1) Used as a noun, the term refers to a short summary or outline of a longer work. 2) As an adjective applied to writing or literary works, abstract refers to words or phrases that name things not knowable through the five senses. Ex: “idea,” “guilt” “honesty,” and “loyalty.”
A literary and artistic movement of the nineteenth century whose followers believed that art should not be mixed with social, political, or moral teaching.
“art for art’s sake”
(The movement had its roots in France, but it gained widespread importance in England in the last half of the nineteenth century, where it helped change the Victorian practice of including moral lessons in literature. )
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A narrative technique in which characters representing things or abstract ideas are used to convey a message or to teach moral, ethical, or religious lessons but is sometimes used for satiric or political purposes.
And in guise all of green, the gear and the man:
A reference to a familiar literary or historical person or event, used to make an idea more easily understood
A comparison of two things made to explain something unfamiliar through its similarities to something familiar or to prove one point based on the acceptedness of another.
The presentation of animals or objects in human shape or with human characteristics. “human form”
A central character in a work of literature who lacks traditional heroic qualities such as courage, physical prowess, and fortitude. “social outcasts”
“something’s direct opposite.” In literature, the use of antithesis as a figure of speech results in two statements that show a contrast through the balancing of two opposite ideas.
writings attributed to an author but not necessarily proven to be theirs
An impluse believed to guide authors of dramatic tragedy. Named for Apollo, the greek god of light and beauty. Creates an rational, harmonious world
An impluse believed to guide authors of dramatic tragedy. Named for Dionysus, the greek god of wine. Expresses the irrational forces of personality
A statement, question, or request addressed to an inanimate object or concept or to a nonexistent or absent person.
They appear in literature as incidents and plots that repeat basic patterns of life. They may also appear as stereotyped characters
a comment made by a stage performer that is intended to be heard by the audience but supposedly not other characters.
The bows glided down, and the coast
A short poem that tells a simple story and has a repeated refrain. Originally intended to be sung
A term used in literary criticism to describe literature that is complex or ornate in style or diction. Works typically express tension, anxiety, and violent emotion.
“fine letters” or “beautiful writing.” A synonym for literature, typically referring to imaginative and artistic writing.
Writing that places grotesque elements side by side with humorous ones in an attempt to shock the reader, forcing him or her to laugh at the horrifying reality of a disordered world
“good word.” A witty remark or clever observation
The natural rhythm of language caused by the alternation of accented and unaccented syllables.
A pause in a line of poetry, that typically corresponds to a break in the natural rhythm or sense of the line but is sometimes shifted to create special meanings or rhythmic effects.
“seize the day.” This is a traditional theme of poetry, especially lyrics, which advises the reader or the person it addresses to live for today and enjoy the pleasures of the moment.
The release or purging of unwanted emotions — specifically fear and pity — brought about by exposure to art.
In ancient Greek drama, a group of actors who commented on and interpreted the unfolding action on the stage.
: A record of events presented in chronological order.
Works of ancient Greek or Roman literature.
A term used in literary criticism to describe critical doctrines that have their roots in ancient Greek and Roman literature, philosophy and art.
The turning point in a narrative.
A word, phrase, or form of pronunciation that is acceptable in casual conversation but not in formal, written communication.
the issue to be resolved in the story.
The impression that a word gives beyond its defined meaning. May be universally understood or may be significant only to a certain group.
(Also known as Half Rhyme or Slant Rhyme.) Occurs in poetry when words appearing at the ends of two or more verses have similar final consonant sounds but have final vowel sounds that differ, as with “stuff” and “off.”
Any widely accepted literary device, style, or form. A soliloquy, in which a character reveals to the audience his or her private thoughts, is an example of a dramatic convention.
Two lines of poetry with the same rhyme and meter
The systematic study and evaluation of literary works
The process of reaching a conclusion through reasoning from general premises to a specific premise.
The definition of a word, apart from the impressions or feelings it creates in the reader.
(Also known as Falling Action.) A French word meaning “the unknotting.” In literary criticism, it denotes the resolution of conflict in fiction or drama.
