LITERARY TERMS LITERARY DEVICES LITERARY ELEMENTS LITERARY TECHNIQUES AUTHOR'S TOOLS
Literary Terms (Elements, Techniques, Tools)
1. Alliteration – repetition of initial consonant sounds in words; Repeated consonant sounds at the beginning of words placed near each other, usually on the same or adjacent lines.
**A somewhat looser definition is that it is the use of the same consonant in any part of adjacent words. **Example: fast and furious **Example: Peter and Andrew patted the pony at Ascot. **In the second definition, both P and T in the example are reckoned as alliteration. It is noted that this is a very obvious device and needs to be handled with great restraint, except in specialty forms such as limerick, cinquain, and humorous verse.
2. Assonance – repetition of vowel sounds throughout a sentence, phrase, paragraph, or entire piece of writing
**Repeated vowel sounds in words placed near each other, usually on the same or adjacent lines. These should be in sounds that are accented, or stressed, rather than in vowel sounds that are unaccented. **Example: He’s a bruisin’ loser. **In the second example above, the short A sound in Andrew, patted, and Ascot would be assonant.
3. Blank Verse – unrhymed form of poetry, each line consisting normally of ten syllables in which every other one rhyme
4. Cacophony (ka - COUGH - a - knee) – a discordant series of harsh, unpleasant sounds helps to convey disorder.
**This is often furthered by the combined effect of the meaning and the difficulty of pronunciation. **Example: My stick fingers click with a snicker And, chuckling, they knuckle the keys; Light-footed, my steel feelers flicker And pluck from these keys melodies. —“Player Piano,” John Updike
5. Concrete Poetry - A poem that visually resembles something found in the physical world. A poem about a wormy apple written so that the words form the shape of an apple.
6. Consonance – repetition of consonant sounds, not limited to the first letters of words
**Repeated consonant sounds at the ending of words placed near each other, usually on the same or adjacent lines. These should be in sounds that are accented, or stressed, rather than in vowel –2– sounds that are unaccented. This produces a pleasing kind of near-rhyme. **Example: boats into the past **Example: cool soul
7. Couplet – pair of lines of verse of the same length that usually rhyme
8. Enjambment – The continuation of the logical sense — and therefore the grammatical construction — beyond the end of a line of poetry. This is sometimes done with the title, which in effect becomes the first line of the poem.
9. End Rhyme – rhyming of words that appear at the ends of two or more lines of poetry
10. Euphony – A series of musically pleasant sounds, conveying a sense of harmony and beauty to the language.
**Example: Than Oars divide the Ocean, Too silver for a seam-- Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon Leap, plashless as they swim. — “A Bird Came Down the Walk,” Emily Dickenson (last stanza)
11. Foot – smallest repeated pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a poetic line Iambic – unstressed followed by stresses (re-PEAT) **Anapestic – two stressed followed by a stressed syllable (in-ter-RUPT) **Trochaic – stressed followed by an unstressed (OLD-er) **Dactylic – stressed followed by two unstressed (O-pen-ly) **Spondaic – two stressed syllables (HEART-BREAK)
12. Free Verse – no regular meter or rhyme
13. Haiku – form of Japanese poetry (usually about nature) that has three lines: 1st line = 5 syllables; 2nd line = 7 syllables; 3rd line = 5 syllable
14. Internal Rhyme – rhyming words occur inside the same line of poetry
15. Line – The line is fundamental to the perception of poetry, marking an important visual distinction from prose. Poetry is arranged into a series of units that do not necessarily correspond to sentences, but rather to a series of metrical feet. Generally, but not always, the line is printed as one single line on the page. If it occupies more than one line, its remainder is usually indented to indicate that it is a continuation. There is a natural tendency when reading poetry to pause at the end of a line, but the careful reader will follow the punctuation to find where natural pauses should occur. In traditional verse forms, the length of each line is determined by convention, but in modern poetry the poet has more latitude for choice.
16. Meter – patterned repetition of stressed and unstressed syllables ** Meter is the organization of voice patterns, in terms of both the arrangement of stresses and their frequency of repetition per line of verse.
