Z Handbook of Literary Terms AllegoryA narrative in which the characters and settings stand for abstract ideas or moral qualities. In addition to the literal meaning of the story, an allegory contains a symbolic, or allegorical, meaning. AlliterationRepetition of the same or very
similar consonant sounds usually at the beginnings of words that are close together in a poem. Example Handbook of Literary Terms AllusionReference to a statement, a person, a place, or an event from literature, history, religion, mythology, politics, sports, science, or pop culture. AmbiguityAn element of uncertainty in a text, in which something can be interpreted in a number
of different ways. Handbook of Literary Terms AnalogyComparison made between two things to show how they are alike in some respects. AnecdoteVery, very brief story, usually told to make a point. AsideWords that are spoken by a character in a play to the audience or to another character but that are not supposed to be overheard by the
others onstage. Handbook of Literary Terms AssonanceRepetition of similar vowel sounds that are followed by different consonant sounds, especially in words that are close together in a poem. AuthorThe writer of a literary work. AutobiographyAn account of the writers own life.
Handbook of Literary Terms BalladSong that tells a story. Ballads usually tell sensational stories of tragedy or adventure. Types of ballads BiographyAn account of a persons life, written or told by another person. Blank VersePoetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter.
Handbook of Literary Terms CharacterPerson in a story, poem, or play. The process of revealing the personality of a character in a story is called characterization. Direct and indirect characterization Static vs. dynamic character Flat vs. round character Motivation ClimaxMoment of great emotional intensity or suspense in a plot.
Handbook of Literary Terms ComedyIn general, a story that ends happily. More about comedy Comic ReliefComic scene or event that breaks up a serious play or narrative. ConflictStruggle or clash between opposing characters or opposing forces. External and internal conflict
Handbook of Literary Terms ConnotationAll the meanings, associations, or emotions that have come to be attached to some words, in addition to their literal dictionary definitions, or denotations. CoupletTwo consecutive lines of poetry that rhyme. Handbook of Literary Terms DescriptionType of writing intended to create
a mood or emotion or to re-create a person, a place, a thing, an event, or an experience. Description works by creating images that appeal to the senses of sight, smell, taste, hearing, or touch. DialectWay of speaking that is characteristic of a particular region or a particular group of people. More about dialect Handbook of Literary Terms
DialogueThe conversation between characters in a story or play. DictionA writers or speakers choice of words. Diction is an essential element of a writers style, the overall way in which a writer uses language. DramaStory that is written to be acted for an audience. Elements of a dramatic plot Handbook of Literary Terms
Dramatic MonologueA poem in which a speaker addresses one or more silent listeners, often reflecting on a specific problem or situation. Handbook of Literary Terms EpicLong story told in elevated language (usually poetry), which relates to the great deeds of a larger-than-life hero who embodies the values of a particular society. EpithetAdjective or descriptive phrase that is
regularly used to characterize a person, place, or thing. We speak of Honest Abe, for example, and America the Beautiful. Handbook of Literary Terms EssayShort piece of nonfiction prose that examines a single subject from a limited point of view. Personal essay Formal essay
ExpositionType of writing that explains, gives information, defines, or clarifies an idea. Handbook of Literary Terms FableVery brief story in prose or verse that teaches a moral, or a practical lesson about how to get along in life. Handbook of Literary Terms Figure of SpeechWord or phrase that
describes one thing in terms of another and is not meant to be understood on a literal level. Most figures of speech, or figurative language, involve some sort of imaginative comparison between seemingly unlike things. The most common figures of speech are Simile Metaphor Personification
Handbook of Literary Terms FlashbackScene in a movie, play, short story, novel, or narrative poem that interrupts the present action of the plot to flash backward and tell what happened at an earlier time. Flash-ForwardScene in a movie, play, short story, novel, or narrative poem that interrupts the present action of the plot to shift into the future. Handbook of Literary Terms
FoilCharacter who is used as a contrast to another character. Folk TaleStory that has no known author and was originally passed on from one generation to another by word of mouth. ForeshadowingThe use of clues to hint at events that will occur later in a plot. Handbook of Literary Terms Free VersePoetry that does not have a regular
meter or rhyme scheme. Handbook of Literary Terms GenreThe category that a work of literature is classified under. Five major genres in literature are nonfiction, fiction, poetry, drama, and myth. Handbook of Literary Terms HaikuJapanese verse form consisting of three lines and, usually, seventeen syllables (five in the
first line, seven in the second, and five in the third). HyperboleFigure of speech that uses exaggeration to express strong emotion or to create a comic effect. Hyperbole is also called overstatement. Handbook of Literary Terms Iambic PentameterLine of poetry that contains five iambs. Iambic pentameter is by far
the most common verse line in English poetry. Example IdiomExpression peculiar to a particular language that means something different from the literal meaning of each word. Its raining cats and dogs is an idiom of American English. Handbook of Literary Terms ImageryLanguage that appeals to the senses. Most images are visual, but images can also
appeal to the senses of hearing, touch, taste, or smell or even to several senses at once. Example InversionReversal of the normal word order of a sentence. Handbook of Literary Terms IronyContrast between expectation and reality between what is said and what is really meant, between what is expected to happen and what
really does happen, or between what appears to be true and what is really true. Verbal irony Situational irony Dramatic irony Handbook of Literary Terms Lyric PoetryPoetry that does not tell a story but is aimed only at expressing a speakers emotions or thoughts.
