AP Literature and Composition Flashcards for Literary Terms ALLEGORY
story or poem in which characters, settings, and events stand for other people or events or for abstract ideas or qualities. Rappaccinis Daughter Once Upon a Time
ALLITERATION Repetition of the same or similar consonant sounds in several successive words
She sells seashells by the seashore ALLUSION reference to someone or something that is
known from history, literature, religion, politics, sports, science, or another branch of culture. An indirect reference to something (usually from literature, etc.). Hamlet makes an allusion to himself not being
like Hercules and to his father being like the sun god of Greek mythology AMBIGUITY
deliberately suggesting two or more different, and sometimes conflicting, meanings in a work. An event or situation that may be interpreted in more than one way- - this is done on purpose by the author, when it is not
done on purpose, it is vagueness, and detracts from the work. The ending of The Giver ANALOGY
Comparison made between two things to show how they are alike, usually a comparison through a relationship Structure of an atom is like a solar system.
Nucleus is the sun and electrons are the planets revolving around their sun. Just as a sword is the weapon of a warrior, a pen is the weapon of a writer.
ANAPHORA Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of two or more sentences in a row. This is a deliberate form of repetition and
helps make the writers point more coherent. And how should I presume? Do I dare? That is not what I meant to say, that is not what I meant at all (From The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)
ANASTROPHE Inversion of the usual, normal, or logical order of the parts of a sentence. Purpose is rhythm
or emphasis or euphony. It is a fancy word for inversion. The rain set early in to-night When glided in Porphyria In one long yellow string I wound
(from Porphyrias Lover) ANECDOTE Brief story, told to illustrate a point or serve as
an example of something, often shows character of an individual Speeches from English 11 ANTAGONIST
Opponent who struggles against or blocks the hero, or protagonist, in a story. Can be a character, but doesnt have to be: could be the setting, society, the protagonists
self, etc. General Zaroff in The Most Dangerous Game ANTIMETABOLE
Repetition of words in successive clauses in reverse grammatical order. Moliere: One should eat to live, not live to eat. In poetry, this is called chiasmus. Fair is foul and four is fair
ANTITHESIS Balancing words, phrases, or ideas that are strongly contrasted, often by means of grammatical structure.
Setting foot on the moon may be a step for a man but a giant step for mankind. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age ofwisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season
of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter ofdespair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.
ANTIHERO Central character who lacks all the qualities traditionally associated with heroes. May lack courage, grace, intelligence, or moral scruples.
Jay Gatsby Holden Caulfield ANTHROMORPHISM
attributing human characteristics to an animal or inanimate object (Personification) APHORISM
brief, cleverly worded statement that makes a wise observation about life, or of a principle or accepted general truth. Remember Ralph Waldo Emerson and SelfReliance To thine own self be true
APOSTROPHE calling out to an imaginary, dead, or absent person, or to a place or thing, or a personified
abstract idea. If the character is asking a god or goddess for inspiration it is called an invocation. Odes!
APPOSITION Placing in immediately succeeding order of two or more coordinate elements, the latter of which is an explanation, qualification, or modification
of the first (often set off by a colon). Paine: These are the times that try mens souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it Now, deserves the
love and thanks of man and woman. ASSONANCE the repetition of similar vowel sounds followed
by different consonant sounds especially in words that are together. I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high oer vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze ASYNDETON
Commas used without conjunction to separate a series of words, thus emphasizing the parts equally: instead of X, Y, and Z... the writer uses X, Y, Z.... see polysyndeton.
BALANCE Constructing a sentence so that both halves are about the same length and importance.
Sentences can be unbalanced to serve a special effect as well. CHARACTERIZATION
CHARACTERIZATION the process by which the writer reveals the personality of a character. INDIRECT CHARACTERIZATION the author reveals to the reader what the character is like by describing how the character looks and dresses, by letting the reader hear what the character says,
by revealing the characters private thoughts and feelings, by revealing the characters effect on other people (showing how other characters feel or behave toward the character), or by showing the character in action. DIRECT CHARACTERIZATION the author tells us directly what
the character is like: sneaky, generous, mean to pets and so on. STATIC VS. DYNAMIC CHARACTER STATIC CHARACTER is one who does not
change much in the course of a story. DYNAMIC CHARACTER is one who changes in some important way as a result of the storys action.
