I made this document as an assignment in Susan Wei's 10th grade IB English class sometime in 2002 (though judging by some of the examples, I may have updated it circa 2005). If I remember correctly, she gave us the words (and possibly the definitions?), and we had to find or think of examples.
It was one of the first things I ever posted to my personal website, and over the years it ended up getting a little bit of web traffic, so here it is again, raised from the depths ☺
- ABRIDGEMENT/ ABRIDGMENT
- A shortened version of a work that aims to retain the sense of the original.
- (n.): A summary (q.v.) made of a work of prose non-fiction, such as an abstract of a work of scholarship or research. (adj.):
The opposite of concrete (q.v.) when used to refer to nouns. Abstract nouns denote ideas, feelings, and qualities or conditions that can't be perceived by the senses.
the opposite of realistic when used to refer to art. Many works of modern art achieve their effect by the use of color or form rather than by the realism in the portrayal of object.
Example: "Painting" by Joan Miró.
- A literary work with two or more levels of meaning---one literal level and one or more symbolic levels. The events, settings, characters, and objects in an allegory stand for something else, and can be interpreted on a continuously symbolic level. In one sense, all literature is allegorical.
Example: Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, in which the character Christian represents Everyman on a journey to salvation.
Example: Plato, "The Allegory of the Cave," The Republic, which is an allegory to learning and inquiry.
- The repetition of initial consonant sounds.
Example: Sally sells seashells.
- A reference to a well-known historical or literary figure, place, event, literary work, or work of art. Popular sources of allusions used by western writers include the Bible, Greek and Roman mythology, historical and political events, Shakespeare, and other materials with which the writer assumes his or her audience is familiar. Obscure allusions are those that are no longer understood or even recognized by a reading or listening audience. Allusions please readers by reminding them of a pertinent story or figure, provide analogies to help readers understand new or difficult situations, and enable writers to communicate ideas concisely through a shared cultural "shorthand." Allusions also help define reading communities.
Example: Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, in which "Bellona's Bridegroom" in Act I refers to Bellona, a Greek goddess of war.
- The capacity of a text to be interpreted in different ways, uncertainty about what is intended in a text. Since the critic William Empson published his influential Seven Types of Ambiguity (1930), ambiguity in a text, and especially in poetry, has been valued as a positive literary quality.
Example: In Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, Mr. Rochester asks Jane to marry him, but it is unclear as to whether he is actually asking her or in fact referring to another woman.
- A reference to something that did not yet exist or an event that had not yet occurred during the time being described.
Example: T.H. White, The Once and Future King. Merlin calls for an umbrella, which had not yet been invented at the time the novel took place.
- A comparison based on some resemblance between things. Metaphor (q.v.), simile (q.v.), allegory (q.v), and parable (q.v.), and objective correlatives (q.v.) all work through analogical thinking.
Example: "You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables." ---Samuel Johnson
- A metrical foot with three syllables in the following sequence: unstressed unstressed STRESSED. From Greek: "run in reverse" (i.e., reverse direction from a dactyl, [q,v,])
- (an AF or ah) The repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginning of successive lines or poetry or successive clauses in prose.
This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself
--John of Gaunt in Shakespeare's Richard II (2.1.40-43)
- (an AS troph ee). The inversion of normal word order in a line or sentence. The word that is shifted out of its normal position gets emphasized.
Example: But Luke, Not ready are you.
- A brief story, usually with a specific point or moral.
Example: The Tortoise and the Hare. The classic example of slow and steady wins the race. The story advocates patience.
- A person or a force arrayed against the protagonist (q.v.). Antagonists may be people, things, conventions of society, or traits of the protagonist's own character. Originally, "antagonist" was the name given to the second speaking character in Greek tragedy; Aeschylus was the first tragedian to include an antagonist in his plays.
Example: Merlin in Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
- A prior example, predecessor work, or precursor. Literary works are often influenced by earlier works and may have many antecedents. Antecedents may inspire or be threaten latter-born writers (because they are so successful or powerful, such as Shakespeare).
Example: Morte D'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory is an antecedent to Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
- A "non-hero" or antithesis of the traditional hero who is dashing, strong, brave, and resourceful. An anti-hero is incompetent, unlucky, clumsy, stupid, or buffoonish.
Example: Yossarian from Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22.
- A figure of speech in which contrasting ideas are sharpened by being paired in parallel arrangements of words and phrases.
Example: "Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike," Alexander Pope, "An Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot"
Example: "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here." --From Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburgh Address."
- A figure of speech in which the speaker directly addresses a thing, a place, an abstract idea, or a dead or absent person as if present and capable of understanding. An apostrophe summons someone who is absent or evokes the presence of some entity.
Example: the opening line to Anne Bradstreet's The Author to Her Book
"Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain"
- (AP uh them). A terse, pithy saying. Similar to proverb, aphorism (q.v.)
Example: "Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." Francis Bacon, Apothegms New and Old (1924).
- A terse statement of a truth or dogma. Proverbs are often aphoristic.
Example: "Lost time is never found again." Benjamin Franklin.
- A motif, pattern, theme, or symbol that recurs in throughout history and literature. Archetypes are universal paradigms. Examples of archetypal stories include birth, growing up, tribal life, death, struggle between parents and children, fraternal rivalry, the quest. Examples of archetypal characters include the rebel, the hero, the boaster, the witch, the traitor. Examples of archetypal creatures include the lion, the eagle, the hare, the tortoise, the snake. Examples of archetypal places include the garden. The notion of the archetype is derived from the psychology of Carl Jung, who believed that archetypes were symbols that well up from humanity's "collective unconscious" reflecting ancestral memories. Archetypes are commonly found in myths (q.v.)
Example: Æsop's "The Tortoise and the Hare." The title explains itself.
Example: "Cinderella" (author unknown), in which Cinderella is the servant who becomes a princess.
- ARTIST NOVEL (KÜNSTLERROMAN)
- Has as its protagonist an artist (any creative artist, including writers). The künstlerroman portrays the development of the artist from childhood to maturity. The rise of the the künstlerroman, beginning in the late 18th and early nineteenth centuries in Germany, reflects the exaltation of the artist (or man of genius) as a hero by Romanticism (q.v.)
Examples: The Hunger Artist by Franz Kafka.
- A convention in drama, in which a character utters a few words or a short speech that is supposed to be inaudible to other characters on stage. Not used in naturalistic drama.
Example: William Shakespeare. Hamlet.
"Hamlet: I humbly thank you, sir.
[Aside to Horatio] Dost know this water fly?
Horatio: [Aside to Hamlet] No, my good lord.
Hamlet: [Aside to Horatio] Thy state is more gracious; for ‘tis a vice to know of him. He hath much land, and fertile. Let a beast be lord of beasts, and his crib shall stand at the king's mess. ‘Tis a chouch; but, as I say, spacious in the possession of dirt."
- The repetition of vowel sounds ("vocalic rhymes"), usually close together. Assonance adds euphony (q.v.) to a text.
Example: Frost, Robert. "The Road not Taken." "Yet knowing how way leads to on to way": Repetition of "o" sound.
- Refers to the feelings of the speaker or author about the subject, the intended audience, or himself or herself. The attitude is revealed by the tone (q.v.) of the work.
- The listener or reader who receives the work. Writers intend their works for a particular audience. However, the audiences who receive them may be very different.
- The story of a person's life, written by him- or herself. Autobiography may take many forms, including diary, journal, poetry, novel, factual narrative, and memoir (q.v.).
Examples: Theodore Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt: an autobiography.
- A song that tells a story. Ballads usually have these characteristics: 1) the story is told through dialogue and action, 2) the language is simple, 3) there are refrains, 4) the theme is often tragic. Many English ballads are composed in quatrains (q.v.) of alternating four-stress and three-stress lines with rhymes in alternating lines..Folk ballads are anonymous. They are handed down through oral tradition (q.v.) and often use oral formulae or stock epithets. Their subjects are taken from folklore or popular legends. They were originally set to music. Literary ballads are written by known authors and imitate the style and form of folk ballads, but show artistic polish.
Example: Folk ballad: "The Gumboot Song"
Literary ballad: John Keats, "La Belle Dame Sans Merci"
- German term used for coming-of-age novel (q.v.).
- An account of a person's life told by someone else, and a branch of history.
Example: Helen Keller: A Life by Dorothy Herrmann
- BLANK VERSE
- In English, blank verse is unrhymed iambic pentameter. This term is also used to refer to verse that has regular meter but no rhyme
Example: "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun." From William Shakespeare's "Sonnet 130."
- Harsh sounds used by writers, especially poets, for certain effects. Cacophony can be created by the repetition of consonant sounds that hiss, stop air, or rasp, and by nasty-sounding vowels. From the Greek, "ugly sounds." Cacophony is the opposite of euphony (q.v.).
Example: "Never my numb plunker fumbles." -- From John Updike's poem "Player Piano."
- (siz YUH ruh). A break or pause in a line of poetry, dictated by natural speech rhythm and sometimes marked by punctuation.. A line may have more than one caesura or none at all. In English, a caesura usually falls in the middle of a line, but its placement may be varied for different effects. In scansion, a caesura within a line is indicated by the symbol ||.
