12 AP Glossary of Terms Ms. Sutton

ALLEGORY story or poem in which characters, settings, and events stand for other people or events or for abstract ideas or qualities. EXAMPLE: Animal Farm; Dante’s Inferno; Lord of the Flies

ALLITERATION repetition of the same or similar consonant sounds in that are close together. EXAMPLE: “When the two youths turned with the flag they saw that much of the regiment had crumbled away, and the dejected remnant was coming slowly back.” –Stephen Crane (Note how regiment and remnant are being used; the regiment is gone, a remnant remains…)

ALLUSION reference to someone or something that is known from history, literature, religion, politics, sports, science, or another branch of culture. An indirect reference to something (usually from literature, etc.).

AMBIGUITY deliberately suggesting two or more different, and sometimes conflicting, meanings in a work. An event or situation that may be interpreted in more than one way-- this is done on purpose by the author, when it is not done on purpose, it is vagueness, and detracts from the work.

ANALOGY made between two things to show how they are alike

ANAPHORA Repetition of a , , or clause at the beginning of two or more sentences in a row. This is a deliberate form of repetition and helps make the ’s point more coherent.

ANASTROPHE Inversion of the usual, normal, or logical order of the parts of a . Purpose is rhythm or emphasis or euphony. It is a fancy word for inversion.

ANECDOTE Brief story, told to illustrate a point or serve as an example of something, often shows of an individual

ANTAGONIST Opponent who struggles against or blocks the hero, or , in a story.

ANTIMETABOLE Repetition of words in successive clauses in reverse grammatical order. Moliere: “One should eat to live, not live to eat.” In , this is called .

ANTITHESIS Balancing words, , or ideas that are strongly contrasted, often by means of grammatical structure. A characterized by strongly contrasting words, clauses, sentences, or ideas, as in “Man proposes; God disposes.” is a balancing of one term against another for emphasis or stylistic effectiveness. The second line of the following couplet by Alexander Pope is an example of antithesis: The hungry judges soon the sentence ,


And wretches hang that jury-men may dine.

ANTIHERO Central character who lacks all the qualities traditionally associated with heroes. may lack courage, grace, intelligence, or scruples.

ANTHROPOMORPHISM attributing human characteristics to an animal or inanimate ()

APHORISM brief, cleverly worded statement that makes a wise observation about life, or of a principle or accepted general truth. Also called maxim, epigram.

APOSTROPHE a figure of speech in which someone (usually, but not always absent), some abstract quality, or a nonexistent personage is directly addressed as though present; calling out to an imaginary, dead, or absent person, or to a place or thing, or a personified abstract idea. If the character is asking a god or goddess for inspiration it is called an invocation. Josiah Holland ---“Loacöon! Thou great embodiment/ Of human life and human history!” Papa Above! Regard a Mouse. -Emily Dickinson

Milton! Thou shouldst be living in this hour; England hath need of thee . . .. -William Wordsworth

APPOSITION Placing in immediately succeeding order of two or more coordinate elements, the latter of which is an explanation, qualification, or modification of the first (often set off by a colon). Paine: “These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it Now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

ASSONANCE the repetition of similar vowel sounds followed by different consonant sounds especially in words that are together. “A land laid waste with all its young men slain” repeats the same “a” sound in “laid,” “waste,” and “slain.”

ASYNDETON Commas used without conjunction to separate a series of words, thus emphasizing the parts equally: instead of X, Y, and Z... the writer uses X,Y,Z.... see .

AUBADE A love lyric in which the speaker complains about the arrival of the dawn, when he must part from his lover. John Donne's "The Sun Rising" exemplifies this poetic .

BALANCE Constructing a sentence so that both halves are about the same length and importance. Sentences can be unbalanced to serve a special effect as well.


BALLAD METER (also known as hymn meter) a four-line stanza rhymed abcd with four feet in lines one and three and three feet in lines two and four. Iambic tetrameter alternating with iambic trimeter. O mother, mother make my bed. O make it soft and narrow. Since my love died for me today, I’ll die for him tomorrow.

BLANK VERSE unrhymed iambic pentameter. Blank verse is the meter of most of Shakespeare’s plays, as well as that of Milton’s Paradise Lost.

CACAPHONY a harsh, unpleasant combination of sounds or tones. It may be an unconscious flaw in the poet’s music, resulting in harshness of sound or difficulty of , or it may be used consciously for effect, as Browning and Eliot often use it. See, for example, the following line from Browning’s “Rabbi Ben Ezra”: Irks care the crop-full bird? Frets the maw-crammed beast? See “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden

CAESURA a pause, usually near the middle of a line of verse, usually indicated by the sense of the line, and often greater than the normal pause. For example, one would naturally pause after “human’ in the following line from Alexander Pope: To err is human, to forgive divine.

CHARACTERIZATION the process by which the writer reveals the personality of a character. INDIRECT the author reveals to the reader what the character is like by describing how the character looks and dresses, by letting the reader hear what the character says, by revealing the character’s private thoughts and feelings, by revealing the characters effect on other people (showing how other characters feel or behave toward the character), or by showing the character in . Common in modern literature DIRECT CHARACTERIZATION the author tells us directly what the character is like: sneaky, generous, mean to pets and so on. Romantic style literature relied more heavily on this form. STATIC CHARACTER is one who does not change much in the course of a story. DYNAMIC CHARACTER is one who changes in some important way as a result of the story’s action. FLAT CHARACTER has only one or two personality traits. They are one dimensional, like a piece of cardboard. They can be summed up in one phrase. ROUND CHARACTER has more dimensions to their personalities---they are complex, just a real people are.

CHIASMUS In poetry, a type of rhetorical balance in which the second part is syntactically balanced against the first, but with the parts reversed. Coleridge: “Flowers are lovely, love is flowerlike.” In this is called antimetabole.


CLICHE is a word or phrase, often a figure of speech, that has become lifeless because of overuse. Avoid clichés like the plague. (That cliché is intended.)

CLOSED FORM A type of form or structure in poetry characterized by regularity and consistency in such elements as rhyme, line length, and metrical pattern. Frost's "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" provides one of many examples. A single stanza illustrates some of the features of closed form: Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though. He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow.

COLLOQUIALISM a word or phrase in everyday use in conversation and informal but is inappropriate for formal situations. Example: “He’s out of his head if he thinks I’m gonna go for such a stupid idea.

COMEDY in general, a story that ends with a happy resolution of the conflicts faced by the main character or characters.

CONCEIT an elaborate that compares two things that are startlingly different. An ingenious and fanciful notion or conception, usually expressed through an elaborate , and pointing to a striking parallel between two seemingly dissimilar things. A conceit may be a brief metaphor, but it also may form the framework of an entire poem, which often makes it an extended metaphor. A famous example of a conceit occurs in John Donne’s poem “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning,” in which he compares his soul and his wife’s to legs of a mathematical compass.

CONFESSIONAL POETRY a twentieth century term used to describe poetry that uses intimate material from the poet’s life.

CONFLICT the struggle between opposing forces or characters in a story. EXTERNAL conflicts can exist between two people, between a person and nature or a machine or between a person a whole society. INTERNAL CONFLICT a conflict can be internal, involving opposing forces within a person’s mind.

CONNOTATION the associations and emotional overtones that have become attached to a word or phrase, in addition to its strict dictionary definition.

CONSONANCE the repetition of similar consonant sounds in a group of words. The term usually refers to words in which the ending consonants are the same but the vowels that precede them are different. Consonance is found in the following pairs of words: “add” and “read,” “bill and ball,” and “born” and “burn.”

COUPLET two consecutive rhyming lines of poetry.


DEUS EX MACHINA: A device dating back to , when a conflict was resolved through a means that seems unrelated to the story (e.g. when a god suddenly appeared, without warning, and solves everything). The term is used negatively, as a criticism, when an author’s solution to a conflict seems artificial, forced, improbable, clumsy or otherwise unjustified. From Latin: “God out of the machine” (pron.: “DEH-oos eks MAW-kih-naw).

DIALECT a way of speaking that is characteristic of a certain social group or of the inhabitants of a certain geographical area.

DIALOGUE: The lines which are spoken by, or between, the characters in a narrative. The dialogue is important to their CHARACTERIZATION and/or advance the PLOT. The dialogue may take place in a , , story, or . Some literary works takes the form of such a discussion (e.g., Plato's Republic). In plays, dialogue often includes references to changes in the . Noticing such details is particularly important in classical drama and in Shakespeare's plays since explicit stage directions are often missing.

DICTION a speaker or writer’s choice of words. may be described as formal (the level of usage common in serious and formal discourse), informal (the level of usage found in the relaxed but polite conversation of cultivated people), colloquial (the everyday usage of a group, possibly including terms and constructions accepted in that group but not universally acceptable), or slang (a group of newly coined words which are not acceptable for formal usage as yet).

