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Terms Used in Literature. Tia Moore & Danet Grabbe. Satire. What it is: a satire is a device which, through exaggeration and humor, proves a point. The exaggeration acts as a way to mock something (usually an idea that the author disagrees with) as being absurd.

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Terms Used in Literature

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Terms used in literature

Terms Used in Literature

Tia Moore & Danet Grabbe



What it is: a satireis a device which, through exaggeration and humor, proves a point. The exaggeration acts as a way to mock something (usually an idea that the author disagrees with) as being absurd.

Why it is important: satires are easy ways to make an argument. Because they are humorous and/or ridiculous, readers take an immediate interest in them and the information is easier to process both because it is given in an entertaining format and because it is exaggerated.

Satire in a modest proposal

Satire in “A Modest Proposal”

Jonathan Swift’s satirical essay, “A Modest Proposal”, uses the ridiculous suggestion of eating the lower class children in order to enforce population control. Swift makes the lower class the “target” of this suggestion as a way of pointing out his time’s attitude towards this population (after all, who cares about the poor?). The essay is so insane in its serious presentation that even those prejudiced against the lower class would have to scoff at the suggestion; this is the exact point of satire.

shock factor - suggestion “proposed” by Swift is exaggerated and ridiculous to audience, bringing them to believe it can’t possibly be serious. Relates to satire proving a point.

comparison of humans to livestock degrades them in the most extreme way



What it is:antithesis is when something is the complete opposite of something else. These two contrasting things can be ideas or words, people, or objects and are usually presented within the same sentence or within a few sentences of each other.

Why it is important: using antithesis can create contrast in a work. It provides an immediate juxtaposition and comparison of two things.

Antithesis in catch 22

Antithesis in Catch-22

Antithesis is used in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 in order to highlight the hypocritical nature of people. This device combines with the overall characterization of the novel’s characters in order to depict hypocritical habits as symptoms of insanity. This furthers the theme of condemnation of hypocritical nature in humans.

Condemns racial prejudice before continuing to use racial slurs for every race but his own. Hypocritical nature of character relates to theme of hypocrisy among people.



What it is: an allusion is a brief reference to something. Typically, an allusion is made to an event in history or another piece of literature.

Why it is important: allusions in literature help to elaborate on an idea presented in the text or provide a comparison that helps to clarify mood, tone, theme, etc. for the readers. They can also give readers something familiar to identify with.

Allusion in frankenstein

Allusion in Frankenstein

Mary Shelley makes an allusion to “Rime Of the Ancient Mariner” in Frankenstein in reference to the emotional similarities between Frankenstein and the mariner in “Rime Of the Ancient Mariner”. Making an allusion to another literary work and comparing the similarities not only provides clear explanation of the character’s state of mind to the readers, but also legitimizes the importance of the subject by pointing out parallels in the human experience.



What it is: an anecdote is a small, short story about a real person or occurrence.

Why it is important: anecdotes can be used similarly to allusions, wherein they can provide elaboration, explanation, and clarity for readers. However, anecdotes are typically more relatable for an everyday person.

Anecdote in the damned human race

Anecdote in “The Damned Human Race”

Twain uses an anecdote to prove a point about man having “descended” from the “higher animals”, a term he uses to refer to all other animals besides the human race, including, in this example, the anaconda. The anecdote is used as a form of support for his statements, opinion, and message.

story presents proof for a point and validates the insert of the anecdote

related to personal experience



What it is: an allegory is a piece of work (story, poem, etc.) that is seemingly simple on the surface, but hides a deeper meaning, typically relating to morality or politics.

Why it is important: allegories work as an extended metaphor, helping to portray an important message in a simple way. This often works best for fairytales and folklore wherein the simple, almost childish tales, are used to teach a moral lesson, usually to a young audience.

Allegory of the skylark the frogs

Allegory of The Skylark & The Frogs

Relation to real life. Diverges slightly from the story to point out a real life occurrence, showing the readers that the lesson of this story is applicable to their lives.

pause indicates a heavier tone to the story and suggests the author is aware this ending is unexpected

This literary device encompases the entirety of the text. “The Skylark and the Frog” is a story that seems very simple on the surface. It is a short story about the life of a group of frogs, obviously oppressed, and their “savior”, the Skylark. However, this story carries a more moral meaning about the treatment of supposed glorious symbols in life. The author especially indicates this hidden meaning at the end.

Literary devices

Literary Devices

by Patrick Kirk and Josh Denning



Diction is often referred to as the author’s word choice when writing. Diction can be broken down into several different sub-categories:

  • Abstract - describing something that cannot be perceived with the five senses.