Example: "I'm nobody! || Who are you?" -- From the poem by Emily Dickenson.
A body of works regarded as authentic. Originally, "canon" meant biblical writings that were accepted as authentic, as opposed to the Apocrypha. The term now also applies to genuine works by any author. ;
A body of works comprising the most highly valued literary works in a culture. Canonical works are felt to embody literary orthodoxies. Recent debates over the western literary canon have challenged the predominance of works by DWEM's (dead white European males).
Example: William Shakespeare's Hamlet.
- A depiction of a character that ridicules the character by distorting or exaggerating his or her most prominent features or characteristics. Caricatures are common in comedy and satire.
Example: The large nose of Cyrano in Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac.
- A person (or sometimes an animal) that figures in the action of a literary work. A character exhibits character traits.
A protagonist, or main character, is the central figure. Example: Dantès in Alexandre Dumas' Le Comte de Monte-Cristo.
An antagonist is a character pitted against the protagonist. Example: Danglars, among others in Alexandre Dumas' Le Comte de Monte-Cristo.
Major characters play significant roles. Example: Oncec again, Dantès in Alexandre Dumas' Le Comte de Monte-Cristo. Also, Heidi in Johana Spyru's novel of the same name.
Minor characters play lesser roles. Example: M. Morrel and M. Villefort in Alexandre Dumas' Le Comte de Monte-Cristo.
A foil contrasts with, and therefore throws into relief, the attributes of a main character. Example: Laertes in William Shakespeare's Hamlet.
A one-dimensional, flat character exhibits a single dominant trait. A flat character is a caricature (q.v.). A flat character is also usually a static character (q.v.). Example: Joe from Charles Dickens' novel Great Expectations.
A three-dimensional, round character, or full character, exhibits the complexity of traits associated with actual human beings. A round character is also, by nature, a dynamic character (q.v.). Example: Reuven in Chaim Potok's The Chosen.
A static character does not change. Example: Joseph in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights.
A dynamic character does change or exhibit growth. Example: The 1st Catherine in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights.
A stock character or stereotype is a recognizable "type" that recurs in many different works, in different cultures. A stock character is always flat. Example: Morgause from The Once and Future King by T.H. White.
A misfit is character who fits awkwardly into society. Misfits may be socially rejected or physically isolated from society. Example: Lancelot, The Once and Future King, T.H. White.
- The use of literary techniques to create a character. Four techniques: The author may 1) directly describe to the reader the character's appearance, background, personality, motivations, and so on; 2) reveal aspects of the character by reporting what the character does and says; 3) reveal the character's internal state by providing an internal monologue; and 4) describe how others react to the character (how they behave around the character/ what they think and say about him or her).
Example: Merlin in Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is portrayed not as the noble wizard that he appears as in so many other Arthurian novels, but instead as a sleazy trickster who Hank Morgan must out-wit.
- (key AS mus) The reversal of grammatical structure in successive phrases or clauses.
Example: It's easy to kick a football, but to kick it well is difficult.
Example: It is easy to break bridges, but to mend it is harder.
- CLASSICAL AGE
- In the West, a reference to Greek and Roman antiquity. Different cultures have different classical ages, when authors achieved a standard of excellence that was subsequently emulated in that culture.
- A movement that takes the art and culture of ancient Greece and Rome as the epitome and perennial model for human civilization. Classicism dominated two periods in the West: the Renaissance and the 18th- century Age of Reason. Eighteenth-century Classicism is also called "Neo-Classicism" (q.v.). Classical works are admired for qualities of order, harmony, proportion, balance, and discipline.
Example: The Temple of Fame by Alexander Pope.
- CLASSICAL EPIC
- Greek or Roman epics. These epics, and later western epics influenced by them, are governed by a set of conventions (epic machinery):
Invocation to the muse or other deity ("Sing goddess, of the wrath of Achilles," Iliad)
Begins with statement of theme ("Arms and the man I sing," Aeneid)
Action begins in medias res ("in the middle of things")
Catalogues (of participants, ships, sacrifices)
Long, formal speeches by main characters
Histories and descriptions of significant items (who made a sword or shield, how it was decorated, who owned it from generation to generation)
Epic similes (a long simile in which the image becomes an object of art in its own right)
Stock epithets ("rosy-fingered Dawn," "tall-masted ship," "brilliant Achilles")
Journey to the underworld
Example: The Illiad by Homer.
Example: The Aneid by Virgil
- A part of a sentence that has its own subject and verb. There are two basic types:
main or independent clauses. They can stand alone as sentences. They are connected by coordinating conjunctions or semi-colons.
Example: I played hockey while my brother played football.
subordinate or dependent clauses. They can't stand alone as sentences. They serve three different functions:
Adjective clauses. These are introduced by relative pronouns (who, whom, whose, which that)
Example: Johnny asked me, "was it you who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?"
Adverb clauses. These are introduced by subordinating conjunctions (after, as, as if, if, unless, until, than, where, wherever, whether, etc.)
Example: I will stay until the clock strikes twelve noon.
Noun clauses. These are introduced by interrogative pronouns (who, what, when, where, why, whoever, whatever, etc.), that, whether, etc.
Example: Johnny asked me, "who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?"
- The part of a story or play at which a crisis is reached an a resolution achieved. See narrative structure.
Example: The moment Dantès escapes le Château d'If in Le Comte de Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.
- COLLOQUIAL/ COLLOQUIALISM
Language used in informal conversation. Colloquialisms may be used by writers for certain effects, or
a style (q.v.) of writing, using informal language.
- A type of drama that takes as it theme the creation of social harmony or the unification of society through acceptance of a central comic character, who may be a misfit (q.v.). In contrast to the tragic hero, who is ultimately cast out --- killed or expelled --- from society, the comic hero ends up gaining acceptance into a society from which he had initially been separated or alienated. Comic characters, the objects of sympathy and ridicule, always triumph regardless of whether what they do is sensible or foolish, honest or deceitful, because the goal of comedy is to portray social reconciliation. Roman New Comedy and Shakespearean romantic comedy usually present a love intrigue between a young man and woman which is blocked by some opposition (usually paternal) and resolved by a plot twist. Such comedies conclude in scenes of reconciliation such as marriages, family reunions, or both. In Christian comedy (as in Dante's Commedia), reconciliation with God is achieved and the hero experiences salvation. See also farce.
Example: A midsummer Night's Dream. William Shakespeare.
Example: Twelfth Night. Also William Shakespeare.
- COMING-OF-AGE NOVEL (BILDUNGSROMAN)
- A novel that gives an account of the development of a young hero or heroine. The protagonist is initiated into adulthood by qaquiring knowledge, experience, or both, often by a process of disillusionment. Typical progressions include: from ignorance to knowledge, from innocence to experience, from a false view of the world to a correct view, from idealism to realism, from immature responses to mature responses. The most famous and influential early bildungsroman is Wolgang von Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship (1795-6)
Example: The Chosen by Chaim Potok.
- An elaborate figure developed through a whole work or a substantial part of it that makes use of metaphors, similes, hyperboles (q.v.), oxymorons (q.v.), or the like. A conceit (here, "conceit" means "conception") is intended to surprise and delight by its wit and ingenuity. Conceits are often found in sonnets (q.v.) and in the work of Metaphysical (q.v.) poets.
Example: John Donne's "Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" contains the following example: "Let man's soul be a sphere, and then, in this, / The Intelligence that moves, devotion is."
The opposite of abstract (q. v.) when used to refer to nouns. Concrete phenomena are those can be perceived by the five senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling. Imagery (q.v.) is always concrete.
A type of poetry in which the lines are arranged on the page so they form a shape that looks like the subject of the poem. This type of poetry was invented by Persian poets in the 5th century, then introduced to Europe during the Renaissance.
Example: "Anagram" from George Herbert's The Temple. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Anagram.jpg>
A clash or struggle between opposing forces. A character may face multiple conflicts at the same time or may face a series of conflicts. A conflict that cannot be easily resolved is a dilemma (q.v.). There are two types of conflicts:
An external conflict involves a character and some outside force. The outside force can be another character (man vs. man); nature or destiny (the individual vs. nature/God/fate); or a force in society such as culture, customs, or social or political institutions (the individual vs. society).
Example: Ahab versus the White Whale in Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.
An internal conflict occurs within a character, reflecting opposing desires, goals, or beliefs held by the character (the individual vs. himself). A character may want to do something but not know how to do it.
Example: Nethaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter. Hester is struggling with herself over whether or not she should reveal her sin.
A component of narrative structure (q.v.). Western plots revolve around conflicts.
- What is implied or evoked by a word, phrase, or statement, over and above its basic meaning or denotation (q.v.). Connotations suggest emotional overtones and attitudes, which may be either unique to an individual or widely held.
Example: Ice cream and candy both denote sweet foods, but each connotes happiness.
- The close repetition of the same consonant sounds before and after different vowels in the middle or end of words.
Example: The loaf looked like a leaf. (There's some assonance in there as well)
- Framework or environment from which something is viewed.
- The juxtaposition (q.v.) of disparate images or ideas to clarify a theme or a scene.
