A work in which the characters and events are to be understood as representing other things and symbolically expressing a deeper, often spiritual, moral, or political meaning. … The underlying meaning of a story has moral, social, religious, or political significance, and characters are often personifications of abstract ideas as charity, greed, or envy. Stories labeled as literary are often allegories. Thus, an allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning. A couple of examples would be Fairie Queen by John Spenser or Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.
The repetition of initial consonant sounds through a sequence of words— for example, “While I nodded, nearly napping” in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.”
An explicit or indirect reference to a well-known fictional, mythological, or historical person, place, or event, outside the story. Allusions enrich a story by suggesting similarities to comparable circumstances in another time or place.
Either a faulty, vague expression, or a poetic device which deliberately uses a word or expression to signify two or more distinct references, attitudes or feelings.
False assignment of an event, person, scene or language to a time when the event or thing or person did not exist.
A comparison which demonstrates the similarity or similarities between two things or concepts.
A metrical foot of three syllables with the stress on the third syllable, or of two short syllables followed by a long syllable.
The deliberate repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of several successive verses, clauses, or paragraph. One of the devices of repetition, in which the same phrase is repeated at the beginning of two or more lines.
A character in a story or poem who deceives, frustrates, or works again the main character, or protagonist in some way. The antagonist doesn’t necessarily have to be a person.
A leading character who is not, like a hero, perfect or even outstanding, but is rather ordinary and representative of the more or less average person.
A word that means the opposite of another word.
A succinct statement expressing an opinion or a general truth
A figure of speech which calls meaning into doubt, often cast in the form of a deadlock, or double bind, between incompatible or contradictory meanings in which the text undermines itself.
A figure of speech in which someone (usually, but not always absent), some abstract quality, or a non-existent personage is addressed as though present.
An image, descriptive detail, plot pattern or character type that occurs frequently in myth, literature, religion or folklore
The repetition of vowel sounds in a sequence of words with different endings— for example, “The death of the poet was kept from his poems” in W. H. Auden’s “In Memory of W. B. Yeats.”
A narrative poem that is, or originally was, meant to be sung. Characterized by repetition and often by a repeated refrain (recurrent phrase or series of phrases), ballads were originally a folk creation, transmitted orally from person to person and age to age.
A common stanza form, consisting of a quatrain that alternates four-beat and three-beat lines; lines 1 and 3 are unrhymed iambic tetrameter (four beats), and lines 2 and 4 are rhymed iambic trimeter (three beats).
A type of novel, common in German literature, which treats the personal development of a single individual, usually in youth. A coming of age story. (notes)
The verse form most like everyday human speech; blank verse consists of unrhymed lines in iambic pentameter. Many of Shakespeare’s plays are in blank verse.
Harsh, discordant sounds
When applied to an individual author, canon (like oeuvre) means the sum total of works written by that author. When used generally, it means the range of works that a consensus of scholars, teachers, and readers of a particular time and culture consider “great” or “major.” This second sense of the word is a matter of debate since the literary canon in Europe and America has long been dominated by the works of white men. During the last several decades, the canon in the United States has expanded considerably to include more works by women and writers from various ethnic and racial backgrounds.
A short pause within a line of poetry; often but not always signaled by punctuation. Note the two caesuras in this line from Poe’s “The Raven”: “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary.”
A grotesque representation of a person or thing that exaggerates striking or representative features for a satirical purpose.
Key moment, also called the turning point, the third part of plot structure, the point at which the action stops rising and begins falling or reversing.
The suggested or implied meaning of a word, as contrasted with its literal meaning or denotation.
The action or faculty of knowing, including sensation, perception, and conception, as distinguished from feeling and volition.
The quality of being logically or aesthetically consistent, with all separate parts fitting together to form a harmonious or credible whole
Appropriate to, used in, or characteristic of spoken language or of writing that is used to create the effect of conversation
The repetition of consonant sounds, but not vowels, as in assonance
A customary device or technique used by an artist or author as a kind of representational shorthand.
A style of poetry defined as a complete thought written in two lines with rhyming ends. Two lines of verse that form a unit alone or as part of a poem, especially two that rhyme and have the same meter
The metrical pattern in which each foot consists of a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed ones.
A type of literary criticism, based on the ideas of French philosopher Jacques Derrida, which holds that all meaning in written and spoken language is indeterminate because words have no inherent meaning in themselves, and the meaning of a word is based on its relationship to other words.
The literal dictionary definition of a word, apart from any emotional or intellectual association or connotation it may evoke
Literally meaning the action of untying, the final outcome of the main complication in a play or story. Usually the climax (the turning point or “crisis”) of the work has already occurred by the time the denouement occurs. It is sometimes referred to as the explanation or outcome of a drama that reveals all the secrets and misunderstandings connected to the plot.