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Literary Terms. English I. Term: Character. Definition : the people, animals, machines, aliens, etc. who take part in the action of a story, novel or drama.

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Literary Terms


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    1. Literary Terms English I

    2. Term: Character • Definition: the people, animals, machines, aliens, etc. who take part in the action of a story, novel or drama. • Notes/Hints: main=most important; takes part in most of the action, minor=less important; help move story along, dynamic=characters who change throughout the story, static=characters who do not change throughout the story, round=many personality traits are revealed, flat=the reader does not know the character’s traits very well • Word Forms: Noun = character

    3. Character - Example • Title:The Grinch who Stole Christmas • Author: Dr. Seuss • Main = the Grinch • Minor = the Whos • Dynamic = the Grinch • Static = Cindy-Lou Who • Round = the Grinch • Flat = the Grinch’s dog

    4. Term: Characterization • Definition: the methods that a writer uses to develop characters. • Notes/Hints: 1) character’s appearance, 2) character’s words, 3) character’s actions, 4) character’s thoughts, 5) things associated with the character, 6) other characters’ thoughts, words or actions about /toward the character, 7) direct description by the writer • Word Forms: Noun=characterization, Verb=characterize

    5. Characterization - Example • Title:Cinderella • Author: Charles Perrault • Characters = the evil stepsisters • 1) their appearance = ugly • 2) their words = “go clean!” • 3) their actions = give Cinderella dirty looks • 4) their thoughts = to marry the Prince • 5) things associated with them = mean cat, jewelry • 6) other characters thoughts/words/actions toward the sisters = mice think/say the girls are mean • 7) direct description = “the stepsisters are…”

    6. Term: Conflict • Definition: the plot of a story always involves some sort of conflict, or struggle, between opposing forces. • Notes/Hints: An external conflict involves a man pitted against an outside force (Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Man, Man vs. Society, Man vs. Fate). An internal conflict is one that occurs within a character (Man vs. Self) • Word Forms: Noun = conflict, Adjective = conflictive, Verb = conflict

    7. Conflict – Example • Title:Of Mice and Men • Author:John Steinbeck Man vs. Society – Lennie is a nuisance to most people and George has to get him out of trouble Man vs. Himself - George has to decide whether to kill Lennie before Curley does, or to let him run away. This internal conflict rips George up inside, debating the "right" thing to do.

    8. Term: Connotation Definition: refers to the attitudes and feelings associated with a word Notes/Hints: the connotation of a word may be positive or negative. For example, enthusiastic has positive associations, but rowdy has negative ones. Connotations of words can have an important influence on style and meaning. Word Forms: Connotation = Noun

    9. Connotation - Example Title: from “Oranges” Author: Gary Soto The connotations of the words orange, bright, and fire help to create an image of warmth. While the connotations of the words December, frost, and cracking help to create an image of cold.

    10. Term: Denotation Definition: the literal or dictionary definition meaning of a word Notes/Hints: Think “D” for Denotation equals Dictionary Definition Word Forms: Denotation = Noun

    11. Denotation - Example Title: from “Oranges” Author: Gary Soto The denotation of the following words is: Orange = a color between yellow and red Bright = filled with light Fire = a process of combustion in which fuel or other material is ignited and combined with oxygen, giving off light, heat and flame

    12. Term: Figurative Language • Definition: language that communicates ideas beyond the ordinary, literal meaning • Notes/Hints: when you do not mean exactly what you say. Types: simile, metaphor, personification and hyperbole • Word Forms: Noun = figurative language

    13. Term: Flashback • Definition: A flashback is an account of a conversation, an episode, or an event that happened before the beginning of a story. • Notes/Hints: Often, a flashback interrupts the chronological flow of a story to give the reader information needed for the understanding of a character’s present situation. • Word Forms: Noun = flashback

    14. Flashback - Example • Title: “Where Have You Gone, Charming Billy?” • Author: Tim O’Brien In this short story, flashbacks are used to help capture the thought process of the main character as he copes with the realities of his wartime experience.

    15. Term: Foreshadowing • Definition: A writer’s use of hints or clues to indicate events and situations that will occur later in a plot • Notes/Hints: This creates suspense while preparing the reader for what is to come • Word Forms: Noun – foreshadowing, Adjective – foreshadowed, Verb – foreshadow

    16. Foreshadowing – Example • Title: Sorry, Right Number • Author: Stephen King In this teleplay, the opening camera close-up and the first line of dialogue seem to hint that the telephone and Bill’s health will be important in the play.

    17. Term: Hyperbole • Definition: A figure of speech in which the truth is exaggerated for emphasis or humorous effect • Notes/Hints: phrases such as, “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse” are examples of a hyperbole • Word Forms: Noun – hyperbole, Adjective – hyperbolic, Adverb – hyperbolically

    18. Hyperbole – Example • Title: Of Mice and Men (underline title on your paper) • Author: John Steinbeck “’Red and blue and greenrabbits, Lennie. Millions of ‘em.’”

    19. Term: Imagery • Definition: descriptive words and phrases that re-create sensory experiences for the reader • Notes/Hints: 5 senses – sight, sound, smell, taste, touch • Word Forms: Noun – imagery

    20. Imagery – Example • Title: Of Mice and Men • Author: John Steinbeck “The water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the yellowsands in the sunlight before reaching the narrow pool.”

    21. Term: Irony • Definition: A contrast between appearance and reality – usually one in which reality is the opposite from what it seems.

    22. Irony – Notes/Hints • Situational irony: contrast between what a reader or character expects and what actually exists or happens. • Dramatic irony: where the reader or viewer knows something that a character does not know. • Verbal irony: occurs when someone knowingly exaggerates or says one thing and means another.

