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AP Lit - exam 1

Terms

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Elegy
A mournful lyric poem written to commemorate someone who is dead.
Aristotle
Greek philosopher author of The Poetics which contains his theory of tragedy.
Reversal
The point where the protagonist fortunes turn in an unexpected direction.
Character
A person presented in a dramatic or narrative work.
Controlling Metaphor
A metaphor that is central to and runs through an entire work.
Telling
Method by which an author intervenes to describe and sometimes evaluate the character for the reader.
Irony
A device that uses contradictory elements to reveal a reality different from what appears to be true.
Skene
Small hut like building behind the stage used as a dressing room and later as a backdrop for painted settings.
Stock characters
Stereotypic characters such as the "dumb blond" or the "mean stepfather."
Narrator
The teller of a story.
Unreliable narrator
A narrator who is either naive or disingenuous and therefore offers a perspective which may be distorted, incomplete, or untrue.
Octave
An eight line stanza.
Free Verse
Open form poetry not conforming to conventional patterns of meter, line length, stanza format, and rhyme.
Diction
A writers' choice of words and syntax that signals an elevated, formal, technical, conventional or informal use of language.
Tone
The author's implicit attitude towards a subject as revealed by elements of the author's style.
Peripeteia
S sudden and unexpected reversal in the protagonist's fortunes.
Hyperbole
The use of overstatement to achieve a desired effect.
Tragedy
A story that reveals the breadth and depth of human spirit in the face of failure, defeat and even death.
End-stopped
A poetic line that has a pause at the end.
Stasimon
An ode in which the chorus responds to and/or interprets the preceding dialouge.
Characterization
The process by which a writer makes a character seem real to the reader.
In medias res
The strategy of beginning a story in the middle of the action.
Aeschylus
Greek playwright and tragedian, the earliest recorded Greek playwright.
Extended Metaphor
A sustained comparison in which part or all of a poem consists of a series of related metaphors.
Round characters
Complex characters displaying inconsistencies and internal conflicts.
Caesura
A pause within a line of poetry that contributes to its rhythm.
Exposition
At the beginning of a work, sometimes as a prologue, it explains the background of the characters and their circumstances.
Thespian
An actor.
Protagonist
The central character of a story.
Orchestra
Srea in the amphitheater where the chorus danced.
Paradox
A statement that initially appears to be contradictory, but upon close inspection it makes sense. Ex: "Death, thou shalt die."
Hyperbole
Overstatement, often used intentionally for emphasis.
Suspense
The anxious anticipation of a reader or audience as to the outcome of a story.
Dionysis
God of wine and fertility, patron of Greek theater festivals.
Epic
Long narrative poem, that focuses on a serious subject that chronicles heroic deeds/events important to a culture.
Rising action
The part of a plot where complication creates conflict.
Genre
Classifications of literature such as: poetry, fiction, drama, and essays.
Climax
The moment of greatest emotional tension in a narrative usually marking a turning point.
Foreshadowing
The introduction of verbal and dramatic hints about what is to come later.
Mask
Device used by Greek actors to convey mood, increase visibility and amplify the voice.
Sestet
A six line stanza.
Simile
A figure of speech comparing two unlike things and using the words "like" or "as".
Anagnorisis
A sudden recognition or discovery of previously unknown information on the part of the protagonist.
Syntax
The ordering of words into meaningful patterns such as phrases, clauses, and sentences.
Formula literature
Escapist literature which conforms to established conventions and expectations.
Chorus
In Greek theater a group of people on stage who serve as commentators on events and characters.
Denotation
The dictionary meaning of a word.
Sentimentality
Treatments of material by an author designed to induce cheap or stock emotional responses that exceed what the circumstances warrant.
Crisis
A turning point in the action that has a powerful effect on the protagonist.
Couplet
Two consecutive lines of poetry that usually rhyme and have same meter.
Villanelle
19 line rhyming poem divided into six stanzas: five tercets and a concluding quatrain. Lines 1 and 3 reappear in their entirety at the end of alternating stanzas.
Archetype
Characters, images, and themes that embody universal meanings, basic human experiences or mythic patterns.
Playwright
One who writes plays.
Antihero
A protagonist who has the opposite of most the traditional attributes of a hero.
Theme
A central or dominant idea in a work, the abstract subject of a work.
Foil
A character whose behavior and values contrast sharply with those of another character and thus highlight the distinctive temperament of that character.
Euphony
Refers to language whose sound is smooth/musically pleasing.
Catharsis
The release of the emotions of pity and fear by the audience at the end of a tragedy.
Terza Rima
An interlocking three-line rhyme scheme: aba-bcb-cdc-ded and so on.
Synecdoche
A figure of speech in which a part of something is used to signify the whole. Ex: "all hands on deck."
Colloquial language
An informal type of diction that reflects casual, conversational language and often times slang.
Haiku
A poetic form borrowed from the Japanese traditionally focused on nature and containing three unrhymed lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables.
Figures of Speech
Ways of using language that deviate from literal, denotative meanings of words and which suggest additional meanings or effects.
Cacophony