  • Concrete - describing physical, material objects

  • Euphonious - using pleasant and pleasing words

  • Cacophonous - using harsh, intense words.

  • Colloquial - “common speech” of a specific region or population

  • Formal - sophisticated word choice

  • Informal - casual, non-elevated word choice

Terms used in literature

Mark Twain’s The Damned Human Race is a prime example of both formal and cacophonous diction.Throughout his piece, Twain uses formal diction to create a sophisticated, scientific tone which helps attribute to his argument. He uses the cacophonous diction to demean and characterize the human race as cruel and vicious in comparison to the rest of the creatures in the animal kingdom. This, too, furthers Twain’s argument on how the human race is far more beastial than the creatures that they are “above” on the evolutionary scale.



Syntax is referring to how the author structures their sentences, including word placement and punctuation.

Terms used in literature

This selection from Wuthering Heights uses syntax to create a scene and characterize Heathcliff. Emily Brontë used commas in the first sentence to create a series of brief clauses that, when put together, create a hastened feeling when reading. It makes it feel as though the action is happening right before the reader. It shows how quickly Heathcliff tore open the lattice in his fit of passion. In the second section of this selection, Brontë uses varied syntax to convey Heathcliff’s passion and desperation for Cathy through the use of hyphens, exclamation points, and choppy sentences.



Style is described as the way in which an author writes

Style annotation

Style Annotation

In Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, the author regularly breaks into sections of songs or speeches. When doing this, it is always relevant to what the narrator is thinking or involved in at that particular time. This use of style engages the reader and enhances immersion into the novel by drawing the reader in with different pieces of culture relevant to the plot.

Terms used in literature


The writer’s attitude or specific feelings that are portrayed through their writing.

Tone annotation

Tone Annotation

The tone of The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, is one of self realization and of confrontation. As the narrator confronts her own problems throughout the course of her letters to god, she holds nothing back. The author uses this tone to portray her stance on the treatment of women, more specifically black women, as she relays the reprehensible acts faced by the main character.

Point of view

Point of View

The perspective in which a piece is written in. There are several points of view:

  • 1st person (and 1st person peripheral) - First person uses the pronoun “I” and is typically written from the perspective of the main character. 1st person peripheral is written from the perspective of a supporting character, but still uses “I” in the work.

  • 2nd - This perspective is uncommon. The author uses the pronoun “you.”

  • 3rd limited - The author uses he/she/it but is limited to following a single character

  • 3rd multiple - Uses he/she/it but follows multiple characters

  • 3rd omniscient - Uses he/she/it and follows many characters, and includes their thoughts as well as their actions.

Pov annotation

POV Annotation

In Catch 22, by Joseph Heller, the novel is written in the third person omniscient. The use of third person throughout the course of the novel contributes to the understanding that the reader has of the characters involved. While mostly focusing on Yossarian, point of view often switches between the characters to give a broad idea of the events that happen to each character. With this use of the third person, the innermost thoughts of the characters usually are not fully described, but readers are given a more limited perspective on each character.

Literature terms

Literature Terms

Erika Grandstaff

Casey Quiel



Definition: Diction that appeals to the senses; can be:

  • visual (appealing to sight)

  • auditory (appealing to hearing)

  • kinesthetic (appealing to touch)

  • olfactory (appealing to scent)

  • gustatory (appealing to taste)

Imagery example from the great gatsby fitzgerald 8

Imagery Example -

From The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald 8)

Imagery example from the great gatsby fitzgerald 81

Imagery Example -

From The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald 8)

Imagery in the passage from The Great Gatsby creates a capricious and somewhat ethereal tone through visual imagery of the two young women dressed in white with their dresses “rippling and fluttering.” A sudden tone shift comes when Tom closes the windows with a “boom,” which suddenly makes the setting uncomfortable and changes the tone from whimsical to confined.

Direct characterization

Direct Characterization

Definition: A character’s tendencies, attitudes, etc. are stated straightforwardly rather than implied

Direct characterization example from the canterbury tales chaucer 5

Direct Characterization Example - From The Canterbury Tales (Chaucer 5)

Direct characterization example from the canterbury tales chaucer 51

Direct Characterization Example - From The Canterbury Tales (Chaucer 5)

The use of direct characterization allows Chaucer to quickly summarize the character of the knight. This tactic proves useful because of the many characters that Chaucer needs to explain in the Prologue of The Canterbury Tales, and it also makes his irony more subtle by comparison.

Indirect characterization

Indirect Characterization

Definition: A character’s tendencies, attitudes, etc. are implied through the character’s actions, which leaves them somewhat more open to interpretation.