    23. Irony – Word Forms • Noun = Irony • Adjective = Ironic • Adverb = Ironically

    24. Irony – Example • Title: Of Mice and Men • Author: John Steinbeck • Situational irony: Lennie is a very big and powerful man, but his last name is Small. • Dramatic irony: we (the reader) know what George is planning on doing to Lennie, but Lennie does not know.

    25. Term: Metaphor • Definition: figure of speech comparing two unlike things that have something in common. • Notes/Hints: metaphors do not use the word ‘like’ or ‘as’ • Word Forms: Noun = metaphor, Adjective= metaphorical, Adverb = metaphorically

    26. Metaphor – Example • Title: “The Most Dangerous Game” • Author: Richard Connell “The lights of the yacht became faint and ever-vanishing fireflies…” -this metaphor compares the lights of the yacht to fireflies.

    27. Term: Mood • Definition: the feeling or atmosphere that a writer creates for the reader. • Notes/Hints: descriptive words, imagery, and figurative language contribute to the mood of a work, as do the sound and rhythm of the language used. • Word Forms: Noun = mood

    28. Mood - Example • Title: “The Cask of Amontillado” • Author: Edgar Allan Poe In this short story, Poe creates an unforgettable mood of dread, horror and suspense. From the beginning, the narrator’s talk of injuries borne, unforgivable insults, and threatened revenge conveys a disturbing feeling.

    29. Term: Personification • Definition: A figure of speech in which human traits and actions are given to non-human things • Word Forms: Noun – personification, Adjective – personified, Verb – personify

    30. Personification – Example • Title: Romeo and Juliet (underline title on your paper) • Author: William Shakespeare “The grey-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night.”

    31. Term: Plot • Definition: the sequence of events in a story is called the plot. Generally built around a conflict, the plot tells what happens, when, and to whom. • Notes/Hints: Includes 5 stages – exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution • Word Forms: Noun = plot, Verb = plotting

    32. Plot – Example • Title: Cinderella • Author: Charles Perrault • Exposition (background info.) – Cinderella lives unhappily with her stepsisters and their mother. • Rising Action (suspense builds) – stepsisters go to the ball, fairy godmother gives Cinderella clothes, she goes to the ball, she leaves at midnight and loses her slipper, the Prince says he will marry the woman whom the slipper fits

    33. Plot – Example cont. • Climax (turning point) – the stepsisters try to force their feet into the slipper, but it fits Cinderella • Falling Action (suspense eases) – Cinderella gets to leave her stepmother and stepsisters and marry the Prince • Resolution (conflict resolved) – Cinderella and the Prince live happily ever after

    34. Term: Point of View (POV) • Definition: The perspective from which a story is told. Refers to the person or persons telling the story. • Word Forms: Noun = Point of View

    35. Point of View – Notes/Hints • First Person: the narrator is a character in the story and they are the one telling the story. • The narrator uses the first-person pronouns: (I, me, my, we, us, our, etc.) • Third Person: the narrative voice is outside the action, not one of the characters. • The narrator uses third-person pronouns: (he, she, they, John, Lisa, him, her)

    36. Point of View – Notes/Hints cont. • Types of Third-Person Point of View: • Third-person Omniscient: the narrator knows the thoughts and feelings of all the characters • Third-person Limited: the narrator knows what only one character thinks, feels and observes

    37. Point of View – Examples • Title: “The Cask of Amontillado” • Author: Edgar Allan Poe • First-person point of view: Montresor, the main character, is the one telling the story • Title: “The Gift of the Magi” • Author: O. Henry • Third-person omniscient point of view: the narrator sees into the minds of all the characters, but the narrator is not a character in the story

    38. Term: Simile • Definition: a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two things using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’ • Notes/Hints: “she was as innocent as an angel;” or “her voice sounded like angels singing,” but not “I like ice cream” • Word Forms: Noun = simile

    39. Simile - Example • Title: “Incident in a Rose Garden” • Author: Donald Justice “And there stood Death in the garden dressed like a Spanishwaiter” -this simile compares the way Death is dressed to that of a Spanish waiter

    40. Term: Symbol • Definition: a symbol is a person, a place, an object, or an activity that stands for something beyond itself. • Notes/Hints: For example, a flag is a colored piece of cloth that stands for a country. A white dove is a bird that represents peace. • Word Forms: Noun = symbol,

    41. Symbol - Example • Title: “Through the Tunnel” • Author: Doris Lessing In this short story, the rocky bay represents challenge, danger, and adulthood; the beach represents safety and Jerry’s childhood.

    42. Term: Theme • Definition: is the message or insight about life or human nature that the writer presents to the reader. Since the theme of a piece is not usually stated directly, the reader has to figure it out. • Notes/Hints: one way to discover theme is to consider what happens to the main character. The main idea/moral of the story. • Word Forms: Noun = theme

    43. Theme – Example • Title: Beauty and the Beast • Author: Charles Perrault The theme is not to judge a book by its cover. Things are not always what they seem; therefore, it is important not to judge people based upon their looks, but to judge them on their inner beauty/heart.

    44. Term: Tone • Definition: The attitude a writer takes toward a subject of work, the characters, or the audience. • Notes/Hints: For example, a writer’s tone may be angry or amused, serious or humorous, positive or negative. To identify a writer’s tone, consider his or her choice of words. • Word Forms: Tone = Noun

    45. Tone – Example • Title: “Roses are Red” • Author: Anonymous • Roses are red. Violets are blue. Sugar is sweet. And so are you. • Tone = lighthearted and happy