This allows a reader to picture the scene or setting in which the action of a story takes place.
The selection and arrangement of words in a literary work.
A term used to describe works of literature that aim to teach some moral, religious, political, or practical lesson.
A Latin phrase meaning “discord in harmony.” The term describes “a combination of dissimilar images or discovery of occult resemblances in things apparently unlike.”
A combination of harsh or jarring sounds, especially in poetry. Although such combinations may be accidental, poets sometimes intentionally make them to achieve particular effects.
A work that features a large amount of documentary material such as newspaper stories, trial transcripts, and legal reports. Such works can include fictionalized segments or may contain a fictional story in which the author incorporates real-life information or events; these are referred to as documentary novels.
(Also known as The Double.) A literary technique by which a character is duplicated (usually in the form of an alter ego, though sometimes as a ghostly counterpart) or divided into two distinct, usually opposite personalities. The use of this character device is widespread in nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature, and indicates a growing awareness among authors that the “self” is really a composite of many “selves.” A well-known story containing a doppelganger character is Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which dramatizes an internal struggle between good and evil.
A corruption of a French phrase meaning “double meaning.” The term is used to indicate a word or phrase that is deliberately ambiguous, especially when one of the meanings is risqué or improper.
Any preliminary version of a written work
In its widest sense, a drama is any work designed to be presented by actors on a stage.
Occurs when the audience of a play or the reader of a work of literature knows something that a character in the work itself does not know.
Any lyric work that employs elements of drama such as dialogue, conflict, or characterization, but excluding works that are intended for stage presentation.
The characters in a work of literature, particularly a drama. The list of characters printed before the main text of a play or in the program
(Also known as Dream Allegory.) A literary convention, chiefly of the Middle Ages.
An imaginary place in a work of fiction where the characters lead dehumanized, fearful lives.
A daughter’s amorous obsession with her father.
A lyric poem that laments the death of a person or the eventual death of all people.
A period of great economic growth, religious controversy, and nationalism closely associated with the reign of Elizabeth I of England (1558-1603). The Elizabethan Age is considered a part of the general Renaissance — that is, the flowering of arts and literature — that took place in Europe during the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries. The era is considered the golden age of English literature. The most important dramas in English and a great deal of lyric poetry were produced during this period, and modern English criticism began around this time. The notable authors of the period — Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Francis Bacon, and John Donne — are among the best in all of English literature.
English comic and tragic plays produced during the Renaissance, or more narrowly, those plays written during the last years of and few years after Queen Elizabeth’s reign. William Shakespeare is considered an Elizabethan dramatist in the broader sense, although most of his work was produced during the reign of James I. An example of Elizabethan comedy includes William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. An example of Elizabethan tragedy includes William Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra.
A sense of shared experience, including emotional and physical feelings, with someone or something other than oneself.
An eighteenth-century philosophical movement. It began in France but had a wide impact throughout Europe and America. Thinkers of the Enlightenment valued reason and believed that both the individual and society could achieve a state of perfection. Corresponding to this essentially humanist vision was a resistance to religious authority.
A long narrative poem about the adventures of a hero of great historic or legendary importance.
A saying that makes the speaker’s point quickly and concisely.
A concluding statement or section of a literary work.
A sudden revelation of truth inspired by a seemingly trivial incident.
An incident that forms part of a story and is significantly related to it.
A novel in the form of letters.
An inscription on a tomb or tombstone, or a verse written on the occasion of a person’s death.
A word or phrase, often disparaging or abusive, that expresses a character trait of someone or something.
A prose composition with a focused subject of discussion.
The practice of leaving one’s country to live for an extended period in another country.
Writing intended to explain the nature of an idea, thing, or theme.
A prose or verse narrative intended to convey a moral. Animals or inanimate objects with human characteristics often serve as characters in fables.
Short narratives featuring mythical beings such as fairies, elves, and sprites.
A type of comedy characterized by broad humor, outlandish incidents, and often vulgar subject matter.
