Literary Terms for 11th Grade American Literature

rhyme
correspondence of sounds

rhythm
regular recurrence of sounds

end rhyme
end of lines of poetry

alliteration
initial consonant sounds same (tried and true, safe and sorry)

consonance
final consonant sounds same (first and last, loves and lives)

assonance
repetition of vowel sounds (mile, time, and mind–long I)

onomatopoeia
words sound like what they mean (growl, hiss, pop)

free verse
has no metrical patter, prose written in lines

dialect
regional language

cacography
poor paragraph development for humorous effect

dialogue
conversation between characters

plot
arrangement of incidents or events which can usually be divided into a beginning, middle, and end

satire
ridicule of human folly or vice with the purpose of correcting it

short story
an imaginative prose narrative written to give the reader entertainment and insight

setting
time, place, and general background

tone or mood
attitude or emotion of the author or narrator toward his subject or audience

unity
pulling a story all together

point of view
the perspective from which a story is told

omniscient point of view
all-knowing author

limited point of view
from viewpoint of one character (first or third person)

objective point of view
no comment, allowing reader to come to his own conclusion

irony
method of expression in which the intended meaning of the words used is the direct opposite of their usual sense

verbal irony
saying opposite of what is meant (calling a man lifting heavy weights puny)

dramatic irony
contrasting what a character says and what a reader or audience knows to be true (character entering a room unaware that someone is hiding in a closet)

irony of situation
discrepancy between appearance and reality or between expectation and fulfillment (millionaire wishes to make a phone call from a pay phone but finds no money in his pocket)

surprise ending
unexpected twist at the end of the story which goes contrary to the reader’s expectations

ballad
written to be sung or recited and tells a story of some exciting episode

meter
rhythm occurring at regular intervals

foot
pattern in a line of poetry consisting of one accented syllable and one or two unaccented syllables

blank verse
unrhymed iambic pentameter

Iamb
iambic

trochee
trochaic

anapest
anapestic

dactyl
dactylic

spondee
spondaic

novel
type of extended prose fiction; like short story, only longer; has character, plot theme, setting; means “new”

protagonist
main character

antagonist
character in conflict with main character

subplots
separate stories or series of incidents going on at the same time as the main plot but related to it in some way

climax
point of greatest interest, excitement, or suspense which usually comes just before the final resolution of the conflict

theme
controlling idea or insight into life which the author seeks to impart

symbol
look beneath the surface for additional levels of meaning which the author may wish to convey

connotations
suggested meaning or associations

denotations
literal meanings

imagery
use of words which appeal to the senses

figurative language
various types of comparisons (similes, metaphors, and personification) as well as language used on more than one level (symbolism, irony, paradox, and allusions)

characters
imaginary persons who carry out the action of the plot

direct exposition
telling the reader directly what the character is like

indirect revelation
allows reader to draw his own conclusions about characters

static character
remains essentially the same throughout the story

dynamic character
undergoes some change and is different at the end of the story

allegory
narrative or description in which the characters, places, and other items are symbols

rhetorical questions
questions expressing some idea but to which no answer is required or expected