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81 Cards in this Set

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Abstract Language
: Language that describes ideas and qualities rather than observable or specific things, people, or places. The observable or "physical" is usually described in concrete language.
Allegory
A story, fictional or nonfictional, in which character, things, and events represent qualities or concepts. The interaction of these characters, things, and events is meant to reveal an abstraction or a truth. These characters, etc. may be symbolic of the ideas referred to. Dante's Inferno and George Orwell's Animal Farm are two examples.
Allusion
A reference in a work of literature to something outside the work, especially to a well-known historical or literary event, person, or work. The reference is something with which the reader is supposed to be familiar. Allusion is often used with humorous intent, to establish a connection between writer and reader, or to make a subtle point. For example: In Hamlet, when Horatio says, "ere the mightiest Julius fell," the allusion is to the death of Julius Caesar. Lorraine Hansberry's title A Raisin in the Sun is an allusion to a line in a poem by Langston Hughes.
Ambiguity
Multiple meanings a literary work may communicate, especially two meanings that are incompatible.
Apostrophe
Direct address, usually to someone or something that is not present. Keat's "Bright star! Would I were steadfast" an apostrophe to a star, and "To Autumn" is an apostrophe to a personified season.
Anachronism
Something that is not placed in its proper historical time period. When this "error" occurs, an author places an event, person, or thing during a time when itcould not have existed. For example, the clock that strikes in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, for no such clocks existed in the Rome of Caesar's time.
Ad Hominem
Latin for "against the man." WHen a writer personally attacks his or her opponents instead of their arguments.
Anaphora
Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of two or more sentences in a row. This is a deliberate form or repetition and helps make the writer's point more coherent.
Anecdote
A brief recounting of a relevant episode. often inserted into fictional or nonfictional texts as a way of developing a point or injecting humor.
Archetype
Generally, the original model from which something is developed or made; in literary criticism, those images, figures, character types, settings, and story patterns that, according to the Swiss analytical psychologist Carl Jung, are universally shared by people across cultures.
Bard
A term originally used to denote early Celtic poets who composed poems glorifying warriors and heroes, now sometimes used to refer to Shakespeare, to any individual poet, or to poets in general
Baroque
A term used by art historians to malign a style in architecture and art that flourished throughout Europe from about 1600 to 1750. It is a style characterized by a certain ornate and elaborate flamboyance that inject more picturesque, unusual, and even grotesque elements.
Burlesque
A type of comedy in which distortion and exaggeration are employed to evoke ridicule, either through the trivialization of some lofty subject or through the glorification of a lowly or commonplace one.
Cacophony
A mixture of harsh, unpleasant, or discordant sounds. The opposite is euphony.
Concrete Language
Language that describes specific, observable things, people or places, rather than ideas or qualities.
Connotation
The implications of a word or phrase, as opposed to its exact meaning (denotation).
Convention
A device of style or subject matter so often used that it becomes a recognized means of expression. For example, a lover observing the literary love conventions cannot eat or sleep and grows pale and lean. Romeo, at the beginning of the play is a conventional lover, while an overweight lover in Chaucer is consciously mocking the convention
Denotation
The dictionary meaning of a word, as opposed to connotation
Denouement
From the French for "unknotting," a term that both refers to the events following the climax of a plot and implies some ingenious resolution of the dramatic conflict and explanation of the mysteries or misunderstandings of the plot. Example: The denouement of Finding Forrester provides literary closure as well as a sense of poetic justice when Jamal Wallace, a poor African American student who was recruited by a fancy New York prep school to play basketball and then falsely accused of plagiarism, inherits the house, furniture, and books of his mentor, elderly writer William Forrester
Devices of Sound
The techniques of deploying the sound of words, especially in poetry. Among devices of sound are rhyme, alliteration, assonance, consonance, and onomatopoeia. The devices are used for many reasons, including creating a general effect of pleasant or of discordant sound, imitating another sound, or reflecting a meaning.
Diction
Word choice, particularly as an element of style. On the AP exam, nearly all essay questions on a passage of prose or a poem will ask you to talk about diction or about "techniques" that include diction. Any word that is important to the meaning and the effect of a passage can be used in your essay. Often several words with a similar effect are worth discussion.
Didactic
A term used to describe fiction or nonfiction that teaches a specific lesson or moral or provides a model of correct behavior or thinking. This type of poem or novel may be good or bad. Pope's "Essay on Man" is this; so are the novels of Ayn Rand.