A French phrase with the literal translation “fatal woman.” is a sensuous, alluring woman who often leads men into danger or trouble.
Any story that is the product of imagination rather than a documentation of fact. Characters and events in such narratives may be based in real life but their ultimate form and configuration is a creation of the author.
A technique in writing in which the author temporarily interrupts the order, construction, or meaning of the writing for a particular effect.
Figures of Speech
Writing that differs from customary conventions for construction, meaning, order, or significance for the purpose of a special meaning or effect.
A device used in literature to present action that occurred before the beginning of the story.
A character in a work of literature whose physical or psychological qualities contrast strongly with, and therefore highlight, the corresponding qualities of another character.
Traditions and myths preserved in a culture or group of people. Typically, these are passed on by word of mouth in various forms — such as legends, songs, and proverbs — or preserved in customs and ceremonies.
A story originating in oral tradition.
The smallest unit of rhythm in a line of poetry.
A device used in literature to create expectation or to set up an explanation of later developments.
The pattern or construction of a work which identifies its genre and distinguishes it from other genres.
In literary criticism, the belief that literature should follow prescribed rules of construction, such as those that govern the sonnet form.
Poetry that lacks regular metrical and rhyme patterns but that tries to capture the cadences of everyday speech.
A category of literary work. In critical theory, genre may refer to both the content of a given work — tragedy, comedy, pastoral — and to its form, such as poetry, novel, or drama.
In literary criticism, works characterized by a taste for the medieval or morbidly attractive
In literary criticism, the subject matter of a work or a style of expression characterized by exaggeration, deformity, freakishness, and disorder.
The shortest form of Japanese poetry, constructed in three lines of five, seven, and five syllables respectively.
In tragedy, the event or act that leads to the hero’s or heroine’s downfall.
The principal sympathetic character (male or female) in a literary work.
A rhyming couplet written in iambic pentameter (a verse with five iambic feet).
The study of a work based on its impact on the world of the time period in which it was written.
(Also known as Epic Simile.) An elaborate, detailed comparison written as a simile many lines in length.
In literary criticism, deliberate exaggeration used to achieve an effect.
A word construction or verbal expression closely associated with a given language.
A concrete representation of an object or sensory experience.
The array of images in a literary work. Also, figurative language.
An English and American poetry movement that flourished between 1908 and 1917. The Imagists used precise, clearly presented images in their works. They also used common, everyday speech and aimed for conciseness, concrete imagery and the creation of new rhythms. Participants in the Imagist movement included Ezra Pound, H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), and Amy Lowell, among others.
In medias res
A Latin term meaning “in the middle of things.” It refers to the technique of beginning a story at its midpoint and then using various flashback devices to reveal previous action. This technique originated in such epics as Virgil’s Aeneid.
The process of reaching a conclusion by reasoning from specific premises to form a general premise & also, an introductory portion of a work of literature, especially a play.
The belief that judgments of a literary work based solely on an author’s stated or implied intentions are false and misleading.
A narrative technique in which characters’ thoughts are revealed in a way that appears to be uncontrolled by the author.
rhyme that occurs within a single line of Verse.
In literary criticism, the effect of language in which the intended meaning is the opposite of what is stated.
Language that is used or understood only by a select group of people.
Writing intended for publication in a newspaper or magazine, or for broadcast on a radio or television program featuring news, sports, entertainment, or other timely material.
An author uses literal language when he or she writes without exaggerating or embellishing the subject matter and without any tools of figurative language.
any written or spoken material, but the term most often refers to creative works.
A poem expressing the subjective feelings and personal emotions of the poet. Such poetry is melodic, since it was originally accompanied by a lyre in recitals
The foot, verse, or time sequence used in a literary work, especially a poem.
A play in which the typical plot is a conflict between characters who personify extreme good and evil.
A figure of speech that expresses an idea through the image of another object.
In literary criticism, the repetition of sound patterns that creates a rhythm in poetry.