- An element in a literary work that is accepted by the author and his or her audience because it is traditional for that genre. Sometimes, conventions are so strong that they are regarded as normative, that is, required of writers to maintain decorum, and an innovator or ignoramous who violates or breaks conventions may be excoriated. When reading a work from an earlier period or from a different culture, readers may misunderstand what is going on because they don't recognize the conventions.
Example: The use of acts to separate parts of plays is a literary and theatrical convention.
- A unit of two lines in poetry. See also heroic couplet.
Example: "Men seldom make passes / At girls who wear glasses." Dorothy Parker.
- The point in a play or narrative where tension reaches a high point. There may be several crises in a work leading up to the climax. See narrative structure.
Example: When HAL tries to kill Dave in Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- A metrical foot with three syllables in the sequence : STRESSED unstressed unstressed. From the Greek word for "finger," because a finger has three joints, and when you count them from the palm, the largest joint comes first.
- The literal meaning of a word, as may be found in a dictionary, independent of any overtones or connotations (q.v.).
- Dénouement means 1) an event or events that follow the climax of a plot, or 2) the resolution of plot complications at the end of the work. See narrative structure.
Example: When the true identities of all parties are revealed at the very end of Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities.
- A language or a way of speaking peculiar to an individual, members of a social class, or the inhabitants of a region. Dialect may be used in the diction (q.v.) of a work for local color (q.v.)
Example: Joe in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations speaks "common English."
The speech of characters in a literary work, or
a literary genre, in which a discussion is conducted through question and answer, e.g., the Socratic Dialogues of Plato.
" ‘I'll ring your bell at about six,' I said.
‘Okay,' Winston Bingo said.
I hung up."
- The vocabulary used by an author.
- Any work of literature that sets out to instruct or teach. Didactic works convey moral, social, or political messages. Artistic values may or may not be subordinated to such messages.
Example: Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
- A situation in which a character must choose between alternatives that are equally undesirable, or the name for such a choice.
Example: William Shakespeare, Hamlet. Hamlet must revenge an act that he really has no knowledge of. The dilemma, then, is how to justly go about this revenge.
- DRAMATIS PERSONAE
- The characters in a play. Their names are usually listed at the beginning of a text.
- A lament for the dead or a meditation on death.
Example: In Memoriam A. H. H. by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
- Skipping (eliding) a vowel or a syllable to make a line fit the meter. Common in Shakespeare's blank verse.
Example: "[ . . . ] look like th'innocent flower / But be the serpent under't. [ . . . ]" Macbeth 1.6.64-5.
Example: "And often is his gold complexion dimm'd" -- From William Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18" (line 6).
An omission of one or more words needed to express an idea completely. Authors sometimes use ellipses to show pauses or interruptions in a character's thought or speech; or
the sign for an omission in a text. An ellipsis mark looks like . . . (or . . . . if a end mark is missing).
- END-STOPPED LINE
- A line of verse with a natural pause in sense at the end, often marked by punctuation. End-stopped lines are common in 18th century British poetry. End-stopped lines are contrasted with enjambed lines. See enjambment.
Example: "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate:" -- from William Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18."
- Occurs in poetry when the sense is continued from one line to the next without a pause. Enjambed lines are also called run-on lines Enjambment can occur between couplets or even stanzas.
Example: "But thy eternal summer shall not fade / Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest." -- From William Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18."
- A long narrative poem recounting actions of a hero, The protagonist is larger than life, often a legendary or national hero. The setting covers several nations, the entire world, or the whole universe. The episodes explain some of the events in the history of a nation or people. The action, often in battle, consists of courageous and heroic deeds, revealing the superhuman strength of the hero. The gods take an active interest in the outcome of the actions and sometimes intervene. Epic heroes go on quests (q.v.)
Example: Homer's Illiad.
Example: The Epic of Gilgamesh
- A short, witty saying in verse or prose. Epigrams are short, witty aphorisms (q.v.)
Example: "Within that Little Hive
Such Hints of Honey lay
As made Reality a Dream
And Dreams, Reality -- "
"tasted -- careless -- then --
I did not know the Wine
Came once a World -- Did you?"
A quotation or motto at the beginning of a work that helps to establish the work's theme, or
Example: "I was a son to my father…And he taught me and said to me, ‘Let your heart hold fast my words…'" Chaim Potok, The Chosen.
the inscription on the base of a statue, or on a stone monument or building.
Example: The epigraph inscribed on CU's Norlin Library reads: "He who knows only his own generation remains forever a child." (note: you will have an opportunity to find it during our field trip to Norlin.)
A speech or short poem addressed to audience an actor after a play is over. The epilogue comments on the action of the play and asks the audience for its indulgence.
Example: Prospero in Shakespeare's The Tempest. First line: "Now my charms are all o'erthrown"
the end of a fable (q.v.), where the moral is explicitly stated, or 3) the concluding section of a work, sometimes added as an afterthought. In this sense, the opposite of a prologue.
- A moment of sudden insight in a work of literature in which the essence of a situation, a character, or an object is suddenly revealed. James Joyce introduced the use of epiphany in this sense. In Christianity, the term denotes a feast marking the manifestation of God's presence in the world, celebrated on Twelfth Night.
Example: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince, in which the eponymous character "discovers" that being away from the Rose makes him miss it all the more. "One ne voit bien qu'avec la coeur."
- EPISODIC STRUCTURE
- The stringing together of loosely related incidents or episodes in a drama or narrative. The picaresque novel (q.v.) displays an episodic structure.
- EPISTOLARY NOVEL
- A novel presented in the form of letters (epistles) written by one or more of the characters. The forms allows for the presentation of multiple points of view without the intrusion of a narrator. This form was very popular in the 18th century. Since then, it has been common for letters to make up some part of a novel.
Example: Samuel Richardson, Pamela (1740)
Example: The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis.
- Inscription on a tomb or grave, composed by deceased or someone else.
Example: "Rest in Peace"
- A type of knowledge that is communicated to or understood only by the initiated. Because such knowledge is unavailable to laymen, "esoteric" has come to imply "secret" knowledge.
Example: Reference to a problem as "my Grendel" (c.f. Beowulf) may be regarded as esoteric. Also see Leo Strauss's Esotericism.
- Sweet, mellifluous sounds used by writers, especially poets, for pleasing effects. Euphony is often created by the use of long vowel sounds and liquid consonants (l, r). From greek, "good sounds." The opposite of cacophony (q.v.).
- The substitution of a pleasant-sounding expression for a more exactly descriptive expression that is felt to be offensive. From the Greek, "fair speech."
Example: "To pass away" is a euphemism for "to die."
"Let go" is a euphemism for "fired."
- Expressing strong emotion. Common uses: exclamatory tone, exclamatory phrase or sentence. (Note: the exclamation point (!) was first introduced by western scribes during the second half of the 14th century)
- The part(s) of a narrative or play in which the author sets forth essential information about the characters, the current situation, or past events. A component of narrative structure (q.v.)
Example: The opening pages of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. See page 4.
- A term used to describe various types of prose writings that explain, analyze, or evaluate. In the Anglo-American tradition, the structure of an expository paragraph includes 1) topic sentence, 2) main points or ideas, 3) evidence explaining or supporting the points, 4) a concluding phrase or sentence that brings closure to the topic.
Example: a compare/contrast essay
Example: Expository speech.
- A brief story, often with animal characters, told to express a moral. In the fables of Aesop, the moral is explicitly stated in the concluding epilogue (q.v.)
Example: "The Tortoise and the Hare"
- FALLING ACTION
- The part of the action that follows the climax of a work. See narrative structure.
Example: "And they lived happily ever after." (Pick your favorite fairy tale)
- FAIRY TALE
- A story that originates in oral tradition (q.v.) about the fortunes and misfortunes of a hero or heroine who experiences supernatural adventures. Magic, charms, disguises, and spells are common features. Fairy tales may be very sophisticated in their presentation of human nature and cultural values. In the West, the name "fairy tale" usually designates stories of the kind collected by Charles Perrault (France, 1697) or the Brothers Grimm (Germany, 1812-1822), or those told by Hans Christian Andersen (Denmark, 1835).
Examples: "Hansel and Gretel"
- A literary work that contains highly unrealistic or fanciful elements. Stories of magical realism (q.v.) contain elements of fantasy. Fantasy is usually contrasted with science fiction, in which the unreal elements are given a scientific or pseudo-scientific basis.
Examples: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
A short comic drama whose only purpose is to make people laugh out loud. The name "farce" means "stuffing" in French, and originally referred to gags or comic interludes that were "stuffed between" scenes in very serious medieval religious dramas or
a pretense or situation that is laughable. See also comedy.
- Memories of a character or background material related by the narrator about actions that occurred before the time of the narrative. Flashbacks break the narrative sequence in order to provide insights into characters or situations in the present. They are sometimes used in exposition (q.v.)
Example: In Ernest Hemingway's The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Harry Street has been injured while hunting in Africa. As he dies, his mind relives moments of his past, including a memory of a wartime companion dying on a battlefield in Spain.
- A type of minor character (q.v.) who complements a main character.
