A work with two levels of meaning – a literal one and a symbolic one. It is often used to express generalizations about human existence and teach religious or moral lessons
This is the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words: “He cannot walk; his wings are in the way.”
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A passing reference to historical or fictional characters the author assumes the reader will recognize (biblical, Shakespearean, etc.
The character or force against which the main character is pitted.
A figure of speech in which opposing or contrasting ideas are balanced against each other in a grammatically parallel syntax.
A calling out to an imaginary, dead or absent person, or to a place, thing, or personified abstraction either to begin a poem or to make a dramatic break in thought somewhere within the poem
A pattern or model of an action, a character type, or an image that recurs consistently enough in life and literature to be considered universal.
This is the repetition of a vowel sound within non-rhyming words. High and mighty is an example of this.
A Latin phrase that means “seize the day” which is a consistent motif in literature, especially lyric poems
Main, minor, dynamic, and static are the types of this literary device.
Physical descriptions, nature via self, nature via others, nature via narrator are the four basic methods used by writers to develop the techniques of this literary device.
In tragedy or other serious work, a humorous incident, action, or remark that relieves emotional tension.
The particular associations, images, or feelings evoked by a word.
This is the repetition of consonant sounds within and at the ends of words, as in “last but not least” and “a stroke of luck.”
Two consecutive lines of poetry that rhyme and that are written in the same meter or pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables.
The literal or dictionary meaning of a word.
The facts revealed by the author or speaker that support the attitude or tone in a piece of poetry or prose.
A writer’s choice of words, a significant component of style, including how the writer uses and arranges words.
A long narrative poem presented in an elevated or formal style that follows the adventures of a great hero.
A moment of revelation or profound insight.
An adjective or adjective phrase applied to a person or thing to emphasize a characteristic or quality.
This is a comparison between to things that are essentially unlike but is continued and developed through several lines or even an entire work.
This communicates ideas beyond the literal meaning of words, and creates an impression in the mind of the reader.
An account of a conversation, an episode, or an event that happened before the beginning of the story.
A character who provides a striking contrast to another character so as to point out the traits of the more important character of the two.
A writer’s use of hints or clues to indicate events that will occur later in a narrative.
The error, misstep, frailty or flaw that causes the downfall of a tragic hero. Also sometimes called the “tragic flaw”.
A central character that possesses both good and bad qualities, and may be characterized as tragic, quest, or cultural.
The Greek word for pride. This is often the Hamartia, or tragic flaw of many Greek heroes.
A figure of speech in which the truth is exaggerated for emphasis or for humorous effect. Example: “I am so hungry I could eat a horse!”
This describes words and phrases that re-create vivid sensory experiences in the reader, usually, but not limited to, the visual.
A general conclusion drawn from particulars, such as understanding characters based on what they do or say.
A contrast between what is expected and what actually exists or happens. There are three types: situational, verbal, and dramatic.
A comic substitution of one word for another similar in sound but quite different in meaning.
A short, memorable, and pithy statement that expresses a general truth or rule of conduct.
A figure of speech that makes a direct comparison between two things that are basically unlike but have something in common.
The feeling or atmosphere that a writer creates for the reader.
A recurring image, word, phrase, action, idea, object, or situation that appears in various works or throughout the same work.
The psychological and moral impulses and external circumstances that cause a character to act, think, or feel a certain way.
The telling of a story; the recounting of an incident or a series of incidents.
This is the process of creating or using words that imitate sounds. The buzz of a bee is an example of this.
A figure of speech in which two contradictory words or phrases are combined in a single expression, giving the effect of a condensed paradox: “wise fool.
A statement that seems to contradict itself but, in fact, reveals some element of truth and may point to a higher level of understanding.
A figure of speech in which human qualities are attributed to an object, animal, or idea.
The sequence of actions and events in a story, most include these stages: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
A language arranged in lines, more compressed than prose, may include rhyme, rhythm, meter, and imagery.
Point of View
A narrative method, most commonly first person, third person omniscient, and third person limited.
Generally refers to all forms of written or spoken expressions that are organized and lack regular rhythmic patterns.
The study of sound and rhythm in poetry.
The central character in a story.
A form of wit, usually funny, involving a play on a word with two or more meanings.
A technique in which a sound, word, phrase, or line is repeated for emphasis, to reinforce meaning, and to create an appealing rhythm.
This describes when the sounds of an accented vowel of a word and all succeeding sound are identical, as in tether and together.
The use of verbal irony in which a person appears to be praising something but is actually insulting it.
A literary technique in which ideas, customs, behaviors, or institutions are ridiculed for the purpose of improving society.
The time and place of the action of a short story, novel, play, narrative poem, or nonfiction narrative.
Refers to a change or movement in a piece resulting from an epiphany, realization, or insight gained by the speaker, a character, or the reader.
A figure of speech that compares two things that are basically unlike yet having something in common, and states this through the use of the work like or as.
In a dramatic work, a speech in which a character speaks his or her thoughts aloud and usually while on the stage alone.
A lyric poem of 14 lines. The Shakespearean is one type of this poem.
The general term that includes the following techniques: rhyme, assonance, consonance, alliteration, and onomatopoeia.
This is a group of lines that form a unit in a poem.
This is the way in which the parts of a work of literature are put together, such as the arrangement of words, lines, chapters, etc.
This is the particular way in which a piece of literature is written; not what is said but how it is said. With each writer, this is unique
This is the tension or excitement readers feel as they are drawn into a story and become increasingly eager to learn the outcome.
A person, place, object, or activity that represents something beyond itself. Example: night represents death.
The arrangement of words and the order of grammatical elements in a sentence.
The central idea or message in a work of literature, but not to be confused with the subject.
This is a perception about life or human nature. Sometimes this is directly stated, and sometimes implied.
This is an expression of a writer’s attitude toward a subject.
The technique of creating emphasis by saying less than is actually or literally true, and is the opposite of hyperbole