AP English Literature Vocabulary

Topics: ArtSymbolism

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Last updated: April 23, 2019

foreshadowing
to hint at or to present an indication of the future beforehand

enjambment
the continuation of a sentence from one line of a poem to the next

pastoral
a work that describes the simple life of country folk who live in a timeless, painless life in a world full of beauty, music and love; bucolic, idyll

ode
a lyric poem that is somewhat serious in subject and treatment, elevated in style and sometimes uses elaborate stanza structure, which is often patterned in sets of three

antithesis
the juxtaposition of sharply contrasting ideas in balanced or parallel words, phrases, grammatical structure, or ideas

apostrophe
an address or invocation to something that is inanimate

denotation
a direct and specific meaning, often reffered to as the dictionary definition of a word

blank verse
the verse form consisting of unrhymed lines in iambic pentameter

caesura
pause in a line of verse, indicated by natural speech patterns rather than due to specific metrical patterns

antagonist
any force that is in opposition to the main character

colloquial
ordinary language, the vernacular

theme
a generalized, abstract paraphrase of the dominant idea or concern of a work

couplet
two rhyming lines of iambic pentameter that together present a single idea or connection

dialect
the language and speech idiosyncrasies of a specific area, region, or group of people

synechdoche
when a part is used to signify a whole, as in “All hands on deck!”-hands= sailors

diction
the specific word choice an author uses to persuade or convey tone, purpose, or effect

syntax
the way words are put together to form phrases, clauses, and sentences

flashback
retrospection, where an earlier event is inserted into the normal chronology of the narrative

elegy
a poetic lament upon the death of a particular person, usually ending in consolation

epic
a poem that celebrates, in a continuou narrative, the achievements of mighty heroes and heroines, often concerned with the founding of a nation or developing of a culture

allusion
a reference to a literary or historical event, person, or place

extended metaphor
a detailed and complex metaphor that extends over a long section of a work; also called a conceit

farce
a play or scene in a play or book that is characterized by broad humor, wild antics, and often slapstick and physical humor

in-medis-res
refers to opening a story in the middle of the action, necessitating filing in past details by exposition or flashback; literally, “in the midst of things”

formal diction
language that is lofty, dignified, and impersonal

exposition
that part of the structure of a plot that sets the scene, introduces and identifies characters, and establishes the situation at the beginning of a story or play

satire
a literary work that holds up human failing to ridicule

alliteration
the sequential repetition of similar initial sound, usually applied to consonants, usually heard in closely proximate stressed syllables

style
a distinctive manner of expression expressed through an author’s diction, rhythm, imagery, and more

free verse
poetry that is characterized by varying line lengths, lack of traditional meter, and non-rhyming lines

genre
a type or class of literature such as epic or narrative or poetry

hyperbole
overstatement characterized by exaggerated language

iambic
a metrical foot in poetry that consists of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable

conceit
a comparison of two unlikely things that is drawn out within a piece of literature; in particular, an extended metaphor within a poem

motif
a recurrent device, formula, or situation that often serves as a signal for the appearance of a character or event

dramatic monologue
also, a soliloquy; a monologue set in a specific situation and spoken to an imaginary audience

imagery
broadly defined, any sensory detail or evocation in a work; more narrowly, the use of figurative language to evoke a feeling, to call to mind an idea, or to describe an object

informal diction
language that is not as lofty or impersonal as formal diction; similar to everyday speech

irony
a situation or statement characterized by a significant difference between what is expected or understood and what actually happens or is meant

lyric
any short poem in which the speaker expresses intense personal emotion rather than desciribing a narrative or dramatic situation; a sonnet and ode are two examples

consonance
the repetition of a sequence of two or more consonants, but with a change in the intervening vowels

mood
a feeling or ambiance resulting from the tone of a piece as well as the writer/narrator’s attitude and point of view

metaphor
one thing pictured as if it were something else, suggesting a likeness or analogy between them; an implicit comparison of two unlike things

villanelle
a verse form consisting of nineteen lines divided into six stanzas- five tercets and one quatrain; the first and third line of the first tercet rhyme, and this rhyme is repeated through each of the next four tercets and in the last two lines of the concluding quatrain

allegory
a prose or poetic narrative in which the characters, behavior, and even the setting demonstrates multiple levels of meaning and significance; often is a universal symbol or personified abstraction

tone
the attitude a literary work takes toward its subject and theme

narrative structure
a textual organization based on sequences of connected events, usually presented in a straightforward, chronological framework

narrator
the character who tells the story

connotation
what is suggested by a word, apart from what it explictly describes

omniscient
also called unlimited focus; a perspective that can be seen from multiple characters

oxymoron
a figure of speech that combines two apparently contradictory elements, sometimes resulting in a humorous image or statement

parable
a short fiction that illustrates an explicit moral lesson through the use of analogy

realism
the practice in literature of attempting to describe nature and life without idealization and with attention to detail

juxtaposition
the location of one thing as being adjacent with another; this placement of two items side by side creates a certain effect, reveals an attitude, or accomplishes some purpose of the writer

ancedote
a brief story or tale told by a character in a piece of literature

structure
the organization or arrangement of the various elements in a work

parallel structure
the use of similar forms in writing for nouns, verbs, phrases, or thoughts; maintains balance and symmetry

persona
the voice or figure of the author who tells and structures the story and who may or may not share the values of the actual author

archetype
recurrent designs, patterns of action, character types, themes, or images which are identifiable in a wide range of literature

refrain
a repeated stanza or line(s) in a poem or song

quatrain
a poetic stanza of four lines

rhyme
the repetition of the same or similar sounds, most often at the ends of lines

simile
a direct, explicit comparison of two things, usually using like or as to draw the connection

solioquy
a monologue in which the character in a play is alone and speaking only to himself or herself

protagonist
the main character in a work who may or may not be heroic

assonance
repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds, usually those found in stressed syllables of close proximity

personification
treating an abstraction or nonhuman object as if it were a person by endowing it with human qualitites

Shakespearean sonnet
a sonnet form divided into three quatrains and one couplet; also called an English sonnet

onomatopoeia
a work capturing or approximating the sound of what it describes

speaker
the person, not necessarily the author, who is the voice of the poem

symbolism
a person, place, thing, event, or pattern in a literary work that designates itself and at the same time figuratively represents something else

Petrachan sonnet
a sonnet form divided into an octave and a sestet; also called an Italian sonnet

setting
the time and place of the action in a story, poem, or play

tragedy
a drama in which a character, usually of noble or high rank, is brought to a disastrous end in confrontation with a superior force

sestina
a highly structured poem consisting of six six-line stanzas followed by a tercet; the same set of six words ends the lines of each of the six-line stanzas, but in a different order each time

paradox
a statement that seems contradictory but may actually be true

rhythm
the modulation of weak and strong (stressed and unstressed) elements in the flow of speech

terza rima
a verse form consisting of three-line stanzas in which the second line of each rhymes with the first and third of the next

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