- FOLK TALE
- A story passed down in the oral tradition. Eventually, it may be written down. Common types include legends, fables (q.v.), fairy tales, tall stories, shaggy dog stories, ghost stories, stories about giants, stories about saints, funny stories about locals, and so on.
Example: "Cinderella." Author unknown.
- A metrical unit, a unit of rhythm. For types, see meter. For symbols used to mark feet, see scansion.
- Calling attention to something. Language can call attention to itself and so be "foregrounded" if it seems strange or striking to the reader. Sometimes, elements are foregrounded in order to privilege (q.v.) certain values
- Hints that anticipate future plot developments or themes in a drama or narrative.
Example: The violent and revengeful tendencies of Heathcliffe in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights foreshadow Heathcliffe's ultimate revenge.
- The shape, structure, genre (q.v.) and style (q.v.) of a literary work. Literature and other works of art have significant form. That is, the form itself has meaning -- it is nto [sic] a mere shell or box containing the content. In great works of literature, form and content are inseparable, even though literary critics feel they can be analyzed and evaluated separately.
Example: See concrete poetry.
- FRAME/ FRAME STORY/ FRAMING DEVICE
A frame story is one that contains another story, a story within a story, or a series of stories.
Example: In The Fisherman and the Jinee, the fisherman pauses the story with an allusion that leads to the telling of more stories…this pattern occurs for a while, until it loops back to the fisherman.
a work may be "framed" by some fictional situation. For example, a novel or short story may be presented to the reader as a (historical) document discovered by the author (for example, a diary, a confession, or a collection of letters written by one or more of the characters), rather than as a work created by the author; a record of a story told to the author rather than created by the author; or as an oral work presented to a listening audience rather than as a written work presented to a reader.
Example: Mark Twain. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, in which the main character relates his story, which itself takes up the major portion of the novel.
- FREE VERSE
- Has no regular rhyme nor meter. Free verse relies on natural speech rhythms for its effects. It has medieval origins, but Walt Whitman probably did more than anyone else to develop it in modern times.
Example: "This is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams.
- A class or type of literature (from French, genre). Works belonging to a genre are said to follow genre norms or genre conventions (q.v.) governing form and content. Genre norms may be strong or weak, depending on the culture, the age, and which genre you are talking about. Works may also be divided into subgenres (q.v.).
Examples: Abstract, folk, postmodern, mythology, romance, thriller.
- A type of romance (q.v.) popular in Europe from about 1760 to 1820. Gothic novels and tales were intended to scare readers. Such works include elements of supernatural horror, suspense, and mystery; they take place in sinister or haunted settings; they feature menacing or mysterious characters; they are pervaded by moods of gloom and fear; and they may have grotesque (q.v.) elements. Gothic romances evolved into modern western mystery stories, ghost stories, and horror movies.
Examples: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. Specifically, the recurrence of the ghost of Catherine among others as well as other supernatural elements.
- Hamartia is the name for a type of error that causes the downfall of heroes. It comes from a Greek archery term meaning "to miss the mark (by shooting beyond it)" or "error in judgment"; and is first used by Aristotle (in his Poetics), who said that a tragic hero (q.v.) should suffer misfortune as the result of hamartia, rather than as the result of some depravity in his character.. One of the most common types of hamartia is hubris (q.v.).
Example: Sophocles, Oedipus the King. Oedipus' hamartia is his desire to solve all riddles coupled with his insistence that all inquiries be performed in public.
- HEROIC COUPLET
- A rhyming couplet composed in iambic pentameter verse. (The name comes from the type of verse used in early translations of Homer and Virgil.). It was the most popular verse form in Britain in the 18th century.
Example: Alexander Pope, "The Rape of the Lock"
"What Dire offence from amorous causes springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things,"
- An intellectual movement associated with the revival of interest in Greek and Roman antiquity during the Renaissance. As such, humanism was a reaction against medivial scholasticism. Human emphasized the dignity and value of human beings, and made the perfection of the worldly life a goal, rather than as a preparation for a future eternal life.
Example: Antonio da Rho, O.F.M, Tres Dialogi in Lactantium. Humanist views of theology (theology is not a science, they said).
A quality in a work that makes it funny. See comedy,; or
the mood or temperament of a person. This sense can be traced back to the medieval and Renaissance theory of humors, according to which a person's temperament and morality was supposed to be determined by the relative balance of four fluids in the body called "humours." These humors released vapors in the brain that affected behavior.
TYPE OF HUMOR PREDOMINATING PERSONALITY Blood sanguine (optimistic, courageous, amorous) Phlegm phlegmatic (cold, dull) yellow bile choleric (angry, irritable) black bile (melancholy)
Example: The humour of Katherine from Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew is one of disagreement.
- A bold exaggeration used to emphasize the truth of a statement.
Example: There were tons of people at the piano recital today!
- A metrical foot with two syllables in the sequence: unstressed STRESSEDˇ ˉ .
- IDIOM/ IDIOMATIC
- An expression established by usage that is not meant to be taken literally.
Example: "Hit the open road."
Example: "The cutting edge of technology."
- IMAGE/ IMAGERY
- In literature, an image refers to any representation of sense experience. (The term comes from Plato, who believed that all the physical phenomena we perceived through our five senses were actually an "images," or copies of the real things -- "ideal forms" that existed on a higher plane of reality.) Images tend to form patterns called "imagery." As a strand or thread of imagery is developed in a work, the imagery usually gets more complex or acquires deeper meanings. Imagery is usually classified according to the following types:
Example: "I pointed out to the little prince that baobabs were not little bushes, but, on the contrary, trees as big as castles; and that even if he took a whole herd of elephants away with him, the herd would not eat up one single baobab." From Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Example: ". . . and at night I love to listen to the stars. It is like five hundred million little bells . . ." from Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Example: "sweet smelling coconut oils" from "Redondo Beach" be Jennifer Adams.
Example: The taste of apples is implied, though not specifically mentioned, in Robert Frost's "After Apple-Picking."
Example: "Cherish in hand" referring to apples in Robert Frost's "After Apple-Picking."
Kinetic. Describes objects in motion.
Example: "I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend" from Robert Frost's "After Apple-Picking."
Kinesthetic. Describes human or animal movements.
Example: "He gives his harness bells a shake / To ask if there is some mistake" --- the horse in Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening".
More than one type of imagery may be employed in describing an experience.
- IMPERATIVE STATEMENT
- A statement that expresses a command or wish. In the statement, "Be of good cheer," the subject "you" is understood.
- Something not stated by the author, but rather something that a reader figures out by reading between the lines, or by making connections to background knowledge acquired from other texts or people, or from personal experience.
Example: When the main character in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Le Petit Prince states that it is tiring for children to have to constantly explain things to grownups, one can infer that the character does not have an affinity for "les adultes".
- INTERROGATIVE STATEMENT
- A sentence that asks a question. See also rhetorical question.
- A change in normal word order, usually for emphasis. See *anastrophe.
Example: "But Luke, not ready are you" -- q.v. anastrophe.
- Irony involves some kind of incongruity or discrepancy between words and their meaning, appearance and reality, or actions and their result. In literature, irony is used to suggest the complexity of experience or to provide an indirect evaluation of a situation or a character. Contemporary Western literary critics attach a high value to irony as the "master trope" of literary works; postmodernists find irony in all works in the discrepancy between what the writer thinks he or she is saying or what a work appears to say, and the "subtext" or hidden message that actually subverts the author's meaning. Irony is usually classified in three types, but in actual practice, the types are often intermixed:
Verbal irony. A figure of speech in which a character or narrator says one thing, but the reader or audience knows that the opposite is meant.. Other characters may be fooled but not the reader. This is the simplest form of irony.
Example: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter. Dimmsdale begs Hester to confess but later cannot find it in himself to do the same.
Dramatic irony arises when the reader or audience knows something a character doesn't. Dramatic irony is created by the contrast between what the reader knows to be true and what a character thinks to be true. The most famous example of dramatic irony is found in Sophocles' Œdipus Rex.
Example: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter. Hester asks Dimmsdale to allow her to keep Pearl. She does this as though Dimmsdale were impartial, though he is actually guilty of a sin.
Situational irony (or irony of situation) is found when there is a discrepancy between appearance and reality in a work, or when there is a contrast between what a character, the reader, or the audience expects to happen and what actually happens.
Example: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne writes that the first two things constructed for Boston were a prison and a graveyard. This is ironic because Boston was intended to be an Eden of sorts. Also, it is ironic that Hester makes use of that same prison . . .
- Terminology used by a particular group or profession. Jargon may be unintelligible to the unitiated.
Example: Server is computer Jargon for a computer that sends information out to other client computers that request it.
- The technical term (from German) for "artist novel" (q.v.)
- (lih TOT eez) A type of understatement which contains an understatement expressed as a negative. The opposite of hyperbole (q.v.), it serves the same function: to emphasize the truth of what is understated.
Examples: "not unhappy," " a poet of no small stature," "not a bad singer"
- LOCAL COLOR
- A detail associated with a particular region or environment that is added to give interest or authenticity to a story, such as dialect (q.v.), customs, description of the locale, and so on. Local color is prominent in regional literature.