FLAT VS. ROUND CHARACTER FLAT CHARACTER has only one or two personality traits. They are one dimensional, like a piece of cardboard. They can be
summed up in one phrase. ROUND CHARACTER has more dimensions to their personalities---they are complex, just a real people are.
CHIASMUS In poetry, a type of rhetorical balance in which the second part is syntactically balanced against the first, but with the parts reversed.
Coleridge: Flowers are lovely, love is flowerlike. In prose this is called antimetabole. CLICHE
is a word or phrase, often a figure of speech, that has become lifeless because of overuse. Avoid clichs like the plague. Its raining cats and dogs
Its just a matter of time COLLOQUIALISM a word or phrase in everyday use in
conversation and informal writing but is inappropriate for formal situations. Example: Hes out of his head if he thinks Im gonna go for such a stupid idea.
COMEDY in general, a story that ends with a happy resolution of the conflicts faced by the main character or characters.
CONCEIT an elaborate metaphor that compares two things that are startlingly different. Often an extended
metaphor. Thou counterfeitst a bark, a sea, a wind; For still thy eyes, which I may call the sea, Do ebb and flow with tears; the bark thy body is, Sailing in this salt flood; the winds, thy sighs;
Who, raging with thy tears, and they with them, Without a sudden calm, will overset Thy tempest-tossed body. CONFLICT
the struggle between opposing forces or characters in a story. EXTERNAL CONFLICT conflicts can exist between two people, between a person and nature or a
machine or between a person a whole society. INTERNAL CONFLICT a conflict can be internal, involving opposing forces within a persons mind.
CONNOTATION the associations and emotional overtones that have become attached to a word or phrase, in addition to its strict dictionary definition.
COUPLET two consecutive rhyming lines of poetry.
DIALECT a way of speaking that is characteristic of a certain social group or of the inhabitants of a certain geographical area.
DICTION a speaker or writers choice of words.
DIDACTIC form of fiction or nonfiction that teaches a specific lesson or moral or provides a model of correct behavior or thinking.
Oliver Twist is a didactic critiquing the harsh conditions for poor children and orphans ELEGY
a poem of mourning, usually about someone who has died. O Captain! My Captain! EPANALEPSIS
device of repetition in which the same expression (single word or phrase) is repeated both at the beginning and at the end of the line, clause, or sentence.
Voltaire: Common sense is not so common. EPIC a long narrative poem, written in heightened
language , which recounts the deeds of a heroic character who embodies the values of a particular society. The Iliad and The Odyssey
EPIGRAPH a quotation or aphorism at the beginning of a literary work suggestive of the theme. In Fahrenheit 451: If they give you ruled paper,
write the other way. Juan Ramn Jimnez In The Great Gatsby: Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her; If you can bounce high, bounce for her too,
Till she cry, Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover, I must have you! Thomas Parke DInvilliers EPISTROPHE
Device of repetition in which the same expression (single word or phrase) is repeated at the end of two or more lines, clauses, or sentences (it is the opposite of anaphora).
BRUTUS: Who is here so base that would be a bondman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so
vile that will not love his country? If any, speak; for him have I offended. EPITHET
an adjective or adjective phrase applied to a person or thing that is frequently used to emphasize a characteristic quality. Father of our country and the great Emancipator are examples.
A Homeric epithet is a compound adjective used with a person or thing: swift-footed Achilles; rosy-fingered dawn. ESSAY
a short piece of nonfiction prose in which the writer discusses some aspect of a subject. EXPLICATION
act of interpreting or discovering the meaning of a text, usually involves close reading and special attention to figurative language.
FABLE a very short story told in prose or poetry that teaches a practical lesson about how to succeed in life.
The Tortoise and the Hare Moral: Slow and steady wins the race FARCE
a type of comedy in which ridiculous and often stereotyped characters are involved in silly, far-fetched situations. The Importance of Being Earnest The Taming of the Shrew
I Love Lucy The Pink Panther FLASHBACK
a scene that interrupts the normal chronological sequence of events in a story to depict something that happened at an earlier time. Everyday Use
FOIL A character who acts as contrast to another character. Often a funny side kick to the
dashing hero, or a villain contrasting the hero. Scar and Mufasa Henry Clerval and Victor Frankenstein Biddy and Estella Hamlet and Laertes
FORESHADOWING the use of hints and clues to suggest what will happen later in a plot.
