Unit 4 Literary Terms

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quiz on Friday, December 20

41 Terms

1

crisis

the turning point of the plot; the incident or event that suggests or indicates the outcome of the main struggle; the point at which one is reasonably sure of the outcome of the narrative

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2

criterion

a standard, principle, rule, or canon by which a literary work is judged

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3

criterion example

if one believes that all novels must have movement or action, one will condemn a novel like Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter because of its slow-moving plot

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4

criticism

the art of judging the values and faults of works of art or literature; does not mean the mere pointing out of deficiencies, but rather the evaluation or estimation of the total effect, as well as the component aspects, of the literary artistic work

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5

criticism example

Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath received a Pulitzer Prize, but also received massive criticism for his use of the socialist beliefs of Lenin and Marx, and California and Oklahoma banned the novel because he portrayed man’s inhumanity to man by using the socioeconomic conditions prevalent in both states during 1930

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6

critque

an essay or article in criticism of a literary work, a review; implies scholarship and care and, therefore, should not be applied to superficial and careless work

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7

dactyl

foot of poetry with three syllables, one stressed and two unstressed, almost like a waltz

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8

dactyl example

“Just a handful of silver he left us.”

  • Robert Browning, The Lost Leader

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9

deductive reasoning

reasoning from a general principle to a particular case, or drawing from a general premise a conclusion about a specific example, hence reasoning from whole to part; in deduction, the regular logical form is called syllogism, consisting of three propositions: a major and a minor premise, and a conclusion; a false conclusion, drawing a conclusion to justified by premises is called a non sequitus (Latin for “it does not follow”)

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10

deductive reasoning example

John reasons that he will not put his hands into the fire because fire always burns any person with whom it comes in contact

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11

syllogism example

All men are mortal. (major premise)

Socrates is a man. (minor premise)

Therefore, Socrates is mortal. (conclusion)

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12

false conclusion

All boys like sports

Jane likes sports

Therefore, Jane is a boy

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13

denouement

a name given to the last scene or incident that unites or unravels the knots still remaining in the plot; very common in detective and mystery stories, giving the explanation for the yet unexplained mysteries of the plot

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14

deus ex machina

when the Gods intervene to resolve a seemingly impossible conflict; primarily refers to an unlikely or improbable coincidence; a “cop-out” ending; any person or thing or condition artificially introduced into a story or play to solve abruptly a difficulty unsolvable by ordinary means or an unexpected or improbably occurrence which saves a situation

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15

deus ex machina example

in Gulliver’s Travels, Gulliver is hoping to get away from the island of Bleufuscu and just “happens to find” an empty boat in good condition on the shore

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16

dialect

a local or provincial form of language, differing from other forms, especially from the standard or literary form, thus, one language may contain several dialects; covers both written and spoken forms of language; synonyms are vernacular, lingo, cant, argot, patois and slang

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17

dialect example

English - Yankee, Western, Southern

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18

diction

the deliberate choice of a style of language for a desired effect or tone; good authors choose words carefully to achieve a particular effect that is formal, informal or colloquial

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19

diction example

Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter - formal

Mark Twain in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - highly informal

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20

didactic

a speech, story, essay, poem or play in which the author’s primary purpose is to instruct, teach or moralize; most allegories are such

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21

didactic example

Lowell’s Vision of Sir Launfal

Longfellow’s A Psalm of Life

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22

dimeter

meter of two feet in a line of poetry

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23

distortion

an exaggeration or stretching of the truth to achieve a desired effect

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24

dithyramb

a kind of lyric poem in honor of Dionysus or Bacchus, the gods of wine in Greek and Roman mythology; a poem in a wild, irregular strain and a speech or writing in a vehement style

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25

doggerel

light verse, especially burlesque or comic, often irregular in form

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26

doggerel example

“Candy is Dandy,

But Liquor is Quicker”

- Ogden Nash, “Reflection on Ice-Breaking”

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27

double-entendre

an expression usually intended to be humorous which iscapable of two interpretations, one of them often indelicate or risque

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28

drama

an expression usually intended to be acted upon a stage, presenting a story by means of characters speaking or acting; the usual division of it is into acts (ordinarily from three to five) and scenes

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29

dramatic monologue

a poem or dramatic qualities told entirely by one person to one or more listeners

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30

dramatic monologue example

Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess”

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31

elegy

a lyric poem expression sadness or grief, usually for the dead

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32

elegy example

Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”

Milton’s “Lycidas”

Shelly’s “Adonais”

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33

ellipsis

a rhetorical device used for the sake of increased vividness and energy in which a word or words are omitted which are necessary to the complete construction of a sentence but not required for the understanding of it; also the use of three dots indicating the omission of words

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34

ellipsis example

Who steals my purse steals trash

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35

empathy

a somewhat vague term akin to sympathy and applied almost exclusively to the drama; means the projection of one’s own consciousness into another being; does not mean that the spectator identifies himself with a character being portrayed, but rather, that the spectator is able to feel a sense of reality and universal human qualities of the character, and therefore, a sense of emotional and intellectual rapport with him, but he does not feel that he is the character, nor that he is vicariously experiencing the same emotions

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36

end-stopped line

a line of poetry that ends with a natural pause because the sense is complete; a run-on line is one that does not end that way

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37

end-stopped line example

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:

Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown”

Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

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38

epic

a long narrative poem, relating in lofty style the deeds of a great (usually national) hero of ancient or legendary times; usually it contains supernatural or superhuman elements and frequently deals with a national struggle

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39

epic example

Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey

Virgil’s Aeneid

English epic Beowulf

the French Chanson de Roland

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40

epigram

a very short poem or prose piece, or a very short passage, expressing a single idea with brevity and cleverness, and often with wit; commonly, a short, pointed saying

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41

epigram example

“Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”

- Alexander Pope

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