A Level literary terms

  • Created by: Ayo
  • Created on: 27-12-16 14:54
A story in verse or prose with a double meaning. Most ancient myth is allegorical, attempting to explain the world in human terms. Other well known allegories are Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (1687), in which the hero, Christian, represents Everyman.
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The repitition of sounds (usually consonants) in a group of words to produce a harmonious or imitative effect
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(Greek-recognition) a term used by Aristotle to describe the moment of recognition of the truth; achievement of self-knowledge
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the deliberate repetition of the first part of the sentence in order to achieve an artistic effect in writing or speech
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Ascribing human characteristics, especially reasoning to animals. Common in children stories.
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Addressing a person or even an inanimate object directly: eg 'Hail to thee, blythe spirit!' (Shelley, To a Skylark)
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When a character speaks directly to the audience whilst there are other characters on stage
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The repetition of vowel sounds. Often combined with alliteration of consonants
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A traditional form of narrative poetry, originally a song that would have been transmitted orally by an anonymous author. Usually written in quatrains wuth the 2nd and 4th lines rhyming
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Anti-climax. adj bathetic
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(Greek-purgation)Aristotle's term for the effect on the spectator of watching a tragedy. The intensity of our involvement with the suffering of the protagonist arouses these feelings, giving us a means of release, so we leave feeling somehow relieved
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(Latin-conceptus) An elaborate metaphor intended to surprise or delight by its ingenuity.
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A pair of lines usually rhymed (as at the end of a Shakespearean sonnet. They form a neat conclusion to the argument of the poem).
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A device, principle, procedure or form which is generally accepted and understood by the readers or audience. Eg chapters in a book, songs in a musical
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Deus ex machina
(Latin- God out of the machine) An unanticipated intervener used to resolve a tangled plot. In Greek drama a god would literally be lowered onto the stage to get the hero out of a tight spot
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A technique
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A lament for the death of a particular person. More generally a solemn meditatio. The adjective, elegiac, is often applied to writing that mourns the loss of something which has passed eg an era, youth etc
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(Greek-leaving out) A rhetorical form in which one or more words are omitted, indicated by three dots...(for a pause) or a dash- breaks in rapid speech
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(French-straddling) When the line of verse ends without punctuation, allowing the sentence to flow onto the next line. The effect is to create a tension between the reader's expectation of a pause and desire to complete the unfinished sentence
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Long narrative poem, on a grande scale, aout the deeds of gods, warriors and heroes
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Where the spelling is the same but the pronunciation is not ie a visual 'rhyme'
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The unit in which the metre of a line is expressed. It is made up of a combination of strong and weak stresses
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Free indirect style/discourse
Third person narration in which a character's voice without using quotation marks
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Free verse
Poetry that doesn't employ any regular meter or line length and depends on natural speech rhythms and the counterpoint of stressed and unstressed syllables
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A genre developed in the late 18th century, a type of romance involving elements of suspense and horror, characteristically set in the past, in medieval buildings and Mediterranean countries, drawing on the English Protestant fear of Catholicism.
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Where ryme words are not exact echoes of each other
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(Greek-error) Error committed y a tragic hero or heroine that contributes to their downfall
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(Greek-wanton insolence) Excessive pride or self-confidence taht leads the protagonist to commit hamartia
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Iamb (adj iambic)
A metric foot of two syllables with the stress coming on the second syllable
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Iambic pentameter
A line of verse ten syllables long arranged in five iambic feet
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Using language to create pictures in our minds, by linking the subject to other things that reveal important aspects of it. This includes all simile and metaphor, indeed all figurative (as opposed to literal) language. Sometimes the image is extended
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Highly rhythmic speech, like a chant, a repetitive prayer or a spell
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Saying one thing while meaning another. The true meaning can be revealed by the context. by an inherent contradiction in what is said or when a persona is adopted.
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Dramatic irony
When the audience is aware of something that the character on stage is not know. This is one of the mainstays of comedy
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Vocabulary, diction
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Understatement. The opposite of hyperbole
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An image in which one thing is described in terms of another, as if it is the other thing
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(Greek-name change) A figure of speech in which the name of an attribute is substituted for the thing it belongs to.
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The means of measuring the length of a line of poetry by the number and pattern of stressed syllables in the line
