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  1. Splash Screen

  2. Literary Terms Menu

  3. Abstract language Absurd, Theater of the Act Allegory Alliteration Allusion Ambiguity Analogy Anapest Anecdote Antagonist Anthropomorphism Aphorism Apostrophe Archetype Argument Aside Assonance Atmosphere Author Author’s note Author’s purpose Autobiography A Main Menu

  4. Abstract languageLanguage that expresses an idea or intangible reality, as opposed to a specific object or occurrence or a concrete reality. See also CONCRETE LANGUAGE. Abstract language

  5. Absurd, Theater of the Drama, primarily of the 1950s and 1960s, that does not tell a story but instead presents a series of scenes in which the characters, confused and anxious, seem to exist in a meaningless world. See also SURREALISM. Absurd, Theater of the

  6. Act A major unit of a drama, or play. Modern drama has one, two, or three acts. Older drama may have five acts. Acts may be divided into one or more scenes. See also DRAMA, SCENE. Act

  7. AllegoryA literary work in which all or most of the characters, settings, and events stand for ideas, qualities, or figures beyond themselves. The overall purpose of an allegory is to teach a moral lesson. See also SYMBOL. Allegory

  8. Alliteration The repetition of consonant sounds at the beginnings of words. It can be used to reinforce meaning or create a musical effect. See also SOUND DEVICES. Alliteration

  9. AllusionA reference to a well-known character, place, or situation from history or from music, art, or another work of literature. See pages 75, 657, 797, and 1152. Allusion

  10. Ambiguity The state of having more than one meaning. The richness of literary language lies in its ability to evoke multiple layers of meaning. Ambiguity

  11. AnalogyA comparison that shows similarities between two things that are otherwise dissimilar. Writers often use an analogy to explain something unfamiliar by comparing it to something familiar. See page 490. See also METAPHOR, SIMILE. Analogy

  12. AnapestA metrical foot of three syllables; two unaccented syllables are followed by an accented one (˘˘´). See also FOOT, METER, SCANSION. Anapest

  13. Anecdote A brief account of an interesting event. Essayists often use anecdotes to support their opinions, clarify their ideas, get a reader’s attention, or entertain. Biographers often include one or more anecdotes in a biography to illustrate a point about their subject. See page 1154. Anecdote

  14. Antagonist A person or a force that opposes the protagonist, or central character, in a story or drama. The reader is generally meant not to sympathize with the antagonist. See also CONFLICT, PROTAGONIST. Antagonist

  15. AnthropomorphismThe assignment of human characteristics to gods, animals, or inanimate objects. Anthropomorphism

  16. AphorismA short, pointed statement that expresses a wise or clever observation about human experience. See page 102. See also MAXIM. Aphorism

  17. ApostropheA figure of speech in which a speaker addresses an inanimate object, an idea, or an absent person. See page 700.See also PERSONIFICATION. Apostrophe

  18. ArchetypeA character type, descriptive detail, image, or story pattern that recurs frequently in the literature of a culture. It derives from a Greek word meaning “the original example.” See pages 23, 240, and 898. Archetype

  19. ArgumentA type of persuasive writing in which logic or reason is used to try to influence a reader’s ideas or actions. See page 211. See also PERSUASION. Argument

  20. AsideIn a play, a character’s comment that is directed to the audience or another character but is not heard by any other characters on the stage. Asides, which are rare in modern drama, reveal what a character is thinking or feeling. Aside

  21. AssonanceThe repetition of the same or similar vowel sounds, especially in a line of poetry. See also SOUND DEVICES. Assonance

  22. AtmosphereThe physical qualities that contribute to the mood of a literary work, such as time, place, and weather. Atmosphere

  23. AuthorThe original writer of a work. The word author comes from a Latin word meaning “to create.” Author

  24. Author’s noteA note accompanying a literary work and containing explanatory information. Author’s notes usually include helpful but nonessential information. Author’s note

  25. Author’s purposeAn author’s intent in writing a literary work. Authors typically write for one or more of the following purposes: to persuade, to inform, to explain, to entertain, or to describe. See pages 48, 86, 414, 969, and 1011. See also DICTION, STYLE, THEME, TONE. Author’s purpose

  26. AutobiographyThe story of a person’s life written by that person. Autobiographies can give insights into the author’s view of himself or herself and of the society in which he or she lived. See pages 97, 338, 907, and 988. See also BIOGRAPHY, MEMOIR, NONFICTION. Autobiography

  27. Ballad Ballad Stanza Bias Biography Blank Verse Blues B Main Menu

  28. BalladA narrative song or poem. Folk ballads, which usually recount an exciting or dramatic episode, were passed down by word of mouth for generations before being written down. Literary ballads are written in imitation of folk ballads but have a known author. See also FOLKLORE, NARRATIVE POETRY, ORAL TRADITION. Ballad