Example: The use of the word "smote" in Mark Twain's novel, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court adds a local color of sorts that relates to old-England.
- LOOSE vs. PERIODIC SENTENCES
- In loose sentence, the main clause comes first, followed by dependent clauses. These sentences tend to consist of a continuous sequence of clauses, loosely tied together. In a periodic sentence, the main clause is completed last. Periodic sentences have a more formal feel, perhaps because the main verb is suspended until the end.
Example of loose sentences: "There is a line among the fragments of the Greek poet Archilochus which says: ‘The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one great thing." Scholars have differed about the correct interpretation so these dark words, which may mean no more than that the fox, for all his cunning, is defeated by the hedgehog's one defense." Isaiah Berlin, "The Hedgehog and the Fox."
Example of a periodic sentence: "To write the Life of him who excelled all mankind in writing the lives of others, and who, whether we consider his extraordinary endowments, or his various works, has been equaled by few in any age, is an arduous, and may be reckoned in me a presumptuous task." James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson.
A type of poetry that directly expresses the emotion of its speaker;
verse that is (or was once) set to music. In Greece, lyric poetry was accompanied by a lyre; hence the name.
- Expressing emotion
- MACROCOSM vs. MICROCOSM
- Macrocosm refers to the "larger world" (the social or historical context) implied by a work. This context may be mirrored in a microcosm (q.v.) -- a limited setting or a situation portrayed a work that presents in miniature the "larger world" implied by the work. What happens in the microcosm is analogus to what happens in the macrocosm. 17th century British poetry loves to play with such analogies.
Example: The boys in William Golding's Lord of the Flies are a microcosm of humanity.
- MAGICAL REALISM
- A movement in modern and contemporary fiction that blends realistic and fantastic elements. Unlike characters and events are presented in the context of ordinary events and situations, so that supernatural elements seem plausible and mundane reality seems magical. In works of magical realism, people may be able to tell the future, talk with spirits, objects may appear and disappear, and time and space may be distorted, but these phenomena are always treated in a matter-of-fact way by the narrator or the characters. This term was originally coined in the 1920's to describe dream-like surrealistic paintings.
Example: "The way my grandmother used to tell stories" by García Márquez.
- What an author does to a plot or to the emotions of a reader, according to some critics.
- The term for the speaker of a poem, story, or novel (the "I" of the work, which may or may not be similar to the author). In literary jargon, "persona" (q.v.) preferred.
A dramatic or narrative work characterized by sensational events, violent appeals to emotion, and characters that are exceptionally good or exceptionally evil. Excess is the hallmark of melodrama. The term "melo-drama" is derived from 19th-century drama, in which actions were accompanied by orchestral music and interspersed with songs, or
a situation in a work of literature that is melodramatic.
- An autobiographical work that focuses on public events.
Example: Running with Scissors: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs .
- A figure of speech in which two things are compared without using comparative language. It takes the form: A is B. Some kinds of metaphors have special names:
A dead metaphor is an overused metaphor that has become a cliché. "A young woman is a flower."
An extended metaphor is a metaphor that is sustained and developed beyond one occurrence. It may turn into a conceit (q.v.)
An implicit metaphor is one that is implied or suggested, not directly stated. "The garden hose hissed" compares a hose to a snake.
In a mixed metaphor, the comparisons are mixed in some unfortunate way. A flaw, unless the aim is humor. "People who skate on thin ice are likely to find themselves in hot water."
Example: "…Cato's death left the Senate ‘an orphan'…" from C.H. Perelman's The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on Argumentation.
- A name applied to a group British poets of the 17th century. Metaphysical poets use strikingly original images and conceits, and favor wit, ingenuity, elliptical thought and paradox, complex themes (sacred and profane), highly crafted language, flexible rhythms, and sometimes caustic humor. Metaphysical poetry, the subject of renewed interest by New Critics of the 20th century, has had a huge impact on modern English poetry.
Example: "To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell.
Example: "Air and Angels" by John Donne.
- Regular rhythm in a line of poetry, measured according to units called feet (See foot). In Greek and Latin verse, meter depends on the arrangement of long and short syllables In English verse, meter depends on the pattern of stressed (accented) and unstressed (unaccented) syllables. Meter is marked in scansion (q.v.). Caveat: Regular meter is rarely perfectly regular. Poets usually introduce variations to emphasize words and to avoid monotony.
Metrical lines are named for the constituent foot and the number of feet in the line, for example, "iambic pentameter."
NAME OF FOOT TYPE OF METER iamb iambic trochee trochaic spondee spondaic pyrrhic pyrrhic dactyl dactylic anapest anapestic
Names for the number of feet in a line include: monometer (1 foot per line), dimeter (2), trimeter (3), tetrameter (4), pentameter (5), hexameter (6), heptameter (7), octameter (8), and so on.
Example: "Tyger! Tyger! burning bright" is trochaic tetrameter -- from the poem "Tyger" by William Blake.
- A figure of speech in which the name of an attribute of a thing or of something associated with the thing is substituted for the thing itself.. For example, in the clause, "The White House announced today . . . ," "White House" is used as a substitute for "the President" or "the President's staff." And in the statement, "Shakespeare remains popular today," "Shakespeare" is a metonomy for "the works of Shakespeare."
Example: Denver announced yet more water restrictions for the upcoming summer.
- A diverse international movement beginning in the early 20th century and accelerated after World War I, that aims to bring new forms and new content into literature, art, music, and dance, to reflect contemporary realities. Modernism places high value on innovation and experimentation. Common themes include the alienation of the individual, and the incoherence, fragmentation, uncertainty, or absurdity of modern life. To reflect this perspective, Modernist narratives may skip exposition and conclude with an indeterminate ending that leaves the plot conflict unresolved, or use unconventional techniques such as stream of consciousness when presenting first-person POV. Usually, the distinction between "modern" and "traditional" literature refers to the presence or absence of Modernist elements in a work.
Example: "The Metamorphosis" and "Before the Law" by Franz Kafka.
An extended speech by a single speaker, such as a soliloquy (q.v.).
A play for a single performer.
- Another name for atmosphere. Mood refers to the feeling created in the reader by the work or by a passage in it. Many factors contribute to the mood including:
Events that take place; the plot (q.v.)
Setting (q.v.), especially the natural setting
The speaker's or author's tone (q.v.)
Mood is described by adjectives such as tragic or comic; mysterious, brooding or sunny; joyful, pleasant, life-affirming or mournful, lugubrious; optimistic or pessimistic; suspenseful; magical; poignant (q.v.); ambiguous (q.v.); the list is endless --- or by phrases such as "a mood of mystery, a mood of happiness, a mood of pathos" (q.v.), and so on.
Example: The narrator's realization that he misses the little prince, the visual and auditory imagery triggered by the bells that turn to tears, the lonely drawing on the last page, the pondering that goes on over whether or not the sheep ate the flower, and the use of ellipses (q.v.) in Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry make for a sad mood.
- Refers to two different things: 1) Any element that recurs within a single work. A motif can be a repeated image, or a type of setting, or a type of situation, relationship, or concern that keeps turning up in the work Motifs may undergo development and acquire progressively deeper meanings. Note: The difference between a motif and a theme (q.v.) is that a theme is a central or controlling idea. A motif isn't so powerful. Sometimes, critics may disagree about whether something is a motif or a theme. 2) Also, any element that recurs in several different works. For example, "Cinderella," "The Ugly Duckling," and "The Sword in the Stone" share a transformation motif, in which persons or creature of humble station are revealed to be exceptional. Common motifs may be identified as archetypes (q.v.)
Example: The skull is a motif that recurs throughout William Shakespeare's Hamlet.
- A representation in narrative form of truths or values that are sanctioned by general belief. Creation myths, for example, explain the origins and truths of a given culture or civilization. The principal actors in myths are gods and culture heroes. Myths are a source of archetypes (q.v.)
Examples: The Illiad by Homer and Theogony by Hesiod.
- NARRATIVE STRUCTURE
- The plots of drama and narrative prose works are often analyzed in terms of five components:
Exposition. The part that introduces the setting (q.v.), characters (q.v.), and the situation. Exposition may be given at the beginning of the work or later by the narrator, by any character, or through flashbacks (q.v.).
Example: The first paragraph of The Once and Future King by T. H. White introduces Wart and Kay.
Conflict (or complication). The struggle or struggles a character faces struggle against external or internal forces. The most important conflict faced by the protagonist is the central conflict of a work. See also conflict.
Example: George decides he must kill Lennie in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.
Crisis (or turning point). A pivotal moment in the plot, which determines what happens afterwards.
Example: See example above.
Climax (or high point). The moment at which the central conflict reaches a high point of interest, suspense, or intensity. All events in a plot that build up to the climax are referred to as rising action. Events that occur after the climax are called falling action.
Example: Again, see above.
Denouement (or resolution). The resolution of the conflict following the climax. Loose ends are usually tied up in the denouement of traditional Western works.
Example: Slim leads George away at the end of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men; he is the only one who truly understands what happened with Lennie.
