English Literary Term Review

Plot
A series of related events in a story, each connected to the next.

Flashback
A scene that interrupts the normal chronological sequence of events in a story to depict something that happened at an earlier time

Foreshadowing
An event or statement in a narrative that in miniature suggests a larger event that comes later.

Conflict
A struggle between opposing forces in a story or play, usually resolved by the end of the work. The conflict may occur within a character as well as between characters.

Crisis
A decisive point in the plot of a play on which the outcome of the remaining action depends

Climax
That point in a plot that creates the greatest intensity, suspense, or interest; usually the point at which the conflict is resolved

Denoument
the resolution of the conflict in a story’s plot; a final outcome

Resolution
End of the story where loose ends are tied up

Static Character
A character that does not grow or change throughout the story, that ends as he/she began.

Dynamic Character
A character who grows, learns, or changes as a result of the story’s action

Flat Character
A character who embodies a single quality and who does not develop in the course of a story

Round Character
A character who demonstrates some complexity and who develops or changes in the course of a work

Historical Setting
a setting that is accurate in time, place, and events–a story based on real events will have this

Geographical Setting
where a story takes place with respect to country or location

physical Setting
location in which the story takes place (both specific and general)

Point of View
In literature, the perspective from which a story is told.

First Person
“I” and “Me” standpoint. Personal perspective.

Third person
Narrator is not a character, but sees the world through only one character’s eyes and thoughts

Informal Diction
represents the plain language of everyday use, and often includes idiomatic expressions, slang, contractions, and many simple, common words

Formal Diction
Consists of a dignified, impersonal, and elevated use of language; it follows the rules of syntax exactly and is often characterized by complex words and lofty tone.

Tone
Attitudes and presuppositions of the author that are revealed by their linguistic choices (diction, syntax, rhetorical devices)

Language
A system of communication through the use of speech, a collection of sounds understood by a group of people to have the same meaning

Symbol
An object or action in a literary work that means more than itself, that stands for something beyond itself.

Allegory
“A story or visual image with a second distinct meaning partially hidden behind its literal or visible meaning. In written narrative _____ involves a continuous parallel between two (or more) levels of meaning in a story so that its persons and events correspond to their equivalents in a system of ideas or a chain of events external to the tale.”””

Myth
Anonymous story reflecting the religious and social values of a culture or explaining natural phenomena, often involving gods and heroes.

Theme
A topic of discussion or writing; a major idea broad enough to cover the entire scope of a literary work.

Voice
(linguistics) the grammatical relation (active or passive) of the grammatical subject of a verb to the action that the verb denotes

Speaker
A term used for the author, speaker, or the person whose perspective (real or imagined) is being advanced in a speech or piece of writing

Persona
A pattern of relatively permanent traits, dispositions, or characteristics that give some consistency to people’s behavior.

Irony
A contrast or discrepancy between what is stated and what is really meant, or between what is expected to happen and what actually does happen.

Denotation
The dictionary definition of a word

Connotation
All the meanings, associations, or emotions that a word suggests

Word Order
Generally refers to the position of the major elements in the sentence, subject (S), verb (V), and object (O). Across languages, the typical patterns are SVO, SOV, and VSO. Inverted word order refers to the reversal of the position of S and V which occurs in marked constructions, as is Are (V) you (S) a teacher? in an SVO language.

Imagery
Description that appeals to the senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste)

Metaphor
A figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity.

Simile
A comparison using like or as

Personification
A figure of speech in which an object or animal is given human feelings, thoughts, or attitudes

Hyperbole
A figure of speech that uses exaggeration to express strong emotion, make a point, or evoke humor

Understatement
A figure of speech in which a writer or speaker says less than what he or she means; the opposite of exaggeration.

Alliteration
Repetition of initial consonant sounds

Assonance
Repetition of a vowel sound within two or more words in close proximity

Rhythm
An essential of all poetry, the regular or progressive pattern of recurrent accents in the flow of a poem the rise and fall of stresses on words in the metrical feet.

Meter
A regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry

Iambic Pentameter
A poetic meter that is made up of 5 stressed syllables each followed by an unstressed syllable

Form
a poem that follows a set of criteria (ex. Number of lines, syllables, etc.) 5-5-5

Open form
Poems that do not have a rhyme scheme nor a basic meter are in open form. Also called free verse.

Line
A group of words together on one line of the poem

Stanza
A group of consecutive lines in a poem that form a single unit.

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

Staging
All the devices except dialogue which a dramatist uses to communicate to an audience.

Stage Direction
The specific instructions a playwright includes concerning sets, characterization, delivery, etc.

Costuming
Clothes and costumes worn by the characters.

Props
Articles or objects that appear on stage during a play.

Lighting
-Key light: shot, directed toward the principal subject in the frame. The different lights used in a play.

Dialogue
Communication between two or more people

Monologue
A long speech in a play or story, delivered by a single person (see soliloquy).

Soliloquy
A dramatic or literary form of discourse in which a character talks to himself or herself or reveals his or her thoughts without addressing a listener.

Aside
A dramatic convention by which an actor directly addresses the audience but it is not supposed to be heard by the other actors on the stage.