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Literary Terms H-Z


undefined, object
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tragic flaw--"error of judgement" of a tragic hero which leads him to a mistaken act
verse composed in lines of seven metrical feet
pride or overwhelming self-confidence which leads a protagonist to disregard a divine warning or to violate an important moral law
a comic utterance; a comic appearance or mode of behavior
a deliberate exaggeration or overstatement as a means of emphasis; figurative language not meant to be taken literally
in poetry, a foot with one weak stress followed by one strong stress
an expression peculiar to a given language whose meaning cannot be derived from its literal meaning or by someone unfamiliar with the phrase
a reference that triggers the mind to fuse together memories of sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and sensations of touch; a single mental creation; literary or metaphorical
the descriptive language used in literature to recreate sensory experiences
imperative statement
a sentence that gives an order or command
that which is discovered by reasoning, conclusions
the explication of a literary work for its purpose and meaning through analysis of theme, structure, elements, language, effects, etc.
interrrogative statement
a sentence that asks a question
changing/reversing the natural word order; sometimes this is an artificial way for the poet to achieve a rhyme and rhythm
the general name given to literary techniques that involve surprising, interesting, or amusing contradictions; an event or outcome that is the opposite of what would be naturally expected
1) confused unintelligible language
2) special vocabulary of a particular group or activity
3) obscure and often pretentious language
"artist novel"--a subtype of bildungsroman about the formation of an artist's personality and talents
a widely told story about the past, one that may or may not have a foundation in fact
adhering to fact or to the ordinary or usual meaning of a word--descriptive or pictoral
a form of understatement that asserts something is true by denying its opposite
local color
the detailed representation in fiction of the setting, dialect, customs, dress, and ways of thinking and feeling which are distinctive of a particular region
a poem that expresses the observations and subjective feelings of a single speaker
having the qualities of a lyric poem; songlike, musical
the great world or universe, a representation of a smaller unit or entity by a larger one, presumably of similar structure
magical realism
the mingling and juxtaposition of primarily realistic elements with the fantastic and bizarre; expands the category of realism to include myth, magic, and other marvels of the natural world, while using humor and irony
used by the author to place characters and events in exactly the situations desired
a fictional self created by an author--a self through whom the narrative of a poem or story is told
originally all musical plays, including opera; currently, a debased form of tragedy with a happy ending, flat characters, and exaggerated emotions
a form of autobiography in which the emphasis is not on the author's life, but on the people and events the author has known or witnessed
a figure of speech in which one thing is spoken of as though it were something else
related to the philosophical studies of the ultimate causes and underlying nature of things
the rhythmical pattern of a poem, determined by the number and types of stresses, or beats, in each line
the literal term for one thing is applied to another with which it is closely associated
a little world, a world in miniature; a representation of a larger entity by a smaller one of similar structure
the term used to identify new and distinctive features in the subjects, forms, concepts, and styles of literature and other arts in early decades of the 20th century, particularly after WWI
grammatically, to change somewhat the form or qualities of another word, as an adjective modifies the meaning of a noun
a lengthy speech by a single person
consisting of a single syllable
(or atmosphere) the feeling created in the reader by a literary work or passage
an element--a type of incident, device, reference, or formula--which recurs frequently in literature
a story that deals with the relationships of gods to humans, or with battles among heroes; a set of beliefs or assumptions among societies
the act or process of storytelling
a literary work that tells a story
narrative method
the way in which one narrates
the speaker in a literary work
grew out of realism and like realism attempted to depict life truthfully and accurately, but believed that a person's fate was determined by heredity, chance, and the elements of his or her environment; by forces of nature and society a person could not control or understand
a long work of prose fiction
a stanza of eight lines; first part of an Italian or Petrarchan sonnet, rhyming abbaabba
a long lyric poem that is serious in subject and treatment, elevated in style, and elaborate in its stanzaic structure
having infinite awareness, understanding, and insight; in point of view, the narrator has all-knowing qualities and is free to move around in space and time--"godlike" point of view