Digression
The use of material unrelated to the subject of a work. The interpolated narrations in the novels of Cervantes may be called this
Epigram
A succinct saying, often using contrast. This is also a verse form, usually brief and pointed
Epigraph
A quotation or aphorism at the beginning of a literary work suggestive of theme.
Episodic Structure
The form of a work containing a series of incidents or episodes that are loosely connected by a larger subject matter or thematic structure but that could stand on their own. A work that has a sustained story line or that would not be a complete work without one of its parts does not exhibit episodic structure.
Epistle
A letter. It is intended for a distant individual or a group of people. Pope composed a number of epistles.
Epitaph
An inscription on a tomb to commemorate the deceased. Epitaphs can also refer to a poem, whether serious or humorous, that commemorates the deceased.
Euphemism
A figure of speech using indirection to avoid offensive bluntness, such as "deceased" for "dead" or "remains" for "corpse"
Euphony
Pleasing, harmonious sounds. Usually there is inherent musicality in the sounds.
Figurative language
Writing that uses figures of speech (as opposed to literal language or that which is actual or specifically denoted) such as metaphor, similes, and irony. Figurative language uses words to mean something other than their literal meaning. "The black bat night has flown" is figurative, with the metaphor comparing night and a bat. "Night is over" says the same thing without figurative language. No real bat is or has been on the scene, but night is like a bat because it is dark.
Foil
A character who, by his contrast with the main character (protagonist), serves to accentuate that character's distinctive qualities or characteristics. For example, Fortinbras is a foil to Hamlet in Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Grotesque
Characterized by distortions or incongruities. The fiction of Flannery O'Connor or Poe is often described as grotesque.
Hamartia
From the Greek for "error," an error in judgment made by a tragic hero, whether resulting from a lack or knowledge or a moral flaw, that brings about the suffering, downfall, and often death of that hero
Hubris, Hybris
Greek for "insolence," excessive pride that constitutes the protagonist's tragic flaw and lead to a downfall. Disastrous consequences result when hubris causes the protagonist to ignore a wise warning from a god or other important figure, to violate some moral rule, or to try to transcend ordinary limits.
Hyperbole
Deliberation exaggeration, overstatement. As a rule, hyperbole is self-conscious, without the intention of being accepted literally. "The strongest man in the world" is hyperbolic. Hyperbole is used to heighten effect and it is often humorous, like in Voltaire's Candide.
Imagery
The images of a literary work; the sensory details of a work; the figurative language of a work. Imagery has several definitions, but the two that are paramount are the visual, auditory, or tactile images evoked by the words of a literary work or the images that figurative language evokes. When an AP question asks you to discuss the images or imagery of a work, you should look especially carefully at the sensory details and the metaphors and similes of a passage. Some diction is also imagery, but not all diction evokes sensory responses. Oftentimes, imagery is uses in a pattern of related images.
Imagery: In medias res
Latin for "in the middle of things," the technique of beginning a narrative in the middle of the action.
Imagery: Jargon
The special language of a profession or group. The term jargon usually has pejorative associations, with the implication that jargon is evasive, tedious, and unintelligible to outsiders. The writings of the lawyer and the literary critic are both susceptible to jargon.
Irony
A figure of speech in which intent and actual meaning differ. A contradiction or incongruity between appearance or expectation and reality. Verbal irony (also called rhetorical irony) is saying the opposite of what one means, or there is a difference between the real meaning of a situation and the literal meaning of the writer's words. Sarcasm is a type of verbal irony. Dramatic Irony is when the reader is aware of an inconsistency between a character's perception of a situation and the truth of that situation. Situational irony derives primarily from events or situations themselves, as opposed to statements made by any individual. It typically involves a discrepancy between expectation and reality.
Lampoon
A satiric, often vicious, attack on an individual (or occasionally an institution or society in general.) Saturday Night Live is a good example of a lampoon as the program singles out individuals to satirize.
Literal
Not figurative; accurate to the letter; matter of fact or concrete.
Local Color
The depiction of the distinctive characteristics (dialect, dress, mannerisms, culture, etc.) of a particular region, usually in prose writing.
Lyrical
Songlike; characterized by emotion, subjectivity, and imagination.
Metaphor
A figurative use of language in which a comparison is expressed without the use of a comparative term like "as/'' "like," or "than." A simile would say, "Night is like a black bat;" a metaphor would say, "the black bat night" When Romeo says, "It is the east, and Juliet is the sun," his metaphors compare her window to the east and Juliet to the sun. LA. Richards called the literal term in a metaphor the "tenor" and the figurative term the "vehicle."