DIDACTIC form of or nonfiction that teaches a specific lesson or moral or provides a model of correct behavior or thinking.

DIDACTIC POEM a poem which is intended primarily to teach a lesson. The distinction between didactic poetry and non-didactic poetry is difficult to make and usually involves a subjective judgment of the author’s purpose on the part of the critic or the reader.

DIGRESSION: A literary device in which the author creates a temporary departure from the main or narrative in order to focus on a related matter. There are several famous digressions in Homer, such as the "wall scene" in 3 of the Iliad when Helen surveys the armies from the top of the Trojan Wall. In Midsummer Night’s Dream the central plot deals with the two couples: Lysander and Hermia; Demetrius and Helena. Therefore, every scene which switches over to Theseus and Hippolyta, or to Oberon and Titania (and the fairies, etc.), could be considered a "digression."

DOUBLE-ENTENDRE: From the French: “double ” (pron.: “DOO-bluh on-TAWN-dreh). A literary device which consists of a double meaning, especially when the second meaning is impolite or risqué. For example, when Guildenstern says: "her [Fortune’s] privates ," his words can be interpreted either to mean, “ordinary men” (as in “private soldiers”) or as “sexual confidants” (with a on “private parts”).


DRAMA: A in prose or verse presenting, in pantomime and dialogue, a narrative involving conflict between a character or characters and some external or internal force (see conflict). Playwrights usually design for presentation on a stage in front of an . called drama "imitated human action." Drama may have originated in religious ceremonies. Thespis of Attica (sixth century BCE) was the first recorded composer of a . in their earliest stage were performed by a single actor who interacted with the chorus. The playwright added a second actor on the stage () to allow additional conflict and dialogue. and added a third (). Medieval drama may have evolved independently from rites commemorating the birth and death of Christ. During the late medieval period and the early Renaissance, drama gradually altered to the form we know today. The mid-sixteenth century in England in particular was one of the greatest periods of world drama. In traditional Greek drama, as defined by Aristotle, a play was to consist of five acts and follow the three dramatic unities. In more recent drama (i.e., during the last two centuries), plays have frequently consisted of three acts, and playwrights have felt more comfortable disregarding the confines of Aristotelian rules involving verisimilitude. See also unities, comedy, tragedy, revenge play, miracle play, morality play, and mystery play. An individual work of drama is called a play.

DRAMATIC MONOLOGUE A poem in which a poetic speaker addresses either the reader or an internal listener at length. It is similar to the soliloquy in theater, in that both a dramatic monologue and a soliloquy often involve the revelation of the innermost thoughts and feelings of the speaker. Two famous examples are Browning's "My Last Duchess" and "Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister."

DRAMATIC POETRY poems that employ a dramatic form or some element or elements of dramatic techniques as a means of achieving poetic ends. See also lyric poetry and narrative poetry

ELEGY a poem of mourning, usually about someone who has died. A Eulogy is great praise or commendation, a laudatory speech, often about someone who has died. A sustained and formal poem setting forth the poet’s meditations upon death or another solemn . Examples include Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”; Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s In Memoriam; and Walt Whitman’s “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.”

ELISION The omission of an unstressed vowel or syllable to preserve the meter of a line of poetry. Alexander uses elision in "Sound and Sense": "Flies o'er th' unbending corn...."

END-STOPPED a line of poetry with a pause at the end. Lines that end with a period, a comma, a colon, a semicolon, an exclamation point, or a mark are end-stopped lines. True ease in writing comes from Art, not Chance, As those move easiest who have learn’d to dance.

ENJAMBMENT the continuation of the sense and grammatical construction from one line of poetry to the next. Milton’s Paradise Lost is notable for its use of enjambment, as seen in the following lines: . . . .Or if Sion hill


Delight thee more, and Siloa’s brook that flow’d Fast by the oracle of God, . . . .

EPANALEPSIS device of repetition in which the same expression (single word or phrase) is repeated both at the beginning and at the end of the line, clause, or sentence. Voltaire: “Common sense is not so common.”

EPIC a long narrative poem, written in heightened language , which recounts the deeds of a heroic character who embodies the values of a particular society.

EPIGRAM (from Greek epigramma "an inscription"): (1) An inscription in verse or prose on a building, tomb, or coin. (2) a short verse or motto appearing at the beginning of a longer poem or the title page of a novel, at the heading of a new section or paragraph of an essay or other literary work to establish or raise thematic concerns. The opening epigram to Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" is one such example. (3) A short, humorous poem, often written in couplets, that makes a satiric point. Coleridge once described this third type of epigram using an epigram himself: "A dwarfish whole, / Its body brevity, / and wit its soul."

EPIGRAPH a or at the beginning of a literary work suggestive of the theme.

EPILOGUE: A conclusion added to a literary work such as a novel, play, or long poem. It is the opposite of a prologue. Often, the epilogue refers to the moral of a . Sometimes, it is a speech made by one of the actors at the end of a play asking for the indulgence of the critics and the audience. Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream contains one of the most famous epilogues. with prologue.

EPIPHANY: Christian thinkers used this term to signify a manifestation of God's presence in the world. It has since become in modern fiction and poetry the standard term for the sudden flare into revelation of an ordinary object or scene. In particular, the epiphany is a revelation of such power and insight that it alters the entire world-view of the thinker who experiences it. (In this sense, it is similar to what a scientist might call a "paradigm shift.") Shakespeare's takes place on the Feast of the Epiphany, and the theme of revelation is prevalent in the work. James Joyce used the term epiphany to describe personal revelations such as that of Gabriel Conroy in the "The Dead" in Dubliners.

EPISTOLARY NOVEL: A novel which takes the form of letters which pass between the main characters; e.g. The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis.

EPISTROPHE Device of repetition in which the same expression (single word or phrase) is repeated at the end of two or more lines, clauses, or sentences (it is the opposite of anaphora).

EPITHALAMION (Greek, "at the Bridal Chamber," plural epithalamia): A wedding hymn sung in classical Greece outside the bride's room on her wedding night. Sappho is traditionally believed to have been the first poet to begin the . Renaissance poets revived the custom, including Sir Philip Sidney,


Spenser, Donne, Ben Jonson, Herrick, Crashaw, Dryden, and Marvell. The genre largely fell out of favor during the Enlightenment, but it enjoyed a brief respite during the Romantic period. The Latin equivalent is called an epithalamium.

EPITHET an adjective or adjective phrase applied to a person or thing that is frequently used to emphasize a characteristic quality. “Father of our country” and “the great Emancipator” are examples. A Homeric epithet is a compound adjective used with a person or thing: “swift-footed Achilles”; “rosy- fingered dawn.”

EPONYM: the person for whom something is named, such as the central characters of and , from whom those plays take their titles.

EUPHONY a style in which combinations of words pleasant to the ear predominate. Its opposite is cacophony. The following lines from John Keats’ Endymion are euphonious: A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness; but still will keep A bower quiet for us, and a sleep Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

EYE RHYME rhyme that appears correct from spelling, but is half-rhyme or slant rhyme from the pronunciation. Examples include “watch” and “match,” and “love” and “move.”

ESSAY a short piece of nonfiction prose in which the writer discusses some aspect of a subject. ESSAY TYPES TO KNOW: ARGUMENTATION one of the four forms of discourse which uses logic, ethics, and emotional appeals (logos, ethos, ) to develop an effective means to convince the reader to think or in a certain way. relies more on emotional appeals than on facts ARGUMENT form of persuasion that appeals to reason instead of emotion to convince an audience to think or act in a certain way. CAUSAL RELATIONSHIP Form of argumentation in which the writer claims that one thing results from another, often used as part of a logical argument. a form of discourse that uses language to create a mood or emotion. one of the four major forms of discourse, in which something is explained or “set forth.” NARRATIVE the form of discourse that tells about a series of events.

EUPHEMISM A figure of speech using indirection to avoid offensive bluntness, such as "deceased" for "dead" or "remains" for "corpse."

EXPLICATION act of interpreting or discovering the meaning of a text, usually involves close reading and special attention to figurative language.


FABLE a very short story told in prose or poetry that teaches a practical lesson about how to succeed in life.

FARCE a type of comedy in which ridiculous and often stereotyped characters are involved in silly, far- fetched situations.

FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE Words which are inaccurate if interpreted literally, but are used to describe. and are common forms. A deviation from what speakers of a language understand as the ordinary or standard use of words in order to achieve some special meaning or effect. Perhaps the two most common figurative devices are the --a comparison between two distinctly different things using "like" or "as" ("My love's like a red, red rose")--and the metaphor--a figure of speech in which two unlike objects are implicitly compared without the use of "like" or "as." These are both examples of tropes. Any figure of speech that results in a change of meaning is called a . Any figure of speech that creates its effect in patterns of words or letters in a sentence, rather than twisting the meaning of words, is called a scheme. Perhaps the most common scheme is .

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

FOIL A character who acts as contrast to another character. Often a funny side kick to the dashing hero, or a villain contrasting the hero.

FORESHADOWING the use of hints and clues to suggest what will happen later in a plot. Hints of future events through unusual circumstances in the present; e.g. the appearance of the ghost at the beginning of Hamlet, the witches in , the foul weather in King Lear, or the bird-signs in the Iliad.

FRAME STORY: The literary device of creating a larger story for the purpose of combining a number of shorter stories in a unity. The result of inserting one or more small stories within the body of a larger story that encompasses the smaller ones. Often this term is used interchangeably with both the literary technique and the larger story itself that contains the smaller ones, which are called pericopes, "framed " or "embedded narratives." The most famous example is Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, in which the overarching frame narrative is the story of a band of pilgrims traveling to the shrine of Thomas a Becket in Canterbury. The band passes the time in a contest. The framed narratives are the individual stories told by the pilgrims who participate. Another example is Boccaccio's Decameron, in which the frame narrative consists of a group of Italian noblemen and women fleeing the plague, and the framed narratives consist of the tales they tell each other to pass the time while they await the disease's passing. The 1001 Arabian Nights is probably the most famous Middle Eastern frame narrative. Here, in Bagdad, Scheherazade must delay her execution by beguiling her Caliph with a series of .


FRANKENSTEIN A motif in which a created being turns upon its creator in what seems to be an inevitable fashion. The term comes from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a nineteenth-century novel in which Victor Frankenstein stiches together the body parts of condemned criminals and then reanimates the resulting patchwork creature using electricity. However, the motif itself dates back much earlier to medieval of the Golem, an animated clay figure controlled by Hebrew kabbalists. The Frankenstein motif warns against hubris in human creators. This admonishment occasionally appears in thoughtful exploring the ethical responsibility of creating new life, but it even more frequently appears in anti-intellectual diatribes against knowledge "mankind was not meant to know." In the later case, the Frankenstein motif expresses general anxieties about the rapidity of technological change. Examples of the Frankenstein motif appear in H. G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau, Crichton's Jurassic Park, and Greg Bear's Blood Music.

FREE VERSE poetry that does not conform to a regular meter or rhyme scheme.

GEMEL A final couplet that appears at the end of a sonnet.

GENRE A distinct classification in literature. From the Lat., "genus:" "type, kind;" pron.: “Zhawn-reh.” A classification according to what different works have in common, in their structure and treatment of a subject. By correctly identifying the genre of a text, we can get a better idea of its author's intention and purpose. We can also deepen our sense of the value of any single text, by allowing us to view it comparatively, alongside other texts of the same type. In and Rome the primary were: ; lyric (ode and ballad); drama (tragedy and comedy) and . Today the novel and short story have been added to those major classical genres, as well as numerous minor categories. The literary genres used by the College Board in their AP study guides are the following: autobiography and diary; biography and history; criticism; drama; essay and fiction (novel and short story); expository prose; journalism; political writing; science and nature writing.

HAMARTIA A term from Greek tragedy that literally means "missing the mark." Originally applied to an archer who misses the target, a came to signify a tragic flaw, especially a misperception, a lack of some important insight, or some blindness that ironically results from one's own strengths and abilities. In Greek tragedy, the protagonist frequently possesses some sort of hamartia that causes catastrophic results after he fails to recognize some fact or truth that could have saved him if he recognized it earlier. The idea of hamartia is often ironic; it frequently implies the very trait that makes the individual noteworthy is what ultimately causes the protagonist's decline into disaster. For instance, for the character of Macbeth, the same ambition that makes him so admired is the trait that also allows Lady Macbeth to lure him to murder and treason. Similarly, what ennobles Brutus is his unstinting love of the Roman Republic, but this same patriotism causes him to kill his best friend, . These normally positive traits of self-motivation and patriotism caused the two to "miss the mark" and realize too late the ethical and spiritual consequences of their actions.

HEROIC COUPLET two end-stopped iambic pentameter lines rhymed aa, bb, cc with the thought usually completed in the two-line unit. See the following example from Alexander Pope’s Rape of the Lock:


But when to mischief mortals bend their will, How soon they find fit instruments of ill!

HUBRIS (sometimes spelled Hybris): The Greek term hubris is difficult to translate directly into English. It is a negative term implying both arrogant, excessive self-pride or self-confidence, and also a hamartia (see above), a lack of some important perception or insight due to pride in one's abilities. It is the opposite of the Greek term arête, which implies a humble and constant striving for perfection and self- improvement combined with a realistic awareness that such perfection cannot be reached. As long as an individual strives to do and be the best, that individual has arête. As soon as the individual believes he has actually achieved arête, however, he or she has lost that exalted state and fallen into hubris, unable to recognize personal limitations or the humble need to improve constantly. This leads to overwhelming pride, and this in turn leads to a downfall.

HYPERBOLE a figure of speech that uses an incredible exaggeration or overstatement, for effect. “If I told you once, I’ve told you a million times….”

HYPOTACTIC sentence marked by the use of connecting words between clauses or sentences, explicitly showing the logical or other relationships between them. (Use of such syntactic subordination of just one clause to another is known as hypotaxis). I am tired because it is hot.

IMAGERY the use of language to evoke a picture or a concrete sensation of a person , a thing, a place, or an experience. A common term of variable meaning, includes the "mental pictures" that readers experience with a passage of literature. It signifies all the sensory perceptions referred to in a poem, whether by literal description, , simile, or metaphor. Imagery is not limited to visual imagery; it also includes auditory (sound), tactile (touch), thermal (heat and cold), olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), and kinesthetic sensation (movement), organic (hunger, thirst, fatigue).

IN MEDIAS RES “in the middle of things”; the technique of beginning a story in the middle of the action.

INTERNAL RHYME rhyme that occurs within a line, rather than at the end. The following lines contain internal rhyme: 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 . . . .

INVERSION the reversal of the normal word order in a sentence or phrase.

IRONY a discrepancy between appearances and reality. VERBAL occurs when someone says one thing but really means something else. SITUATIONAL IRONY takes place when there is a discrepancy between what is expected to happen, or what would be appropriate to happen, and what really does happen.


DRAMATIC IRONY is so called because it is often used on stage. A character in the play or story thinks one thing is true, but the audience or reader knows better.

JUXTAPOSITION poetic and in which normally unassociated ideas, words, or phrases are placed next to one another, creating an effect of surprise and wit. Ezra Pound: “The apparition of these faces in the crowd;/ Petals on a wet, black bough.” Juxtaposition is also a form of contrast by which call attention to dissimilar ideas or images or metaphors. Martin Luther King: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

LAMENT a poem that expresses grief, not necessarily about death

LITOTES is a form of in which the positive form is emphasized through the negation of a negative form: Hawthorne--- “…the wearers of petticoat and farthingale…stepping forth into the public ways, and wedging their not unsubstantial persons, if occasion were, into the throng…”

LOCAL COLOR a term applied to fiction or poetry which tends to place special emphasis on a particular setting, including its customs, clothing, dialect and landscape.

LOOSE SENTENCE one in which the main clause comes first, followed by further dependent grammatical units. See periodic sentence. Hawthorne: “Hester gazed after him a little while, looking with a half-fantastic curiosity to see whether the tender grass of early spring would not be blighted beneath him, and show the wavering track of this footsteps, sere and brown, across its cheerful verdure.”

LYRIC POEM a poem that does not tell a story but expresses the personal feelings or thoughts of the speaker. A ballad tells a story.

MALAPROPISM: A comic misuse of common words; e.g. "Condemned to everlasting redemption" (Much Ado About Nothing, 4.2).

METAPHOR a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things without the use of such specific words of comparison as like, as, than, or resembles. IMPLIED METAPHOR does not state explicitly the two terms of the comparison: “I like to see it lap the miles” is an implied metaphor in which the verb lap implies a comparison between “it” and some animal that “laps” up water. EXTENDED METAPHOR is a metaphor that is extended or developed as far as the writer wants to take it. (conceit if it is quite elaborate). DEAD METAPHOR is a metaphor that has been used so often that the comparison is no longer vivid: “The head of the house”, “the seat of the government”, “a knotty problem” are all dead metaphors. MIXED METAPHOR is a metaphor that has gotten out of control and mixes its terms so that they are visually or imaginatively incompatible. “The President is a lame duck who is running out of gas.”