17. Repetition – repeating of a word, phrase or idea for emphasis or rhythmic effect
**The purposeful re-use of words and phrases for an effect. Sometimes, especially with longer phrases that contain a different key word each time, this is called parallelism. It has been a central part of poetry in many cultures. Many of the Psalms use this device as one of their unifying elements. **Example: I was glad; so very, very glad. **Example: Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward… … Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them Volley’d and thunder’d…
18. Rhythm – regular or random occurrence of sound in poetry. Regular rhythm is called meter and can be measured in feet. Random rhythm is called free verse. **Although the general public is seldom directly conscious of it, nearly everyone responds on some level to the organization of speech rhythms (verbal stresses) into a regular pattern of accented syllables separated by unaccented syllables. Rhythm helps to distinguish poetry from prose. **Example: TWIN-kle TWIN-kle LI-ttle STAR, HOW i WON-der WHAT you ARE.
19. Rhyme – Words that have different beginning sounds but whose endings sound alike, including the final vowel sound and everything following it, are said to rhyme. **Example: time, slime, mime Double rhymes include the final two syllables. **Example: revival, arrival, survival Triple rhymes include the final three syllables. **Example: greenery, machinery, scenery
**A variation which has been used effectively is called SLANT RHYME, or HALF RYHME. If only the final consonant sounds of the words are the same, but the initial consonants and the vowel sounds are different, then the rhyme is called a slant rhyme or half rhyme. When this appears in the middle of lines rather than at the end, it is called consonance. **Example: soul, oil, foul; taut, sat, knit
**Another variation which is occasionally used is called NEAR RHYME. If the final vowel sounds are the same, but the final consonant sounds are slightly different, then the rhyme is called a near rhyme. **Example: fine, rhyme; poem, goin’
**Less effective but sometimes used are SIGHT RYHMES. Words which are spelled the same (as if they rhymed), but are pronounced differently are called sight rhymes or eye rhymes. **Example: enough, cough, through, bough
20. Stanza – A division of a poem created by arranging the lines into a unit, often repeated in the same pattern of meter and rhyme throughout the poem; a unit of poetic lines (a “paragraph” within the poem). *The stanzas within a poem are separated by blank lines. *Stanzas in modern poetry, such as free verse, often do not have lines that are all of the same length and meter, nor even the same number of lines in each stanza. *Stanzas created by such irregular line groupings are often dictated by meaning, as in paragraphs of prose. **Couplet – 2 lines **Triplet – 3 lines **Quatrain – 4 lines **Quintet – 5 lines **Sestet – 6 lines **Septet – 7 lines **Octave – 8 lines
21. Verse – metric line of poetry named according to the kind and number of feet composing it *One single line of a poem arranged in a metrical pattern. Also, a piece of poetry or a particular form of poetry such as free verse, blank verse, etc., or the art or work of a poet. The popular use of the word verse for a stanza or associated group of metrical lines is not in accordance with the best usage. A stanza is a group of verses.
**Monometer – one foot **Dimeter – two feet **Trimeter – three feet **Tetrameter – four feet **Pentameter – five feet **Hexameter – six feet **Heptameter – seven feet **Octometer – eight feet
**Do you want an example of AMAZING alliteration, assonance, & consonance?? Listen to this Edgar Alan Poe poem in RAP!
1. Classicism – A movement or tendency in art, music, and literature to retain the characteristics found in work originating in classical Greece and Rome. It differs from Romanticism in that while Romanticism dwells on the emotional impact of a work, classicism concerns itself with form and discipline.
2. Romanticism – literary movement with an emphasis on the imagination and emotions
3. Impressionism – recording of events or situations as they have been impressed upon the mind; literature characterized by the selection of a few details to convey the sense impressions left by a scene or incident. This style of writing occurs when characters, scenes, or actions are portrayed from an objective point of view of reality. Authors include: Stephen Crane, Virginia Wolff
4. Naturalism – philosophy that attempts to apply scientific principles of objectivity and detachment to its study of human beings and allow the reader to form his own opinions on the subject; extreme form of realism in which the author tries to show the relationship of the person to the environment or surroundings. Authors include: Stephen Crane,
5. Realism – (late 19th century) philosophy that attempts to represent life the way it really is; focuses on literary technique; a representation of the common life; opponents of realism debate that nothing can completely and fully represent truth from all sides. Authors include Henry James, William Dean Howells, John Steinbeck.
6. Transcendentalism – philosophy that requires human being to go beyond reason to search for truth. It assumes that an individual can arrive at the basic truths of life through spiritual insight if he or she takes the time to think seriously about them.
7. Modernism – (post WWI) philosophy that attempts to represent the whole experience of modern life while finding solutions to societal issues.
