SAT II Literature Terms

Topics: ArtSymbolism

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Last updated: April 24, 2019

accent
the stressed portion of a word

allegory
an extended narrative in prose or verse in which characters,events, and settings represent abstract qualities and in which thewriter intends a second meaning to be read beneath the surface story;the underlying meaning may be moral, religious, political, social, orsatiric

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alliteration
the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning ofwords that are close to one another; for example, “beautiful blossomsblooming between the bushes”

allusion
a reference to another work or famous figure assumed tobe well known enough to be recognized by the reader

anachronism
an event, object, custom, person, or thing that is outof order in time; some anachronisms are unintentional, such as whenan actor performing Shakespeare forgets to take off his watch; othersare deliberately used to achieve a humorous or satiric effect, such asthe sustained anachronism of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee inKing Arthur’s Court

analogy
a comparison of two similar but different things, usually toclarify an action or a relationship, such as comparing the work of aheart to that of a pump

anaphora
specific type of repetition; word, phrase, or clauserepeated at the beginning of two or more sentences in a row

anecdote
a short, simple narrative of an incident

aphorism
a short, often witty statement of a principle or a truthabout life

apostrophe
usually in poetry (not grammar, but sometimes inprose), the device of calling out to an imaginary, dead, or absentperson or to a place, thing, or personified abstraction either to begina poem or to make a dramatic break in thought somewhere withinthe poem

argumentation
writing that attempts to prove the validity of a pointof view or an idea by presenting reasoned arguments; persuasive writing is a form of argumentation

aside
a brief speech or comment that an actor makes to the audience,supposedly without being heard by the other actors on stage;often used for melodramatic or comedic effect

assonance
the repetition of vowel sounds between differentconsonants, such as in neigh/fade

authority
support for an argument that is based on recognizedexperts in the field

ballad
a long narrative poem that presents a single dramatic episode,which is often tragic or violent; the two types of ballads are:

folk ballad
one of the earliest forms of literature, a folkballad was usually sung and was passed down orally fromsinger to singer; its author (if a single author) is generallyunknown, and its form and melody often changed accordingto a singer’s preference

literary ballad
also called an art ballad, this is a ballad thatimitates the form and spirit of the folk ballad but is morepolished and uses a higher level of poetic diction

blank verse
poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter, afavorite form of Shakespeare

burlesque
broad parody; whereas a parody will imitate and exaggeratea specific work, such as Romeo and Juliet, a burlesque will takean entire style or form, such as pastoral poetry, and exaggerate it intoridiculousness

cacophony
harsh, awkward, or dissonant sounds used deliberatelyin poetry or prose; the opposite of euphony

caricature
descriptive writing that greatly exaggerates a specificfeature of appearance or a facet of personality

catharsis
the emotional release that an audience member experiencesas a result of watching a tragedy

chorus
in Greek drama, a group of characters who comments onthe action taking place on stage

classicism
the principles and styles admired in the classics of Greekand Roman literature, such as objectivity, sensibility, restraint, andformality

colloquialism
a word or phrase used in everyday conversation andinformal writing, but that is sometimes inappropriate in formal writing

conceit
an elaborate figure of speech in which two seeminglydissimilar things or situations are compared

connotation
implied or suggested meaning of a word because of anassociation in the reader’s mind

consonance
the repetition of identical consonant sounds before andafter different vowel sounds, as in boost/best; can also be seen withinseveral compound words, such as fulfill and Ping-Pong

conundrum
a riddle whose answer is or involves a pun; may alsobe a paradox or difficult problem

denotation
literal meaning of a word as defined

description
the picturing in words of something or someonethrough detailed observation of color, motion, sound, taste, smell,and touch; one of the four modes of discourse

diction
word choice

discourse
spoken or written language, including literary works; thefour traditionally classified modes of discourse are description, exposition, narration, and persuasion

dissonance
the grating of sounds that are harsh or do not gotogether

elegy
a formal poem focusing on death or mortality, usually beginningwith the recent death of a particular person

end rhyme
a rhyme that comes at the end of lines of poetry; forexample-Her voice, soft and lovely when she sings,Came to me last night in a dream.In my head her voice still rings,How pleasant last night must seem.

epic
a long narrative poem about a serious or profound subject in adignified style; usually featuring heroic characters and deeds importantin legends, two famous examples include the Iliad and theOdyssey, both written by the Greek poet Homer

epigram
a concise, witty saying in poetry or prose that either standsalone or is part of a larger work; may also refer to a short poem ofthis type

euphony
a succession of harmonious sounds used in poetry orprose; the opposite of cacophony

exemplum
a brief tale used in medieval times to illustrate a sermonor teach a lesson

exposition
the immediate revelation to the audience of the settingand other background information necessary for understanding theplot; also, explanation; one of the four modes of discourse

expressive
another name for descriptive writing

farce
a light, dramatic composition characterized by broad satiricalcomedy and a highly improbable plot

figurative language
language that contains figures of speech suchas similes and metaphors in order to create associations that areimaginative rather than literal; also figures of sound