Modern literary practices. Also, the principles of a literary school that lasted from roughly the beginning of the twentieth century until the end of World War II. defined by its rejection of the literary conventions of the nineteenth century and by its opposition to conventional morality, taste, traditions, and economic values. Many writers are associated with the concepts of Modernism, including Albert Camus, Marcel Proust, D. H. Lawrence, W. H. Auden, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, William Butler Yeats, Tennessee Williams.
A composition, written or oral, by a single individual. More specifically, a speech given by a single individual in a drama or other public entertainment. It has no set length, although it is usually several or more lines long.
The prevailing emotions of a work or of the author in his or her creation of the work.
A theme, character type, image, metaphor, or other verbal element that recurs throughout a single work of literature or occurs in a number of different works over a period of time.
Nine Greek, mythological goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (Memory). Each muse patronized a specific area of the liberal arts and sciences. Calliope presided over epic poetry, Clio over history, Erato over love poetry, Euterpe over music or Lyric Poetry, Melpomene over tragedy, Polyhymnia over hymns to the gods, Terpsichore over dance, Thalia over Comedy, and Urania over astronomy. Poets and writers traditionally made appeals to the Muses for inspiration in their work. John Milton invokes the aid of a muse at the beginning of the first book of his Paradise Lost:
The telling of a series of events, real or invented.
A verse or prose accounting of an event or sequence of events, real or invented.
A nondramatic poem in which the author tells a story. Such poems may be of any length or level of complexity.
The teller of a story.
A literary movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The movement’s major theorist, French novelist Emile Zola, envisioned a type of fiction that would examine human life with the objectivity of scientific inquiry. The Naturalists typically viewed human beings as either the products of “biological determinism,” ruled by hereditary instincts and engaged in an endless struggle for survival, or as the products of “socioeconomic determinism,” ruled by social and economic forces beyond their control. In their works, the Naturalists generally ignored the highest levels of society and focused on degradation: poverty, alcoholism, prostitution, insanity, and disease.
A movement in literary criticism, dating from the late 1920s, that stressed close textual analysis in the interpretation of works of literature.
A type of writing in which the journalist presents factual information in a form usually used in fiction
The idea that primitive man is noble and good but becomes evil and corrupted as he becomes civilized.
A long, fictional narrative written in prose, which developed from the novella and other early forms of narrative.
An Italian term meaning “story.” This term has been especially used to describe fourteenth-century Italian tales, but it also refers to modern short novels.
Novel of Manners
A novel that examines the customs and mores of a cultural group.
An outward set of objects, a situation, or a chain of events corresponding to an inward experience and evoking this experience in the reader.
A quality in writing characterized by the absence of the author’s opinion or feeling about the subject matter.
A poem or stanza composed of eight lines.
A son’s amorous obsession with his mother. T
The use of words whose sounds express or suggest their meaning.
A process by which songs, ballads, folklore, and other material are transmitted by word of mouth.
Formal speaking intended to motivate the listeners to some action or feeling.
An eight-line stanza of poetry composed in iambic pentameter
A phrase combining two contradictory terms.
The idea that all things are both a manifestation or revelation of God and a part of God at the same time.
A story intended to teach a moral lesson or answer an ethical question.
A statement that appears illogical or contradictory at first, but may actually point to an underlying truth.
A method of comparison of two ideas in which each is developed in the same grammatical structure.
In literary criticism, this term refers to an imitation of a serious literary work or the signature style of a particular author in a ridiculous manner
literary composition on a rural theme.
A Latin term meaning “mask.” characters in a fictional work of literature.
Figure of speech that gives human qualities to abstract ideas, animals, & inanimate objects.
Episodic fiction depicting the adventures of a roguish central character. The hero is commonly a low-born but clever individual who wanders into and out of various affairs of love, danger, and farcical intrigue.
Claiming another person’s written material as one’s own.
The embracing of the doctrines of the philosopher Plato, popular among the poets of the Renaissance and the Romantic period.
In literary criticism, this term refers to the pattern of events in a narrative or drama.
In its broadest sense, a composition utilizing rhyme, meter, concrete detail, and expressive language to create a literary experience with emotional and aesthetic appeal.
