Literary and Rhetorical Devices ALL

1st Person Point of View:
a main character tells the story using “I”.

3rd Person Point of View
a voice outside the story tells the story.

Allegory
a story with two or more meanings; one serious meaning and one or more underlying or symbolic meanings. Characters and settings usually represent ideas or qualities.

Alliteration
the repetition of beginning consonant sounds in two or more words in a row. (EX: “Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”)

Allusion
a religious or historical reference in a piece of literature. (EX: the mention of a biblical character or bible verse or a historical occurrence, such as President Kennedy’s assassination or the Civil War)

analogy
a comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification.

Anaphora
the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses

anecdote
a very brief story told to teach a lesson or show an example

Antagonist
the character against the protagonist; sometimes referred to as the villain or bad guy

Archetype
a descriptive detail, plot pattern, character type, or theme that occurs repeatedly in many different cultures. (EX: the battle between the forces of good and evil, doomed love, sacrifice)

Argumentation/Persuasion
___________ is concerned primarily with reaching conclusions through logical reasoning based on certain premises. This science is often the means by which people protect their beliefs or self-interests in rational dialogue. ___________ is also applied in law, such as court trials, preparing an argument, and to test the validity of certain kinds of evidence. __________ is a form of influence. It is the process of guiding people toward the adoption of an idea, attitude, or action by rational and symbolic (though not only logical) means. It is a problem-solving strategy, and relies on “appeals” rather than force. ___________ is meant to benefit one or more parties in the end.

Aside
when an actor onstage speaks to the audience without the other actors onstage being able to hear what is said. (EX: On the television show “Saved by the Bell,” Zac Morris always talks to the audience without his friends being aware of it.)

Assonance
the repeating of vowel sounds at the beginning or ends of words. (EX: “From the molten-golden notes.”)

Autobiography
a person’s account of his or her own life; a person tells his or her own life story. (EX: My Life by Mike Shaw)

Ballad
a love poem.

Biography
a true account of a person’s life that is written by someone else. (EX: The Life and Times of Jimmy Carter by Robert Mitchell)

Blank Verse
poetry written in UN-rhymed iambic pentameter; poetry that does not rhyme and has 10 beats per line. (Shakespeare used this verse pattern often.)

Catharsis
the emotional effect a tragic drama has on its audience; literally the relief or exaltation the playgoers experience

Character
the person, animal, or thing that acts in the course of a story.

Characterization
the writer creating and developing a character.

cliché
“a saying, phrase, or idea that that has become overly familiar or commonplace

climax
the point of highest dramatic tension or a major turning point in the action (as of a play)

Colloquial/Colloquialism
term identifying the diction of the common, ordinary folks, especially in a specific region or area. For instance, -most people expect Southerners to use the colloquial expression, gall” to engage the attention of a group of people

comedy
a story that ends happily. (EX: Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

comic relief
a break from the main action in a play; less serious. (EX: Mercutio’s ramblings and exploits as he talks about his dreams and makes fun of others in Romeo and Juliet)

conflict
struggle between two opposing forces

connotation
an association that comes along with a particular word. Connotations relate not to a word’s actual meaning, but rather to the ideas or qualities that are implied by that word. (EX: the word “gold.” The connotations are the ideas associated with gold, such as greed, luxury, or avarice.)

couplet
two lines of poetry that rhyme—two lines of poetry in a row.

denotation
the exact meaning of a word, without the feelings or suggestions that the word may imply; allows the reader to know the exact meaning of a word so that he or she will better understand literature. (EX: The denotation of gold is a malleable, ductile, yellow element.)

denouement
the resolution of a story plot—the solution or end.

didactic poetry
poetry intended to teach a lesson.

dialect
a way of speaking that is characteristic of a particular region group of people. (EX: southern dialect—”holler,” “ya’ll,” “reckon”) Also see: Colloquial.

dialogue
conversation between two or more people in a story.

diction
an author’s choice of words. (EX: Langston Hughes’ poem “A Dream Deferred”)

direct characterization
when the writer plainly states a character’s traits. (Mary is kind.)

