Literary Terms (Q2)

elegy
a mournful, contemplative lyric poem written to commemorate someone who is dead, often ending in a consolation. Tennyson’s In Memorium, written on the death of Arthur Hallam, is an example. _____may also refer to a serious meditative poem produced to express the speaker’s melacholy thoughts.

End rhyme
the most common form of rhyme in poetry; the rhyme comes at the end of the lines

end-stopped line
a poetic line that has a pause at the end. _______ reflect normal speech patterns and are often marked by punctuation. The first line of Keats’s “Endymion” is an example; the natural pause coincides with the end of the line, and is marked by a period: A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

English sonnet
also known as Shakespearean sonnet; organized into 2 quatrains and a couplet, which typically rhyme abab cdcd efef. This rhyme scheme is more suited to English poetry because English has fewer rhyming words than Italian. __________, because of their four-part organization, also have more flexibility with respect to where thematic breajs can occur. Frequently, however, the most pronounced break or turn comes with the concluding couplet, as in Shakespeare’s “Shall I compar thee to a summer’s day?”

enjambment
in poetry, when one line ends without a pause and continues into the next line for its meaning. This is also called a run-on line. The transition between the first two lines of Wordsworth’s poem “My Heart Leaps Up” demonstrates this:
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky

envoy
the three-line concluding stanza of a sestina; often resonate important themes

epic
a long narrative poem, told in a formal, elevated style, that focuses on a serious subject and chronicles heroic deeds and events important to a culture or nation. Milton’s Paradise Lost, which attempts to “justify the ways of God to man,” is an example

epigram
a brief, pointed, and witty poem that usually makes a satiric or humorous point; most often written in couplets, but take no prescribed form

epiphany
in fiction, when a character suddenly experiences a deep realization about himself or herself; a truth that is grasped in an ordinary rather than a melodramatic moment

formula literature
often characterized as “escape literature,” _______ follows a pattern of conventional reader expectations. Romance novels, westerns, science fiction, and detective stories are all examples; while the details of individual stories vary, the basic ingredients of each kind of story are the same. _________ offers happy endings (the hero “gets the girl,” the detective cracks the case), entertains wide audiences, and sells tremedously well

euphony
(“good sound”); refers to language that is smooth and musically pleasant ot the ear

exact rhyme
describes words that share the same stressed vowel sounds as well as sharing sounds that follow the vowel

exposition
a narrative device, often used at the beginning of a work, that provides necessary background information about the characters and their circumstances; explains what has gone on before, the relationships between characters, the development of a heme, and the introduction of a conflict

extended metaphor
sustained comparison in which part or all of a poem consists of a series of related metaphors; Robert Francis’s poem “Catch” relies on an extended metaphor that compares poetry to playing catch

eye rhyme
words that look alike but do not rhyme at all (i.e. bough and cough, brow and blow)

falling action
third part of plot; characterized by diminising tensions and the resolution of the plot’s conflicts and complications

falling meter
refers to metrical feet that move from stressed to unstressed sounds, such as the trochaic foot and the dactylic foot

farce
a form of humor based on exaggerated, improbable incongruities; involves rapid shifts in action and emotion, as well as slapstick comedy and extravagant dialogue. Malvolio, in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, is a this type of character

feminine rhyme
consists of a rhymed stressed syllable followed by one or more identical unstressed syllables, as in butter, clutter; grattitude, attitude; quivering, shivering

feminist criticism
an approach to literature that seeks to correct or supplement what may be regarded as a predominantly male-dominated critical perspective with a feminist consciousness. _______ places literature in a social context and uses a broad range of disciplines, including history, sociology, psychology, and linguistics, to provide a perspective sensitive to feminist issues. feminist theories also attempt to understand representation from a woman’s point of view and to explain women’s writing strategies as specific to their social conditions

figures of speech
ways of using language that deviate from the literal, denotative meanings of words in order to suggest additional meanings or effects. ______ say one thing in terms of something else, such as when an eager funeral director is described as a vulture

first-person narrator
the I in the story presents the point of view of only one character; the reader is restricted to the perceptions, thoughts, and feelings of that single character. For example, in Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” the lawyer is the ____ of the story. ______’s can play either a major or a minor role in the story they are telling.