An author who writes poetry or verse. The term is also used to refer to an artist or writer who has an exceptional gift for expression, imagination, and energy in the making of art in any form.
An outcome in a literary work, not necessarily a poem, in which the good are rewarded and the evil are punished, especially in ways that particularly fit their virtues or crimes. For example, a murderer may himself be murdered, or a thief will find himself penniless.
Distortions of fact and literary convention made by a writer — not always a poet — for the sake of the effect gained.
This term has two closely related meanings. It denotes (1) an aesthetic theory in literary criticism about the essence of poetry or (2) rules prescribing the proper methods, content, style, or diction of poetry
In its broadest sense, writing that aims to present ideas and evoke an emotional experience in the reader through the use of meter, imagery, connotative and concrete words, and a carefully constructed structure based on rhythmic patterns. It also makes use of the effects of regular rhythm on the ear and may make a strong appeal to the senses through the use of imagery.
Point of View
The narrative perspective from which a literary work is presented to the reader.
A work in which the author takes a stand on a controversial subject, such as abortion or religion. Such works are often extremely argumentative or provocative.
The belief that primitive peoples were nobler and less flawed than civilized peoples because they had not been subjected to the tainting influence of society.
An introductory section of a literary work.
A literary medium that attempts to mirror the language of everyday speech. It is distinguished from poetry by its use of unmetered, unrhymed language consisting of logically related sentences.
The central character of a story who serves as a focus for its themes and incidents and as the principal rationale for its development.
type of writing that has as its primary purpose the protesting of some social injustice, such as racism or discrimination.
A brief, sage saying that expresses a truth about life in a striking manner.
A name assumed by a writer, most often intended to prevent his or her identification as the author of a work.
A play on words that have similar sounds but different meanings.
A four-line stanza of a poem or an entire poem consisting of four lines.
A nineteenth-century European literary movement that sought to portray familiar characters, situations, and settings in a realistic manner. This was done primarily by using an objective narrative point of view and through the buildup of accurate detail.
A phrase repeated at intervals throughout a poem. may appear at the end of each stanza or at less regular intervals.
The period in European history that marked the end of the Middle Ages. It began in Italy in the late fourteenth century. In broad terms, it is usually seen as spanning the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries; although, it did not reach Great Britain, for example, until the 1480s or so. The Renaissance saw an awakening in almost every sphere of human activity, especially science, philosophy, and the arts. The period is best defined by the emergence of a general philosophy that emphasized the importance of the intellect, the individual, and world affairs. It contrasts strongly with the medieval worldview, characterized by the dominant concerns of faith, the social collective, and spiritual salvation.
Conversation featuring snappy retorts and witticisms.
The portion of a story following the climax, in which the conflict is resolved.
In literary criticism, this term denotes the art of ethical persuasion.
A question intended to provoke thought, but not an expressed answer, in the reader.
When used as a noun in literary criticism, this term generally refers to a poem in which words sound identical or very similar and appear in parallel positions in two or more lines.
A regular pattern of sound, time intervals, or events occurring in writing, most often and most discernibly in poetry.
The part of a drama where the plot becomes increasingly complicated.
A broad term, usually denoting a narrative with exotic, exaggerated, often idealized characters, scenes, and themes.
This term has two widely accepted meanings. (1) In historical criticism, it refers to a European intellectual and artistic movement of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that sought greater freedom of personal expression than that allowed by the strict rules of literary form and logic of the eighteenth-century neoclassicists. The Romantics preferred emotional and imaginative expression to rational analysis. They considered the individual to be at the center of all experience and so placed him or her at the center of their art. The Romantics believed that the creative imagination reveals nobler truths — unique feelings and attitudes — than those that could be discovered by logic or by scientific examination. Both the natural world and the state of childhood were important sources for revelations of “eternal truths.” (2) “Romanticism” is also used as a general term to refer to a type of sensibility found in all periods of literary history and usually considered to be in opposition to the principles of classicism. In this sense, Romanticism signifies any work or philosophy in which the exotic or dreamlike figure strongly, or that is devoted to individualistic expression, self-analysis, or a pursuit of a higher realm of knowledge than can be discovered by human reason. Prominent Romantics include William Wordsworth, John Keats, Lord Byron, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
A work that uses ridicule, humor, and wit to criticize and provoke change in human nature and institutions. There are 2 major types of satire: “formal” or “direct” satire speaks directly to the reader or to a character in the work; “indirect” satire relies upon the ridiculous behavior of its characters to make its point.
