List of literary terms
List of literary terms: in alphabetical order.
|Contents:||A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z|
An acrostic where the first letter of every word or verse follows the order of the alphabet. For example, in the sentence A Bear Climbed Down, the first letter of every word is in alphabetical order: A, B, C, D.
A form of writing where the first letter of each line, paragraph, or verse spells out a word or a message.
A story or picture with two or more different meanings–a literal meaning and one or more symbolic meanings. The setting, characters, and things that happen inside an allegory are symbols for ideas or qualities.
The repeating of consonant sounds. The repetition can be put side by side (for example, "sleepy sun sank slowly over the sea").
A short mention of a famous historical or literary person or event.
A moment in a play or other work when a character makes a very important discovery - usually about the real situation, the real natures of the people around him, or his own feelings about his enemy.
New words, ideas, or pronunciations become like the pattern of older or more familiar ones. Comparing two different things. The purpose of an analogy is to describe something unfamiliar or new with something that is more familiar.
A short and humorous (funny) story about a real event or person.
A protagonist who does not have many heroic qualities. For example, Tom Jones in Henry Fielding's book Tom Jones is an antihero. Sometimes antagonists who are surprisingly likable are called antiheroes, too.
The good example, pattern, or model of a type or group. All other things of the same kind are made from this.
In a play, an aside is a speech that the actor says in a way that the other characters are supposed not to hear it. It usually shows the person's inner thoughts.
A form of nonfiction in which a writer tells the life story of a different person.
Carpe Diem [change]
A person or an animal who is part of the action of a literary work. The main character is the one the work focuses on. The person with whom the main character has the most conflict is the antagonist. He is the enemy of the main character, who is usually called a protagonist.
A struggle between two forces against each other. It can be internal or external. When a conflict happens inside a character, it is called internal conflict. For example, in Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre, Jane is asking herself whether she should live with Mr. Rochester, whom she loves, or if she should go away. An external conflict is usually a conflict that is easy to see, happening between the protagonist and antagonist. Conflict is one of the most important elements of narrative literature.
Two statements that do not seem to agree with one another. "I heard a soundless shout" is a contradiction.
Crisis or climax [change]
The moment or event in the plot where the conflict is most directly addressed. Here, the main character usually "wins" or "loses". After the climax, there is a denouement (falling action).
Looking at and thinking about opinions or ideas logically, often by questions and answers.
Dramatic monologue [change]
A poem or speech in which an imaginary character speaks to a silent listener.
Ellipses are used often in everyday life as well as in literature. They usually look like this (...). It is usually used in leaving out or not using words.
A sentence, quotation, or poem that is put at the beginning of a written work.
A piece of writing at the end of a work of literature, especially in drama. It is usually different from the whole work and is used to end it.
A short poem about simple everyday life, sometimes written in a pastoral (about shepherd life) or sentimental style.
Imagery is strong describing language which helps us use our senses and memory when we read.
Irony means to say something while meaning a different, contradictory thing.
- Northrop Frye, "Myth, Fiction, And Displacement" p 25 Fables of Identity: Studies in Poetic Mythology, ISBN 0-15-629730-2
- Michael Meyer, The Bedford Introduction to Literature, St. Martin's, 2005, p 2128. ISBN 0-312-41242-8
- "Online Etymology Dictionary". etymonline.com. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=essay&searchmode=none. Retrieved 18 September 2010.