figures of sound
expressions that create aural images

figures of speech
expressions such as similes, metaphors, andpersonifications that make imaginative, rather than literal, comparisonsor associations

foil
a character who, by contrast, highlights the characteristics ofanother character

folklore
traditional stories, songs, dances, and customs that arepreserved among a people; folklore usually precedes literature, beingpassed down orally between generations until recorded by scholars

foot
the combination of stressed and unstressed syllables that makesup the basic rhythmic unit of a line of poetry; common poetic feetinclude

anapest
two unstressed followed by one stressed syllable, asin in-ter-rupt

dactyl
one stressed followed by two unstressed syllables, asin beau-ti-ful

iamb
one unstressed followed by one stressed syllable, as indis-turb

spondee
two successive stressed syllables, as in hodge-podge

trochee
one stressed followed by one unstressed syllable, asin in-jure and con-stant

foreshadowing
the use of a hint or clue to suggest a larger eventthat occurs later in the work

free verse
poetry that is written without a regular meter, usuallywithout rhyme

genre
a type of literary work, such as a novel or poem; there arealso subgenres, such as science fiction novel and sonnet, within thelarger genres

gothic
referring to a type of novel that emerged in the eighteenthcentury that uses mystery, suspense, and sensational and supernaturaloccurrences to evoke terror

hubris
the excessive pride or ambition that leads a tragic hero todisregard warnings of impending doom, eventually causing his or herdownfall

humor
anything that causes laughter or amusement; up until theend of the Renaissance, humor meant a person’s temperament

hyperbole
deliberate exaggeration in order to create humor oremphasis; overstatement

idyll
a short descriptive narrative, usually a poem, about an idealizedcountry life; also called a pastoral

imagery
words or phrases that use a collection of images to appealto one or more of the five senses in order to create a mental picture

informative
another name for expository writing

interior monologue
writing that records the talking that occursinside a character’s head

internal rhyme
a rhyme occurring within a line of poetry, as inEdgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”-Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

inversion
reversing the customary order of elements in a sentenceor phrase; used effectively in many cases, such as posing a question:”Are you going to the store?”; often used ineffectively in poetry,making it look artificial and stilted: “To the hounds she rode, with herflags behind her streaming”

irony
a situation or statement in which the actual outcome ormeaning is opposite to what was expected

loose sentence
a sentence that is grammatically complete before itsend, such as “Thalia played the violin with an intensity never beforeseen in a high school music class”; the sentence is grammaticallycomplete after the word violin

lyric
a type of melodious, imaginative, and subjective poetry that isusually short and personal, expressing the thoughts and feelings of asingle speaker rather than telling a story

maxim
statement of a general truth

metaphor
a figure of speech in which one thing is referred to asanother; for example, “my love is a fragile flower”

meter
the repetition of a regular rhythmic unit in a line of poetry;meters found in poetry include

monometer
one foot (rare)

dimeter
two feet (rare)

trimeter
three feet

tetrameter
four feet

pentameter
five feet

hexameter
six feet

heptameter
seven feet (rare)

metonymy
a figure of speech that uses the name of an object,person, or idea to represent something with which it is associated,such as using “the crown” to refer to a monarch

mode
the method or form of a literary work; a manner in which awork of literature is written

mood
similar to tone, mood is the primary emotional attitude of awork

motif
main theme or subject of a work that is elaborated on in thedevelopment of the piece; a repeated pattern or idea

myth
one story in a system of narratives set in a complete imaginaryworld that once served to explain the origin of life, religious beliefs,and the forces of nature as supernatural occurrences

narration
the telling of a story in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, ordrama; one of the four modes of discourse

naturalism
a literary movement that grew out of realism in France,the United States, and England in the late nineteenth and earlytwentieth centuries; it portrays humans as having no free will, beingdriven by the natural forces of heredity, environment, and animalisticurges over which they have no control

objectivity
an impersonal presentation of events and characters

ode
a long lyric poem, usually serious and elevated in tone; oftenwritten to praise someone or something

onomatopoeia
the use of words that sound like what they mean,such as hiss and boom

order of development
the way in which ideas are organized inwriting an essay

chronological order
information arranged in time sequence

spatial order
information arranged according to spacerelationships

order of importance
information arranged from leastimportant to most important, or vice versa

compare and contrast
information arranged according tosimilarities and differences between two or more subjects

developmental order
information arranged so that onepoint leads logically to another

deductive order
information arranged from general to thespecific

inductive order
information arranged from specific togeneral

overstatement
exaggerated for humorous effect; hyperbole

oxymoron
a figure of speech composed of contradictory words orphrases, such as “wise fool”

parable
a short tale that teaches a moral; similar to but shorter thanan allegory

paradox
a statement that seems to contradict itself but that turnsout to have a rational meaning, as in this quotation from Henry DavidThoreau- “I never found the companion that was so companionableas solitude.”

parallelism
the technique of arranging words, phrases, clauses, orlarger structures by placing them side by side and making themsimilar in form

parody
a work that ridicules the style of another work by imitatingand exaggerating its elements

pastoral
a poem about idealized rural life, or shepherds, or both;also called an idyll

periodic sentence
a sentence that is not grammatically completeuntil its last phrase, such as, “Despite Glenn’s hatred of his sister’slaziness and noisy eating habits, he still cared for her.”

persona
a fictional voice that a writer adopts to tell a story, determinedby subject matter and audience; e.g.