fixed form
a poem that may be categorized by the pattern of its lines, meter, rhythm, or stanzas. A sonnet is a ____ because by the definition it must have fourteen lines. Other ___’s include limerick, sestina, and villanelle. However, poems written in a _____ may not always fit into categories precisely, because writers sometimes vary traditional forms to create innovative effects

flashback
a narrated scene that marks a break in the narrative in order to inform the reader or audience member about events that took place before the opening scene of a work

flat character
embodies one or two qualities, ideas, or traits that can be readily described in a brief summary. They are not psychologically complex characters and therefore are readily accessible to readers; some ____’s are recognized as stock characters; they embody stereotypes such as the “dumb blonde” or the “mean stepfather.” They become types rather than individuals

foil
a character in a work whose behavior and values contrast with those of another character in order to highlight the distinctive temperament of that character (usually the protagonist). In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Laertes acts as a ___ to Hamlet, because his willingness to act underscores Hamlet’s inability to do so.

foot
a metrical unit by which a line of poetry is measured; usually consists of one stressed and one or two unstressed syllables

iambic foot
consists of one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable (“away”); most common metrical foot in English poetry

trochaic foot
consists of one stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable (“lovely”)

anapestic foot
2 unstressed syllables followed by one stressed one (“understand”)

dactylic foot
one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed ones (“desperate”)

spondee
foot consisting of 2 stressed syllables (“dead set”), but is not a sustained metrical foot and is used mainly for variety or emphasis

foreshadowing
the introduction early in a story of verbal and dramatic hints that suggest what is to come later

form
the overall structure or shape of a work, which frequently follows an established design; may refer to a literary type (narrative form, short story form) or to patterns of meter, lines, and rhymes (stanza form, verse form)

formal diction
consists of a dignified, impersonal, and elevated us of language; it follows the rules of syntax exactly and is often characterized by complex words and lofty tone

formalist criticism
an approach to literature that focuses on the formal elements of a work, such as its language, structure, and tone. Formalist critics offer intense examinations of the relationship between form and meaning in a work, emphasizing the subtle complexity in how a work is arranged. Formalists pay special attention to diction, irony, paradox, metaphor, and symbol, as well as larger elements such as plot, characterization, and narrative technique. Formalist critics read literature as an independent work of art rather than as a reflection of the author’s state of mind or as a representation of a moment in history. Therefore, anything outside of the work, including historical influences and authorial intent, is generally not examined by formalist critics.

found poem
an unintentional poem discovered in a nonpoetic context, such as a conversation, news story, or advertisement. Found poems serve as reminders that everyday language often contains what can be considered poetry, or that poetry is definable as any text read as a poem

free verse
also called open form poetry; refers to poems characterized by their nonconformity to established patterns of meter, rhyme, and stanza; uses elements such as speech patterns, grammar, emphasis, and breath pauses to decide line breaks, and usually does not rhyme

gay and lesbian criticism
an approach to literature that focuses on how homosexuals are represented in literature, how they read literature, and whether sexuality, as well as gender, is culturally constructed or innate

gender criticism
an approach to literature that explores how ideas about men and women–what is masculine and feminine— can be regarded as socially constructed by particular cultures. _____ expands categories and definitions of what is masculine or feminine and tends to regard sexuality as more complex than merely masculine or feminine, heterosexual or homosexual

genre
a french word meaning kind or type; the major _____’s in literature are poetry, fiction, drama, and essays; can also refer to more specific types of literature such as comedy, tragedy, epic poetry, or science fiction

haiku
a style of lyric poetry borrowed from the Japanese that typically presents an intense emotion or vivid image of nature, which, traditionally, is designed to lead to a spiritual insight; fixed poetic form, consisting of seventeen syllables organized into 3 unrhymed lines of 5, 7, and 5, syllables. Today, however, many poets vary the syllable count

hamartia
A term coined by Aristotle to describe “some error or frailty” that brings about misfortune for a tragic hero. The concept is closely related to that of the tragic flaw: both lead to the downfall of the protagonist in a tragedy; may be interpreted as a internal weakness in a character (like greed or passion or hubris); however, it may also refer to a mistake that character makes that is based not on a personal failure, but on circumstances outside the protagonist’s personality and control

hero (/heroine)
often called the protagonist; central character who engages the reader’s interest and empathy

heroic couplet
couplet written in rhymed iambic pentameter

high comedy
verbal wit, such as puns

historical criticism
an approach to literature that uses history as a means of understanding a literary work more clearly. Such criticism moves beyond both the facts of an author’s personal life and the text itself in order to examine the social and intellectual currents in which the author composed the work