drama
a play or a piece written for performance (EX: Romeo and Juliet)

dramatic irony
when the reader knows something that the characters do not know

dynamic character
a character who changes and grows throughout the story. (In the short story “The Scarlet Ibis,” Brother changes the way he feels about his younger brother Doodle.)

elegy
a poem that mourns the death of a person or the loss of something. (Think of a eulogy.)

epic
long narrative poem that tells the adventures of a larger-than-life hero. (The Odyssey)

epic (Homeric) simile
an extended simile often running to several lines, used typically in epic poetry to intensify the heroic stature of the subject and to serve as decoration

Epistrophe
(also called antistrophe) forms the counterpart to anaphora, because the repetition of the same word or words comes at the end of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences: “Where affections bear rule, there reason is subdued, honesty is subdued, good will is subdued, and all things else that withstand evil, for ever are subdued.” –Wilson

epic hero
Where affections bear rule, there reason is subdued, honesty is subdued, good will is subdued, and all things else that withstand evil, for ever are subdued. –Wilson

epithet
an adjective or descriptive phrase that is used to describe a person, place, or thing. (EX: “Honest Abe” is an epithet for President Lincoln.)

essay
short piece of nonfiction that examines a single subject from a limited point of view. Essays are either personal (sometimes called informal because they reveal a great deal about the writer’s personality) or formal (serious and impersonal, supported by facts).

ethos
appeal to ethics or sense of responsibility or respect

exposition
introduction in which the setting (time, place, mood) and the characters are discovered; sometimes some conflict is also shown

external conflict
a struggle with an outside force. (EX: man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. society)

fable
short, simple tale that teaches a lesson; often uses animals as characters.

fact/opinion
a ______ is something that can be proved (The earth is round). An _______ is something that cannot be proved, but can be supported (Mrs. Holloway is a hottie).

falling action
the detangling of the conflict within a story or play

Farce
a foolish show or a ridiculous sham. Also, a light, humorous play in which the plot depends upon a carefully exploited situation rather than upon character development. Farce is usually considered to be a boisterous comedy involving ludicrous action and dialogue which is intended to excite laughter through exaggeration and extravagance rather than by a realistic imitation of life

fantasy
highly imaginative writing that contains elements not found in real life; breaks away from reality (EX: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings)

fiction
a particular genre; literature that is not true and did not really happen.

figurative language
is language that is not meant to be taken seriously (EX: It is raining cats and dogs.)

flashback
an interruption in a story’s sequence of events to show an event that happened at an earlier time in the story. (When the narrator thinks back to childhood, like in “The Scarlet Ibis”.)

flat character
a simple character showing only one or two traits. (Ivan in “The Most Dangerous Game” is described as deaf and dumb.)

foil character
a character who serves as a contrast or opposite to another character.

foreshadowing
using hints or clues to suggest what will happen later in a story.

frame story
the telling of a story within the frame of another story. (EX: In a story plot, a character may tell another story, such as a story about an event from their childhood).

free verse
poetry that does not have a regular meter or rhyme scheme; poetry that does not have a regular beat nor does it rhyme.

genre
a certain type or category of literature. (Includes short story, novel, autobiography, biography, nonfiction, fiction, poetry, etc.)

hero/heroine
the main character whose actions are inspiring or noble.

Hubris
arrogant, excessive self-pride or self-confidence, a lack of some important perception or insight due to pride in one’s abilities which leads to one’s downfall

hyperbole
a figure of speech that uses exaggeration to express strong emotion or to create a comic effect; overstatement. (EX: I’ve told you a thousand times!)

iambic pentameter
a line of poetry that has exactly 10 beats (syllables).
(EX: I never thought that I would find true love.)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

imagery
descriptive language that appeals to the 5 senses; descriptive words that create pictures in the reader’s mind. (EX: We heard the roar of the ocean on the wintry shore.)

imaginative language
is language that is vivid and descriptive; it puts pictures in the reader’s mind (EX: The unicorn was white with a silver horn and wings.)

