Drama and Poetry Terms

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Last updated: December 6, 2019

is a literary art form that recreates human like and human life and emotions. The medium is dialogue and action within a frame of sequential events.

Drama has both written form (a script) and a living form (the stage presentation)

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a drama that gives the audience an experience of catharsis. The protagonist, a person of nobility, must make a moral decision that in turn influences the outcome of the drama. The protagonist usually has a serious fault – the tragic flaw – that leads to his downfall and death. The terror and pity felt by the audience produces a catharsis, a cleansing or purifying of emotion.

is a fourteen line stanza consisting of iambic pentameter lines.

The two major sonnet forms are the Italian and the English. ( Patrarchan and Shakespearean )

(sonnet) English
3 quatrains and 1 couplet rhyme scheme abab cdcd efef gg (Shakespearean)

(sonnet) Italian
1 octave and 1 sestet abbaabba cdecde cdccdc or cdcdcd (Patrarchan)

Heroic Couplet
(sometimes called a closed couplet) consists of two successive rhyming verses that contain a complete thought within the two lines. It usually consists of iambic pentameter lines.

is a character who is presented as a contrast to a second character so as to point to or show to advantage some aspect of the second character.

a dramatic convention that allows a character to be seen by the audience, but remain hidden (concealed) from follow actors. This convention shows the differing perceptions (ways of viewing what is happening) of the various characters.

allows a character to speak his or her thoughts aloud. But not directly to the audience.

a convention that lets a character speak directly to the audience without being overheard by other characters. This convention permits emphasis of character difference, and audience involvement on a more personal level.

Dramatic Monologue
long poem where the author expresses his thoughts to an unknown audience

Dramatic Irony
occurs when a character’s words or acts carry a larger meaning he does not perceive.

The audience, however, is fully aware of the character’s situation and can realize the full importance of the action.

Tragic Hero
a common man (not a god) who is torn between forces and who inevitably becomes a victim

Tragic Flaw
the serious flaw that leads to the tragic heroes downfall and death

when a concealed character hears the words or sees the actions of another character.

is the presentation of material in a work in such a way that later events are prepared for.

Foreshadowing can result from the establishment of a mood or atmosphere.

a device which presents scenes or incidents that occurred prior to the opening scene of the work.

is a song or poem expressing sorrow or lamentation, especially for one who is dead.

is the quality in something experienced or observed which arouses feeling of pity, sorrow, sympathy, or compassion.

a play on words based upon the similarity of sound between two words which convey different meaning

is usually a play, based on a romantic plot and developed sensationally, with little regard for motivation and with an excessive appeal to the emotions of the audience.

(dramatic structure) Introduction
provides exposition. It creates tone, defines setting and introduces characters. Introduction is the background information essential to understanding the play.

(dramatic structure) Complication
the rising action; the building of tension caused by the conflict of opposing interests. The complication peaks at the moment of crisis.

(dramatic structure) Climax
the peak of action and emotional intensity. From this zenith, action and intensity must necessarily decline, so the climax is sometimes referred to as the turning point.

(dramatic structure) Falling Action
stresses action from the forces opposing the protagonist. Suspense must be maintained while action moves swiftly and logically toward the disaster, the tragedy.

(dramatic structure) Catastrophe
the moment marking the hero’s tragic failure, often manifested by his death.

This moment of tragedy satisfies the audience in its logical conformity to the order of events and in the mobility of the dying hero.

figure in which a similarity between two objects id directly expressed usually using “like” or “as.”

An implied analogy identifying one object with another and ascribing to the first object one or more of the qualities of the second.

the use of exaggeration for the sake of emphasis

A figure that endows animals, ideas, abstractions, and inanimate objects with human form; the representing of imaginary creatures or things as having human personalities, intelligence, and emotions.

juxtaposing two words with opposite meaning

An apparently self-contradictory statement, the underlying meaning of which is revealed only careful scrutiny. The purpose of a paradox is to arrest attention and provoke free thought.

Orwell’s Animal Farm, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than other.”

The substitution of a term naming an object closely associated with the word in mind for the word itself

is addressing someone or something as though they are there, but they are not.

is the repetition of an initial consonant sound.

is the repetition of consonant sounds anywhere in a group of words.

the repetition of vowel sounds.

is a trope in which a part signifies the whole or the whole signifies the part.

is a form of an understatement in which a thing is affirmed by stating the negative of its opposite.

is a rhetorical device in which irreconcilable opposites or strongly contrasting ideas are placed in sharp juxtaposition and sustained tension, as in the phrase “they promised freedom and provided slavery.” “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.” – Shakespeare

Poetry Scansion
the analysis of patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables to establish the metrical or rhythmical pattern of a poem.

two lines of verse that rhyme

a three line stanza or is three lines of verse within a larger unit that usually rhymes.

four rhymed lines. The rhyme takes various forms: a-a-a-a, a-b-a-b, a-a-b-b, a-b-a-c.

five line stanza that may have any one of several rhyme schemes.

six line stanza. It is sometimes used to refer to the last six lines of a sonnet.

a seven line stanza.

an eight line stanza. It has numerous possibilities for different rhyme schemes. It is often used to refer to the first eight lines of a sonnet.

Iambic Pentameter
is a line of poetry that contains five feet per line and two syllables per foot. The second syllable is always stressed.

Blank Verse
consists of lines of iambic pentameter without end rhyme.

Free Verse
consists of lines that do not have a regular meter and do not contain rhyme.

is the pattern of stress and unstressed syllables established in a line of poetry. The stressed (‘) syllable is also called the accented or long syllable.

The unstressed (?) syllable is also called the unaccented or short syllable. In determining the meter, the position in the metrical pattern, and other linguistics factors should be considered. In identifying the meter of a line of verse, the type and the number of feet are considered.

one foot.line

two foot line

three foot line

four foot line

five foot line

six foot line

seven foot line

eight foot line

is a unit of measure. A metrical foot can have two or three syllables. A foot consists generally of one stressed and one or more unstressed syllables. A line may have one foot, two feet, etc.

Poetic lines are classified according to the number of feet in a line.

a two syllable foot with the stress on the second syllable. be low, de light, a muse

foot consists of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable ne ver, ga ther, hap py

foot consists of three syllables with the stress on the last syllable. cav a lier,

foot contains three syllables with the stress on the first syllable

foot consists of two stressed syllables. Compound words are examples of spondees. Spondees are used for variation.

foot consists of two unstressed syllables. This type of foot is rare and is found interspersed with other feet.

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