A subdivision of an Act of a drama, consisting of continuous action taking place at a single time and in a single location. =
A type of narrative about or based upon real or imagined scientific theories and technology. S=
The time, place, and culture in which the action of a narrative takes place.
A fictional prose narrative shorter and more focused than a novella.
A comparison, usually using “like” or “as”, of two essentially dissimilar things,
A type of informal verbal communication that is generally unacceptable for formal writing.
A monologue in a drama used to give the audience information and to develop the speaker’s character. It is typically a projection of the speaker’s innermost thoughts.
A fourteen-line poem, usually composed in iambic pentameter, employing one of several rhyme schemes.
A subdivision of a poem consisting of lines grouped together, often in recurring patterns of rhyme, line length, and meter. Stanzas may also serve as units of thought in a poem much like paragraphs in prose.
A stereotype was originally the name for a duplication made during the printing process; this led to its modern definition as a person or thing that is (or is assumed to be) the same as all others of its type.
Stream of Consciousness
A narrative technique for rendering the inward experience of a character. This technique is designed to give the impression of an ever-changing series of thoughts, emotions, images, and memories in the spontaneous and seemingly illogical order that they occur in life.
A twentieth-century movement in literary criticism that examines how literary texts arrive at their meanings, rather than the meanings themselves. There are two major types of structuralist analysis: one examines the way patterns of linguistic structures unify a specific text and emphasize certain elements of that text, and the other interprets the way literary forms and conventions affect the meaning of language itself.
The form taken by a piece of literature.
A writer’s distinctive manner of arranging words to suit his or her ideas and purpose in writing. The unique imprint of the author’s personality upon his or her writing,
The person, event, or theme at the center of a work of literature.
Writing that expresses the author’s personal feelings about his subject and which may or may not include factual information about the subject.
A secondary story in a narrative.
A term introduced to criticism by Guillaume Apollinaire and later adopted by Andre Breton. It refers to a French literary and artistic movement founded in the 1920s. The Surrealists sought to express unconscious thoughts and feelings in their works. The best-known technique used for achieving this aim was Automatic Writing — transcriptions of spontaneous outpourings from the unconscious. The Surrealists proposed to unify the contrary levels of conscious and unconscious, dream and reality, objectivity and subjectivity into a new level of “super-realism.”
A literary device in which the author maintains the audience’s attention through the buildup of events, the outcome of which will soon be revealed.
A method of presenting a logical argument. In its most basic form, the syllogism consists of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion.
Something that suggests or stands for something else without losing its original identity.
A story told by a narrator with a simple plot and little character development. usually relatively short and often carry a simple message.
A humorous tale told in a straightforward, credible tone but relating absolutely impossible events or feats of the characters.
The main point of a work of literature.
both an essay and the point argued in the essay.
The author’s attitude toward his or her audience or subject matter
A drama in prose or poetry about a noble, courageous hero of excellent character who, because of some tragic character flaw or hamartia, brings ruin upon him or herself.
In a tragedy, the quality within the hero or heroine which leads to his or her downfall.
A character or figure common in Native American and African literature who uses his ingenuity to defeat enemies and escape difficult situations. Often animals, such as the spider, hare, or coyote, although they may take the form of humans as well.
A fictional, perfect place, such as “paradise” or “heaven.”
Literally, the appearance of truth. In literary criticism, the term refers to aspects of a work of literature that seem true to the reader.
A line of metered language, a line of a poem, or any work written in verse.
The writing of verse.