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Literary Terms

Terms

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Foil
A character who sets off another character by strong contrast.
Onomatopoeia
The use of a word whose sound imiates or suggests its meaning.
Cliche
An expression that was fresh and apt when first coined but is now so overused that it has become hackeyed and stale.
Free Verse
Poetry that has no regular meter or ryhme scheme.
Ode
A complex, generally long lyric poem on a serious subject .
Atmosphere
The mood or feeling in a literary work.
Elegy
A poem that mourns the death of a person or laments something lost.
Allegory
A story in which the characters, settings, and events stand for abstract or moral concepts.
Mock Epic
A comic narrative poem that parodies the epic by treating a trivial subject in a lofty, grand manner.
Consonance
The reptition of final consonant sounds after different vowels sounds.
Pastoral
A type of poem that depicts rustic life in idyllic, idealized terms.
Couplet
Two consecutive lines of poetry that ryme.
Autobiography
A written account of the author's own life.
Blank Verse
Poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter.
Dialogue
Conversation between two or more people.
Motivation
The reasons for or forces behind the action of a character.
Aphorism
A concise, sometimes witty saying that expresses a princple, truth, or observation about life.
Ballad
A song or songlike poem that tells a story.
Narrator
One who tells, or narrates, a story.
Iambic Pentameter
A line of poetry made up of five iambs.
Antagonist
The character or force that opposes or blocks the protanonist, or main character, in a narrative.
Cadence
The natural rise and fallof the voice.
Denotation
The literal, dictionary definition of a word.
Dialect
A way of speaking that is characteristic of a particular region or group of people.
Antithesis
A contrast of ideas epressed in a grammatically balanced statement.
Dissonance
A harsh, discordant combination of sound.
Quatrain
A four-line stanza or poem or group of four lines unified by a ryhme scheme.
Short Story
A brief work of friction.
Character
Indiviual in a story or play.
Ottava Rima
An eight-line stanza in iambic pentameter with the rhyme scheme abababcc.
Protagonist
The main character in fiction, drama, or narrative poetry.
Octave
An eight-line stanza or poem or the first eight lines of an Italian, or Petrarchan, sonnet.
Alliteration
The repetition of consonant sounds in words that are cloae to one another.
Imagery
Language that appeals to the senses.
Foreshadowing
The use of clues to hint at what is going to happen later in the plot.
Connotations
All the meanings, associations, or emotions that a word suggests.
Conflict
A struggle or clash between opposing characters, forces, or emotion.
Fable
A very brief story in prose or verse that teaches a moral, or a practical lesson about life.
Biography
An account of a person's life written by another person.
Diction
A writer's or speaker's choice of words.
Comedy
In general, a story that ends happily.
Meter
A generally regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in poetry.
Refrain
A repeated word, phrase, line or group of lines.
Setting
The time and place of a story or play.
Canto
A subdivision in a long poem, corresponding to a chapter in a book.
Plot
The series of related events that make up a story or drama.
Essay
A short piece of nonfictional prose that examines a single subject from a limited point of view.
Climax
The point of greatest emotional intensity or suspense in a plot.
Analogy
A comparison of two things to show that they are alike in certain respects.
Epigram
A brief, clever and usually memorable insight or revelation that a character experinces.

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