METER A recognizable though varying pattern of stressed syllables alternating with syllables of less stress. Compositions written in meter are said to be in verse. There are many possible patterns of verse. Each unit of stress and unstressed syllables is called a "foot." Iambic (the noun is "iamb" or "iambus"): a lightly stressed syllable followed by a heavily stressed syllable. Example: "The cúrfew tólls the knéll of párting dáy." (Thomas Gray, "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.") Anapestic (the noun is "anapest") two light syllables followed by a stressed syllable: "The Assyrian came dówn like a wólf on the fóld." (Lord Byron, "The Destruction of Sennacherib.") Trochaic (the noun is "trochee") a stressed followed by a light syllable: "Thére they áre, my fífty men and wómen." Dactylic (the noun is "dactyl"): a stressed syllable followed by two light syllables: "Éve, with her básket, was / Déep in the bélls and grass." Iambs and anapests, since the strong stress is at the end, are called "rising meter"; trochees and dactyls, with the strong stress at the beginning with lower stress at the end, are called "falling meter." Additionally, if a line ends in a standard iamb, with a final stressed syllable, it is said to have a masculine ending. If a line ends in a lightly stressed syllable, it is said to be feminine. To hear the difference, read the following examples aloud and listen to the final stress: Masculine Ending: "'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse." Feminine Ending: "'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the housing, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mousing." We name a metric line according to the number of "feet" in it. If a line has four feet, it is tetrameter. If a line has five feet, it is pentameter. Six feet, hexameter, and so on. English verse tends to be pentameter, French verse tetrameter, and Greek verse, hexameter. When scanning a line, we might, for instance, describe the line as "iambic pentameter" (having five feet, with each foot tending to be a light syllable followed by heavy syllable), or "trochaic tetrameter" (having four feet, with each foot tending to be a long syllable followed by a short syllable). Here is a complete list of the various verse structures: Monometer: one foot Dimeter: two feet Trimeter: three feet Tetrameter: four feet Pentameter: five feet Hexameter: six feet Heptameter: seven feet Octameter: eight feet Nonameter: nine feet


METONYMY a figure of speech in which a person, place, or thing, is referred to by something closely associated with it. “We requested from the crown support for our petition.” The crown is used to represent the monarch.

MIXED METAPHOR the mingling of one metaphor with another immediately following with which the first is incongruous. Lloyd George is reported to have said, “I smell a rat. I see it floating in the air. I shall nip it in the bud.”

MOOD An atmosphere created by a writer’s diction and the details selected.

MOTIF a recurring image, word, phrase, action, idea, object, or situation used throughout a work (or in several works by one author), unifying the work by tying the current situation to previous ones, or new ideas to the theme. Kurt Vonnegut uses “So it goes” throughout Slaughterhouse-Five to remind the reader of the senselessness of death.

MOTIVATION the reasons for a character’s behavior.

NARRATIVE POETRY a non-dramatic poem which tells a story or presents a narrative, whether simple or complex, long or short. See lyric and dramatic poetry

NARRATOR: The "" that speaks or tells a story. Some stories are written in a first-person point of view, in which the narrator's voice is that of the point-of-view character. For instance, in The Adventures of Huck Finn, the narrator's voice is the voice of the main character, Huck Finn. It is clear that the historical author, Mark Twain, is creating a fictional voice to be the narrator and tell the story--complete with incorrect grammar, colloquialisms, and youthful perspective. In other stories, such as those told in the third-person point of view, scholars use the term narrator to describe the authorial voice set forth, the voice "telling the story to us." For instance, ' Oliver Twist presents a narrative in which the storyteller stands outside the action described. He is not a character who interacts with other characters in terms of plot. However, this fictionalized storyteller occasionally intrudes upon the story to offer commentary to the reader, make suggestions, or render a judgment about what takes place in the tale. It is tempting to equate the words and sentiments of such a narrator with the opinions of the historical author himself. However, it is often more useful to separate this authorial voice from the voice of the historical author. Reliable narrator – trustworthy - untrustworthy Naïve narrator - is uncomprehending (child, simple-minded adult) who narrates the story without realizing its true implications. Intrusive narrator – keeps interrupting the narrative to address the reader

OCTAVE an eight-line stanza. Most commonly, octave refers to the first division of an Italian sonnet.

ONOMATOPOEIA the use of words whose sounds echo their sense. “Pop.” “Zap.”


OPEN FORM A type of structure or form in poetry characterized by freedom from regularity and consistency in such elements as rhyme, line length, metrical pattern, and overall poetic structure. E.E. Cummings's "[Buffalo Bill's]" is one example.

OXYMORON a figure of speech that combines opposite or contradictory terms in a brief phrase. “Jumbo shrimp.” “Pretty ugly.” “Bitter-sweet”

PARABLE a relatively short story that teaches a moral, or lesson about how to lead a good life.

PARADOX a statement that appears self-contradictory, but that reveals a kind of truth. KOAN is a paradox used in Zen Buddhism to gain intuitive knowledge: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

PARALLEL STRUCTURE (parallelism) the repetition of words or phrases that have similar grammatical structures.

PARAPHRASE a restatement of an ideas in such a way as to retain the meaning while changing the diction and form. A paraphrase is often an amplification of the original for the purpose of clarity.

PARATACTIC SENTENCE simply juxtaposes clauses or sentences. I am tired: it is hot.

PARODY a work that makes fun of another work by imitating some aspect of the writer’s style.

PERIODIC sentence that places the main idea or central complete thought at the end of the sentence, after all introductory elements.

PERSONIFICATION a figure of speech in which an object or animal is given human feelings, thoughts, or attitudes.

PLOT the series of related events in a story or play, sometimes called the storyline. Characteristics of PLOT: EXPOSITION introduces characters, situation, and setting RISING ACTION complications in conflict and situations (may introduce new ones as well) that point in a plot that creates the greatest intensity, , or interest. Also called “turning point” RESOLUTION the conclusion of a story, when all or most of the conflicts have been settled; often called the denouement.

POETIC FOOT a group of syllables in verse usually consisting of one accented syllable and one or two unaccented syllables associated with it. The most common type of feet are as follows: iambic u / trochaic / u


anapestic u u / dactylic / u u pyrrhic u u spondaic / / The following poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge illustrates all of these feet except the pyrrhic foot: Trochee trips from long to short. From long to long in solemn sort Slow Spondee stalks; strong foot! yet ill able Ever to come up with Dactyl trisyllable. Iambics march from short to long; With a leap and a bound the swift Anapests throng.

POETIC SPEAKER: The narrative or elegiac voice in a poem (such as a sonnet, ode, or lyric) that speaks of his or her situation or feelings. It is a convention in poetry that the speaker is not the same individual as the historical author of the poem. For instance, consider the poet Lord Byron's mock epic Don Juan. Lord Byron wrote the poem as a young man in his late twenties. However, the speaker of the poem depicts himself as being an elderly man looking back cynically on the days of youth. Clearly, the "voice" talking and narrating the story is not identical with the author. In the same way, the speaker of the poem "My Last Duchess" characterizes himself through his words as a Renaissance nobleman in Italy who is cold- blooded--quite capable of murdering a wife who displeases him--but the author of the poem was actually Robert Browning, a mild-mannered English poet writing in the early nineteenth-century. Many students (and literary critics) attempt to decipher clues about the author's own attitudes, beliefs, feelings, or biographical details through the words in a poem. However, such an activity must always be done with caution. Shakespeare may write a sonnet in which the poetic speaker pours out his passion for a woman with bad breath and wiry black hair (Sonnet 130), but it does not necessarily mean that Shakespeare himself was attracted to halitosis, or that his wife had black hair, or that he had a fling with such a woman. In fact, it is a convention in some genres, such as the medieval visio or dream vision, that the poetic speaker is a dull, imperceptive caricature of the author.

POINT OF VIEW the vantage point from which the writer tells the story. FIRST PERSON POINT OF VIEW one of the characters tells the story. THIRD PERSON POINT OF VIEW an unknown narrator, tells the story, but this narrator zooms in to focus on the thoughts and feelings of only one character. OMNISCIENT POINT OF VIEW an omniscient or all knowing narrator tells the story, also using the third person pronouns. This narrator, instead of focusing on one character only, often tells us everything about many characters. OBJECTIVE POINT OF VIEW a narrator who is totally impersonal and objective tells the story, with no comment on any characters or events.

POLYSYNDETON sentence which uses a conjunction with NO commas to separate the items in a series. Instead of X, Y, and Z... Polysyndeton results in X and Y and Z... Kurt Vonnegut uses this device.


PROLOGUE an introductory section of a literary work or an introductory speech in a play.

