Literary Terms EOC

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Last updated: May 7, 2019
the series of related actions or events in a literary work

the arrangement of events in a literary work

struggle between opposing forces; any problem that must be solved

internal and external
the two major types of conflict

internal conflict
a problem or struggle within a character

external conflict
a problem or struggle between a character and someone or something outside of the character

establishes the setting, identifies the characters, introduces the basic situation (problem may be revealed here)

initiating incident
introduces the central conflict (sometimes it occurs before the opening of the story)

rising action
any events leading up to the climax

the point of highest interest, the conflict must be resolved one way or another or a character begins to take action to end the conflict

falling action
events that occur between the climax and the conclusion

the story’s end

the time and place of the story (where and when it takes place)

the quality of the story that makes the reader curious and excited about what will happen next

an author’s use of hints or clues to suggest events that will occur later in the story

presents events of the past in the midst of a story in the present

the feeling created in a reader by a literary work or passage

the attitude toward the subject and audience conveyed by the language and rhythm of the speaker in a literary work

a person or animal who takes part in the action of a literary work

the main character in a literary work

a character or force in conflict with the main character

round character
this character is fully developed – the writer reveals good and bad traits as well as background

flat character
this character seems to possess only one or two personality traits – little or no background is revealed

dynamic character
this character changes as a result of the action in the story

static character
this character stays the same throughout the story

one of the qualities that makes up a character’s personality

character motivation
a reason that explains, or partially explains a character’s thoughts, feelings, actions or speech

conversation between characters

a form of language spoken by people in a particular region or group

the special words or terms used by the members of a particular profession or class

an informal, often short-lived kind of language used in place of standard words

informal language
the language of everyday speech, may use contractions and slang

formal language
the standard language of written communication, formal speeches, and presentations; may not use contractions or slang

the speaker or character who tells the story

point of view
the relationship between the narrator and the story he/she is telling – the perspective from which the story is told

the ordinary form of writing; most writing that is not poetry, drama, or song

prose writing that tells about imaginary characters and events

prose writing that presents and explains ideas about real people, places, objects or events

highly imaginative writing that has elements not found in real life

a form of nonfiction in which a writer tells the life story of another person

a form of nonfiction in which a writer tells his or her own life story

a division or type of literature – generally prose, poetry or drama

the message, central concern, or insight into life revealed in a literary work

a fixed, generalized idea about a character, place, or situation

anything that stands for or represents something else

a reference to a well-known person, place, event, literary work, or work of art

the general name given to literary techniques that involve surprising, interesting, or amusing contradictions

verbal irony
words are used to suggest the opposite of their usual meaning or contradict their usual meaning

situational irony
an event occurs that directly contradicts the expectations of the character, the reader, or the audience (a surprise twist)

dramatic irony
a contradiction between what a character thinks and what the reader or audience knows to be true (we, the audience, know more than the character/s)

an inoffensive word or term used in place of another that is felt to be offensive

an expression having a special meaning different from the usual meanings of the words (example – "hit the road")

figurative language
writing or speech that is not meant to be taken literally

figures of speech
types of figurative language

a figure of speech that makes a direct comparison between two unlike subjects using like or as

a figure of speech that makes an indirect comparison between two unlike subjects (something is described as if it were something else)

a figure of speech that is an exaggeration for effect

a figure of speech in which a non-human subject is given human characteristics

the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words

the use of words that imitate sounds

a division of poetry similar to a paragraph in prose

a regularly repeated line or group of lines in a poem or song

author’s purpose
the author’s intent either to inform/teach, to entertain, or to persuade/convince the audience

the fluency, rhythm and liveliness in writing that makes it unique to the writer

literary tone used to ridicule or make fun of human vice or weakness

primary source
text that tells a first-hand account of an event; original works used when researching (letters, journals)

secondary source
text used when researching that is derived from something original (biographies, magazine articles)

text structure
the author’s method of organizing text

understanding gained by “reading between the lines;” a judgment based on reasoning rather than direct statement

a word or group of words in a literary work which appeal to one or more of the senses: sight, taste, touch, hearing, and smell

a short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person

blank verse
is a poem with no rhyme but does have iambic pentameter. This means it consists of lines of five feet, each foot being iambic, meaning two syllables long, one stressed followed by an unstressed

character flaws
a limitation, imperfection, problem, phobia, or deficiency present in a character who may be otherwise very functional. The flaw can be a problem that directly affects the character’s actions and abilities, such as a violent temper

the literal or primary meaning of a word

the emotions and associations connected to a word

iterary device, in which parts of the sentence are grammatically the same, or are similar in construction

appositive phrease
is a noun, a noun phrase, or a noun clause which sits next to another noun to rename it or to describe it in another way

participle phrase
A word group consisting of a present participle (also known as an -ing form) or past participle (also known as an -en form), plus any modifiers, objects, and complements

infinitive phrase
the infinitive form of a verb plus any complements and modifiers, the complement of an infinitive verb will often be its direct object, and the modifier will often be an adverb

comic relief
comic episodes in a dramatic or literary work that offset more serious sections

unheard by other characters, one who speaks their thoughts aloud regardless of any hearers

heard by other characters, a long speech in a play act or movie

remark or passage by a character in a play that is meant for the audience but unheard by the other characters in the play

in what way are a soliloquy and an aside similar?
both appear in all dramatic works

which answer choice best defines Shakespearean tragedy?
a Shakespearean tragedy is a play in which the main character is a noble figure who suffers a dramatic reversal of fortune

which answer choice offers the best definition of tragic flaw in Shakespearean tragedy?
a character trait that motivates the hero to make choices that lead to his downfall

in Shakespearean tragedy, which elements contribute most to the downfall of the tragic hero?
character flaws rather than fate

which literary elements does Shakespeare sometimes use to lighten the mood of a play?
foils and dramatic irony

what is the meaning of the Latin prefix trans-?
across; over; through

what is the meaning of the Latin prefix en-?
in, into, within

what is the meaning of the Latin root -loque-?

what is the meaning of the Latin suffix -able?
like, capable of being

what is the meaning of the Latin prefix ambi-?

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