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AP Literary Terms--Review

AB
alliterationthe repetition of initial consonant sound
allusiona reference in literature to previous literature, history, mythology, or Bible
ambiguityquality of being intentionally unclear
anachronisman element in a story that is out of historical time frame
anapesta foot that follows the pattern unaccented, unaccented, accented
anecdotea short and often personal story to emphasize a point, to develop a character or theme, or to inject humor
antagonista character who functions as a resisting force to the goals of the protagonist
anticlimaxan often disappointing, sudden end to an intense situation
antiheroa protagonist who carries the action of the literary piece but does not embody the classic characteristics of courage, strength, etc----Mersault
antithesisa concept that is directly opposed to a previously presented idea
apostrophea rhetorical direct address of an object, abstract entity---"Death, Be Not Proud"
apotheosiselevating someone to the level of a god---Kurtz
archetypea character situation, or symbol that is familiar to people of all culture---repeated pattern
assonancethe repeated use of a vowel sound
blank verseunrhymed iambic pentameter--favored technique of Shakespeare
cacophonyharsh, discordant sounds; unpleasant to the hear
carpe diemseize the day
catharsisemotional cleansing or feeling of relief
colloquialrelating to slang or regional dialect, used in everyday conversation
comic reliefhumor that breaks up a serious episdoe
conceita far-fetched comparison between two seemingly unlike things
connotationassociations a word calls to mind
consonancesame consonant sounds in words with different vowel sounds
couplettwo successive rhyming lines
dactylfoot of poetry with three syllables---one stressed and two short or unstressed
denotationthe dictionary or literal meaning of a word or phrase
denouementthe winding down from the climax to the ending
deus ex machinaliterally, when the gods intervene at a story's end to resolve a seemingly impossible conflict
dictionthe deliberate choice of style of langauage for a desired effect or tone
didactica story, speech, essay, or play in is one in which the author's primary purpose is to instruct, teach, or moralize
distortionan exaggeration or stretching of the truth to achieve a desire effect
epigrama short, clever poem with a witty turn of thought
epigrapha brief quotation found at the beginning of a literary work, reflective of theme---Beloved--Sixty Million and More
epiphanya sudden flash of insight
epistolary novela novel in letter form written by one or more of the characters --Frankenstein and The Color Purple
essaya short composition on a single topic
euphemismsubstitution of an inoffensive word or phrase for another that would be harsh or offensive---"He passed on" rather than "he died"
euphonypleasant or harmonious sound of a word or group of words
farcea kind of comedy that depends on exaggerated/impropoble situations to amuse the audience
figurative languageusing figures of speech--metaphor, simile, metonymy, personification, hyperbole
first personcharacter in the story tells the story, using the pronoun "I"
flashbackinterruption of a narrative by the introduction of an earlier event or by an image of a past experience
flat charactera simple, one-dimensional character who remains the same
foila character whose contrasting personal characteristics draw attention to, enhance, or contrast with those of the main character. A character who, by displaying opposite traits, emphasizes certain aspects of another character
foreshadowinghints at what is to come
free versepoetry that does not have regular rhythm or rhyme
genrethe category into which a piece of writing can be classified---poetry, drama, novel, short story
heroic coupleta rhymed couplet written in iambic pentameter
hubrisinsolence, arrogance, or pride
hyperbolean extreme exxaggeration for literary effect that his not meant to be interpreted literally
iambic pentametera five-foot line made up of an unaccented followed by an accented syllable
imageryanything that affects or appeals to the reader's senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, smell
in medias resa work that begins in the middle of the story
interior monologueused in poetry and prose to reveal a character's unspoken thoughts and feelings--"My Last Duchess"
internal rhymea rhyme that is within the line, rather than at the end
inversiona switch in the normal word order, used for emphasis or rhyme scheme---Strong he was.
Italian/Petrarchan sonnet14 line poem divided into an octave and sestet
litotesaffirmation of an idea by using a negative understatement--opposite of hyperbole--"She is not saint."
lyric poema short, emotionally expressive poem that expresses the feelings and observations of a single speaker
metamorphosisa radical change in character, either physical or emotional
metaphora comparison between two dissimalar things--"Life's but a walking shadow."
meterrhythmical pattern of a poem
metonymya figure of speech that replaces the name of something with a word or phrase closely associated with it--"brass" to mean "military officers"
mytha story, usually with supernatural significance
narrative poema poem that tells a story
slant rhymea rhyme based on an imperfect or incomplete correspondence of end syllable sounds
onomatopoeiawords that imitate sounds
oxymorona figure of speech that combines two contradictory words--wise fool
parablea story illustrating a moral or religious lesson
paradoxa statement that contradicts itself
parallelismthe repeated use of the same grammatical structure in a sentence or series of sentences
parodya humorous imitation of a serious work
pastorala poem, play, or story that idealizes the simple life of sheppards and shepherdesses
pathosthe quality of a literary work or passage which appeals to the reader's or viewer's emotions--especially pity, compassion, and sympathy
personificationthe attribution of human characterisitcs to an animal or to an inanimate object
point of viewperspective of the speaker or narrator in a literary work
protagonistthe main of principal character in a work
punhumorous play on words
quatrainfour-line stanza
refrainrepetition of a line, stanza, or phrase
repetitiona word or phrase used more than once to emphasize an idea
rhetorical questiona question with an obvious answer, so no response is expected; used for emphasis or to make point
satirethe use of humor to ridicule and expose the shortcomings and failings of a society, individuals, and institutions, often in the hope that change and reform are possible
sesteta six line stanza of poetry
shiftin writing, a movement from one thought or idea to another; a change
similea comparison of unlike things using the words--like, as, so
soliloquya character's speech to the audience (alone)
English/Shakespearean sonnet3 quatrains and a couplet
stanzaa grouping of poetic lines
stock charactera stereotypical character; a type
stream of consciousnessa form of writing that replicates the way the human mind works--- ideas are presented in random order--thoughts are often unfinished
structurethe particular way in which the parts of a written work are combined
stylethe way a writer uses language--takes into account word choice, diction, figures of speech, and so on
symbola concrete object, scene, or action which has deeper significance because it is associated with something else, often an important idea or theme in a work
synecdochea figure of speech where one part represents the entire object, or vice versa.--"All hands on deck; lend me your ears."
syntaxthe way in which words, phrases, and sentences are ordered and connected
themethe central idea of a literary work
tonerefers to the author's attitude toward the subject, and often sets the mood of the piece
tragic flawtraditionally a defect in a hero or heroine that leads to his or her downfall
transitionthe means to get from one portion of a poem or story to another---it is way of smoothly connecting different parts of a work--authors often use transitional sentences or phrases to achieve this


Evans, GA

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