Language whose sound is discordant, harsh, and/or chaotic.
Ambiguity
The possibility of two or more interpretations of a word, phrase, action or situation.
Didactic literature
Literature whose chief aim is to offer moral instruction.
Satyr play
Short plays performed between more serious works produced in Greek and Roman festivals featuring bawdy and sexually explicit themes.
Ballad
Originally a song, transmitted orally from generation to generation that tells a story.
Metaphor
A figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things.
Connotation
Associations and implications that go beyond the literal meaning of a word.
Burlesque
Physical humor, often sexual or vulgar.
Lyric Poetry
Poetry, often brief, that expresses the personal emotions of the speaker.
Understatement
A figure of speech, often used ironically, that says less than is intended. Ex. Going to the moon was no ordinary task.
Tetralogy
A standard entry for a theater festival competition consisting of a trilogy of tragedies and one satyr play.
Canon
Those literary works generally considered to be the most important to read and study.
Persona
A mask or a speaker created by an author, but separate and distinct from the author, to tell a story.
Thespis
Reputed to be the first actor to step from the chorus in 534 BC, and engage in dialog with them; first actor.
Metonymy
A figure of speech in which something closely associated with something is substituted for it. Ex: "the crown" = the king.
Apollo
Greek god of the Sun, of truth and prophecy, and the lyre, music and poetry.
Dynamic characters
Undergoes changes because of the action in the plot.
Ode
Lengthy lyric poem that expresses lofty emotions in a dignified style.
Resolution/denouement
The conclusion of a plot's complications and conflicts.
Stanza
Refers to a grouping of lines in a poem, set off by a space that usually has a pattern.
Episodia
In ancient Greek theater, dialogues, often heated, that dramatized the play's conflicts.
Literary Criticism
The art of analyzing and interpreting literary works within a given framework or set of priorities.
Oxymoron
Form of a paradox in which two contradictory words are used together. EX: "Sweet Sorrow."
Enjambment
The technique of continuing through the end of one line to the next line in order to complete its meaning.
Sophocles
Greek playwright and tragedian author of Oedipus the King and Antigone.
Quatrain
A four line stanza.
Comedy
Works whose chief aim is to amuse and entertain.
Antagonist
The character, force or collection of forces that oppose the protagonist.
Conflict
The struggle between opposing forces usually the protagonist and the antagonist.
Juxtaposition
The act of placing two things (abstract or concrete) side by side for the purpose of inviting comparisons between them.
Epiphany
A deep realization of truth about herself/himself which often occurs in an ordinary rather than a melodramatic moment.
Subplot
A secondary action of a story, complete and interesting in its own right, that reinforces or contrasts the main storyline.
Tragic flaw/hamartia
An error in judgement or defect in character that leads to a hero's downfall.
Motivated action
Action for which the reader is offered reasons explaining how a character behaves.
Satire
Literary art of ridiculing a folly or voice in order to expose it.
Showing
A method by which an author presents a character talking and acting.
Close Reading
A careful and minutely observed reading of a text in which textual elements are analyzed in relation to one another and to the whole.
Verse
Poetry composed in rhythmic and measured patterns that often rhyme.
Tercet
A three line stanza, also called a triplet.
Point of view
The specific filter or lens through which the story is related to the audience, usually 1st or 3rd person.
Deus ex Machina
A mechanical device that lowered and raised actors on and off stage but which now means any improbable or easy means of ending a story.
Hubris
Excess pride or self confidence that leads a protagonist to an error in judgment.
Drama
Literature written to be performed in a theater.
Picaresque novel
A novel characterized by an episodic plot and a protagonist who experiences serial misadventures, often though not always humorous.
Cliche
An idea or expression that has become trite from overuse.
Scansion
Process of measuring the stresses in a line of verse in order to determine the metrical pattern of the line.
Apostrophe
An address to either someone who is absent (therefore they cannot hear), or to something that is nonhuman and cannot comprehend.
Symbol
A person, object, image, word or event that evokes a range of meaning beyond its literal significance.
Line
A sequence of words whose length is determined by the number of feet they contain.
Soliloquy
A dramatic monologue delivered onstage and intended to reveal a character's inner thoughts and feelings.
Euripides
Greek playwright and tragedian author of Medea and The Bachae.
Farce
A form of humor based on exaggerated, improbable incidents and language as well as slapstick comedy.
Parody
A humorous imitation of another persons' work, usually serious.
Flat characters
Embody one or two qualities, ideas or traits that are easily summarized.
Sonnet
Poem of fourteen lines usually written in iambic pentameter.
Cultural criticism
An approach to literature that focuses on the historical, social, political and economic contexts of a work.
Static characters
Do not change nor does the reader's knowledge of that character grow.
Plot
The arrangement of incidents in a story.
Aristophanes
Greek playwright and author of comedies such as The Birds and Lysistrata.
Allegory
A narrative or description that is restricted to a single meaning due to the symbolic nature of its elements.
Meter
The rhythmic pattern of stresses that recur within a poem.
Image
A word or phrase that addresses the physical senses and triggers sensory impressions.

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