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English III Literary Devices

Page history last edited by Don Pogreba 12 years, 5 months ago
  • Allegory-"A story or visual image with a second distinct meaning partially hidden behind its literal or visible meaning. In written narrative, allegory 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."
  • Ambiguity-A statement which can contain two or more meanings. For example, when the oracle at Delphi told Croesus that if he waged war o­n Cyrus he would destroy a great empire, Croesus thought the oracle meant his enemy's empire. In fact, the empire Croesus destroyed by going to war was his own.
  • Anti-hero-A protagonist who has the opposite of most of the traditional attributes of a hero. [A character who] may be bewildered, ineffectual, deluded, or merely pathetic.
  • Aphorism-A brief statement which expresses an observation o­n life, usually intended as a wise observation. Benjamin Franklin's "Poor Richard's Almanac" contains numerous examples, o­ne of which is Drive thy business; let it not drive thee.
  • Archetype-A term used to describe universal symbols that evoke deep and sometimes unconscious responses in a reader. In literature, characters, images, and themes that symbolically embody universal meanings and basic human experiences.
  • Assonance- The repetition of vowel sounds within a short passage of verse or prose
  • Canon- a Greek word that implies rule or law, and is used in literature as the source which regulates which selection of authors or works, would be considered important pieces of literature.
  • Colloquialism-Spoken or written communication that seeks to imitate informal speech.
  • Connotation-The emotional implications and associations that words may carry, as distinguished from their denotative meanings.
  • Consonance- The repetition of consonant sounds anywhere within a line of poetry.  Alliteration is a specific type of consonance.
  • Denotation-The basic dictionary meaning of a word, as opposed to its connotative meaning.
  • Gothic- Characterized by gloom and mystery and the grotesque; gothic novels include Frankenstein.
  • Idiom- A specialized vocabulary used by a group of people; jargon or A style or manner of expression peculiar to a given people.
  • Minimalism- A style of art in which objects are stripped down to their elemental, geometric form, and presented in an impersonal manner. In literature, minimalists use short descriptions and simple sentences.
  • Motif-A recurrent image, word, phrase, represented object or action that tends to unify the literary work or that may be elaborated into a more general theme.
  • Naturalism- The term naturalism describes a type of literature that attempts to apply scientific principles of objectivity and detachment to its study of human beings. Unlike realism, which focuses o­n literary technique, naturalism implies a philosophical position.
  • Paradox: An apparent contradiction that is somehow true. Shock value that startles the reader.
  • Parallelism- The repetition of words, phrases, sentences that have the same grammatical structure or that restate a similar idea. Restatement is repetition of an entire idea in different words. Structuralism Parallelism is the repetition of a word or entire sentence pattern. Antithesis is connecting ideas that are opposite, rather than similar.
  • Realism- Broadly defined as "the faithful representation of reality" or "verisimilitude," realism is a literary technique practiced by many schools of writing. Although strictly speaking, realism is a technique, it also denotes a particular kind of subject matter, especially the representation of middle-class life.
  • Rhetoric- The art of persuasive argument through writing or speech--the art of eloquence and charismatic language.
  • Romance- The mythos of literature concerned primarily with an idealized world. A form of prose fiction practised by Scott, Hawthorne, William Morris, etc., distinguishable from the novel.
  • Romanticism- Romanticism, which was a reaction to the classicism of the early 18th century, favored feeling over reason and placed great emphasis o­n the subjective, or personal, experience of the individual. Nature was also a major theme.
  • Stream of consciousness- technique that records the multifarious thoughts and feelings of a character without regard to logical argument or narrative sequence. The writer attempts by the stream of consciousness to reflect all the forces, external and internal, influencing the psychology of a character at a single moment.
  • Syntax- The way in which linguistic elements (words and phrases) are arranged to form grammatical structure.
  • Vernacular- The everyday speech of the people (as distinguished from literary language).
  • Vignette- A small illustrative sketch.
  • Voice-In writing, a metaphor drawn from the spoken, encompassing the writer’s tone, style, and manner.



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