the use of words that imitate sounds
the paradoxial utterance conjoining two terms that in ordinary usage are contraries
a brief story that allegorically answers a question or expresses a moral or truth
a statement that seems to be contradictory but that actually presents the truth
parallel structure
the repetition of a grammatical pattern
a brief restatement, in one's own words, of all or part of a literary work
imitation of the words, style, and ideas of an author in such an exaggerated way as to make them ridiculous
an imitation of an author's style, syntax, diction, and themes
an elaborately conventional poem expressing an urban poet's nostalgic image of the peace and simplicity of the life of shepherds and other rural folk in an idealized natural setting
that quality in a work of art which evokes feelings of tenderness, pity, or sorrow
verse written in lines of five metrical feet
(see mask)
a type of figurative language in which a non-human subject is fiven human characteristics
the point of view, or vantage point, from which the story is told
phonetic intensive
a word whose sound, by an abscure process, to some degree suggests its meaning
a word group, without a complete subject or verb, that is used as a part of speech in a sentence
the sequence of events in a literary work
poetic justice
the distribution, at the end of a literary work, of earthly rewards and punishments in proportion to the virtue or vice of the various characters
point of view
the perspective, or vantage point, from which a story is told
a general term used to refer to changes, developments, and tendancies which have taken place in literature, art, music, architecture, philosophy, etc. since the 1940s and 1950s
an abstract or concise summary that maintains the tone of the longer piece
a direct, unadorned form of language, written or spoken in ordinary usage; not restricted in rhythm, measure, or rhyme
the central character and focus of interest in a narrative or drama
a play on words that are either identical in sound or very similar sound, but are sharply diverse in meaning
a foot composed of two successive syllables with approximately equal light stresses
four-line stanza; the most common in English versification, and is employed with various meters and rhyme schemes
an adventurous expedition undertaken by a hero to secure or achieve something, or to perform a prescribed feat
1) a nineteenth-century movement in writing of novels
2) a recurrent mode, in various eras and literary forms of representing human life and experience in literature--"life as it really is"
a phrase, verse, or group of verses repeated at intervals throughout a song or poem, especially at the end of each stanza
the tone, diction, and syntax appropriate for the subject matter and audience of a specific form of writing; improper is the use of words and expressions inappropriate to a specific form of written or spoken expression
dependability of the speaker, narrator, etc.
act of recalling past persons, events, or places
the act or instance of repeating a certain literary element, word, or phrase
the part of a literary work in which the complications of the plot are resolved and loose ends are tied up
use of language for persuasion in speaking or writing; especially in oratory
rhetorical question
a sentence in the grammatical form of a question which is not asked in order to receive a reply, but to achieve an expressive force, different form, and usually more effective than a direct assertion
the varying speed, intensity, elevation, pitch, loudness, and expressiveness of speech, especially prevalent in poetry
the reptition of identical or closely related sounds in the syllables of different words, most often in concluding syllables at ends of lines
rhyme scheme
the pattern of a poem's rhyme, usually indicated by assigning a letter of the alphabet to each rhyming sound
rising action
an element of plot following the exposition and before the climax; the events after the introduction of setting and characters that lead up to the turning point, or point of most interest, in the narrative
a narrative form concerned with a courtly and chivalric age, often one of highly developed manners and civility; standard plot--a quest undertaken by a single knight in order to gain a lady's favor
a literary movement, marked especially by emphasis on the imagination and the emotions; the emotional and intellectual freedom of the individual is elevated above the traditional norms and confines of society; nature is often seen as a source of inspiration
crude and taunting use of apparent praise for dispraise; a form of irony
the literary art ridiculing a subject by making it ridiculous and evoking attitudes of amusement or contempt
the act of determining the prevailing rhythm of a poem
sensory detail
detailed description that appeals to and utilizes the five senses
excess emotion to an occcasion, especially to an overindulgence in the intended emotions of pathos or sympathy
six line stanza
the time, place, and natural environment in which all characters live and move, including all artifacts they use in their lives
an often intentional change in anything--point of view, scenery, mood, etc.; can often be intended as a device