in Media Res
a Greek phrase meaning to begin “in the middle of things.” (EX: in The Odyssey, the story starts right in the middle of the plot. It does not start at the beginning and move in chronological order.)

indirect characterization
when the writer reveals a character’s traits through another means besides directly stating them. (Mary always thought she was a kind girl.)

internal conflict
a struggle within oneself. (EX: man vs. himself)

inversion
when words are arranged in an awkward or backward sequence in poetry. (EX: “At silent night when rest I took” instead of “At silent night when I took rest”).

irony
a contrast between what is expected to happen in a story and what actually does happen.

journal
a daily record of events kept by an individual; usually less intimate than diaries. (EX: food journal, exercise log))

legend
a widely told story of the past that may or may not be true. (EX: Payne Road or the ghost story about the woman hitchhiking who never makes it home)

limited 3rd person point of view
a character other than the main character tells the story using “he,” “she,” and “they”.

literal language
is language that is meant to be taken “literally”; it should be taken seriously or for face value (EX: It is cold outside. It is stuffy in here.)

Litotes
a particular form of understatement, is generated by denying the opposite or contrary of the word which otherwise would be used. Depending on the tone and context of the usage, litotes either retains the effect of understatement, or becomes an intensifying expression: “Heat waves are NOT RARE during the summer” rather than “are COMMON”

logos
appeal to logical or law

lyric
a brief poem strongly marked by imagination.

lyrical poetry
a brief poem that is song-like; poetry that expresses a person’s personal feelings.

main idea/supporting details
a _______ is the central subject or theme being discussed. In writing, a ______ quickly introduces the reader to the topic of a written piece. ________ are the ideas and information that provide a basic framework for the ______. These details help prove or defend the ________.

memoir
a narrative composed from personal experience

metaphor
figure of speech that compares 2 things without using “like” or “as”. (EX: “Life is a dream,” “Life is a hard road.”)

meter
measurement of the beat of a poem; unit used to count the syllables in a poem.

monologue
a long speech given by an actor who is in the presence of other actors onstage. (EX: the Prince’s speech at the very end of Romeo and Juliet)

Motif
Recurrent device, formula, or situation that often serves as a signal for the appearance of

mood/atmosphere
a character or event

narration
the kind of writing or speaking that tells a story. (The action of telling a story.)

narrative
writing that tells a story, moving from event to event. (the story)

narrative poem
a poem that tells a story.

narrator
the storyteller. (who tells the story)

non-fiction
a particular genre; literature about real people and events in real life. (EX: essays, autobiographies, biographies, journals, etc.)

novel
a particular genre; a book.

novella
a work of fiction similar in plot difficulty to a short story; length is longer than a short story but shorter than a novel.

omniscient point of view
the storyteller shows a knowledge to the internal thoughts of all of the characters; an all-knowing narrator.

onomatopoeia
use of a word whose sound imitates or suggests its meaning. (EX: buzz, crackle, pop, fizz, click, zoom, chirp)

oral transition
the passing of songs, poems, and stories from generation to generation by word of mouth.

oration
a formal speech intended to inspire its listeners and incite them to action. (EX: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech was an oration.)

oxymoron
a figure of speech that combines opposite and contradictory ideas and words. (EX: sweet sorrow, jumbo shrimp, wise fool)

parable
an illustrative story answering a question or pointing to a moral or religious lesson. (EX: stories from The Bible told by Jesus)

Paradox
a statement that seems to be a contradiction but reveals a truth. (EX: “In weakness, there is strength.” “You sometimes have to be cruel to be kind.”)

parallelism
the repeating of phrases or sentences that are similar in meaning. (EX: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”)

pastoral
(Latin pastor, “shepherd”): An artistic composition dealing with the life of shepherds or with a simple, rural existence.

parody
a humorous mocking of another, usually serious work. (EX: Not Another Teen Movie)

pathos
appeal to feeling or emotion

personification
a figure of speech which gives animals, ideas, and inanimate objects human qualities. (EX: The chair danced across the room. The flower smiled at the sun.)

plot
the sequence of events in literature.