Handbook of Literary Terms MetaphorFigure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things, in which one thing becomes another thing without the use of the word like, as, than, or resembles. Implied metaphor Extended metaphor Dead metaphor Mixed metaphor
Handbook of Literary Terms MeterGenerally regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in poetry. MoodA storys atmosphere or the feeling it evokes. Mood is often created by a storys setting. MythTraditional story that is rooted in a particular culture, is basically religious, and usually serves to explain a belief, a ritual, or a mysterious natural phenomenon.
Handbook of Literary Terms NarrationType of writing or speaking that tells about a series of related events. NarratorThe voice telling a story. NonfictionProse writing that deals with real people, things, events, and places. Forms of nonfiction Handbook of Literary Terms
NovelFictional prose narrative usually consisting of more than fifty thousand words. In general, the novel uses the same basic literary elements as the story story but develops them more fully. Plot Character Setting Theme Point of view
Handbook of Literary Terms OnomatopoeiaUse of a word whose sound imitates or suggests its meaning. Crack, pop, fizz, zoom, and chirp are examples of onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia is an important element in the music of poetry. Example Handbook of Literary Terms
ParadoxStatement or situation that seems to be a contradiction but reveals a truth. ParallelismRepetition of words, phrases, or sentences that have the same grammatical structure or that state a similar idea. Parallelism, or parallel structure, helps make lines rhythmic and memorable and heightens their emotional effect. Example
Handbook of Literary Terms PersonaMask or voice assumed by a writer. PersonificationKind of metaphor in which a nonhuman thing or quality is talked about as if it were human. Example Handbook of Literary Terms PlotSeries of related events that make up a story or drama. Plot is what happens in a short
story, novel, or play. Elements of plot Plot diagram Handbook of Literary Terms PoetryType of rhythmic, compressed language that uses figures of speech and imagery to appeal to the readers emotions and imagination. Rhyme Meter
Free verse Lyric poem Narrative poem Handbook of Literary Terms Point of ViewVantage point from which a writer tells a story. In broad terms there are three possible points of view: Omniscient First person
Third person limited ProtagonistMain character in fiction or drama. The character or force that blocks the protagonist is the antagonist. Handbook of Literary Terms PunPlay on the multiple meanings of a word or on two words that sound alike but have different meanings.
Handbook of Literary Terms RefrainRepeated word, phrase, line, or group of lines. RhymeRepetition of accented vowel sounds, and all sounds following them, in words close together in a poem. Example Types of rhyme Rhyme scheme
Handbook of Literary Terms RhythmMusical quality in language produced by repetition. Meter Handbook of Literary Terms SatireType of writing that ridicules something a person, a group of people, humanity at large, an attitude or failing, a social institutionin order to reveal a weakness.
Scene DesignSets, lights, costumes, and props, which bring a play to life onstage. Handbook of Literary Terms SettingThe time and place of a story or play. Short StoryShort, concentrated fictional prose narrative. Plot in a short story SimileFigure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things, using a
word such as like, as, resembles, or than. Handbook of Literary Terms SoliloquyLong speech in which a character who is onstage alone expresses his or her thoughts aloud. SonnetFourteen-line lyric poem that is usually written in iambic pentameter and that has one of several rhyme schemes. SpeakerVoice that is talking to us in a poem.
Handbook of Literary Terms StanzaGroup of consecutive lines in a poem that form a single unit. StyleThe particular way in which a writer uses language. Style is created mainly through diction (word choice), use of figurative language, and sentence patterns. SuspenseUncertainty or anxiety the reader feels about what is going to happen next in a story.
Handbook of Literary Terms SymbolPerson, place, thing, or event that stands for itself and for something beyond itself as well. Examples Handbook of Literary Terms Tall TaleExaggerated, far-fetched story that is obviously untrue but is told as though it should be
believed. ThemeCentral idea of a work of literature. More about theme ToneAttitude a writer takes toward a subject, a character, or the audience. Tone is conveyed through the writers choice of words and details. Handbook of Literary Terms TragedyPlay that depicts serious and important events in which the main character comes to an
unhappy end. Handbook of Literary Terms VoiceThe writers or speakers distinctive use of language in a text. Voice is created by a writers tone and choice of words.
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