SAT II Literature Terms

Topics: ArtSymbolism


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Last updated: April 24, 2019

the stressed portion of a word

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

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

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

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

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

a short, simple narrative of an incident

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

literal meaning of a word as defined

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

word choice

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

the grating of sounds that are harsh or do not gotogether

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.

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

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

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

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

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

another name for descriptive writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

two successive stressed syllables, as in hodge-podge

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

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

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

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

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

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

deliberate exaggeration in order to create humor oremphasis; overstatement

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

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

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.

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”

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

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

statement of a general truth

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

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

one foot (rare)

two feet (rare)

three feet

four feet

five feet

six feet

seven feet (rare)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

an impersonal presentation of events and characters

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

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

exaggerated for humorous effect; hyperbole

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

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

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.”

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

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

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.”

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

, Mark Twain

the attribution of human qualities to a nonhumanor an inanimate object

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

the main character of a literary work

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

work that attacks or ridicules human follies, stupidities, andabuses

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

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”

a fourteen-line lyric poem in iambic pentameter

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

the simplest stanza, consisting of two rhymed lines

three lines, usually having the same rhyme

four lines

five lines

six lines

eight lines

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

an author’s characteristic manner of expression

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

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

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”

arrangement of words, phrases, clauses; sentence structure

the central idea or “message” of a literary work

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

undervaluing of a thing or person

quality of a piece of writing; see also coherence

a lyric poem consisting of five tercets and a final quatrain

the way a written work conveys an author’s attitude

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