  29. Ballad stanzaA quatrain, or four-line stanza, in which the first and third lines have four stressed syllables, and the second and fourth lines have three stressed syllables. Only the second and fourth lines rhyme. See also METER, QUATRAIN, SCANSION, STANZA. Ballad stanza

  30. BiasAn inclination toward a certain opinion or position on a topic.See also NONFICTION. Bias

  31. Biography An account of a person’s life written by someone other than the subject. Biographies have been written about many of the writers in this text.See also AUTOBIOGRAPHY, MEMOIR, NONFICTION. Biography

  32. Blank versePoetry or lines of dramatic verse written in unrhymed iambic pentameter. Each line has five feet, with each foot made up of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Because it may attempt to imitate spoken English, every line need not be perfectly regular. See pages 705 and 723. See also FOOT, IAMBIC PENTAMETER, SCANSION. Blank verse

  33. Blues A melancholy style of music that originated among African Americans in the South. The blues stanza has three lines, and the first two lines are usually identical. Many writers have incorporated the idea of the blues into their work, among them See also STANZA. Blues

  34. Cadence Caesura Catalog Character Characterization Classicism Cliché Climax Colloquial language Comedy Comic relief Conceit Concrete language Confessional poetry Conflict Connotation Consonance Couplet Crisis C Main Menu

  35. CadenceThe rhythmic rise and fall of language when it is spoken or read aloud. See also FREE VERSE, METER. Cadence

  36. CaesuraA pause in a line of poetry, usually near the middle of a line, with two stressed syllables before and two after, creating a strong rhythm. A caesura is used to produce variations in meter and to draw attention to certain words. Some pauses are indicated by punctuation, others by phrasing or meaning. In the lines below, the caesuras are marked by double vertical lines. The pauses are indicated by punctuation. See also RHYTHM. Caesura

  37. CatalogThe listing of images, details, people, or events in a literary work. See page 1291. Catalog

  38. CharacterA person portrayed in a literary work. A main character is central to the story and is typically fully characterized. A minor character displays few personality traits and is used to help develop the story. Characters who show varied and sometimes contradictory traits are called round. Characters who reveal only one personality trait are called flat. A stereotype, or stock character, is typically flat. A dynamic character grows and changes during the story. A static character remains basically the same throughout the story. See also CHARACTERIZATION, STEREOTYPE. Character

  39. CharacterizationThe methods a writer uses to reveal the personality of a character. In direct characterization, the writer makes explicit statements about a character. In indirect characterization, the writer reveals a character through his or her words, thoughts, and actions and through what other characters think and say about that character. See pages 229, 277, 505, 783, and 1248. See also CHARACTER. Characterization

  40. Classicism A style that reflects the principles and concerns of the art and literature of ancient Greece and Rome. Typically, a classical style displays simple, harmonious form. Classicism

  41. Cliché A word or phrase that is so overused that it is virtually meaningless. “Dead as a doornail,” “piece of cake,” and “last but not least” are all clichés. Cliché

  42. Climax The point of greatest emotional intensity, interest, or suspense in a literary work. Usually the climax comes at the turning point in a story or drama, the point just before the resolution of the conflict. See also page 1067. See also CONFLICT, DÉNOUEMENT, PLOT, RESOLUTION. Climax

  43. Colloquial language Informal language used in everyday conversation but not in formal writing or speech. See also DIALECT, VERNACULAR. Colloquial language

  44. ComedyA type of drama that is humorous and often has a happy ending. See also DRAMA, FARCE, HUMOR, PARODY, SATIRE, WIT. Comedy

  45. Comic relief A humorous scene, event, or speech in a serious drama. It provides relief from emotional intensity, while at the same time highlighting the seriousness of the story. Comic relief

  46. Conceit An elaborate figure of speech that makes a comparison between two significantly different things. The conceit draws an analogy between some object from nature or everyday life and the subject or theme of a poem. See also ANALOGY, EXTENDED METAPHOR, IMAGERY. Conceit

  47. Concrete language Specific language about actual things or occurrences. Words like dog and sky are concrete, while words like truth and evil are abstract. See also ABSTRACT LANGUAGE. Concrete language

  48. Confessional poetry A movement in poetry begun in the 1950s in which the poet writes about his or her own personal experiences. Confessional poets described their problems with mental illness, alcohol abuse, and troubled relationships in an open and direct style. Confessional poetry

  49. Conflict The central struggle between two opposing forces in a story or drama. An external conflict exists when a character struggles against some outside force, such as another person, nature, society, or fate. An internal conflict is a struggle that takes place within the mind of a character who is torn between opposing feelings, desires, or goals. See pages 547, 591, 760, and 1106. See also ANTAGONIST, PLOT, PROTAGONIST. Conflict

  50. Connotation The suggested or implied meanings associated with a word beyond its dictionary definition, or denotation. A word can have a positive, negative, or neutral connotation. See also AMBIGUITY, DENOTATION, FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE. Connotation