a figure of comparison using "like" with nouns and "as" with clauses
a form of discourse in which a character reveals his or her thoughts when alone or unaware of the presence of other characters
a lyric poem consisting of a single stanza of fourteen iambic pentameter lines linked by an intricate rhyme scheme; Elizabethan and Petrarchan being the predominant forms
a foot of two successive syllables with approximately equal strong stresses
a grouping of the verse-lines in a poem, set off by a space in the printed text
a character who is so ordinary and unoriginal that he or she seems to have been cast in a mold; a representative character
stream of consciousness
a narrative emthod using long passages of introspection; used to describe the unbroken flow of perceptions, thought, and feelings in the waking mind
the form or overall design and arrangement of material in a work; the organizing principles in a work of literature
the modes and devices of expression in prose or verse; ex--diction, grammatical constructions, figurative language, alliteration, and other sound patterns all enter into style
in double plots (of Elizabethan drama), a second story that is complete and interesting in its own right
a logical scheme of a formal argument consisting of a major and minor premise and a conclusion which must logically be true if the premises are true
a specific word, idea, or object that may stand for ideas, values, persons, or ways of life
descriptions of one kind of sensation in terms of another; for example, description of sound in terms of color--"the scarlet horns and pastel strings"
a part of something is used to signify the whole or vice versa--"ten hands" meaning ten workmen
1) the way that sequences of words are ordered into phrases, clauses, and sentences
2) the study of the above
tercet or triplet
stanza of three lines
terza rima
poetry written in tercets which are interlinked in that each is linked to the one following by a common rhyme: aba bcb cdc and so on
a general concept or doctrine which an imaginative work is designed to incorporate and make persuasive to the reader; a significant idea in a literary text
the argument or proposition one attempts to prove or defend in a cholarly essay
the techniques and modes of presentation an author uses to reveal or create attitudes in a literary piece; the author's attitude toward his subject and audience
literary, particularly dramatic, representations of serious and important actions which culminate in a disastrous conclusion for the protagonist
tragic flaw
the protagonist's error of judgement
tragic hero
a noble hero who suffers a change in fortune from happiness to misery because of a mistaken act, to which he is led by his tragic flaw; moves us to pity because his punishment is greater than he deserves, but he also moves us to fear because we see similar possibilities of error in our own selves
changes in thought or direction of an idea; expressions connect ideas and show how they are related
a two-syllable foot consisting of a heavy stress followed by a light stress
figures of speech, most of which are used to compare dissimilar objects to achieve effects beyond the range of literal language; include simile, metaphor, hyperbole, personification, etc.
restraint or lack of emphasis in expression, as for rhetorical effect
the achievement of an illusion of reality in the audience
common everyday speech, slang
compositions written in meter, a line of poetry; can refer to poetry in general
a pervasive authorial presence, a determinate intelligence and moral sensibility, which has invented, ordered, rendered, and expressed literary characters and materials in just this way; usually discussed as strong, absence of, etc.
expressions in which a single word stands in the same grammatical relation to two or more other words, but with an obvious shift in its significance
verbal irony
language that states the opposite of what is intended
dramatic irony
placement of characters in situations where the audience understands the implications and meaning of an event on stage, but the character does not
situational irony
unpredictable and surprising developments, results differ from the results that were expected
dead metaphor
a metaphor that has been so overused that its original metaphorical impact has been lost
extended metaphor
a metaphor that is developed at length and that involves deveral points of comparison
sustained metaphor
a metaphor that does not necessarily develop in meaning but is referred to several times in a literary work
first person
when a character from within the story tells the story
third person
when a voice from outside the story tells the story
third person limited
author is outside the story but tells it through a single character's thoughts and actions
third person omniscient
author is outside the story but seems to know what goes on in the minds of all the characters, godlike perspective
direct satire
author clearly shows that the work is a satire
indirect satire
the satire is not stated directly but implied
cultural setting
the social locale and circumstances in which a narrative's actions occur
historical setting
the period of historical time in which a narrative is set

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