PROTAGONIST the central character in a story, the one who initiates or drives the action. Usually the hero or anti-hero; in a , like John Proctor of The Crucible, there is always a hamartia, or tragic flaw in his character which will lead to his downfall.

PUN a “play on words” based on the multiple meanings of a single word or on words that sound alike but mean different things.

QUATRAIN a poem consisting of four lines, or four lines of a poem that can be considered as a unit.

REFRAIN a word, phrase, line, or group of lines that is repeated, for effect, several times in a poem.

RHYME (from Old French, rime meaning "series," in turn adopted from Latin rithmus and Greek rhythmos): Also spelled rime, rhyme is a matching similarity of sounds in two or more words, especially when their accented vowels and all succeeding consonants are identical. For instance, the word-pairs listed here are all rhymes: skating/dating, emotion/demotion, fascinate/deracinate, and plain/stain. Rhyming is frequently more than mere decoration in poetry. It helps to establish stanzaic form by marking the ends of lines, it is an aid in memorization when performing oral formulaic literature, and it contributes to the sense of unity in a poem. The best rhymes delight because of the human fascination with varying patterned repetition, but a successful and unexpected rhyme can also surprise the reader (which is especially important in comic verse). They may also serve as a rhythmical device for intensifying meaning. Several different types of rhyme and rhyme schemes exist: see also cliché rhymes, crossed rhyme, double rhyme, end rhyme, exact rhyme, eye rhyme, feminine ending, half rhyme, head rhyme, imperfect rhyme, inexact rhyme, interlaced rhyme, internal rhyme, leonine verse, masculine ending, perfect rhyme, rhyme royal, slant rhyme, tail-rhyme, and triple rhyme.

RHYME ROYAL (Often spelled as "rime royal"): A seven-line stanzaic form invented by Chaucer in the fourteenth century and later modified by Spenser and other Renaissance poets. In rhyme royal, the stanzas are writen in iambic pentameter in a fixed rhyme scheme (ABABBCC). An example follows below from Wordsworth's Resolution and Independence: There was roaring in the wind all night; The rain came heavily and down in floods; But now the sun is rising calm and bright. The birds are singing in the distant woods; Over his own sweet voice the stockdove broods; The jay makes answer as the magpie chatters; And the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.

RHYME SCHEME: The pattern of rhyme. The traditional way to mark these patterns of rhyme is to assign a letter of the alphabet to each rhyming sound at the end of each line. For instance, here is the first


stanza of James Shirley's poem "Of Death," from 1659. I have marked each line from the first stanza with an alphabetical letter at the end of each line to indicate rhyme: The glories of our blood and state ------A Are shadows, not substantial things; ------B There is no armor against fate; ------A Death lays his icy hand on kings: ------B Scepter and crown ------C Must tumble down, ------C And in the dust be equal made ------D With the poor crooked scythe and spade. -----D Thus, the rhyme scheme for each stanza in the poem above is ABABCCDD. It is conventional in most poetic genres that every stanza follow the same rhyme scheme, though it is possible to have interlocking rhyme scheme such as terza rima. It is also common for poets to deliberately vary their rhyme scheme for artistic purposes--such as Philip Larkin's "Toads," in which the poetic speaker complains about his desire to stop working so hard, and his rhymes degenerate into half-rhymes or slant rhymes as an indication that he doesn't want to go to the effort of perfection. Among the most common rhyme schemes in English, we find heroic couplets (AA, BB, CC, DD, EE, FF, etc.) and quatrains (ABAB, CDCD, etc.), but the possible permutations are theoretically infinite.

RHYTHM a rise and fall of the voice produced by the alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables in language.

RHETORIC Art of effective communication, especially persuasive discourse.

RHETORICAL QUESTION a question asked for an effect, and not actually requiring an answer.

ROMANCE in general, a story in which an idealized hero or heroine undertakes a quest and is successful.

SARCASM a type of irony in which a person appears to be praising something but is actually insulting it. Its purpose is to injure or to hurt.

SATIRE a type of writing that ridicules the shortcomings of people or institutions in an attempt to bring about a change. An attack on or criticism of any stupidity or vice in the form of scathing humor, or a critique of what the author sees as dangerous religious, political, moral, or social standards. Satire became an especially popular technique used during the Enlightenment, in which it was believed that an artist could correct folly by using art as a mirror to reflect society. When people viewed the satire and saw their faults magnified in a distorted reflection, they could see how ridiculous their behavior was and then correct that tendency in themselves. The tradition of satire continues today. Popular cartoons such as The Simpsons and televised comedies like The Daily Show make use of it in modern media. Conventionally, formal satire involves a direct, first-person-address, either to the audience or to a listener mentioned within the work. An example of formal satire is Alexander Pope's Moral Essays. Indirect satire conventionally employs the form of a fictional narrative--such as Byron's Don Juan or


Swift's Gulliver's Travels. Ridicule, irony, exaggeration, and similar tools are almost always used in satire. Horatian satire tends to focus lightly on laughter and ridicule, but it maintains a playful . Generally, the tone is sympathetic and good humored, somewhat tolerant of imperfection and folly even while expressing amusement at it. The name comes from the Roman poet Horace (65 BCE-8 CE), who preferred to ridicule human folly in general rather than condemn specific persons. In contrast, Juvenalian satire also uses withering invective, insults, and a slashing attack. The name comes from the Roman poet Juvenal (60-140 CE), who frequently employed the device, but the label is applied to British writers such as Swift and Pope as well.

SCHEMES -- Schemes are figures of speech that deal with word order, , letters, and sounds, rather than the meaning of words, which involves tropes. Parallelism -- when the writer establishes similar patterns of grammatical structure and length. For instance, "King Alfred tried to make the law clear, precise, and equitable." The previous sentence has parallel structure in use of adjectives. However, the following sentence does not use parallelism: "King Alfred tried to make clear laws that had precision and were equitable." If the writer uses two parallel structures, the result is isocolon parallelism: "The bigger they are, the harder they fall." If there are three structures, it is tricolon parallelism: "That government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth." Or, as one student wrote, "Her purpose was to impress the ignorant, to perplex the dubious, and to startle the complacent." Shakespeare used this device to good effect in Richard II when King Richard laments his unfortunate position: I'll give my jewels for a set of beads, My gorgeous palace for a hermitage, My gay apparel for an almsman's gown, My figured goblets for a dish of wood . . . . (3.3.170-73). See also hypallage, below under . Antithesis (plural antitheses) -- contrary ideas expressed in a balanced sentence. It can be a contrast of opposites: "Evil men authority; good men cherish it." Or it can be a contrast of degree: "One small step for a man, one giant leap for all mankind." Antimetabole -- (also called Epanados) repetition in reverse order: "One should eat to live, not live to eat." Or, "You like it; it likes you." The witches in that Scottish play chant, "Fair is foul and foul is fair." Antimetabole often overlaps with chiasmus, below. Chiasmus (from Greek, "cross" or "x"): A literary scheme involving a specific inversion of word order. It involves taking parallelism and deliberately turning it inside out, creating a "crisscross" pattern. For example,, consider the chiasmus that follows: "By day the frolic, and the dance by night." If we draw the words as a chart, the words form an "x" (hence the word's Greek ): The sequence is typically a b b a. Examples: "I lead the life I love; I love the life I lead." "Naked I rose from the earth; to the grave I fall clothed." Chiasmus often overlaps with antimetabole. Alliosis -- presenting alternatives: "You can eat well or you can sleep well." While such a structure often results in the logical fallacy of the false dichotomy or the either/or fallacy, it can create a cleverly balanced and artistic sentence.