Metonymy
A figure of speech in which one thing is represented by another that is commonly and often physically associated with it. Referring to someone's handwriting as his or her "hand" or calling a monarch "the crown," involves use of this.
Motif
A unifying element in an artistic work, especially any recurrent image, symbol, theme, character type, subject, or narrative detail.
Narrative Techniques
The methods involved in telling a story; the procedures used by a writer of stories or accounts. Narrative techniques is a general term that asks you to discuss the procedures used in the telling of a story. Examples of the techniques are point of view, manipulation of time, dialogue, or interior monologue.
Narrative Techniques: Ode
A relatively long, serious, and usually meditative lyric poem that treats a noble or otherwise elevated subject in a dignified and calm manner.
Oxymoron
A combination of opposites; the union of contradictory terms. Romeo's line "feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health" has four examples of the device."
Parable
A short, realistic, and illustrative story intended to teach a moral or religious lesson; a type of allegory.
Parallel Structure
A similar grammatical structure within a sentence or within a paragraph. Winston Churchill's "We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields" speech or Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech depend chiefly on the use of parallel structure.
Parody
A composition that imitates the style of another composition normally for comic effect. Fielding's Shamela is a parody of Richardson's Pamela.
Pastoral
A term that can be applied to any work with a rural setting and that generally praises a rustic way of life. Associated with shepherds and country living.
Pastoral Elegy
A serious formal poem in which a poet grieves the loss of a dead friend (often another poet.) It is composed in an elevated, dignified style that combines the forms and traditions of elegy with those of pastoral life.
Pathos
Qualities of a fictional or nonfictional work that evoke sorrow or pity. Overemotionalism can be the result of an excess of this.
Periodic Sentences
A sentence grammatically complete only at the end. A loose sentence is grammatically complete before the period. The following are (1) periodic and (2) loose sentences:
1) When conquering love did first my heart assail, / Unto mine aid I summoned every sense.
2) Fair is my love, and cruel as she's fair. Periodic sentences complete the important idea at the end, while loose sentences put the important idea first. Neither is a better sentence. Good writers use both.
Personification
A figurative use of language that endows the nonhuman (ideas, inanimate objects, animals, abstractions) with human characteristics. Keats personifies the nightingale, the Grecian urn, and autumn in his major poems.
Ex: Life of Pi in class
Point of View
The perspective from which a story is told. The point of view may be omniscient, limited to that of a single character, or limited to that of several characters. A narrative is typically told from a first-person (I) or third-person point of view (he, she). Second-person is extremely rare. Third-person comes in omniscient and limited. Omniscient is the vantage point of a story in which the narrator can know, see, and report whatever he or she chooses. The narrator is free to describe the thoughts of any of the characters, to skip about in time or place, or to speak directly to the reader. Most of the novels of Austen, Dickens, or Hardy use omniscient. Limited point of view is when the author recounts the story through the eyes of a single character. The reader is aware of the inner thoughts and feeling of only one character and receives the story as that character understands and experiences it, although not in that character's own voice.
Example: Miss Brill in class
Reliability
A quality of some fictional narrators whose word the reader can trust. There are both reliable and unreliable narrators, that is tellers of a story who should or should not be trusted. Most narrators are reliable but some are not, like the narrator in Foe's "Tell-Tale Heart."
Paradox
A statement that seems self-contradictory or nonsensical on the surface but that, upon closer examination, may be seen to contain an underlying truth. The figure in Donne's holv sonnet that concludes I never shall be "chaste except you ravish me" is a good example of the device." This is often used for emphasis or simply to attract attention.
Repetition
World or phrase used two or more times in close proximity.
Resources of Language
A general phrase for the linguistic devices or techniques that a writer can use. A question calling for the "resources of language" invites a student to discuss the style and rhetoric of a passage. Such topics as diction, syntax, figurative language, and imagery are all examples of resources of language.
Rhetoric
The art of effective communication, especially persuasive discourse. Rhetoric focuses on the interrelationship of invention, arrangement, and style in order to create felicitous and appropriate discourse.
Rhetorical Question
A question asked for effect, not in expectation of a reply. No reply is expected because the question presupposed only one possible answer.