- An offshoot of Realism (q.v.) that arose in the mid-19th century. The Naturalists believed that a person's fate was completely determined by heredity, chance, and natural and social environments -- not by supernatural, spiritual forces, or free will (as the Romantics did). Naturalist characters struggle against forces that can't understand or control and usually fail, but affirm their dignity in the face of adversity.
Example: Emile Zola, J'Accuse, a novelization of the Dreyfuss affair.
Example: "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant.
- An extended prose fiction narrative (50,000 words or more), broadly realistic, centered on the experiences of one or more characters, with a unifying theme. The western novel originates with Petronius's Satyricon. The first modern western novel is Don Quixote. In Asia, the novel originates in historiography. Subgenres of the novel include the Adventure novel, Artist novel (Kunstleroman) (q.v.), Autobiographical novel, Children's novel, Christian novel, Coming-of-age novel (Bildungsroman) (q.v.), Detective novel, Dystopian novel, Epistolary novel (q.v.), Existentialist novel, Fantasy novel, Gothic novel (q.v.), Historical novel, Hypertext novel, Interactive novel, Multicultural novel, Mystery novel, Novel of manners, Picaresque novel (q.v.), Pulp fiction, Regional novel, Roman a clef, Science fiction novel, Sentimental novel, Utopian novel, and Western novel.
Example: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
Example: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.
- A prose fiction narrative longer than short story but shorter than a novel (more than 20,000 words but less than 50,000 words; caveat: there is no hard and fast rule on length)
Examples: Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Henry James, Turn of the Screw
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
- OBJECTIVE CORRELATIVE
- An object, an image, or a natural phenomenon that somehow parallels human experience. An objective correlative seems to provide a metaphor or analogy to human experience. T. S. Eliot, who invented this term, believed that poets should seek objective correlatives in images to express their ideas rather than make explicit comments.
Example: The sleep walking scene of Lady Macbeth from Shakespeare's Macbeth.
- A long, formal lyric (q.v.) poem on a serious theme. Traditionally, Greek odes consisted of three alternating stanzas: the strophe, antistrophe, and epode (the epode is not used in Greek dramatic verse), but later odes do not necessarily follow this pattern.
Example: "Ode to Aphrodite" by Sappho. Also, "Ode to Salt" by Pablo Neruda.
- The use of words to imitate sounds.
- ORAL TRADITION
- A work, a motif, an idea, or a custom that is passed by word of mouth from generation to generation. Materials transmitted orally may be simplified in the retelling, sensationalized, or expanded. Examples of works that come from oral tradition include folk tales, fables, fairy tales, tall tales, nursery rhymes, proverbs, legends, myths (q.v.), parables, riddles, charms, spells, and ballads.
Example: Marie de France, "The Lay of the Werewolf"
Example: "Le Chanson de Roland"
- A phrase that appears to be contradictory or incongruous; a compact paradox (q.v.).
Example: "Jumbo shrimp"
Example: "Peace force"
- A very brief story told to teach a moral lesson. A parable is a simple type of allegory.
Example: "The Parable of the Sower" by Martin Luther.
- A statement or a situation which contains seemingly contradictory elements or appears contrary to common sense, yet can be seen perhaps to be true when viewed from another angle. By startling the reader, a paradox can highlight the truth of the matter. Sometimes an entire poem centers on a paradoxical situation. An oxymoron (q.v.) is a compact paradox.
Example: Alexander Pope's statement in "An Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot" that a literary critic can "damn with faint praise."
Example: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." -- From George Orwell's Animal Farm.
- Similarity of structure in a pair or series of related words, phrases, clauses, or lines.
Example: Prose. "I am a simple citizen who wants to live in peace and not be taxed out of existence or poisoned out of oxygen or sonically boomed out of my sanity and my home by all the things you do to help me, to defend me, to batter provide me speed, electricity, national prestige, and freedom from bugs." "The Talk of the Town," The New Yorker
Poetry from Psalm 139
- Same syntax, same or similar ideas in each line.
"2. You know when I sit down and when I rise, / you perceive my thoughts from afar." and "3. You discern my going out and my lying down, / you are familiar with all my ways."
Same syntax, opposite or complementary ideas in each line.
"7. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? / or wither shall I flee from thy presence?"
Same or similar syntax, with an expansion, continuation, or elaboration of the idea in later lines.
"1. O LORD, you have searched me, / and you know me" and "23. Search me, O GOD, and know my heart: test me, and know my anxious thoughts."
- A feature of a type of writing in which elements are juxtaposed or set side by side while the connectives that express the logical relationships between them are omitted.
Example: "Some Last Questions" by W.S. Merwin -- The poem is arranged by grouping the questions and the answers; a paratactic structure.
- The insertion of some verbal unit that interrupts the flow of the syntax. A parenthetical unit may be set off by parentheses ( ); commas , , ; or dashes --- --- .
Example: There is even. and it is the achievement of this book, a curious sense of happiness running through the paragraphs." Norman Mailer, from a book review in Cannibals and Christians.
Example: Found one! "Thoughtless and indiscreet I can easily believe him, but this step (and let us rejoice over it) marks nothing bad at heart." -- From page 255 of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
- A satiric imitation of the work of another author, produced with the idea of ridiculing the author, his or her ideas, or work.
Example: "The Old Man and the Seal" (a parody of Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea): "He was an old man who fished alone when he fished by himself. For 358 days now he had been fishless. Maybe if I used bait, he thought. And a hook. The last fish he caught was still in his pants pocket, forgotten. "Que stencho," the old man said. "No wonder I fish alone. But bad smell does not matter to a man, though this smell is very bad." Mark Silber, Best of Bad Hemingway
Example: J. Crewd by Justin Racz is a parody of J. Crew.
- A work made up of fragments that seem to be pieced together from another work, often done in imitation of the style of the author of the other work. Literary imitations are often referred to as pastiches.
- A form of poetry or prose, which describes the loves of aristocratic pseudo-shepherds for their mistresses. The characters or speakers in pastoral sound and behave like courtiers, not rough country folk. The most common topics are the celebration of simple pleasures of country life and complaints by shepherds about mistresses who are cold-hearted. In the European tradition, the setting for pastorals is idyllic rustic places such as Arcadia. Renaissance pastoral draws on Graeco-Roman bucolics and ecologues, and the love lyrics f Petrach, among other sources. Pastoral poetry is also common in Egyptian and Asian cultures.
Example: Eclogues by Virgil.
Example: The Idylls by Theocritus.
- ( "PAY-thos") A quality in a work that causes the reader or audience to feel pity or sadness for the suffering of a sympathetic character. Pathos is valued quality, as contrasted with bathos (q.v.).
Example: The pathos of Gregor Samsa's situation is brought out by the contrast between the continuing sweetness of his personality and the contemptuous treatment he endures from his family.
Example: The pathos of the Little Prince in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Le Petit Prince is brought out by the sorrow he feels for his flower which he has effectively abandoned, as well as the sorrow felt for the Little Prince by thenarrator.
- A Latin term meaning "mask." (Roman and Greek actors wore masks.) It is now used as a name for the speaker of a literary work.
Example: Robert Browning assumes the persona of the Duke of Ferrara in his poem, "My Last Duchess."
Example: The persona of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Le Petit Prince is referred to simply as the narrator.
- A figure of speech in which human attributes are given to an animal, an object, or a concept. Personification is commonly used in allegory (q.v.).
Example: The flower in Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is given human characteristics, including the ability to speak, because she represents the wife of the author.
- PHONETIC INTENSIVE
- A word whose very sound suggests the idea. Poets use phonetic intensives to reinforce meaning. A phonetic intensive differs from an example of onomatopoeia (q.v.) in that an onomatopoetic word sounds like a real sound, but a phonetic intensive sounds like other phenomena that may have no sound. Some critics refer to phonetic intensives as examples of phonetic symbolism.
Example: In English, gleam, glare, glitter, glimmer, glint, glisten, glossy, and glow, all referring to the play of light.
Example: The word "flicker" because it refers to the word "flame"
- PICARESQUE NOVEL
- An episodic novel about a rogue or picaro (a person of low social degree) who wanders about, living by his wits. The buzznacking hero provides the author with the opportunity to connect widely different settings and plots. Picareqsue novels are often satirical.
Example: Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixhote
Example: Voltaire's Candide
- The sequence of events in drama or prose narratives. Western plots focus on conflict (q.v.), as the primary component in narrative structure (q.v.).
- POETIC JUSTICE
- An appropriate punishment or reward meted out to a deserving character (not by legal means).
Example: In Sophocles' Oedipus the King, Oedipus is punished for his indescretion.
- Written, spoken, or sung language in verse. Refers to one great subdivision of literature, contrasted with the other great subdivision -- prose (q.v.)
- (Pronounced "POIN-yunt"). Painfully sharp to the emotions (or senses), deeply moving; evoking pathos (q.v.) on the part of the reader. A text may be felt to be poignant, or a situation portrayed in the text may be felt to be poignant. Poignancy is a valued quality, but when literary tastes change, poignancy may be lost or disparaged as mere sentimentality (q.v.).
Example: The scene in which Darnay sacrifices himself in Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities.