Ellipsis -- omitting a word implied by the previous clause: "The European soldiers killed six of the remaining villagers, the American soldiers, eight." Asyndeton -- using no conjunctions to create an effect of speed or simplicity: Veni. Vidi. Vici. "I came. I saw. I conquered." (As opposed to "I came, and then I saw, and then I conquered.") Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt. Polysyndeton -- using many conjunctions to achieve an overwhelming effect: "This term, I am taking biology and English and history and math and music and physics and sociology." All those ands make the student sound like she is completely overwhelmed! Climax (also called Auxesis and "Crescendo") -- arrangement in order of increasing importance: "Let a man acknowledge his obligations to himself, his family, his country, and his God." The opposite is called (not to be confused with pathos or emotional appeal). Bathos is usually used humorously. Here, the least important item appears anticlimactically in a place where the reader expects something grand or dramatic. For instance, "I am making a stand in this workplace for human decency, professional integrity, and free doughnuts at lunch-break." Schemes that Break the Rules: How to Misspell Words and Ignore Grammar Like a Pro. Enallage -- intentionally misusing grammar to characterize a speaker or to create a memorable phrase. Boxing manager Joe Jacobs, for instance, became immortal with the phrase, "We was robbed!" Or, the editors of Punch magazine might tell their British readers, "You pays your money, and you takes your chances." Anapodoton -- deliberately creating a sentence fragment by the omission of a clause: "If only you came with me!" If only students knew what anapodoton was! Good writers never use sentence fragments? Ah, but they can. And they do. When appropriate. Neologism -- creating a new or imaginary word. For example, Lewis Caroll writes: "'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves / did gyre and gimble in the wabe; / All mimsy were the borogoves, / and the mome raths outgrabe." His lines here contain numerous imaginary words--though these might be excessive in a rhetorical writing rather than a literary one like his poem. Many neologisms result from metaplasmus, as discussed and subdivided below. Metaplasmus --a type of neologism in which misspelling a word creates a rhetorical effect. To emphasize dialect, one might spell dog as "dawg." To emphasize that something is unimportant, we might add -let or -ling at the end of the word, referring to a deity as a "godlet", or a prince as a "princeling." To emphasize the feminine nature of something normally considered masculine, try adding -ette to the end of the word, creating a smurfette or a corvette. To modernize something old, the writer might turn the Greek god Hermes into the Hermenator. Likewise, Austin Powers renders all things shagedelic. The categories following this entry are subdivisions of metaplasmus: Prosthesis -- adding an extra syllable or letters to the beginning of a word: Shakespeare writes in his sonnets, "All alone, I beweep my outcast state." He could have simply wrote weep, but beweep matches his meter and is more poetic. Too many students are all afrightened by the use of prosthesis. Prosthesis creates a poetic effect, turning a run-of-the-mill word into something novel. Epenthesis (also called infixation) -- adding an extra syllable or letters in the middle of a word. Shakespeare might write, "A visitating spirit came last night" to highlight the unnatural status of the visit. More prosaically, Ned Flanders from The Simpsons might say, "Gosh-diddly-darn-it, Homer."


Proparalepsis -- adding an extra syllable or letters to the end of a word. For instance, Shakespeare in Hamlet creates the word climature by adding the end of the word temperature to climate (1.1.12). The wizardly windbag Glyndwr (Glendower) proclaims that he "can call spirits from the vasty deep" in 1 Henry IV (3.1.52). Aphaearesis -- deleting a syllable from the beginning of a word to create a new word. For instance, in King Lear, we hear that, "the king hath cause to plain" (3.1.39). Here, the word complain has lost its first syllable. In Hamlet 2.2.561, Hamlet asks, "Who should 'scape whipping" if every man were treated as he deserved, but the e- in escape has itself cleverly escaped from its position! Syncope -- deleting a syllable or letter from the middle of a word. For instance, in , Shakespeare writes of how, "Thou thy worldy task hast done, / Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages" (4.2.258). In 2 Henry IV, we hear a flatterer say, "Your lordship, though not clean past your youth, hath yet some smack of age in you, some relish of the saltness of time" (1.2.112). Here, the -i- in saltiness has vanished to create a new word. Syncope is particularly common in poetry, when desperate poets need to get rid of a single syllable to make their meter match in each line. Apocope -- deleting a syllable or letter from the end of a word. In , one character says, "when I ope my lips let no dog bark," and the last syllable of open falls away into ope before the reader's eyes (1.1.93-94). In Troilus and Cressida, Shakespeare proclaims, "If I might in entreaties find success--/ As seld I have the chance--I would desire / My famous cousin to our Grecian tents" (4.5.148). Here the word seldom becomes seld. To the Winds Throwing Word Order! Hyperbaton -- a generic term for changing the normal or expected order of words. "One ad does not a survey make." The term comes from the Greek for "overstepping" because one or more words "overstep" their normal position and appear elsewhere. For instance, Milton in Paradise Lost might write, "High on a throne of royal gold . . . Satan exalted sat." In normal, everyday speech, we would expect to find, "High on a throne of royal gold . . . Satan sat exalted." Subtypes of hyperbaton appear below the examples here: "Arms and the man I sing"--Virgil "This is the sort of English up with which I will not put."--Variously attributed to Winston Churchill or Mark Twain "I was in my life alone"--Frost "Constant you are, but yet a woman"--1 Henry IV, 2.3.113 "Grave danger you are in. Impatient you are." --Yoda, in Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones "From such crooked wood as state which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned." --Kant "pity this busy monster manunkind not." --e. e. cummings. Anastrophe -- A type of hyperbaton in which the adjective appears after the noun when we expect to find the adjective before the noun. For example, Shakespeare speaks of "Figures pedantical" (LLL 5.2.407). Faulkner describes "The old bear [. . .] not even a mortal but an anachronism indomitable and invincible out of an old dead time." T. S. Eliot writes of "Time present and time past," and so on. Hysteron-proteron -- Using anastrophe in a way that creates a (see under tropes); an impossible ordering on the literal level. For instance, Virgil has the despairing Trojans in the Aeneid cry out in despair as the city falls, "Let us die, and rush into the heart of the fight." Of course, the expected, possible order would be to "rush into the heart of the fight," and then "die." Literally, Virgil's sequence


would be impossible unless all the troops died, then rose up as zombies and ran off to fight. In , Shakespeare writes, "I can behold no longer / Th'Antoniad, the Egyptian admiral, / With all their sixty, fly and turn the rudder" (3.10.1). We would expect to turn the rudder and then flee or fly, not fly and then turn the rudder! Hypallage -- Combining two examples of hyperbaton or anastrophe when reversed elements are not grammatically or syntactically parallel. It is easier to give examples than to explain hypallage. Virgil writes, "The smell has brought the well-known breezes" when we would expect, in terms of proper cause-and-effect, to have the breezes bring well-known smells. In , Shakespeare writes, "Our gayness and our gift are besmirched / With rainy marching in the painful field" (4.3.110), when logically we would expect "with painful marching in the rainy field." Roethke playfully states, "Once upon a tree / I came across a time." In each example, not just one hyperbaton appears, but two when the two words switch places with the two spots where we expect to find them. The result often overlaps with hysteron- proteron, in that it creates a catachresis (See under tropes). Tsmesis -- intentionally breaking a word into two parts for emphasis. Goldwyn once wrote, "I have but two words to say to your request: Im Possible." Milton writes, "Which way soever man refer to it." In one text of William Wordsworth's "The Tables Turned," we learn that "Our meddling intellect / Mis shapes the beauteous forms of things" (as opposed to misshapes). In English, this rhetorical scheme is fairly rare, since only the compounds of "ever" readily lend themselves to it, but it is much more common in Greek and Latin. Repeating Yourself: When is not Redundant --repetition of a sound in multiple words: buckets of big blue berries. If we want to be super- technical, alliteration comes in two forms. Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds: many more merry men. If the first letters are the consonants that alliterate, the technique is often called head rhyme. Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds: refresh your zest for living. Often assonance can lead to outright rhymes. Anaphora -- repetition of beginning clauses. For instance, Churchill declared, "We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans. We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island, whatever the cost shall be." Epistrophe -- repetition of a concluding word or endings: "He's learning fast; are you earning fast?" When the epistrophe focuses on sounds rather than entire words, we normally call it rhyme. Epanalepsis -- repeating a word from the beginning of a clause at the end of the clause: "Year chases year." Or "Man's inhumanity to man." As Voltaire reminds us, "Common sense is not so common." As Shakespeare chillingly phrases it, "Blood will have blood." Under Biblical lextalionis one might demand "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life." Anadiplosis -- repeating the last word of a clause at the beginning of the next clause. As Nietzsche said, "Talent is an adornment; an adornment is also a concealment." Extended anadiplosis is called Gradatio. For instance, in The Caine Mutiny the captain declares: "Aboard my ship, excellent performance is standard. Standard performance is sub-standard. Sub-standard performance is not allowed." Biblically speaking, St. Paul claims, "We glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope, and hope maketh man not ashamed." On a more mundane


level, the character of Yoda states in Star Wars, Episode I: "Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hatred; hatred leads to conflict; conflict leads to suffering." Gradatio creates a rhythmical pattern to carry the reader along the text, even as it establishes a connection between words. Diacope (also called Epizeuxis or Repetition) -- uninterrupted repetition, or repetition with only one or two words between each repeated phrase. Poe might cry out, "Oh, horror, horror, horror!" Symploce -- Repeating words at both the beginning and the ending of a phrase: In St. Paul's letters, he seeks symploce to reinforce in the reader the fact that his opponents are no better than he is: "Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they of the seed of Abraham? So am I."

SESTET a six-line stanza. Most commonly, sestet refers to the second division of an Italian sonnet.

