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ENG 4U0 Review of Literary Terms. Alliteration. Allegory. A symbolic narrative; figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another. Repeating a consonant sound in close proximity to others, or beginning several words with the same vowel sound. Allusion.

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A symbolic narrative; figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another.

Repeating a consonant sound in close proximity to others, or beginning several words with the same vowel sound.


Reference to an event in history or in literature.

Antithesis – a figure of speech in which words or ideas are set up in parallel structure or balance against each other to emphasize the contrast in their meaning.

Atmosphere – the general feeling created by the literary work in the reader or audience.

Assonance – the repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds, usually in stressed syllables.

Consonance – the repetition of a final consonant sound or sounds following different vowel sounds in proximate words.

Cliché – an expression used so often that it has lost its original impact.

Hyperbole – deliberate exaggeration to achieve effect, whether serious or comic. Sometimes refers to overstatement.

  • When there is an incongruity between what is expressed and what is generally understood.

Dramatic Irony - When the audience or reader has greater knowledge than the characters within the narrative.

Verbal Irony - When what the speaker intends is opposite to what is said.

Situational Irony - It is a discrepancy between the expected result and actual results.



A comparison of two things where one thing takes on the qualities and characteristics of another.

Comparison of two things using ‘like’ or ‘as’.


Giving human qualities to inanimate objects or abstract concepts.


Lines that are structured with rhythm, rhyme, and/or meter. Also known as verse.


The ordinary form of spoken or written language, without metrical structure.


A literary mode based on criticism of people and society through ridicule, irony, and exaggeration. The satirist's goal is to point out the hypocrisy of their target in the hope that either the target or the audience will return to following a proper moral code.


An arrangement of lines of verse in a pattern usually repeated throughout the poem. Typically, each stanza has a fixed number of verses or lines, meter, and a rhyme scheme.

Symbol - A word, place, character, or object that means something beyond what it is on the

literal level.

Tone – the attitude of the author towards their reader/audience, their subject matter or even himself or herself. A writer can be formal, informal, playful, ironic, and especially, optimistic or pessimistic.

Mood – general feeling created in the reader or audience by the work at a given point.

Hubris – excessive pride that constitutes the protagonist’s tragic flaw and leads to a downfall. Disastrous consequence result when hubris causes the protagonist to ignore a wise warning from a god or another important figure, to violate some moral rule, or to try to transcend ordinary limits.

Onomatopoeia – the creation or use of words that, however we explain it, sound like what they mean or, perhaps more accurately, seem to signify meaning through sound effects.

Foreshadowing - A warning or indication of an unfortunate future event.

Pun - A joke that is created because of the double-meaning of a word, or the sound of the word.

Oxymoron - A short phrase (usually two words) that brings together contradictory terms.

Pathetic Fallacy - When parts of nature (the outside world) reflect human emotions.

Pathos – from the Greek for “emotion,” “passions,” or “suffering,” a quality in a work or a portion thereof that makes the reader experience pity, sorrow, or tenderness.

Logos – in classical rhetoric, the means of persuasion by demonstration of logical proof, real or apparent. Sometimes refers to universal divine reason given to all humans.

Ethos - the moral element (or ethics) in literature that determines a character's action rather than his or her thought or emotion.