poetic justice
a literary device in which good is ultimately rewarded or bad punished, often in modern literature by an ironic twist of fate intimately related to the character’s own conduct.

poetry
language arranged in rhymes with rhythm. (shape=the way a poem looks; language=rhyme, rhythm, figures of speech; speaker=the “voice” of the poem; theme=the poet’s main concern; mood=the emotion you feel when reading a poem.)

point of view
perspective from which a story is told; through whose eyes the story is seen.

prologue
introduction, usually to a play. (Romeo and Juliet)

prose
all forms of writing other than poetry.

protagonist
the main character in a story; sometimes referred to as the hero or good guy.

pun
a play on words in which one word will have more than one meaning. (EX: We told the man, and the man tolled the bell.)

quest
the pursuit of something or someone through a series of adventures or trials. (EX: Odysseus went on a quest to fight in the Trojan war for ten years and then spent ten years trying to return home to his family.)

quatrain
a group of four lines in a poem.

refrain
repeating lines or words or phrases—usually in a song.

repetition
the repeating of a word or phrase for importance.

resolution
the final action in a play or story that ends the action or implies a part two

Rhetoric
the art of speaking or writing effectively

rhyme scheme
poem’s pattern of end rhymes labeled by letters. Roses are red, A / Violets are blue, B /Kissy, kissy Ted, A /I love you. B

rhythm
the beat of a poem—arrangement of syllables in a pattern.

rising action
the intensification of the conflict

round character
a complex character with many character traits and qualities.

Satire
artistic form, chiefly literary and dramatic, in which individual shortcomings are used to ridicule or show irony, sometimes with an intent to bring about improvement.

setting
the time period, place, and surroundings a story takes place.

short story
a particular genre; a brief, fictional narrative that can be read in one sitting (EX: “The Sniper,” “The Scarlet Ibis,” “The Most Dangerous Game”)

simile
figure of speech that compares 2 or more things while using “like” or “as”. (EX: She sings like a bird. He is as handsome as Robert Redford.)

situational irony
when something happens that contradicts the expectations of the reader or characters; a character does something ironic.

soliloquy
an extended speech given by an actor who is thinking aloud onstage. (EX: The balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet in which Juliet is talking to herself about Romeo.)

sonnet
poem that has exactly 14 lines and 10 beats per line. (Shakespeare wrote many sonnets.)

stage directions
the information in a play about costumes, lighting, scenery, props, setting, or characters’ movements, speech, and motivation.

stanza
grouping of 2 or more lines in a poem—a verse of poetry.

static character
a character who does not change much over the course of a story.

stereotype
an opinion held in common by members of a particular group that represents a prejudiced attitude or judgment. (Teenagers are lazy and rude. Elders are boring and bossy.)

style
an author’s way of writing; (EX: using long sentences that resemble paragraphs; using short, concise sentences; using outdated, turn of the century language, etc.)

suspense
the uncertainty, anxiety, or growing curiosity a reader feels about what will happen next in a story.

symbol/symbolism
______refers to a person, place, thing or event that means one thing but stands for something bigger. (EX: a white dove=peace) _________ refers to using objects that stand for something bigger than themselves. (An example of ________ is found in the novel The Scarlet Letter with the use of the letter A to stand for adultery.)

Syntax
the way in which linguistic elements (as words) are put together to form constituents (as phrases or clauses)

theme
the essential meaning or central idea of a story; lesson about life learned from a story. Not all stories have a theme (moral).

tone
the attitude a writer takes toward the reader, a subject, or a character; (may be serious, humorous, bitter, ironic, condescending, etc.)

tragedy
a story or play that results in an unhappy ending; the downfall or destruction of a noble or outstanding character; treated very seriously. (EX: the main character is killed, has a great loss, or is isolated from society)

tragic flaw
a character’s error in judgment or personality failure that causes that character’s downfall.

tragic hero
a character of great importance whose life, whether through circumstance or choice is caught up in events that lead to disaster.

verbal irony
when the writer writes one thing and means another.

vignette
a short descriptive literary sketch