SETTING: The locale, time, and CONTEXT in which the ACTION of a literary work takes place. "It was a dark and stormy night . . ." is an example of a setting (a cliché).

SIMILE a figure of speech that makes an explicitly comparison between two unlike things, using words such as like, as , than, or resembles.

SOLILOQUY a long speech made by a character in a play while no other characters are on stage.

SONNET normally a fourteen-line iambic pentameter poem. The conventional Italian, or Petrarchan sonnet is rhymed abba, abba, cde, cde; the English, or Shakespearean, sonnet is rhymed abab, cdcd, efef, gg.

SOUND DEVICES the techniques of deploying the sound of words, especially in poetry. Among devices of sound are rhyme, alliteration, assonance, consonance, and onomatopoeia. The devices are used for many reasons, including to create a general effect of pleasant or of discordant sound, to imitate another sound, or to reflect a meaning.

STANZA usually a repeated grouping of three or more lines with the same meter and rhyme scheme.

STEREOTYPE a fixed idea or conception of a character or an idea which does not allow for any individuality, often based on religious, social, or racial prejudices.

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS a style of writing that portrays the inner (often chaotic) workings of a character’s mind.

STRUCTURE the arrangement of materials within a work; the relationship of the parts of a work to the whole; the logical divisions of a work. The most common units of structure in a poem are the line and stanza.

STYLE the distinctive way in which a writer uses language: a writer’s distinctive use of diction, tone, and syntax.


SUSPENSE a feeling of uncertainty and curiosity about what will happen next in a story.

SYLLOGISM from the Greek meaning "conclusion" or "inference" is a kind of logical argument in which one proposition (the conclusion) is inferred from two or more others (the premises) of a certain form. A categorical syllogism consists of three parts: the major premise, the minor premise and the conclusion. Each part is a categorical proposition, and each categorical proposition contains two categorical terms. In Aristotle, each of the premises is in the form "All A are B," "Some A are B", "No A are B" or "Some A are not B", where "A" is one term and "B" is another. "All A are B," and "No A are B" are termed universal propositions; "Some A are B" and "Some A are not B" are termed particular propositions. More modern logicians allow some variation. Each of the premises has one term in common with the conclusion: in a major premise, this is the major term (i.e., the predicate of the conclusion); in a minor premise, it is the minor term (the subject) of the conclusion. For example: Major premise: All men are mortal. Minor premise: All Greeks are men. Conclusion: All Greeks are mortal.

SYMBOL a person, place, thing, or event that has meaning in itself and that also stands for something more than itself.

SYMBOLISM: The use of words or objects to stand for or represent other things. When Hamlet asks, "Will you play upon this pipe?" he is expressing his awareness that his old “friends,” Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, have been hired by his uncle as spies. They are attempting to manipulate Hamlet the way a musician manipulates an instrument. A symbol is something that stands for something else. is more flexible than . It may convey a number of meanings. The symbol of the great white whale in Herman Melville's Moby Dick, for example, may stand for the devil, nature, fate, or the Divine. In the Chronicles of Narnia, the White Stag may stand for Jesus, and all of the (at this time) unfulfilled promises of God. Like the Stag, Jesus calls us to follow and promises us unending joys (in heaven). The stag was a symbol for Christ in the Middle Ages; the antlers have been compared to a tree of life; the whiteness of Lewis's stag adds a dimension of purity.

SYNECDOCHE a figure of speech in which a part represents the whole. “If you don’t drive properly, you will lose your wheels.” The wheels represent the entire car. Also, the captain says, “All hands on deck.” He doesn’t want the hands, he wants the whole sailor. The hands represent the sailor.

SYNTACTIC FLUENCY Ability to create a variety of sentence structures, appropriately complex and/or simple and varied in length.

SYNTACTIC PERMUTATION Sentence structures that are extraordinarily complex and involved. Often difficult for a reader to follow.


SYNTAX the ordering of words into patterns or sentences. If a poet shifts words from the usual word order, you know you are dealing with an older style of poetry or a poet who wants to shift emphasis onto a particular word.

TALL TALE an outrageously exaggerated, humorous story that is obviously unbelievable.

TELEGRAPHIC SENTENCE A sentence shorter than five words in length.

TERCET a stanza of three lines in which each line ends with the same rhyme.

TERZA RIMA (Italian, "third rhyme") A three-line stanza form with interlocking rhymes that move from one stanza to the next. The typical pattern is ABA, BCB, CDC, DED, and so on. Dante chose terza rima's tripartite structure as the basic poetic unit of his trilogy, The Divine Comedy. An English example is found in Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind." Here are two sample stanzas: Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is: What if my leaves are falling like its own! The tumult of thy mighty harmonies Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone, Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce, My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

THEME the insight about human life that is revealed in a literary work. A theme is an author’s insight about life. It is the main idea or universal meaning, the lesson or message of a literary work. A theme may not always be explicit or easy to state, and different interpreters may disagree. Common literary themes involve basic human experiences such as: adventure; alienation; ambition; anger; betrayal; coming-of-age; courage; death; the testing of faith; overcoming fear; jealousy; liberation; love; loyalty; prejudice; the quest for an ideal; struggling with fate; truth-seeking; vengeance. One of the greatest themes in literature is the “quest,” the search to attain some noble goal or purpose. Examples include the great epics, Beowulf, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid. The primary theme in the Chronicles of Narnia is a common quest to answer Aslan’s call and fulfill His various tasks. Invariably, the quest involves adventure and requires courage. C. S. Lewis alluded to the legends of King Arthur in several of his works, embracing the knight on a quest as a metaphor for the Christian life.

TONE the attitude a writer takes toward the subject of a work, the characters in it, or the audience, revealed through diction, figurative language, and organization.

TRAGEDY in general, a story in which a heroic character either dies or comes to some other unhappy end. A serious play in which the chief character, by some peculiarity of psychology, passes through a series of misfortunes leading to a final, devastating . According to Aristotle, catharsis is the marking feature and ultimate end of any tragedy. He writes in his (c. 350 BCE): "Tragedy is an of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; . . . through pity [eleos] and fear [phobos] effecting the proper purgation [catharsis] of these emotions" (Book 6.2). Traditionally, a


tragedy is divided into five acts. The first act introduces the characters in a state of happiness, or at the height of their power, influence, or fame. The second act typically introduces a problem or dilemma, which reaches a point of crisis in the third act, but which can still be successfully averted. In the fourth act, the main characters fail to avert or avoid the impending crisis or catastrophe, and this disaster occurs. The fifth act traditionally reveals the grim consequences of that failure. See also hamartia, hubris, , , and catharsis. Click the following links to download a handout discussing medieval tragedy, some general thoughts about tragedy, or a comparison of comedy and tragedy.

TRAGIC FLAW Another term for the tragic hero's hamartia. See discussion under hamartia and tragedy.

TRAGIC HERO The main character in a Greek or Roman tragedy. In contrast with the epic hero (who embodies the values of his culture and appears in an epic poem), the tragic hero is typically an admirable character who appears as the focus in a tragic play, but one who is undone by a hamartia--a tragic mistake, misconception, or flaw. That hamartia leads to the downfall of the main character (and sometimes all he or she holds dear). In many cases, the tragic flaw results from the character's hubris, but for a tragedy to work, the audience must sympathize for the main character. Accordingly, in many of the best tragedies, the tragic flaw grows out of some trait we find admirable. Read here for general thoughts about tragedy.

TRICOLON Sentence of three parts of equal importance and length, usually three independent clauses.

TROPE Trope has two meanings: (1) a rhetorical device or figure of speech involving shifts in the meaning of words (2) a short dialogue inserted into the church mass during the early Middle Ages as a sort of mini-drama.

TROPES -- Tropes are figures of speech with an unexpected twist in the meaning of words, as opposed to schemes, which only deal with patterns of words. Metaphor -- when something is something else: the ladder of success (i.e, success is a ladder). "Carthage was a beehive of buzzing workers." Or, "This is your brain on drugs." Simile -- when something is like something else: "Her skin was like alabaster." "He was as unpleasant as a veneral disease." The following example of an epic simile comes from Homer's The Odyssey, as translated by Robert Fitzgerald. The simile is an extended comparison between the way the sea pulls Odysseus out of the rocks and the way a fisherman pulls an octopus out of its lair. Note the clever inversions between land- creatures and sea-creatures. During his meditation, a heavy surge was taking him, in fact, straight on the rocks. He [would have] been flayed there, and his bones broken, had not grey-eyed Athena instructed him: he gripped a rock- ledge with both hands in passing and held on, groaning as the surge went by, to keep clear of its breaking. Then the backwash hit him, ripping him under and far out. An octopus, when you drag one from his chamber, comes up with suckers full of tiny stones: Odysseus left the skin of his great hands torn on the rock-ledge as the wave submerged him. And now at last Odysseus would have perished, battered inhumanly, but he had the gift of self-possession from grey-eyed Athena.


Metonymy -- using a vaguely suggestive, physical object to embody a more general idea: CROWN for royalty; the PEN is mightier than the SWORD. "If we cannot strike offenders in the heart, let us strike them in the wallet." We use metonymy in everyday speech when we refer to the entire movie-making industry as a mere suburb of L.A., "Hollywood," or when we refer to the collective decisions of the United States government as "Washington," or the "White House." -- using a part of a physical object to represent the whole object: "Twenty eyes watched our every move" (i.e., ten people watched our every move). "A hungry stomach has no ears" (La Fontaine). -- A pun twists the meaning of words. Homonymic Puns -- "Johnny B. Good" is a pun for "Johnny be good." Sound similarities -- "Casting perils before swains" (instead of "pearls before swine"). Zeugma -- one verb using different objects. If this changes the verb's intial meaning, the zeugma is sometimes called syllepsis: "If we don't hang together, we shall hang separately" (Ben Franklin). "The queen of England sometimes takes advice in that chamber, and sometimes tea." ". . . losing her heart or her necklace at the ball" (Alexander Pope). "She exhausted both her audience and her repertoire." Personification -- giving human qualities to inanimate objects: "The ground thirsts for rain; the wind whispered secrets to us." Prosopopoeia is a form of personification in which an inanimate object gains the ability to speak. For instance, in the Anglo-Saxon poem, "The Dream of the Rood," the wooden cross verbally describes the death of Christ from its own point of view. Ecocritical writers might describe clearcutting from the viewpoint of the tree, and so on. Apostrophe -- (not to be confused with the mark): addressing someone or some abstraction that is not physically present: "Oh, Death, be not proud" (John Donne). "Ah, Mr. Newton, you would be pleased to see how far we have progressed in physics." Erotema -- asking a rhetorical question to the reader: "What should honest citizens do?" Onomatapoeia -- echoic words or words that create an auditory effective similar to the sound they represent: Buzz; Click; Rattle; Clatter; Squish; Grunt. -- exaggeration: "His thundering shout could split rocks." Or, "Yo' mama's so fat. . . ." Meiosis -- understatement (opposite of exaggeration): "I was somewhat worried when the psychopath ran toward me with a chainsaw." (i.e., I was terrified). (especially popular in Old English) is a type of meiosis in which the writer uses a statement in the negative to create the effect: "You know, Einstein is not a bad mathematician." (i.e., Einstein is a good mathematician.) Anthimeria -- using a different part of speech to act as another, such as a verb for a noun, or a noun for a verb, or an adjective as a verb, etc.: "Gift him with Sports Illustrated magazine for Christmas" (as opposed to give him). "he sang his didn't, he danced his did." (e. e. cummings) "I am going in search of the great perhaps" (Rabelais). Catachresis -- A completely impossible figure of speech, especially one breaking the limits of realism or grammar. For example, many figures of speech describe something biologically or physically impossible: "Joe will kittens when he hears this!" "I will sing victories for you." Or as Milton so elegantly phrased it, catachresis is all about "blind mouths."


For a more recent example, consider the disturbingly cheerful pop song by Foster the People, "Pumped Up Kicks," which deals with a school shooting. Here, the shooter/narrator states, "I've waited for a long time. Yeah, the sleight of my hand is now a quick-pull trigger. / I reason with my cigarette." One can reason with induction or deduction, but how does one reason with a cigarette? Here, the catachresis might evoke the idea of the "cool" kid using personal style instead of a persuasive argument, or it might evoke the imagery of torture--burning victims with a cigarette-butt to make one's point. This sort of evocative, almost nonsensical language is the heart of good catachresis. Catachresis is closely related to hyperbole and synaesthesia. Synæsthesia -- Mixing one type of sensory input with another in an impossible way, such as speaking of how a color sounds, or how a smell looks: "The scent of the rose rang like a bell through the garden." "I caressed the darkness with cool fingers." -- Talking about not being able to talk about something: "I can't tell you how often writers use aporia." Aposiopesis -- Breaking off as if unable to continue: "The fire surrounds them while -- I cannot go on." Oxymoron (plural oxymora also called Paradox)-- Using contradiction in a manner that oddly makes sense. Examples of oxymora include jumbo shrimp, sophisticated rednecks, and military intelligence. The best oxymora seem to reveal a deeper truth through their contradictions. For instance, "without laws, we can have no freedom." Shakespeare's Julius Caesar also makes use of a famous oxymoron: "Cowards die many times before their deaths" (2.2.32).

UNDERSTATEMENT a statement that says less than what is meant. Example: During the second war with Iraq, American troops complained of a fierce sand storm that made even the night-vision equipment useless. A British commando commented about the storm: “It’s a bit breezy.”

UNITY Unified parts of the writing are related to one central idea or organizing principle. Unity is dependent upon coherence.

VERNACULAR the language spoken by the people who live in a particular locality.

VILLANELLE a nineteen-line poem divided into five tercets and a final quatrain. The villanelle uses only two rhymes which are repeated as follows: aba, aba, aba, aba, aba, abaa. Line 1 is repeated entirely to form lines 6, 12, and 18, and line 3 is repeated entirely to form lines 9, 15, and 19; thus, eight of the nineteen lines are refrain. Dylan Thomas’s poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” is an example of a villanelle.

VOICE An author’s distinctive literary style, basic vision and general attitude toward the world. This “voice” is revealed through an author’s use of SYNTAX (sentence construction); DICTION (distinctive vocabulary); PUNCTUATION; CHARACTERIZATION and DIALOGUE. The voice of an author may cover a wide range of possibilities (e.g. “victim,” “judge,” “friend," "coach," “spy,” “opponent,” "cheerleader,” "critic," "alien").


VOLTA Also called a turn, a volta is a sudden change in thought, direction, or emotion near the conclusion of a sonnet. This invisible volta is then followed by a couplet or gemel (in English sonnets) or a sestet (in Italian sonnets). Typically, the first section of the sonnet states a premise, asks a question, or suggests a theme. The concluding lines after the volta resolve the problem by suggesting an answer, offering a conclusion, or shifting the thematic concerns in a new direction. (Always check line 9.)

WRITING MOVEMENTS AND STYLES TO KNOW: IMPRESSIONISM a nineteenth-century movement in literature and art which advocated a recording of the artist’s personal impressions of the world, rather than a strict representation of reality. a term for the bold new experimental styles and forms that swept the arts during the first third of the twentieth century. NATURALISM a nineteenth century literary movement that was an extension of realism and that claimed to portray life exactly as it was. PLAIN STYLE that stresses simplicity and clarity of expression (but will still utilize and metaphors), and was the main form of the Puritan writers. POST-MODERNISM: A term used for the pessimistic, contemporary worldview which began in the 1960s, rejecting tradition, resisting authority, and denying any final or enduring meaning and purpose in life (and literature). Postmodern literature tends to focus upon the way in which institutions and use (and have used) their power to deny individuals and minorities of their freedom. PURITANISM Writing style of America’s early English-speaking colonists. emphasizes obedience to God and consists mainly of journals, sermons, and poems. RATIONALISM a movement that began in Europe in the seventeenth century, which held that we can arrive at truth by using our reason rather than relying on the authority of the past, on the authority of the Church, or an institution. ALSO CALLED NEOCLASSICISM AND AGE OF REASON REALISM a style of writing, developed in the nineteenth century, that attempts to depict life accurately without idealizing or romanticizing it. REGIONALISM literature that emphasizes a specific geographic setting and that reproduces the speech, behavior, and attitudes of the people who live in that region. a revolt against Rationalism that affected literature and the other arts, beginning in the late eighteenth century and remaining strong throughout most of the nineteenth century. SURREALISM in movement in art and literature that started in Europe during the 1920s. Surrealists wanted to replace conventional realism with the full expression of the unconscious mind, which they considered to be more real than the “real” world of appearances. SYMBOLISM a literary movement that originated in late nineteenth century France, in which writers rearranged the world of appearances in order to reveal a more truthful version of reality. TRANSCENDENTALISM a nineteenth century movement in the Romantic tradition , which held that every individual can reach ultimate truths through spiritual intuition, which transcends reasons and sensory experience.

TIME LINE: Puritanism 1620 - 1770s Neoclassic 1770s - early 1800s


Romanticism early 1800s - 1870s Realism 1850s -early 1900s Regionalism 1884 - early 1900s Naturalism - late 1800s - mid 1900s Modernism - 1920s - [1945] [Post-Modernism - 1945 - ]