Hubris or Hybris
excessive pride or self-confidence that leads a protagonist to disregard a divine warning or to violate an important moral law; in tragedies ____ is a very common for of hamartia

hyperbole
a boldly exaggerated statement that adds emphasis without intending to be literally true, as in the statement “He ate everything in the house.” _______ (also called overstatement) may be used for serious, comic, or ironic effect

Iambic pentameter
a metrical pattern in poetry which consists of five iambic feet per line (an iamb, or iambic foot, consists of one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable)

Image
a word, phrase, or figure of speech (especially a simile or a metaphor) that addresses the senses, suggesting mental pictures of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, feelings, or actions; offer sensory impressions to the reader and also convey emotions and moods through their verbal pictures

implied metaphor
more subtle comparison; the terms being compared are not so specifically explained. For example, to describe a stubborn man as unwilling to leave, one could say that he was ” a mule standing his ground.” This is a fairly explicit metaphor; the man is being compared to a mule. But to say that the man “brayed his refusal to leave” is to create an _______, because the subject (the man) is never overtly identified as a mule. Braying is associated with a mule, a notoriously stubborn creature, and so the comparison between the stubborn man and the mule is sustained. _____’s can slip by inattentive readers who are not sensitive to such carefully chosen, highly concentrated language

in media res
term used to describe the common strategy of beginning a story in the middle of the action; in this type of plot, we enter the story on the verge of some important moment

informal diction
represents the plain language of everyday use, and often includes idiomatic expressions, slang, contractions, and many simple, common words

internal rhyme
places at least one of the rhymed words within the line, as in “Dividing and gliding and sliding” or “In mist or cloud, on mast and shroud.”

irony
a literary device that uses contradictory statements or situations to reveal a reality different from what appears to be true; it is ironic for a firehouse to burn down, or for a police station to be burglarized

verbal irony
figure of speech that occurs when a person says one thing but means the opposite

sarcasm
strong form of verbal irony that is calculated to hurt someone through, for example, false praise

dramatic irony
creates a discrepancy between what a character believes or says and what the reader or audience member knows to be true

tragic irony
form of dramatic irony found in tragedies such as Oedipus the King, in which Oedipus searches for the person responsible for the plague that ravishes his city and ironically ends up hunting himself

situational irony
exists when there is an incongruity between what is expected to happen and what actually happens due to forces beyond human comprehension or control.The suicide of the seemingly successful main character in Edwin Arlington Robinson’s poem “Richard Cory” is an example

cosmic irony
occurs when a writer uses God, destiny, or fate to dash the hopes and expectations of a character or of humankind in general. In _____ a discrepancy exists between what a character aspires to and what universal forces provide. Stephen Crane’s poem “A Man Said to the Universe” is a good example of cosmic irony, because the universe acknowledges no obligation to the man’s assertion of his own existence.

Italian sonnet
also know as the Petrarchan sonnet; divided into an octave, which typically rhymes abbaabba, which may have varying rhyme schemes. Common rhyme patterns in the sestet are cdecde, cdcdcd, and cdccdc. Very often the octave presents a situation, attitude, or problem that the sestet comments upon or resolves, as in John Keats’s “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer”

Limerick
a light, humorous style of fixed form poetry. Its usual form consists of five lines with the rhyme scheme aabba; lines 1,2 and 5 contain three feet, while lines 3 and 4 usually contain 2 feet. ____’s range in subject matter from the silly to the obscene, and since Edward Lear popularized them in the 19th century, children and adults have enjoyed these comic poems

limited omniscience
occurs when an author restricts a narrator to the single perspective of either a major or minor character. The way people, places, and events appear to that character is the way they appear to the reader. Sometimes a limited omniscient narrator can see into more than one character, particularly in a work that focuses on two characters alternately from one chapter to the next. Short stories, however, are frequently limited to a single character’s point of view

line
a sequence of words printed as a separate entity on the page. In poetry, ____’s are usually measured by the number of feet they contain. The names for various line lengths are as follows:
monometer: on foot, di (2), tri (3), tetra (4), penta (5), hexa (6), hepta (7), octa (8)
The number of feet in a line, coupled with the name of the foot, describes the metrical qualities of that line.

literary ballad
narrative poem that is written in deliberate imitation of the language, form, and spirit of the traditional ballad, such as Keats’s “La Belle Dame sans Merci”

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