Indirect characterization example from a tale of two cities dickens 59

Indirect Characterization Example -

From A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens 59)

Indirect characterization example from a tale of two cities dickens 591

Indirect Characterization Example -

From A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens 59)

The indirect characterization of the supporting character Jerry Cruncher in A Tale of Two Cities allows Dickens to inject some tongue-in-cheek humor into his novel. Cruncher is akin to a “four-footed inmate of a menagerie,” yet he makes an attempt to look like an “honest tradesman.” Such a characterization also shows Cruncher’s pride and disagreeable nature.



Definition: an exaggerated statement not to be taken literally



Three years before I was engaged in the same manner, and had created a fiend whose unparalleled barbarity had desolated my heart, and filled it for ever with the bitterest remorse. I was now about to form another being, of whose dispositions I was alike ignorant; she might become ten thousand times more malignant than her mate, and delight, for its own sake, in murder and wretchedness. He had sworn to quit the neighbourhood of man, and hide himself in deserts; but she had not; and she, who in all probability was to become a thinking and reasoning animal, might refuse to comply with a compact made before her creation. They might even hate each other; the creature who already lived loathed his own deformity, and might he not conceive a greater abhorrence for it when it came before his eyes in the female form? She also might turn with disgust from him to the superior beauty of man; she might quit him, and he be again alone, exasperated by the fresh provocation of being deserted by one of his own species. (Shelley 125).

Frankenstein uses a hyperbole while contemplating the creation of another monster as a way to talk his way out of bringing to life the creature’s wish. For all he knew, the female creature could be benevolent, or he may be correct and she may terrorize entire villages like her mate. However, he could not truly know the outcome of this new creation, hence the hyperbole.



Definition: presentation of something being smaller than stated



Lockwood’s understatement in Wuthering Heights, when he is first introduced to Heathcliff and Hareton, allows the readers to detect Bronte’s slight hints at Lockwood’s ignorance. The few sentences prior to the understatement, as well as the previous chapter, illuminate how Lockwood was unwanted, yet he barely perceives it until a little into his visit.

(Bronte 14)



Definition: figurative language comparing one unlike thing to another by using conjunctions “like” or “as”



Not only is there an affluent amount of metaphors in this paragraph, but there are similes as well. The two similes highlighted by Dickens reveal Pip’s age (because of the imagination in the statements) as well as generally exhibit the overall dreariness of the marshes and Pip’s own home.

(Dickens 14)

Ap literature vocabulary project

AP Literature Vocabulary Project

Tyler Garner & Heather McLean

1 synecdoche

#1: Synecdoche

  • Definition:

    • a figure of speech by which a part is put for the whole (as fifty sail for fifty ships), the whole for a part (as society for high society), the species for the genus (as cutthroat for assassin), the genus for the species (as a creature for a man), or the name of the material for the thing made (as boards for stage).



  • Example: Frankenstein

    • “I may there discover the wondrous power which attracts the needle; and may regulate a thousand celestial observations, that require only this voyage to render their seeming eccentricities consistent for ever” (Shelly 1).



  • Robert Walton, a character in Frankenstein is referring to his desire to explore. He wants to find something that no one has found before. In this quote, the needle refers to the needle in a compass. The needle is standing for the whole of the compass. Walton desires to make it to the North Pole where no one has gone. He seeks for knowledge of the magnets and what makes it point north.

2 theme

#2: Theme

  • Definition:

    • the main subject that is being discussed or described in a piece of writing, a movie, etc.



  • Example: Theme of Racism (Heart of Darkness)

    • “Mind, none of us would feel exactly like this. What saves us is efficiency--the devotion to efficiency. But these chaps were not much account, really. They were no colonists; their administration was merely a squeeze, and nothing more, I suspect. They were conquerors...



  • ...and for that you want only brute force--nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind--as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness. The conquest of the earth, which…



  • ...mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it’s the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea” (Conrad 4).



  • The theme of racism is one of many in Heart of Darkness. Marlow, one of the characters, undermines the colonists and describes them as greedy and murderers.

3 aphorism

#3: Aphorism

  • Definition:

    • a pithy observation that contains a general truth, such as, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”



  • Example: Great Expectations

    • “My clothes were rather a disappointment, of course. Probably every new and eagerly expected garment ever put on since clothes came in, fell a trifle short of the wearer’s expectation” (Dickens 150).



  • Charles Dickens shows aphorism in this quote to elaborate on how being an orphan means that the clothes are terrible, but the lifestyle is not a great expectation.

4 euphemism

#4: Euphemism

  • Definition:

    • a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.



  • Example: The Great Gatsby

    • “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone...just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had” (Fitzgerald 1).