1. Anecdote – short summary of a humorous event 2. Autobiography – account of one’s own life 3. Ballad – poem in verse that tells a story 4. Biography – story of a person’s life written by another person 5. Comedy – literature in which human errors appear funny. Comedies often end on a happy note. 6. Drama – plays; also refers to the type of serious play often concerned with the characters’ relationship to society 7. Epic – long narrative poem that tells of the deeds and adventures of a hero 8. Gothic Novel – type of fiction characterized by gloomy castles, ghosts, supernatural happenings 9. Memoir – writing based on a memory of a particular time, place or incident 10. Novel – lengthy fiction story 11. Novella – prose work longer than the standard short story and shorter than a novel 12. Short Story – brief fictional work usually containing one major conflict and at least one main character 13. Tragedy – literary work in which the hero is destroyed by some character flaw or by forces beyond his control
Plot Format - ORGANIZATION of the text
1. Exposition – the part of the plot in which the reader is given important background information 2. Characterization – Description of personality of person in a work of literature 3. Flashback – when the time of the story moves from present day to the past 4. Foreshadowing – hint by the author of some future event 5. Rising Action – series of struggles which builds the story or play toward a climax 6. Conflict – Struggle which occurs in the story (Man vs. Man, Man vs. Society, Man vs. Self, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. God/fate) 7. Climax – point at which the main event or change in the story occurs 8. Falling Action – series of actions leading to the resolution 9. Denouement – final resolution or outcome of the play or story 10. Resolution – Denouement
Inside the Text
1. Allegory – A representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning. Sometimes it can be a single word or phrase, such as the name of a character or place. Often, it is a symbolic narrative that has not only a literal meaning, but a larger one understood only after reading the entire story or poem
2. Allusion – literary reference to a familiar person, place, thing or event; a brief reference to some person, historical event, work of art, or Biblical or mythological situation or character.
3. Ambiguity – a word or phrase that can mean more than one thing, even in its context. Poets often search out such words to add richness to their work. Often, one meaning seems quite readily apparent, but other, deeper and darker meanings, await those who contemplate the poem. Example: Robert Frost’s ‘The Subverted Flower’
4. Analogy – comparison something familiar with something unfamiliar, suggesting that they are alike, suggesting that if they are alike in certain ways they will be alike in other ways as well Example: The plumbing took a maze of turns where even water got lost.
5. Apostrophe – Speaking directly to a real or imagined listener or inanimate object; addressing that person or thing by name. Example: O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done…
6. Aside – A device in which a character in a drama makes a short speech which is heard by the audience but not by other characters in the play.
7. Cliché – Any figure of speech that was once clever and original but through overuse has become outdated. If you’ve heard more than two or three other people say it more than two or three times, chances are the phrase is too timeworn to be useful in your writing. *Example: busy as a bee
8. Connotation – The emotional, psychological or social overtones of a word; its implications and associations apart from its literal meaning. Often, this is what distinguishes the precisely correct word from one that is merely acceptable.
9. Contrast – Closely arranged things with strikingly different characteristics. Example: He was dark, sinister, and cruel; she was radiant, pleasant, and kind.
10. Denotation – The dictionary definition of a word; its literal meaning apart from any associations or connotations. Students must exercise caution when beginning to use a thesaurus, since often the words that are clustered together may share a denotative meaning, but not a connotative one, and the substitution of a word can sometimes destroy the mood, and even the meaning, of a poem.
11. Dialogue – conversation
12. Diction – Words the author uses
13. Euphemism – An understatement, used to lessen the effect of a statement; substituting something innocuous for something that might be offensive or hurtful. **Example: She is at rest. (meaning, she’s dead)
14. Hyperbole – An outrageous exaggeration used for effect. **Example: He weighs a ton.
15. Imagery – Words creating a mental picture *Examples: -----Sight: Smoke mysteriously puffed out from the clown’s ears. -----Sound: Tom placed his ear tightly against the wall; he could hear a faint but distinct thump thump thump. -----Touch: The burlap wall covering scraped against the little boy’s cheek. -----Taste: A salty tear ran across onto her lips. -----Smell: Cinnamon! That’s what wafted into his nostrils.
16. Irony – A contradictory statement or situation to reveal a reality different from what appears to be true. **Example: Wow, thanks for expensive gift...let’s see: did it come with a Fun Meal or the Burger King equivalent?
-----Verbal Irony – A contrast between what is said and what is meant **Example: Saying “What a nice guy he is." after getting cut off at an intersection Irony of Situation – an event which happens in the story contrary to what was expected **Example: A known thief returns an intact wallet to his neighbor.
-----Dramatic Irony: When the reader understands the situation, but the characters don't
17. Metaphor – A direct comparison between two unlike things, stating that one is the other or does the action of the other. **Example: He’s a zero. **Example: Her fingers danced across the keyboard
18. Metonymy – A figure of speech in which a person, place, or thing is referred to by something closely associated with it. **Example: The White House stated today that... **Example: The Crown reported today that...
19. Onomatopoeia – Words that sound like their meanings. In Hear the steady tick of the old hall clock, the word tick sounds like the action of the clock, If assonance or alliteration can be onomatopoeic, as the sound ‘ck’ is repeated in tick and clock, so much the better. At least sounds should suit the tone – heavy sounds for weightiness, light for the delicate. Tick is a light word, but transpose the light T to its heavier counterpart, D; and transpose the light CK to its heavier counterpart G, and tick becomes the much more solid and down to earth dig. Example: boom, buzz, crackle, gurgle, hiss, pop, sizzle, snap, swoosh, whir, zip
20. Oxymoron – A combination of two words that appear to contradict each other. **Example: a pointless point of view; bittersweet
21. Paradox – A statement in which a seeming contradiction may reveal an unexpected truth. **Example: "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get."
22. Personification – Giving inanimate objects human characteristics; attributing human characteristics to an inanimate object, animal, or abstract idea. **Example: The days crept by slowly, sorrowfully.
23. Plot – Events in the story
24. Point of View – The “person” telling the story (1st = I, we, our, us; 2nd = you; 3rd = she, they, them) *The author’s point of view concentrates on the vantage point of the speaker, or “teller” of the story or poem. *This may be considered the poem’s “voice” — the pervasive presence behind the overall work. *This is also sometimes referred to as the persona. **** 1st Person: the speaker is a character in the story or poem and tells it from his/her perspective (uses “I”). **** 3rd Person limited: the speaker is not part of the story, but tells about the other characters through the limited perceptions of one other person. ****3rd Person omniscient: the speaker is not part of the story, but is able to “know” and describe what all characters are thinking.
25. Pun – Play on words; word play in which words with totally different meanings have similar or identical sounds. **Example: Like a firefly in the rain, I’m de-lighted. **Example: “You have nimble soles, I have a soul of lead.” - Shakespeare
26. Rhetorical Question – A question solely for effect, which does not require an answer. By the implication the answer is obvious, it is a means of achieving an emphasis stronger than a direct statement. Example: Could I but guess the reason for that look? Example: O, Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind? 27. Setting – Time and place; can also apply mood
28. Simile – A direct comparison of two unlike things using “like” or “as.” *Example: He’s as dumb as an ox. *Example: Her eyes are like comets.
29. Soliloquy – Long speech made by a character to himself which reveals information or thoughts (Example: Hamlet is thinking about whether he should live and fight or give up and die. “To be or not to be, that is the question: Whether tis nobler in the mind to fight the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing them, end them.” [3.1.63])
30. Symbol – Person, place, event or object which has meaning itself but suggests another meaning as well *An ordinary object, event, animal, or person to which we have attached extraordinary meaning and significance – a flag to represent a country, a lion to represent courage, a wall to symbolize separation. *Example: A small cross by the dangerous curve on the road reminded all of Johnny’s death.
31. Synecdoche – Indicating a person, object, etc. by letting only a certain part represent the whole. *Example: All hands on deck.
32. Synesthesia – An attempt to fuse different senses by describing one kind of sense impression in words normally used to describe another. *Example: The sound of her voice was sweet. *Example: a loud aroma, a velvety smile
Characters in the Text
Characters in the Text
Antagonist – Bad guy; character who gets in the way of the protagonist’s goals
Antihero – Character we cheer for, but isn’t necessarily good
Foil – someone who serves as a contrast to another character often going through similar situations, but dealing with it differently
Narrator – the one telling the story
Protagonist – Good guy; person the reader identifies with most
Stereotype – a form that does not change. A stereotypical character is one that fits the mold of that particular kind of person
Step Away From the Text
Character Sketch – short piece of writing that reveals or shows something important about a person
Genre – Category of literature based on style, form and content
Mood/Atmosphere – Feeling the author creates within the story
Moral – value or lesson the author is trying to convey to the reader
Poetic Justice – describes a character “getting what he deserves,” especially if the person gets punished
Theme – an idea about life expressed in the literary work, usually express in a sentence
Tone – overall feeling created by the use of the author’s words
Topic – subjects touched on in the story, usually expressed in one word or phrase