- POINT OF VIEW
- Refers to the position of the speaker or narrator who tells the story. The POV is the central intelligence in a work that filters experience and selects what details get reported. The POV of the narrator determines how the story gets told. Authors may choose to shift points-of-view in a work. Narrators may be:
Example: Le Comte de Monte-Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. The POV is omniscient and reliable.
unreliable. (The narrator's perceptions and reports of events are inaccurate or undependable.)
Example: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. The story is told by the less-than-subjective Mr. Lockwood.
Stories may be told from various points of view:
First-person POV. The narrator says "I, we." Advantages: Gain in immediacy in presenting events; also good opportunities for the author to present indirect interpretations of his or her materials by 1) dramatic irony (generated from the difference between what the narrator perceives and the reader perceives), 2) employing a sympathetic or perceptive character to express the author's ideas.
Example: Again, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë is told through Mr. Lockwood's diary, which is a regurgitation of Nelly Dean's story.
Third-person POV. The narrator says "he, she, it, they" for all characters. Advantages: gives the narrator the most flexibility to observe and comment on materials. Types of third-person POV:
objective or dramatic POV: The narrator reports what is said or what happens directly, without any interpretation. The narrator doesn't share ideas.
omniscient POV: The narrator knows everything and can tell as much or as little as he or she wishes. Different from objective in that the omniscient narrator always reports some thoughts and feelings of more than one character.
Example: Heidi by Johana Spyri.
limited POV or limited omniscient POV: The narrator knows everything about one character---more than the character knows about himself or herself---but shares no knowledge or what other characters are thinking or doing, except for what the chosen character happens to know or infer.
Example: The Giver by Lois Lowry
Second-person POV. The narrator says "you." The least common point of view. Advantages: Immediacy. Two types: 1) The narrator tells an interested reader what "he or she" did at some earlier time. (Examples: a parent telling a child about some event in infancy, a doctor telling a patient how he or she behaved under anesthesia, a trial lawyer telling a witness or defendant what he or she did.) 2) Sometimes, "you" is used indefinitely, as it is in informal speech, when the narrator means "a person, people" or when the narrator to referring mainly to himself or herself.
- (polip TOHT un). Repeating a word, but using it with a different ending or as a different part of speech.
Example: The rain was quite rainy today.
- The deliberate use of many conjunctions.
Example: Prose: "I said, "Who killed him?' and I said, "I don't know who killed him but he's dead all right,' and it was dark and there was water standing in the street and no lights and windows broke and boats all up in the town and trees blown down and everything all blown and I got a skiff and went out and found my boat…" Ernest Hemingway, "After the Storm"
Example: The word "And" is written at the beginning of each verse of Genesis excepting verse 27.
Example: from Shakespeare's "Sonnet 66"
"And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,
And right perfection wrongfully disgraced,
And strength by limping sway disabled,
And art made tongue-tied by authority,"
- A concise report of the main ideas or arguments in a world presented in the same order as in the original. Similar to summary (q.v.) or abstract (q.v.).
- Written or spoken language not in verse (q.v.). Refers to one great subdivision of literature, contrasted with the other great subdivision -- poetry or verse.
- The central character in a story or drama, popularly called the "hero" or heroine." Originally, "protagonist" was the name given to the one speaking character in Greek tragedy, who interacted with the chorus; the innovation is credit to Thespis.
Examples: Harry Potter in J.K. Rowling's set of novels by the same name.
- A play on words. A type of verbal irony (q.v.), such as when one sheep asks another, "How are ewe?"
Example: That was a very "punny" joke.
- (Pronounced "PEER-ick").
Refers to a victory that is accompanied by overwhelming losses. A pyrrhic victory is bitter or self-defeating. An allusion to the ruinous victory of Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, over the Romans at Asculum in 279 B.C.
Example: The Minotaur Series by Thomas Swann. The beasts win a phyrric victory by killing the Shpinx because she haunts them even after her death.
A metrical foot with two syllables in the sequence unstressed unstressed.
Example: From Lord Byron's Don Juan : "My way | is to | begin | with the | beginning."
- Refers to 1) a unit of four lines in a poem. The unit may be set off as a stanza but not necessarily; also 2) a poem of four lines.
Example: From Pablo Neruda's "Walking Around":
"I happen to be tired of being a man
I happen to enter tailor shops and movie houses
withered, impenetrable, like a felt swan
navigating in a water of sources and ashes."
- A journey during which a hero searches for something material (such as the Holy Grail) or immaterial (knowledge or wisdom), or both. The journey may be literal or metaphorical. Often the treasure or insight sought would make if possible for humanity to return to the state of innocence or perfection that existed before the fall. The climax of the quest may involve a descent into the underworld, into death itself, or simply into human despair. The hero experiences many moral as well as physical challenges on the quest. Temptations may lead him or her off the path, or a tragic flaw may hinder or prevent the hero from reaching his or her goal.
Example: Heracles' defeat of the Nemean Lion and Hydra.
- A movement that arose in mid-19th-century Europe reaction to Romanticism (q.v.). Realism emphasized the faithful representation of actual, everyday life in art and literature. The realists favored the portrayal of grim social realities and complex psychological states of middle-class and lower-class characters.
Example: Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
Example: L'Education Sentimentale also by Flaubert.
- A recollection by a character of a past event. A type of flashback (q.v.).
Example: The Reivers: A Reminiscence by William Faulkner.
- A recurrence. According to Roman Jakobsen, all effects in poetry are achieved either through repetition or substitution. See specific types of repetitions including *alliteration, anaphora, assonance, consonance, *epistrophe, parallelism, *polyptoton, *polysyndeton, meter, rhyme.
- RHETORICAL QUESTION
- A question to which the speaker already knows the answer, question that does not seek information but is used to express emotion.
Example: Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part I, line 1597: "Is not the truth the truth?"
- The repetition of sounds at the end of words. There are different types:
End rhyme occurs at the end of lines of poetry.
Example: From "Acquainted with the Night" by Robert Frost
"I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light."
Internal rhyme occurs anywhere within a line except the end.
Example: "I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain" (see above)
Exact rhyme occurs when the rhyming sounds are identical.
Example: q.v. End Rhyme.
Off-rhyme / slant rhyme / oblique rhyme / near rhyme / half rhyme occurs when the rhymes are imperfect because vowels are slightly off. The dissonance of off-rhyme may suggest discord.
Example: "Grown" and "moon" as well as "dry" and "died."
- Rhyme (q.v. --- "Rime" is a pre-17th century spelling). "Rime" Is also used to refer to poetry or verse in general; the word has an archaic connotation. The most famous usage is Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere."
- RISING ACTION
- Action that leads up to the climax of a work. See narrative structure.
- Refers to three different types of literature: 1) Medieval narratives about the adventures and loves of knights. European medieval romances were composed in vernacular Romance languages (languages derived from Latin) or were supposedly based on Latin originals (told by the Romans)--- hence, the name "romance." They were performed by minstrels. Arthurian legends belong the cycle of romances called the Matter of Britain; 2) In the 19th century, "romance" refers to novels and other works of fiction that deal with adventures in exotic locales, or extraordinary events and characters. In this sense, the term "romances" refers to nonrealistic works of fiction that contrast with works of Realism. Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe and Alexander Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo are examples of the subgenre of novels known as historical romances. Wuthering Heights includes elements of gothic (q.v.) romance; 3) In modern popular usage, "romances" are love stories, especially sentimental (q.v.) ones.
Medieval: "Sir Gawain and Lady Ragnell"
Late 1800's: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Modern Use: Plainsong by Kent Haruf.
- A movement that arose in late 18th-century to early 19th-century Europe as a reaction to values of the Enlightenment. Romantics variously favored the imagination, emotion, and fancy over reason; championed personal freedom, individualism, and individual rights over social conventions and repressive political structures; advocated the superiority of natural beauty, wilderness, and pastoral life over civilization and the artifices of urban life; and emphasized the nobility of common and even primitive man over the aristocracy.
Example: The Scarlet Letter by Nethaniel Hawthorne
Example: Moby-Dick by Herman Mellville.
- An ironic statement that is tinged with mockery. The tone ranges from playful to caustic. In satire (q.v.), sarcasm is commonly used to attack vice.
Example: George W. Bush must be the smartest president we have seen in a while.
- Writing that ridicules or holds up to contempt faults of individuals or groups for the purpose of correcting them. Satire always has a moral or didactic intent, even when no explicit values are promoted, because it draws its authority from a widely-accepted moral code. Important techniques used in satire include humor, irony (q.v.), sarcasm (q.v.).
Example: "A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift. It satirises the problems the English had with the Irish people.
- SCAN/ SCANSION
- Scansion is the process of analyzing the meter in a line of verse. The results of this analysis are conventionally shown by marking the line with the following symbols:
| end of a foot, stressed syllable, unstressed syllable
William Cowper, "Verses Supposed to be Written by Alexander Selkirk" I am mon | arch of all | I survey
- My right | there is none | to dispute;
From the cen | ter all round | to the sea I am lord | of the fowl | and the brute.