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A movement that developed throughout the creative arts from the 1890s and was probably at its height in the 1920s, exploring new methods of expression and perception. It could be seen as a reaction against the orthodoxy of the 19th century
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Recurring image, word, phrase, action, idea, object of situation used throughout-ties current and previous situations to theme
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The teller of a story, not the author. The choice of narrator influences our perception of events: first person, third person, omniscient, unreliable narrator
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Writing that uses realistic methods and subjects to convey a belief that everything that exists is a part of nature and can be explained by natural and material causes. Its emergence was prompted by the evolutionary theories of Darwin
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Originally a Greek form of poetry. The Romantic poets developed a form of ode which was a meditation, stimulated by the outer scene, attempting to solve a private problem or general human problem.
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Where the sound of the word imitates its sense
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A pharse which is apparently self-contradictory
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An apparent contradiction conveying an underlying truth
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Pathetic fallacy
A phrase invented by John Ruskin in 1856 to describe the habit of writers to ascribe human feelings to inanimate things
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(Greek-suffering, feeling) The quality in a work that evokes feelings of tenderness, pity or sorrow
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(Greek-sudden change) A reversal of fortune. In drama it usually denotes the moment of change from prosperity to ruin
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(Greek- roundabout speech) Using many, or very long, words when a few would do
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A person or character adopted by the writer for a particular purpose
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Addressing or treating an inanimate object as if it were a person
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A broad term to refer to developments in literature and the other arts since the 1940. It could be characterised by a self-conscious irony: a deliberate flouting of the suspension of disbelief and an exploration of the process of writing
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Flashforward. Introduction of material that occurs later in the story. Opposite of analepsis
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Proleptic irony
When the reader of a story set in the past knows something the character cannot know because it is yet to happen
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The hero (not necessarily good) in a drama (agon-Greek= for conflict or contest). Opposed by the antagonist (not neccessarily bad).
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A four-line stanza
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when the final syllabe of two words has the same sound. When this occurs at the end of a verse it is called end-rhyme. Some poets employ internal rhyme, when a word within the line rhymes with the word at the end of the line.
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Humourous writing intended to ridicule its subject through irony, often by exaggerating its faults
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An image that describes one thing as being like another (always using the words like or as).
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(Latin- solus= alone + loqui+to speak) In drama, a speech in which a character, alone on the stage, expresses his thoughst of feelings. It became an important device in Elizabethan drama to enable the villain to reveal his plans to the audience.
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A poem of fourteen lines of iamic pentameter with a rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef gg(Shakespearean sonnet) or abba abba cdcdcd(with other variations of two rhymes is a Petrarchan sonnet
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(Italian- standing place, room) A group of lines of poetry; a verse
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(Greek-line talk) Dialogue of alternate single lines especially in drama
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A movement that began in France that attempted to depict the workings of the unconscious and to synthesise them with the conscious mind
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(Greek-symbolon=mark) An object, animate or inanimate, that represents something else. Many symbols are capable of more than one interpretation, differing here from allegory, where a 1 to 1 correspondence exists between the thing and its meaning
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(Greek-perceiving together) A mixing of sensory perception eg seeing different colours when hearing different notes or instruments.
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Sentence structure
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(Greek-goat song) A serious form of drama, concerned with the loss of human happiness, generally ending in death and originating in the ancient Greek ritual sacrifice
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Trochee (adj trochaic)
A metric foot of two syllables with the stress coming on the first syllable. Opposite of an Iambic foot and in an iambic poem called e called an inverted foot
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A rhetorical or figurative device
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The wicked character in a story. It was developed as a particluar character type in 16th Century drama-especially revenge tragedy, evolving from the medieval mystery plays
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Old French form consisting of five three lined stanzas and a final quatrain, with only two rhymes throughout. The first and third lines of the first stanza are repeated alternately in the succeeding stanzas as a refrain.
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Card 2


The repitition of sounds (usually consonants) in a group of words to produce a harmonious or imitative effect



Card 3


(Greek-recognition) a term used by Aristotle to describe the moment of recognition of the truth; achievement of self-knowledge


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Card 4


the deliberate repetition of the first part of the sentence in order to achieve an artistic effect in writing or speech


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Card 5


Ascribing human characteristics, especially reasoning to animals. Common in children stories.


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