Rhetorical Techniques
The devices used in effective or persuasive language. The number of rhetorical techniques, like that of the resources of language, is long and runs from apostrophe to zeugma. The more common examples include devices like contrast, repetitions, paradox, understatement, sarcasm, and rhetorical question.
Satire
Writing that seeks to arouse a reader's disapproval of an object by ridicule. Satire is usually comedy that exposes errors with an eye to correct vice and folly. Satire reveals a critical attitude toward some element of human behavior by portraying it in an extreme way. Satire targets groups or large concepts rather than individuals. A classical form, satire is found in the verse of Pope & Johnson, and the novels of Dickens & Twain.
Setting
The background to a story; the physical location of a play, story, or novel. The setting of a narrative will normally involve both time and place.
Simile
A figurative comparison of two things, often dissimilar, using the connecting words "like," or "as".
Soliloquy
A speech in which a character who is alone speaks his or her thoughts aloud. A monologue also has a single speaker, but the monologuist speaks to others who do not interrupt. Hamlef s "to be, or not to be" is a soliloquies.
Straqtegy (or rhetorical strategy)
The management of language for a specific effect. The strategy or rhetorical strategy of a poem is the planned placing of elements to achieve an effect. For example, Shakespeare's sonnet 29, "When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes," spends the first nine lines describing the speaker's discontent, then three describing the happiness the thought of the loved-one brings, all in a single sentence. The effect of this contrast is to intensify the feelings of relief and joy in lines 10-12. The rhetorical strategy of most love poems is deployed to convince the loved-one to return the speaker's love. By appealing to the loved-one's sympathy ("If you don't return my love, my heart will break"), or by flattery ("How could I not love someone as beautiful as you?"), or by threat ("When you're old, you'll be sorry you refused me."), the lover attempts to persuade the loved-one to love in return.
Stereotype
A conventional pattern, expression, character, or idea. In literature, a stereotype could apply to the unvarying plot and characters of some works of fiction or to the stock character and plots of many of the greatest stage comedies.
Structure
The arrangement of materials within a work; the relationship of the parts of a work to the whole; the logical divisions of a work. The most common principles of structure are series (A,B,C,D,E), contrast (A vs. B, C vs D, E vs. A), and repetition (AA, BB). The most common units of structure are - play: scene, act; novel: chapter; poem: line, stanza.
Style
The mode of expression in language; the characteristic manner of expression of an author. Many elements contribute to style, and if a question calls for a discussion of style or of "stylistic techniques," you can discuss diction, syntax, figurative language, imagery, selection of detail, sound effects, and tone, using the ones that are appropriate. Notice that there are several phrases used in the essay questions that invite you to choose among several possible topics: "devices of style," "narrative techniques," "rhetorical techniques," "stylistic techniques," and "resources of language" are all phrases that call for a consideration of more than one technique but do not specify what techniques you must discuss. Usually one of the two essay questions on a set passage will use one of these phrases, while the other question will specify the tasks by asking for "diction, imagery, and syntax" or a similar three or four topics.
Syllogism
A form of reasoning in which two statements are made and a conclusion is drawn from them. begins with a major premise ("All tragedies end unhappily.") followed by a minor premise ("Hamlet is a tragedy.") and a conclusion (Therefore, "Hamlet ends unhappily.").
Symbol
Something that is simultaneously itself and a sign of something else. A thing, event, or person that represents or stands for some idea or event. Winter, darkness, and cold are real things, but in literature they are also likely to be used as symbols of death.
Synecdoche
A figure of speech in which a part of something is used to represent the whole, or, occasionally, the whole is used to represent the part. To refer to a boat as a "sail" or to refer to a car as "wheels".
Syntax
The structure of a sentence; the arrangement of words in a sentence. A discussion of syntax in your essay could include such considerations as the length or brevity of the sentences, the kinds of sentences (questions, exclamations, declarative sentences, rhetorical questions - or periodic or loose; simple, complex, or compound).
Theme
The central idea of a work revealed and developed in the course of a story or explored through argument. The main thought expressed by a Thesis: The theme, meaning, or position that a writer undertakes to prove or support.
Thesis
The theme, meaning, or position that a writer undertakes to prove or support.
Tone
The manner in which an author expresses his or her attitude; the intonation of the voice that expresses meaning. described by adjectives, and the possibilities are nearly endless. Often a single adjective will not be enough, and tone may change from chapter to chapter or even line to line. This is the result of allusion, diction, figurative language, imagery, irony, symbol, syntax, and style to cite only the relevant words on this list.