Frankenstein: the blasted stump FREE VERSE poetry that does not conform to a regular
meter or rhyme scheme. Walt Whitman is the master of free verse Dover Beach HYPERBOLE
a figure of speech that uses an incredible exaggeration or overstatement, for effect. If I told you once, Ive told you a million times.
Do I dare / Disturb the universe? and To have squeezed the universe into a ball from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock IMAGERY
the use of language to evoke a picture or a concrete sensation of a person , a thing, a place, or an experience. Rainsford sprang up and moved quickly to the rail, mystified. He strained his eyes in the direction from
which the reports had come, but it was like trying to see through a blanket. He leaped upon the rail and balanced himself there, to get greater elevation; his pipe, striking a rope, was knocked from his mouth. He lunged for it; a short, hoarse cry came from his lips as he realized he
had reached too far and had lost his balance. The cry was pinched off short as the blood-warm waters of the Caribbean Sea dosed over his head. IRONY
a discrepancy between appearances and reality. VERBAL IRONY occurs when someone says one thing but really means something else. SITUATIONAL IRONY takes place when there is a
discrepancy between what is expected to happen, or what would be appropriate to happen, and what really does happen. DRAMATIC IRONY is so called because it is often used on stage. A character in the play or story
thinks one thing is true, but the audience or reader knows better. JUXTAPOSITION
poetic and rhetorical device in which normally unassociated ideas, words, or phrases are placed next to one another, creating an effect of surprise and wit. Ezra Pound: The apparition of these faces in
the crowd;/ Petals on a wet, black bough. Juxtaposition is also a form of contrast by which writers call attention to dissimilar ideas or images or metaphors. Martin Luther King: Injustice anywhere is a
threat to justice everywhere. LITOTES is a form of understatement in which the positive
form is emphasized through the negation of a negative form: Hawthorne--- the wearers of petticoat and farthingalestepping forth into the public ways, and wedging their not unsubstantial persons, if occasion
were, into the throng The ice cream was not too bad. New York is not an ordinary city. You are not as young as you used to be. William Shakespeare was not a bad playwright at all.
LOCAL COLOR a term applied to fiction or poetry which tends to place special emphasis on a particular
setting, including its customs, clothing, dialect and landscape. LOOSE SENTENCE
one in which the main clause comes first, followed by further dependent grammatical units. See periodic sentence. Hawthorne: Hester gazed after him a little while, looking with a half-fantastic curiosity to
see whether the tender grass of early spring would not be blighted beneath him, and show the wavering track of this footsteps, sere and brown, across its cheerful verdure.
LYRIC POEM a poem that does not tell a story but expresses the personal feelings or thoughts of the speaker.
METAPHOR a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things without the use of
such specific words of comparison as like, as, than, or resembles. METONYMY
a figure of speech in which a person, place, or thing, is referred to by something closely associated with it. We requested from the crown support for our petition. The crown is used to represent the
monarch. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. Mark Anthony uses ears to say that he wants the people present there to listen to him attentively. It is a metonymy because the word
ears replaces the concept of attention. MOOD An atmosphere created by a writers diction
and the details selected. MOTIF a recurring image, word, phrase, action, idea,
object, or situation used throughout a work (or in several works by one author), unifying the work by tying the current situation to previous ones, or new ideas to the theme. Kurt Vonnegut uses So it goes throughout
Slaughterhouse-Five to remind the reader of the senselessness of death. ONOMATOPOEIA
the use of words whose sounds echo their sense. Pop. Zap.
OXYMORON a figure of speech that combines opposite or contradictory terms in a brief phrase. Jumbo shrimp.
Pretty ugly. Bitter-sweet PARABLE
a relatively short story that teaches a moral, or lesson about how to lead a good life. Teaches by comparison with real or literal occurrences; the Bible has a lot of them.
PARADOX a statement that appears self-contradictory, but that reveals a kind of truth. 1984: War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery.
Ignorance is Strength. PARALLELISM the repetition of words or phrases that have
similar grammatical structures. PARODY a work that makes fun of another work by
imitating some aspect of the writers style. Saturday Night Live Scary Movie PERIODIC
sentence that places the main idea or central complete thought at the end of the sentence, after all introductory elements. In spite of heavy snow and cold temperatures,
the game continued. With low taxes, beautiful views and a mild climate, this city is a great place to live. PERSONIFICATION
a figure of speech in which an object or animal is given human feelings, thoughts, or attitudes.
POINT OF VIEW FIRST PERSON POINT OF VIEW one of the characters tells the story. THIRD PERSON POINT OF VIEW an unknown narrator,
tells the story, but this narrator zooms in to focus on the thoughts and feelings of only one character. OMNISCIENT POINT OF VIEW an omniscient or all knowing narrator tells the story, also using the third person pronouns. This narrator, instead of focusing
on one character only, often tells us everything about many characters. OBJECTIVE POINT OF VIEW a narrator who is totally impersonal and objective tells the story, with no comment on any characters or events.
POLYSYNDETON sentence which uses a conjunction with NO commas to separate the items in a series.
Instead of X, Y, and Z... Polysyndeton results in X and Y and Z... Kurt Vonnegut uses this device. PROTAGONIST
the central character in a story, the one who initiates or drives the action. Usually the hero or anti-hero; in a tragic hero, like John Proctor of The Crucible, there is always a hamartia, or
tragic flaw in his character which will lead to his downfall. PUN
a play on words based on the multiple meanings of a single word or on words that sound alike but mean different things. QUATRAIN
a poem consisting of four lines, or four lines of a poem that can be considered as a unit. REFRAIN
a word, phrase, line, or group of lines that is repeated, for effect, several times in a poem. RHYTHM
a rise and fall of the voice produced by the alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables in language.
ROMANCE in general, a story in which an idealized hero or heroine undertakes a quest and is successful.
SATIRE a type of writing that ridicules the shortcomings of people or institutions in an
attempt to bring about a change. SIMILE a figure of speech that makes an explicitly
comparison between two unlike things, using words such as like, as , than, or resembles. SOLILOQUY
a long speech made by a character in a play while no other characters are on stage. STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS
a style of writing that portrays the inner (often chaotic) workings of a characters mind. SUSPENSE
a feeling of uncertainty and curiosity about what will happen next in a story. SYMBOL
a person, place, thing, or event that has meaning in itself and that also stands for something more than itself. SYNECDOCHE
a figure of speech in which a part represents the whole. If you dont drive properly, you will lose your wheels. The wheels represent the entire car.
Hired hands The hands represent the workers TALL TALE
an outrageously exaggerated, humorous story that is obviously unbelievable. THEME
the insight about human life that is revealed in a literary work. TONE
the attitude a writer takes toward the subject of a work, the characters in it, or the audience, revealed through diction, figurative language, and organization.
TRAGEDY in general, a story in which a heroic character either dies or comes to some other unhappy end.
UNDERSTATEMENT a statement that says less than what is meant. Example: During the second war with Iraq,
American troops complained of a fierce sand storm that made even the night-vision equipment useless. A British commando commented about the storm: Its a bit breezy.
FEMININE RHYME a type of rhyme that involves using two syllables in each rhyming word.
But yet in vain thou hast my ruin sought, In vain thou madst me to vain things aspire, In vain thou kindlist all thy smoky fire. For virtue hath this better lesson taught, Within myself to seek my only hire,
Desiring naught but how to kill desire (Sir Philip Sidney) CONTRARY TO FACT CONSTRUCTION
a situation is described as dependent on a condition that is known to be false, or presented as unlikely. The time frame of the hypothetical situation may be past, present or future, and the
time frame of the condition does not always correspond to that of the consequence. For example: If I were king, I could have you thrown in the dungeon. If I won the lottery, I would buy a car. If he said that to me, I would
run away. If you had called me, I would have come. If you had done your job properly, we wouldn't be in this mess now. INTERNAL RHYME
Middle words in a line rhyme or there are multiple words in one line that rhyme; additionally, a word in the middle of a line can rhyme with the word at an end of a line.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my
chamber door. Tis some visitor, I muttered, tapping at my chamber door. TROCHAIC RHYME
Stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Peter, Peter pumpkin-eater Had a wife and couldnt keep her. PEDANTIC
Characterized by a narrow, often ostentatious concern for academic knowledge and formal rules SEMANTICS
the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning. the meaning of a word, phrase, sentence, or text.
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Make sure that you keep your tone consistent. You should end with what you started with. This should be a paragraph long. "In conclusion" is very cliché. Try not to use it. Congratulations! You have now written a persuasive essay.
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