, Mark Twain

personification
the attribution of human qualities to a nonhumanor an inanimate object

persuasion
one of the four modes of discourse; language intendedto convince through appeals to reason or emotion; also calledargument

Petrarchan sonnet
one of the most important types of sonnets,composed of an octave with an abba abba rhyme scheme, andending in a sestet, with a cde cde rhyme scheme; also called an Italiansonnet

first person narrator
a narrator, referred to as “I,” who is acharacter in the story and relates the actions through his orher perspective, also revealing his or her own thoughts

stream of consciousness narrator
like a first personnarrator, but instead placing the reader inside the character’shead, making the reader privy to the continuous, chaotic flowof disconnected, half-formed thoughts and impressions as theyflow through the character’s consciousness

omniscient narrator
a third person narrator, referred to as”he,” “she,” or “they,” who is able to see into each character’smind and understands all the action

limited omniscient narrator
a third person narrator whoonly reports the thoughts of one character, and generally onlywhat that one character sees

objective narrator
a third person narrator who only reportswhat would be visible to a camera; thoughts and feelings areonly revealed if a character speaks of them

protagonist
the main character of a literary work

realism
a nineteenth-century literary movement in Europe and theUnited States that stressed accuracy in the portrayal of life, focusingon characters with whom middle-class readers could easily identify; indirect contrast with romanticism

refrain
a line or group of lines that are periodically repeatedthroughout a poem

regionalism
an element in literature that conveys a realisticportrayal of a specific geographical locale, using the locale and itsinfluences as a major part of the plot

rhetoric
the art of using language effectively; involves (1) writer’spurpose, (2) his or her consideration of the audience, (3) theexploration of the subject, (4) arrangement and organization of theideas, (5) style and tone of expression, and (6) form

rhetorical modes
exposition, description, narration, argumentation

masculine
the rhyme sound is the last syllable of a line, i.e.profound/bound

feminine
the accented syllable is followed by an unaccentedsyllable, i.e.

banding/landing

romanticism
a literary, artistic, and philosophical movement thatbegan in the eighteenth century as a reaction against neoclassicism;the focal points of the movement are imagination, emotion, andfreedom, stressing subjectivity, individuality, the love and worship ofnature, and a fascination with the past

sarcasm
harsh, caustic personal remarks to or about someone; lesssubtle than irony

satire
work that attacks or ridicules human follies, stupidities, andabuses

simile
a figure of speech that uses like, as, or as if to make adirect comparison between two essentially different objects, actions,or qualities; for example, “the sky looked like an artist’s canvas”

slant rhyme
close but not exact correspondence between sounds,such as unit and mode

soliloquy
a speech spoken by a character alone on stage, giving theimpression that the audience is listening to the character’s thoughts;perhaps the most famous example is Hamlet’s speech that begins “Tobe, or not to be”

sonnet
a fourteen-line lyric poem in iambic pentameter

speaker
the voice of a poem; an author may speak as himself orherself or as a fictitious character

sprung rhythm
based on normal rhythms of speech and using amixture of feet; each foot has either a single stressed syllable or astressed syllable followed by one or more unstressed syllables

couplet
the simplest stanza, consisting of two rhymed lines

tercet
three lines, usually having the same rhyme

quatrain
four lines

cinquain
five lines

sestet
six lines

octave
eight lines

stereotype
a character who represents a trait that is usually attributedto a particular social or racial group and lacks individuality

stock character
a standard character who may be stereotyped,such as the miser or the fool, or universally recognized, like thehard-boiled private eye in detective stories

style
an author’s characteristic manner of expression

subjectivity
a personal presentation of events and characters,influenced by the author’s feelings and opinions

suspension of disbelief
the demand made of a theater audience toprovide some details with their imagination and to accept thelimitations of reality and staging; also, the acceptance of the incidentsof the plot by a reader or audience

symbolism
the use of symbols, or anything that is meant to betaken both literally and as representative of a higher and morecomplex significance

synecdoche
a figure of speech in which a part of something isused to represent a whole, such as using “boards” to mean “a stage”or “wheels” to mean “a car”

syntax
arrangement of words, phrases, clauses; sentence structure

theme
the central idea or “message” of a literary work

tone
the characteristic emotion or attitude of an author toward thecharacters, subject, and audience

tragic flaw
the one weakness that causes the downfall of the heroin a tragedy

understatement
undervaluing of a thing or person

unity
quality of a piece of writing; see also coherence

villanelle
a lyric poem consisting of five tercets and a final quatrain

voice
the way a written work conveys an author’s attitude

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