- SENTIMENTAL/ SENTIMENTALITY
- Refers to 1) literature that emphasizes emotional experience and that seeks to evoke an emotional response from the reader or audience. Romantic and Victorian (q.v.) writers value sentiment. Sentimental characters are often portrayed as noble characters; 2) literature that is felt to be overly emotional. Modernists (q.v.) denigrate sentimentality as mawkish (q.v.). For example, when The Old Curiosity Shop was nearing its end, Dickens received many appeals from readers not to kill off Little Nell, Dickens himself reported that he felt "unspeakable anguish" in writing the necessary scene, and the reading audience grieved publicly when the installment was finally published. But the modern Irish playwright Oscar Wilde ridiculed the scene in a widely-quoted riposte: "One must have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing."
Example: The sentimentality of le Petit Prince in the book of the same name by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry towards his fleur is most definitely a good thing.
- A unit of six lines in poetry. The Italian or Petrachan sonnet (q.v.) consists of an octave (eight lines) followed by a sestet.
Example: Shakespeare's "My Mistress' Eyes are Nothing like the Sun" or "Sonnet 130" -- lines 9 through 14.
- The environment in which the action of a work takes place. Setting includes the time, place, the historical milieu (the historical setting), and cultural contexts (cultural constructions including social and moral or religious values, and other beliefs) that influence the characters. See also local color
Example: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë takes place on a dreary English moor.
Example: Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens takes place during the French revolution in both London and Paris (two contrasting cities).
The technical name for a change in in setting, mood, tone, style, imagery, focus, point of view, and so on.
The verb you should use when referring to such changes in literary works.
- SHORT STORY
- A short fiction narrative. Modern western short stories focus on a single protagonist (q.v.), build to a single climax, and achieve a single effect.
Examples: "Two Friends" by Guy de Maupassant and "How Much Land Does a Man Need?" by Leo Tolstoy.
- A figure of speech in which two things are compared using "like," "as," "as if," "as though," or "than." A is like B.
Example: "And like the flowers beside them chill and shiver" -- Line 4 of "Spring Pools" by Robert Frost.
- An revealing speech spoken by a character when he or she is alone, which portrays the character thinking out loud. A philosophical or reflective monologue (q.v.) on a serious subject.
Example: "To be or not to be." From William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Act III scene I.
- A fixed poem form. Every sonnet has 14 lines. Types of sonnets include:
Italian or Petrachan sonnet. An octave (8 lines) followed by a sestet (6 lines). Rhyme scheme: abba abba || cd cd cd (or cde cde).
English or Shakespearean sonnet. Three quatrains (4 lines each) followed by a couplet. Rhyme scheme: abab cdcd efef || gg. Shakepearean sonnets are composed in iambic pentameter.
- A metrical foot with two syllables in the sequence STRESSED STRESSED.
- Refers to a writer's typical way of writing. Different elements of style may be noticed by different readers at different times. There are four basic dimensions of style:
Word choice, or diction (q.v.) (Is the register formal? informal? colloquial? Is it standard usage or dialect?)
Word order, or syntax (Normal word order? Any inversions for emphasis or rhythm?)
Figurative language (q.v.) (Metaphor? simile? symbol? personification? allusions? and so on)
Sentence length and organization (simple or complex? repetitive? loose/paratactic (q.v.) or periodic? (q.v.)
Style is usually described with adjectives, including informal, or formal; straightforward or convoluted; allusive, ornamented, flowery, florid, dense, or plain; fluent, smooth, or stiff; laconic or verbose; dry or sentimental (q.v.); heroic; minimalist; comic; energetic; the list is endless.
Example: The sentence length while describing Sir Pellinore in T.H. White's The Once and Future King: Short sentences describe elegance while long sentences describe clumsiness.
- A subcategory of a genre.
Examples: novella, short story, Petrarchan sonnet
- A mood of a verb that is used to express a wish or to describe a hypothetical (unreal) situation. The subjunctive mood for all subjects is expressed in by using a third-person plural verb form.
Example: "If I were emperor of the world, . . . "
Example: "I wish we were skiing."
- A secondary plot involving minor characters, which parallels or complements the main plot.
- A shortened version of work that aims to retain the sense of the original. See abstract.
- The quality in a story or drama that makes the reader or viewer as "What's going to happen next?" or "How will this turn out?" Two common devices for creating suspense are to introduce an element of mystery or to place the protagonist in a dilemma (q.v.)
Example: J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books are almost entirely dependent on suspense for their huge success -- the reader never knows when Lord Voldemort is going to pop up next, and, theoretically, the reader doesn't know whether Harry will survive his next encounter with "He who must not be named."
- A type of logical argument (originated by the Greeks) expressed in three propositions. If the first two propositions are true, the third proposition mus also be true.:
Major premise: All A's are B's All persons are mortal.
Minor premise: C is an A Oedipus is a person.
Conclusion: Therefore, C is a B Therefore, Oedipus is mortal.
- A figure of speech in which a whole is referred to by naming a part. For example, in "All hands on deck!", "hands" is used as a substitute for "sailors." Synecdoche is employed in personal insults in many cultures.
Example: Look at that set of wheels! (referring to a car).
- *SYNESTHESIA/ SYNAESTHESIA
- The association of one type of sense imagery (visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, kinetic/kinesthetic, q.v.) with another type. In synaesthetic imagery, sense experience is blended. Synaesthesia is used by 19th-century Romantic poets and late-19th century French Symbolist poets, among others.
Example: That is a loud color.
- *TERZA RIMA
- The "triple rhyme" employed by Dante and others. The rhyme scheme interconnects a series of three-line stanzas called "tercets" as follows: aba || bcb || cdc and so on.
Example: "Ode to the West Wind" by P.B. Shelly; probably the most famous example of terza rima.
- Refers to 1) the attitude of the speaker or author toward the subject matter, the intended audience, or himself or herself; 2) the emotional coloring of the work that reveals this attitude. Tone is an important part of the meaning of a work. Tone is expressed in different ways:
In speaking, by inflexions in the speaker's voice. Example: "I am going to get married today" can mean different things, depending on whether or not the tone is ecstatic ("Hooray!"), incredulous (II can't believe it!"), despairing ("Horrors!" or resigned ("May as well face it."). Tone is relatively easy to detect in speaking.
In writing, tone is expressed by:
connotations (q.v.) of words used
metaphors (q.v.) and similes (q.v.)
Understatement (litotes) (q.v.) and hyperbole (q.v.)
sentence structure in prose
Tone is described by adjectives such as playful or solemn; humorous or solemn; light or dark, brooding; mocking or reverent; calm, bland, matter-of-fact or excited; sympathetic or critical; formal or informal; sarcastic (q.v.); the list is endless.
Example: The scenery in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights is described as dark and gloomy. Plus, the house is portrayed in the same manner.
- A type of drama or narrative that shows the downfall of a tragic hero (q.v.), who possesses a weakness or tragic flaw (q.v.). According to Aristotle's Poetics, the defining traits of tragedy are as follows: 1) Tragedy is the imitation of a single action. Actors imitate life through actions and elevated speech. 2) The tragic hero is a noble person. He or she is of noble birth, and is good rather than wicked or perfectly virtuous. 3) The tragic hero experiences a reversal of fortune, from good to bad. 4) According to traditional interpretations of Aristotle, the tragic fall is attributed to hamartia (q.v.) or an error in judgment. 5) The hero experiences recognition of his own role in his downfall, moving from ignorance to knowledge and self-awareness. 6) A tragedy is complete in itself. It is constructed as an organic whole so that the end follows inevitably from the beginning, and middle. Nothing extraneous is included, and nothing can be rearranged or taken out without weakening the drama. 7) Tragedy evokes pity and fear in the audience to effect a catharsis or purging of these same emotions. Since Aristotle's time, the Western understanding of tragedy has been modified, but these ideas still remain influential. The main periods for development of tragedy in the West are 5th-century Athens and 17th-century Europe from Shakespeare to Racine.
Examples: Hamlet by William Shakespeare and The Tragedy of Puddn'head Wilson by Mark Twain.
- A general term used to designate a rhetorical device. Sometimes, "trope" is used simply as a synonym for "figure of speech."
Example: In modern views, irony is the ultimate trope.
- UNDERSTATEMENT/ MEOSIS
- (my OH sis). The presentation of a thing with underemphasis to achieve a greater effect. See also Litotes.
Example: In Shakespeare's "Macbeth," Macbeth, having murdered his friend Banquo, understates the number of people who have been murdered since the beginning of time by saying "Blood hath been shed ere now."
- The quality of appearing to be real or true to life. Greatly valued in works of Realism (q.v.).
A synonym for poetry (q.v.),
one line of a poem,
a type of poetry: traditional verse (both meter and rhyme), blank verse (q.v.), free verse (q.v.).
- (ZOOG muh) A Greek word meaning "yoking." Zeugma is the name of a trope in which two or more parts of speech are linked grammatically to another part of speech. Often, the single subject or verb that is "yoked" needs to be taken in slightly different senses with each the two (or more) items it is applied to.
Alexander conquered the world; I, Minneapolis.
He grabbed his hat from the rack by the stairs and a kiss from the lips of his wife.
"I am his Highness' dog at Kew, pray tell me sir whose dog are you?" -- Alexander Pope.