statement that reveals a kind of truth, although it seems at first to be self-contradictory and untrue.
The use of phrases, clauses, or sentences that are similar or complementary in structure or in meaning.
The quality in a work of literature or art that arouses the reader's feeling of pity, sorrow, or compassion for a character.
A figure of speech in which something nonhuman is given human qualities.
Petrarchan sonnet or Italian sonnet
Two parts, an octave (eight lines) and a sestet (six lines). Its rhyme scheme is usually abbaabbacdecde
The sequence of events or actions in a short story, novel, play, or narrative poem.
Point of view
The vantage point from which a narrative is told. 1st person or 3rd person.
The central character of a drama, novel, short story, or narrative poem.
The use of a word or phrase to suggest two or more meanings at the same time.
Usually a stanza or poem of four lines.
A word, phrase, line, or group of lines repeated regularly in a poem, usually at the end of each stanza.
Resolution or dénouement
The moment when the conflict ends and the outcome of the action is clear.
The repetition of sounds in two or more words or phrases that appear close to each other in a poem.
The arrangement of stressed and unstressed syllables into a pattern.
Rising Action
The movement from exposition to a crisis (or climax).
Any imaginative literature that is set in an idealized world and that deals with heroic adventures and battles between good characters and villains or monsters.
A movement that flourished in literature, philosophy, music, and art in Western culture during most of the nineteenth century, beginning as a revolt against classicism.
A kind of writing that holds up to ridicule or contempt the weaknesses and wrong-doings of individuals, groups, institutions, or humanity in general.
The analysis of verse in terms of meter.
A six-line poem or stanza.
The time and place in which the events in a short story, novel, play or narrative poem occur.
A comparison made between two things though the use of a specific word of comparison, such as: like, as, than, or resembles.
In drama, an extended speech delivered by a character alone onstage.
A short lyric poem with distinct musical qualities, normally written to be set to music.
A fourteen-line lyric poem, usually written in rhymed iambic pentameter.
A commonplace type or character that appears so often in literature that his or her nature is immediately familiar to the reader.
An author's characteristic way of writing, determined by the choice of words, the arrangement of words in sentences, and the relationship of the sentences to one another.
Any object, person, place, or action that has a meaning in itself and that also stands for something larger than itself, such as a quality, an attitude, a belief, or a value.
A literary movement that arose in France in the last half of the nineteenth century and that greatly influenced many English writers, particularly poets, of the twentieth century. To the Symbolist poets, an emotion is indefinite and therefore difficult to communicate. Symbolist poets tend to avoid any direct statement of meaning. Instead, they work through emotionally powerful symbols that suggest meaning and mood.
Terza rima
An Italian verse form consisting of a series of three-line stanzas in which the middle line of each stanza rhymes with the first and third lines of the following stanza, as follows: aba bcb cdc, etc.
The general idea or insight about life that a writer wishes to express in a literary work.
The attitude a writer takes toward his or her subject, characters, or audience.
In general, a literary work in which the protagonist meets an unhappy or disastrous end.
A brilliance and quickness of perception combined with a cleverness of expression.

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