  • F. Scott Fitzgerald uses euphemism “advantages” for wealth to describe how being rude and ignorant is not appropriate even if they have money which does not make them a better person.

6 irony

#6: Irony

  • Definition:

    • the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.



  • Example: Invisible Man

    • “I went toward the microphone...entering the spot of light that surrounded me like a seamless cage of stainless steel. I halted. The light was so strong that I could no longer see the audience, the bowl of human faces” (Ellison 341).



  • Ralph Ellison expresses irony with the narrator because he could not see his audience. He states how there should be no blindness among the people, but feels blind giving the speech.

Literature terms1

Literature Terms

Kayla Trevethan & Bailie Pickering



A contradiction.

“O serpent heart, hid with a flowering face!

Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave?

Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!

Dove-feather'd raven! wolvish-ravening lamb!” - Romeo and Juliet (3.2.8)

Juliet is expressing frustration towards Romeo by using an oxymoron to show both love and hatred.



Something that contradicts, but is still true.

“I do repent: but heaven hath pleased it so,

To punish me with this and this with me,

That I must be their scourge and minister.

I will bestow him, and will answer well

The death I gave him. So, again, good night.

I must be cruel, only to be kind:

Thus bad begins and worse remains behind.” - Hamlet



Making an inanimate object pursue humanly actions.

A Dream Within A Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!

And, in parting from you now,

Thus much let me avow--

You are not wrong, who deem

That my days have been a dream;

Yet if hope has flown away

In a night, or in a day,

In a vision, or in none,

Is it therefore the less gone?

All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.

“Yet if hope has flown away” and “Grains on the golden sand- How few! yet how they creep” are both examples of personification. They show inanimate objects performing humanly actions.

I stand amid the roar

Of a surf-tormented shore,

And I hold within my hand

Grains of the golden sand--

How few! yet how they creep

Through my fingers to the deep,

While I weep--while I weep!

O God! can I not grasp

Them with a tighter clasp?

O God! can I not save

One from the pitiless wave?

Is all that we see or seem

But a dream within a dream?

Edgar Allen Poe

Terms used in literature


Jokes about words that sound the same, but have different meanings.

“What a group of people we were, I thought. “I yam what I am.” I chuckled back at the store venders.” Pg. 273

There is humor found in this simple pun that is not often expressed in the Invisible Man’s character. After indulging in eating yams from a vender on the street, the narrator begins to remember his past and experiences feelings of acceptance and love which is something he has not felt in a long time. He jokingly states : “I yam what I am.” to the venders on the street, but this pun actually represents much more than a simple silly statement. This pun affects the novel by highlighting the idea that the narrator does have fond memories of his past and even attempts to claim this part of him.



The substitution of the name of an attribute or adjunct for that of the thing meant.

Heart of Darkness, Pg. 5

“Hunters for gold or pursuers of fame, they all had gone out on that stream, bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of the might within the land.”

The sword refers to soldiers and the torch refers to knowledge.The two are symbols for a deeper meaning.

Works cited

Works Cited

Chuvang-tzu. “The Skylark and the Frogs.” n.p. Web. 14 February 2014.

Heller, Joseph. Catch-22. Simon & Schuster Inc. New York. 1955. Pint. 18

February 2014.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein-Or The Modern Prometheus. Random House

Inc. New York. 2003. Print. 15 February 2014.

Swift, Jonathan. “A Modest Proposal.” Renascence Editions. 1729. Web. 19

February 2014.

Twain, Mark. “The Damned Human Race.” np. 1905. Print. 17 February


Works cited1

Works Cited

Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. Tom

Doherty Associates. 1988. Print. 17

February 2014.

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York, Vintage International.

1995. Print. 17 February 2014.

Heller, Joseph. Catch-22. Simon & Schuster. New York,

2011. Print. 17 February 2014.

Twain, Mark. “The Damned Human Race.”

1905, N.p. 17 February 2014

Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. London: Women's Press,

1992. Print. 17 February 2014.

Works cited2

Works Cited

Bkwillwm. “Chaucer_ellesmere.jpg.” Drawing. Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 5 Sep 2005. Web. 17 February 2014.

Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. Tom Doherty Associates. 1988. Print. 17 February 2014.

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2006. Print.17 February 2014.

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 1988. Print. 17 February 2014.

Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. London: Penguin, 1996. Print. 17 February 2014.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004. Print. 17 February 2014.

Jmj713. “Gatsby 1925 jacket.gif.” Drawing. Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 19 Jul 2012. Web. 17 February 2014.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Bantam, 2003. Print. 1 November 2013

Staniulis, Tomas. “A Tale of Two Cities.” Drawing. Gold of Lithuania. Gold of Lithuania, 8 Jun 2013. Web. 17 February


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