Literary Terms We will be using these literary terms throughout the school year. There WILL be literary terms used on your FINAL EXAMS in May!! You need to keep up with your notes. Don’t lose your terms! You might be able to use them – be RESPONSIBLE!! We will use the following terms:
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We will be using these literary terms throughout the school year.
There WILL be literary terms used on your FINAL EXAMS in May!!
You need to keep up with your notes. Don’t lose your terms! You might be able to use them –
Character Antagonist Protagonist
Diction Denotation Connotation
Imagery Mood Plot
Exposition Rising Action Climax
Falling Action Resolution Conflict
Flashback Foreshadowing Suspense
Point of View Setting Style
Theme Tone Figures of Speech
Metaphor Simile Oxymoron
A character is a person or an animal that takes part in the action of a literary work.
Don’t say ‘goin’ – say ‘going’, Don’t say ‘wanna’ – say ‘want to’
The denotation of a word is its dictionary meaning, independent of other associations that the word may have.
The connotation of a word is the set of ideas associated with it in addition to its explicit meaning. The connotation of a word can be personal, based on individual experiences. More often, cultural connotations – those recognizable by most people in a group – determine a writer’s word choices.
Some examples –
Cheap is “low in cost” (denotation) but “stingy” or “poorly made” are the connotations of cheap
The denotation (or dictionary definition – remember d in denotation = dictionary)of HOT is: having a temperature higher than that of a human body.
However, when you say “Man! He/She is hot!”, are you saying “Man! He is having a temperature higher than that of a human body!”? No!!
You are saying the CONNOTATION of HOT – which could mean a variety of things – man he/she is cute, attractive, beautiful, and many other meanings – those come from personal experiences and cultural meanings, etc.
Imagery is words or phrases that appeal to one or more of the five senses. Writers use imagery to describe how their subjects look, sound, feel, taste, and smell.
Mood, or atmosphere, is the feeling created in the reader by a literary work or passage. Writer’s use many devices to create mood, including images, dialogue, setting, and plot. Often, a writer creates a mood at the beginning of a work and then sustains the mood throughout. Sometimes, however, the mood of the work changes dramatically.
Plot is the sequence of events. The first event causes the second, the second causes the third, and so forth.
In most novels, dramas, short stories, and narrative poems, the plot involves both characters and a central conflict.
The plot usually begins with an exposition that introduces the setting, the characters, and the basic situation. This is introduced and developed. The conflict then increases until it reaches a high point of interest or suspense, the climax. The climax is followed by the falling action, or end, of the central conflict. Any events that occur during the falling action make up the resolution.
The Exposition is the introduction. It is the part of the work that introduces the characters, setting, and basic situation.
Rising Action is the part of the plot that begins to occur as soon as the conflict is introduced. The rising action adds complications to the conflict and increases reader interest.
The Climax is the point of greatest emotional intensity, interest, or suspense in the plot of a narrative. The climax typically comes at the turning point in a story or drama.
Falling Action is the action that typically follows the climax and reveals its results.
The Resolution is the part of the plot that concludes the falling action by revealing or suggesting the outcome of the conflict.
Conflict is the struggle between opposing forces in a story or play. There are two types of conflict that exist in literature.
External conflict exists when a character struggles against some outside force, such as another character, nature, society, or fate.
Man vs. Man
Man vs. Nature
Internal conflict exists within the mind of a character who is torn between different courses of action.
Man vs. Himself
A flashback is a literary device in which an earlier episode, conversation, or event is inserted into the sequence of events. Often flashbacks are presented as a memory of the narrator or of another character.
The movie Titanic is told almost entirely in a flashback.
What are some other films that contain flashback to help tell stories?
Think of some more…
Foreshadowing is the author’s use of clues to hint at what might happen later in the story. Writers use foreshadowing to build their readers’ expectations and to create suspense. This is used to help readers prepare for what is to come.
Suspense is the growing interest and excitement readers experience while awaiting a climax or resolution in a work of literature. It is a feeling of anxious uncertainty about the outcome of events. Writers create suspense by raising questions in the minds of their readers.
Point of View is the perspective, or vantage point, from which a story is told. It is the relationship of the narrator to the story.
First-person is told by a character who uses the first-person pronoun “I”.
Third-person limited point of view is the point of view where the narrator uses third-person pronouns such as “he” and “she” to refer to the characters.
The setting of a literary work is the time and place of the action.
The setting includes all the details of a place and time – the year, the time of day, even the weather. The place may be a specific country, state, region, community, neighborhood, building, institution, or home.
Details such as dialect, clothing, customs, and modes of transportation are often used to establish setting.
In most stories, the setting serves as a backdrop – a context in which the characters interact. The setting of a story often helps to create a particular mood, or feeling.
Style is the distinctive way in which an author uses language.
Word choice, phrasing, sentence length, tone, dialogue, purpose, and attitude toward the audience and subject can all contribute to an author’s writing style.
The theme of a literary work is its central message, concern, or purpose. A theme can usually be expressed as a generalization, or general statement, about people or life. The theme may be stated directly by the writer although it is more often presented indirectly. When the theme is stated indirectly, the reader must figure out the theme by looking carefully at what the work reveals about the people or about life.
Tone is a reflection of a writer’s or speaker’s attitude toward a subject of a poem, story, or other literary work. Tone may be communicated through words and details that express particular emotions and that evoke and emotional response from the reader.
For example, word choice or phrasing may seem to convey respect, anger, lightheartedness, or sarcasm.
A figure of speech is a specific device or kind of figurative language, such as hyperbole, metaphor, personification, simile, or understatement.
Figurative language is used for descriptive effect, often to imply ideas indirectly. It is not meant to be taken literally. Figurative language is used to state ideas in vivid and imaginative ways.
A Metaphor is a type of speech that compares or equates two or more things that have something in common. A metaphor does NOT use like or as.
Example: Life is a bowl
A Simile is another figure of speech that compares seemingly unlike things. Simile’s DO use the words like or as.
Example: Her voice was like nails on a chalkboard.
An Oxymoron is a figure of speech that is a combination of seemingly contradictory words.
Examples: Same difference
Personification is a figure of speech in which an animal, object, force of nature, or idea is given human qualities or characteristics.
Example: Tears began to fall from the dark clouds.
Alliteration is the repetition of sounds, most often consonant sounds, at the beginning of words. Alliteration gives emphasis to words.
Example: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers