1. Allegory: a literary work that has a second meaning beneath the surface, often relating to a fixed,
corresponding idea or moral principle.
as in metaphor, one thing (usually nonrational, abstract, religious) is implicitly spoken of in
terms of something concrete, but in an allegory the comparison is extended to include an
entire work or large portion of a work.
2. Alliteration: repetition of initial consonant sounds. It serves to please the ear and bind verses together, to
make lines more memorable, and for humorous effect.
the repetition of initial consonant sounds through a sequence of words-- for example,
"While I nodded, nearly napping" in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven."
Already American vessels had been searched, seized, and sunk. John F.Kennedy
I should like to hear him fly with the high fields/ And wake to the farm forever
fled from the childless land. -Dylan Thomas, "Fern Hill"
3. Allusion: A casual reference in literature to a person, place, event, or another passage of literature,
often without explicit identification. Allusions can originate in mythology, biblical
references, historical events, legends, geography, or earlier literary works.
Authors often use allusion to establish a tone, create an implied association,
contrast two objects or people, make an unusual juxtaposition of references, or
bring the reader into a world of experience outside the limitations of the story
Authors assume that the readers will recognize the original sources and relate
their meaning to the new context.
-a reference--whether explicit or implicit, to history, the Bible, myth, literature, painting, music,
and so on--that suggests the meaning or generalized implication of details in the story, poem, or
Brightness falls from the air/ Queens have died young and fair/Dust hath closed
Helen's eye. from Thomas Nashe's "Litany in Time of Plague;" refers to Helen of
4. Alter Ego: A literary character or narrator who is a thinly disguised representation of the author, poet,
or playwright creating a work.
5. Ambiguity the use of a word or expression to mean more than one thing
6. Analogy a comparison based on certain resemblances between things that are otherwise unlike.
7. Anaphora: repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginnings of successive clauses.
The Lord sits above the water floods. The Lord remains a King forever. The Lord
shall give strength to his people. The lord shall give his people the blessings of
peace. -Ps. 29
"Let us march to the realization of the American dream. Let us march on
segregated housing. Let us march on segregated schools. Let us march on
poverty. Let us march on ballot boxes.... --Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mad world ! Mad king! Mad composition !
8. Antagonist: the character or force opposing the protagonist in a narrative; a rival of the hero
9. Apostrophe: addressing an absent or dead person or a personified abstraction
"Eloquent, just, and mighty Death ! whom none could advise...." WORLD, I
cannot hold thee close enough!
10. Approximate rhyme: also known as imperfect rhyme, near rhyme, slant rhyme, or oblique rhyme. A
term used for words in a rhyming pattern that have some kind of sound correspondence
but are not perfect rhymes.
Often words at the end of lines at first LOOK like they will rhyme but are not
pronounced in perfect rhyme. Emily Dickinson's poems are famous for her use
of approximate rhyme.
11. Assonance: the repetition of vowel sounds.
the repetition of vowel sounds in a sequence of words with different endings
for example, "The death of the poet was kept from his poems" in W. H. Auden's
"In Memory of W. B. Yeats."
The child of mine was lying on her side. [i]
"Over the mountains / Of the moon, / Down the valley of the shadow, / Ride,
boldly ride,/The shade replied,-- / "If you seek for Eldorado!" [o sound]
12. Asyndeton: deliberate omission of conjunctions between series of related clauses.
I came, I saw, I conquered. -- Julius Caesar
The infantry plodded forward, the tanks rattled into position, the big guns
swung their snouts toward the rim of the hills, the planes raked the underbrush
with gunfire. ..and that government of the people, by the people, for the
people, shall not perish from the earth. Abraham Lincoln
13. Aubade: a poem about dawn; a morning love-song; or a poem about the parting of lovers at dawn
Ballad: a song, transmitted orally, which tells a story. Usually narrator begins with a climactic or
traumatic episode, tells the story tersely by means of action and dialogue and tells it without self-
reference or the expression of personal attitudes or feelings. Many ballads employ
(1) stock repetitive phrases such as "blood-red wine" and "milk white steed,"
(2) a refrain in each stanza, and
(3) incremental repetition, in which a line or stanza is repeated, but with an additional verse
that advances the story,
(4) dialogue between at least 2 characters,
(5) quatrains or ballad stanzas that rhyme of on lines 2 and 4. A literary ballad was a favorite
form of the Romantic period. Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner" is a good example, and "The Ballad
of Birmingham" is an American example.
14. a narrative poem that is, or originally was, meant to be sung. Characterized by repetition and often by
a repeated refrain (recurrent phrase or series of phrases), ballads were originally a folk
creation, transmitted orally
from person to person and age to age.
"It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
'By thy long gray beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?'"
15. Blank verse: poetry written in meter but containing no ending rhyme. Lines of verse contain forms
closest to that of natural speaking, yet are flexible and adaptive.
the verse form most like everyday human speech; blank verse consists of unrhymed
lines in iambic pentameter. Many of Shakespeare's plays are in blank verse.
16. Caesura a short pause within a line of poetry; often but not always signaled by punctuation. Note the
two caesuras in this line from Poe's "The Raven": "Once upon a midnight dreary, while I
pondered, weak and weary."
17. Characterization principles: characters should be 1) consistent in their behaviors, 2)their words and
actions should spring from motivations the reader can understand, and 3) plausible and
18. Characterization: the author's expression of a character's personality through the use of action,
dialogue, thought, or commentary by the narrator or another character.
19. Cinquain: a five line stanza
20. Conceit: in literature, fanciful or unusual image in which apparently dissimilar things are shown to
have a relationship. The device was often used by the metaphysical poets, who
fashioned conceits that were witty, complex, intellectual, and often startling, e.g., John
Donne's comparison of two souls with two bullets in "The Dissolution."
---an extended metaphor with a complex logic that governs an entire poem or poetic
21. Concrete poetry--- poetry shaped to look like an object. Robert Herrick's "Pillar of Fame," for example,
is arranged to look like a pillar. Also called shaped verse.
22. Confessional poem --a relatively recent (or recently defined) kind in which the speakescribes a state of
mind, which becomes a metaphor for the larger world.
23. Conflict: a struggle between two opposing forces in a short story, novel, play, or narrative poem. the
struggle within the story. Character divided against self, character against character,
character against society, character against nature, character against God. Without it,
there is no story.
24. *Connotation: all the emotions and associations that a word or phrase may arouse; what a word
suggests beyond its basic definitions; a word's overtones of meaning.
what is suggested by a word, apart from what it explicitly describes.
25. Consonance: repetition of consonant sounds in the middle or at the end of words-
Consonance use of the repetition of non-initial consonants or consonant patterns as
Continuous form: the form of a poem in which the lines follow each other without formal grouping, the
only breaks being dictated by units of meaning.
26. Couplet: two successive lines of poetry in which the ending words rhyme
27. Denotation: the literal or "dictionary" meaning of a word or phrase.
a direct and specific meaning
28. Dialogue: vocal exchange between two or more characters. One of the ways in which plot, character,
action, etc. are developed.
29. Diction an author's choice of words.
30. Doppelganger: in German, this word means "double-goer," the ghostly shadow that haunts and
follows its earthly counterpart; the negative or evil manifestation of what is actually on
the "inside" of the haunted character. The Creature is Victor Frankenstein's
31. Dramatic monologue: a kind of lyric poem which has the following elements:
1)a single person, a speaker (patently not the poet) utters the entire poem in a
specific situation at a critical moment; and
2) this person addresses and interacts with one or more other people, but we
know of the auditor's presence and what they say and do only from clues in the
discourse of the single speaker.
Examples include Tennyson's "Ulysses" and Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess."
32. Dramatic poem: a narrative poem in which one or more characters speak. The dramatic poem
consists of the thoughts or spoken statements (or both) of one or more characters other
than the poet himself in a particular life situation.
It is dramatic rather than narrative since the character is not "written about"
by the poet; rather, the poem consists of the character's own thoughts or
He may be thinking (or talking) to himself; a poem recording his thoughts or
speech to himself is called a soliloquy.
Or a character may be speaking to one or more other characters in a given
situation; a poem recording his speech is called a dramatic monologue.
33. Elegy: a poem of mourning, usually over the death of an individual, usually ending in a consolation.
Originally it included mournful love poems, such as John Donne's elegies.
in classical times, any poem on any subject written in "elegiac" meter; since the Renaissance,
usually a formal lament on the death of a particular person.
34. Ellipsis: deliberate omission of a word or of words which are readily implied by the context.
And he to England shall along with you. from Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 3
Red light means stop; a green light, go.
35. Enjambment running over from one line of poetry to the next without stop, as in the following lines by
Wordsworth: "My heart leaps up when I behold / A rainbow in the sky."
lines of five, seven, and five syllables, respectively.
28. end rhyme: rhymes that occur at the ends of lines
29. end-stopped line: a line that ends with a natural speech pause, usually marked by
36. Epic poem that celebrates, in a continuous narrative, the achievements of mighty heroes and
heroines, usually in founding a nation or developing a culture, and uses elevated
language and a grand, high style.
37. Epigram originally any poem carved in stone (on tombstones, buildings, gates, and so forth), but in
modern usage a very short, usually witty verse with a quick turn at the end.
38. Fixed form: a poem in which the length and pattern are prescribed by previous usage or tradition,
such as sonnet, limerick, and villanelle.
39. Flashback: a scene in a short story, novel, play, or narrative poem that interrupts the chronological
action and provides information about the past. Often a character's recollections of the
40. Foil: a foil is a character who provides a contrast to another character. In Frankenstein, Robert Walton
and Victor Frankenstein are foils.
41. Foot: basic unit used in measurement of a line of verse. A foot usually contains one accented syllable
and one or two unaccented syllables.
42. Foreshadowing: clues in a literary work that suggest events that have yet to occur.
43. Form: external pattern or shape of a poem, describable without reference to its content, such as:
continuous form, fixed form, and free verse.
44. Frame narrative: The result of inserting one or more small stories within the body of a larger story that
encompasses the smaller ones.
Often this term is used interchangeably with both the literary technique and the larger story itself
that contains the smaller ones, which are called "framed narratives" or "embedded narratives."
The most famous example is Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, in which the overarching frame narrative
is the story of a band of pilgrims traveling to the shrine of Thomas a Becket in Canterbury.
The band passes the time in a storytelling contest. The framed narratives are the individual stories
told by the pilgrims who participate. Frankenstein is a frame narrative.
45. Framing Method: Using same features, wording, setting, situation, or topic at both the beginning and
end of a literary work so as to "frame" it or "enclose it."
This technique often provides a sense of cyclical completeness or closure. This is also
called an envelope structure or circular structure.
46. Free Verse: poetry not written in a regular rhythmical pattern; non-metrical poetry in which the basic
rhythmic unit is the line and in which pauses, line breaks, and formal patterns develop
organically from the requirements of the individual poem rather than from established
poetry characterized by varying line lengths, lack of traditional meter, and nonrhyming
47. *Haiku an unrhymed poetic form, Japanese in origin, that contains seventeen syllables arranged in
heroic couplet rhymed pairs of lines in iambic pentameter
48. Heptastich: a seven line stanza
49. Hyperbole: a deliberate exaggeration or overstatement is used in the service of truth.
His eloquence could split rocks.
My left leg weighs three tons
50. Iambic: a metrical foot consisting of one unaccented syllable followed by one accented syllable
(example: re - HEARSE)
a metrical foot consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one.
51. Iambic Pentameter: a metrical form in which the basic foot is an iamb and most lines consist of five
iambic pentameter is the most common poetic meter in English:
"One com | mon note | on ei | ther lyre | did strike"
(Dryden, "To the Memory of Mr. Oldham")
52. Imagery: the collection of images within a literary work. Used to evoke atmosphere, mood, tension.
broadly defined, any sensory detail or evocation in a work; more narrowly, the useof
figurative language to evoke a feeling, to call to mind an idea, or to describe an object.
For example, images of crowded, steaming sidewalks flanking streets choked
with lines of shimmering, smoking cars suggests oppressive heat and all the
psychological tensions that go with it.
53. Internal Rhyme: a rhyme in which one or both of the rhyme words occurs WITHIN THE LINE.
54. Internal Structure- The pattern of organization used to frame subject matter, effect, or other
Narrative structure is the gradual unfolding of the story.
Dramatic structure consists of a series of scenes, each of which is
vividly & in detail, as if on stage.
Discursive structure is organized like an argument or treatise ("First... and second... and
Descriptive structure organizes descriptions about someone or something.
-Imitative structure organizes words to mirror the structure of something that already
exists as an object and can be seen.
Reflective/Meditative structure ponder a theme, subject, event, etc. by letting the
mind wander through thoughts and objects.
55. Irony: a contrast between what is stated and what is really meant
Eg. By Spring, if God was good, all of the proud privileges of trench lice, mustard
gas, spattered brains, punctured lungs, ripped guts, mud, and gangrene, might
be his. - Thomas Wolfe
56. Litotes: a deliberate understatement, not to deceive someone but to enhance the impressiveness of
what we have to say.
Last week I saw a woman flayed, and you will hardly believe how much it altered her
appearance for the worse. -Jonathan Swift
It isn't very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain. -J.D. Salinger
57. Lyric originally, a poem meant to be sung to the accompaniment of a lyre; now, any short poem in
which the speaker expresses intense personal emotion rather than describing a
narrative or dramatic situation.
59. Lyric poem: a poem, usually a short one, that expresses a speaker's thoughts or describes an object or
60. Metaphor: a direct comparison of two unlike things. The two things being compared may be named or
Examples: On the final examination, several students went down in flames.
Birmingham lighted a runaway fuse, and as fast as the headlines could
record them, demonstrations exploded all over the country.
61. Metaphysical poetry: The bet metaphysical poetry is honest, unconventional, and reveals the poet's
sense of the complexities and contradictions of life.
It is intellectual, analytical, psychological, and bold; frequently it is absorbed in
thoughts of death, physical love, and religious devotion.
Metaphysical poets such as John Donne wanted to write poems that were not in the
style of sentimental Elizabethan love poetry.
These poems are known for their use of conceits - unusual analogies such as linking
love and a compass.
62. tendency to psychological analysis of emotion of love and religion
63. form is frequently an argument
64. images were "unpoetical" - drawn from commonplace life or intellectual study
65. Meter: rhythmical pattern of a poem
the more or less regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry.
This is determined by the kind of "foot" (iambic and dactylic, for example) and by the number
of feet per line (five feet = pentameter, six feet = hexameter, for example).
66. Metonymy: figure of speech that substitutes something closely related for the thing
Eg. crown for royalty; brass for military officers; pen for writer; White House for
the US President; rebels for VHHS students.
67. Motif: a recurring feature (such as a name, an image, or a phrase) in a work of fiction .
A conspicuous recurring element, such as a type of incident, a device, a reference, or
verbal formula, which appears frequently in works of literature.
For instance, the ugly girl who turns out to be a beautiful princess is a common motif in
folklore, and the man fatally bewitched by a fairy lady is a common folkloric motif.
The mockingbird imagery in To Kill a Mockingbird acts as a motif.