Unit 3 Literary Terms

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catharthis

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catharthis

applied to tragedy by Aristotle to describe an emotional cleansing, purging, or feeling of relief; a tragedy, by evoking these emotions, cleansed the audience of all other, and lesser, emotions and left an after-feeling of relief and uplift ex | Sophocles' 'Oedipus Rex'

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chorus

a group of players in Greek drama whose only function in the play is to comment on and interpret the events in the play; in later plays and stories, it is sometimes a single character who serves the function of it ex | stage manager in Thronton Wilder's 'Our Town'

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chronicle

a history, especially a bare or simple chronological record of events, without interpretive or literary treatment ex | Chronicle History - type of historical play based upon the chronicles of England, such as Shakespeare's 'Henry V'

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circumlocation

the use of many or several words to express an idea that may be expressed by few or one; indirect or roundabout language ex | "The consensus of opinion is in the affirmative," instead of simply, "The vote is yes."

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classicism

a general term in contrast to Romanticism; denotes the principles and characteristics of Greek and Roman literature; thus it usually embodies formal elegance, dignity, order, clarity and serenity

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cliche

a time-worn phrase or expression or an overused situation in a piece of writing ex | a rescue in the nick of time

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climax

the point in the plot of greatest excitement, intensity, or impressiveness; may also be the crisis and each episode of a long narrative or each act in a play may have a smaller one of its own

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closet drama

a play intended to be read rather than acted upon a stage, for it usually presents difficulties of production on a stage ex | Shelly's 'Prometheus Unbound'

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coincidence

an accidental happening or development in the plot, unmotivated by the traits or actions of any of the characters; certain amount is true-to-life, but too much can destroy the plausibility of the story

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colloquialism

a word or expression permissible in informal or conventional language, but not in formal speech or writing; in writing, it is an informal style that reflects the way people spoke in a distinct time and/or place

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comedy

a light and amusing drama, usually having a happy ending and usually light and humorous in tone; also means the phase of a play expressing the comic or cheerful; bits of it are often introduced into tragedies ex | Sheridan's 'The School for Scandal'

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comic relief

humor inserted by the author to relieve the audience's or reader's emotional tension after a tragic or deeply emotional scene ex | the comic actions of the drunken porter in the knocking at the gate scene following the murder of King Duncan in 'Macbeth'

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complication

the twists and turns of the plot from the beginning to the turning point (crisis), as a result of obstacles encountered by the chief characters

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conceit

an ingenious, fanciful, or affected notion or expression, especially when given in the form of an exaggerated, affected, or extended metaphor; a comparison between two startlingly different objects ex | "She is all States, all princes I; Nothing else is"

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conflict

the struggle which constitutes the main dramatic quality of the plot; a character may contend against forces outside of himself; also if both opposing forces are tangible, like two fighting groups, the struggle is said to be "external"; if the two opposing forces are mental, the struggle is said to be "internal" ex | man v. man, man v. self, man v. nature, man v. abstract force

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connotation

the suggestive meaning of a word, apart from its explicit and literal meaning, hence, a secondary or implied meaning, often having emotional overtones ex | "Home is the place where, where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in."

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connotative

meanings of words are frequently suggested by voice inflections, facial expressions, gestures, and body movements and are often used as instruments of propaganda

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convention

a literary convention is a practice that is followed so often in literature that it has become the standard ex | happy ending, boy meets girl

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couplet

two successive lines of verse that rhyme ex | "The lovely lady, Christabel, Whom her father loved so well."

  • Coleridge

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couplet, heroic

two lines of rhyming iambic pentameter ex | "What dire offense from am'rous causes springs, What might contests rise from trivial things."

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