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Short Story Literary Terms. 12 th graDE CP English. LITERARY terms for this unit. Exposition Conflict internal/external Imagery Allusion Foreshadowing Irony Symbolism Hyperbole. Characterization direct indirect flat round static dynamic Setting Mood Atmosphere Allegory.

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short story literary terms

Short Story Literary Terms

12thgraDE CP English

literary terms for this unit
LITERARY terms for this unit










  • Characterization
  • direct
  • indirect
  • flat
  • round
  • static
  • dynamic
  • Setting
  • Mood
  • Atmosphere
  • Allegory
  • Background information provided by author to enhance the audience’s understanding of the context of a fiction or nonfiction story.
  • Example: Robert Louis Stevenson gives the reader plenty of cultural background on the small seaside village of his youth in hopes the audience will better appreciate the context of “The Lantern-Bearers.”
  • Originally in Greek meant “overshooting.”
  • A bold overstatement or extravagant expression of fact, used for serious or comic effect.
  • Easily recognized as exaggeration for effect.
  • Example: There must have been ten million people at our Wal-Mart on the day after Thanksgiving.
  • Or, Shakespeare’s, Othello, Act III, Scene III, Lines 330-33 reads:
  • Not poppy nor mandragora,
  • Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
  • Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
  • Which thou ow ‘dst yesterday.
  • Use of images, especially in a pattern of related images, often figurative, to create a strong, unified sensory impression.
  • Use of sensory details to create images that support the theme of the essay.
  • Appeals to the readers 5 senses.
  • A contrast between expectation and reality
  • Originated in Greek comedy with the character eiron, who was a “dissembler.” Appeared less intelligent than he was, spoke in understatement, and triumphed over the alazon—the self-deceiving and stupid braggart.
  • Greek dramatist Sophocles developed the “tragic” or “dramatic” irony in his 100-plus tragedies, including Antigone and Oedipus Rex.
  • Four kinds of irony: verbal, structural, dramatic, and situational.
verbal irony
Verbal Irony
  • Verbal irony: demands the most audience sophistication. This requires “reading between the lines.”
  • Also, this irony takes the greatest risks with the audience who might misinterpret what is irony and what is literal.
  • Might be simple reversal of literal meanings of words spoken or more complex, subtle, indirect and unobtrusive messages that require the collection of hints from within the text.
  • Compliments the intelligence of the reader, who, by perceiving the irony, is in partnership with the author and the minority of characters who understand, too.
  • Example: “It is truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” (Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice). The subtle irony is that a single woman is in want of a rich husband as manifested by the evidence in the novel that follows this opening line.
  • Sarcasm: a type of verbal irony that is crude and blatant praise or dispraise. Example: “Oh, you’re God’s great gift to women, you are!”
dramatic irony
Dramatic Irony
  • Involves a situation in a play or narrative in which the audience shares with the author knowledge of which the character is ignorant.
  • The character expects the opposite of what is destined, or says something that anticipates the outcome, but not in a way that is meant when said.
  • Example: In Macbeth, by Act I, Scene I, the audience knows that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have already planned out Duncan’s murder—yet King Duncan never suspects that he is walking into a trap.
situational irony
Situational Irony
  • When the writer shows a discrepancy between the expected results of some action or situation and it actual results.
  • The work has a surprise ending, that, although a “surprise,” still fits the purpose, point of view, evidence and tone of the text.
  • Example: In Thomas Hardy’s “The Three Strangers,” it is a surprise to the characters and the audience when the two strangers at the chimney corner turn out to be the hangman and his intended victim.
  • The atmosphere in the text created by the author’s tone towards the subject.
  • Sometimes called “atmosphere” or “ambience.”
  • Tools used:
  • -Style (how sentences are combined)
  • -syntax (strength, length and complexity of each sentence)
  • -diction (individual word choice)
  • An object, place, setting, prop, event or person that represents or stands for some idea or event.
  • Never hidden, but interwoven throughout the text.
  • It may also retain its own literal meaning while taking on the symbolic qualities.
  • Author’s attitude toward subject matter as revealed through style, syntax, diction, figurative language, and organization.
  • Author’s tone creates mood in the text by use of the above tools.
  • Direct: The author tells us exactly what the character is like
  • Indirect: The reader needs to form their own judgment based on the clues the author gives.
  • Flat: character has only one or two character traits
  • Round: has many traits associated with the character.
  • Static: A character that does not change much throughout the story
  • Dynamic: Character changes as a result of the events in the story.