Literary Terms 1-25

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Ad Misericordiam

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English

25 Terms

1

Ad Misericordiam

An appeal to the audience's sympathy and an attempt to persuade another using a hard-luck-story rather than logic or reason. This is regarded as a logical fallacy in which someone tries to win support for an argument through pity or guilt. An example would be not completing your homework, telling me you had a fight with your significant other, and stating you are so "stressed out" from the pressures of your senior year that you simply could not concentrate.

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2

Allegory

An expression, by means of symbolic fictional characters and actions, of truths about human conduct and experience. (E.g. The morality play Everyman that features characters named after the qualities they represent such as Fellowship, Kindred, Good Deeds, Knowledge, Beauty, and Strength.)

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3

Alliteration

The repetition of accented consonant sounds at the beginning of words that are close to each other, usually to create an effect, rhythm, or emphasis. (E.g.: Big, bad, barking dog. The noisy gnat knit nine sweaters. Note in the latter example that the sound is the same, although the spelling is not.)

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4

Allusion

A reference in literature or in art to previous literature, history, mythology, pop culture, current events, or the bible. (E.g.: The 19th-century whaling ship in Moby-Dick is named the Pequod. Many people today might not recognize this ____, but when Moby- Dick was published, much of the population would have known about the Native American tribe called the Pequot.)

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5

Ambiguity

Quality of being intentionally unclear; _____ events or situations that can be interpreted in more than one way. This device is especially beneficial in poetry, as it tends to grace the work with the richness and depth of multiple meanings. (E.g.: "Thou still unravished bride of quietness" from Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn" leaves the reader questioning does "still" mean she is dead, she never was alive, the vase still exists, or she is still virginal?)

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6

anachronism

An act of attributing a custom, event, or object to a period to which it does not belong This is sometimes used to create a humorous or jarring effect, but beware, this can also occur because of careless or poor research on the author's parts. (In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare mentions caps, which the Romans did not wear. Or imagine Shakespeare's Romeo, from Romeo and Juliet which is set in the 16th century, riding to the Capulet party in a Porsche.)

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7

Anadiplosis

repeating the last word of clause at beginning of next clause (E.g.: Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. ~Yoda)

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8

Analogy

clarifies or explains an unfamiliar concept or object, or one that cannot be put into words, by comparing it with one which is familiar. By explaining the abstract in terms of the concrete, an ___ may force the reader to think more critically about a concept. _____ tend to appear more often in prose than in poetry. They enliven writing by making it more interesting, entertaining, and understandable. Similes and metaphors are two specific types of ____. (E.g.: "Knowledge always desires increase: it is like fire, which must first be kindled by some external agent, but which will afterwards propagate itself."- Samuel Johnson)

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9

analysis

The process of examining the components of a literary work. (E.g.: An ____ of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre might reference the novel's Gothic setting, elements of suspense, author's style, romantic and feminist themes, symbolism, and figurative language.)

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10

anecdote

A short and often personal story used to emphasize a point, develop a character or theme, or inject humor. (E.g.: In F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby there is the anecdote about Tom Buchanan's liaison with the chambermaid during his honeymoon that speaks volumes about his character.)

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11

Antagonist

A character who functions as a resisting force to the goals of the protagonist. The ____ is often a villain, but in a case where the protagonist is evil, the ___ may be virtuous. (E.g.: In William Shakespeare's Othello, Othello is the protagonist and Tybalt is the antagonist.)

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12

antecedent

The word or phrase to which a pronoun refers. It often precedes a pronoun in prose (but not necessarily in poetry). This grammar question appears repeatedly in AP multiple-choice questions. (E.g.: In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, flesh is the ____ and itself the pronoun that refers to it in "O that this too, too solid flesh would melt,/ Thaw and resolve itself into a dew.")

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13

anticlimax

An often disappointing, sudden end to an intense situation. (E.g.: Many critics consider Jim's capture and rescue in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn an example of an ____.)

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14

Antihero

A protagonist who carries the action of the literary piece but does not embody the classic characteristics of courage, strength, and nobility. (E.g.: Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye, Yossarian in Catch-22, and Meursault in The Stranger are all considered to be ____.)

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15

Antithesis

A concept that is directly opposed to a previously presented idea. (E.g.: In the Star Wars trilogy, Darth Vader, of the dark side of the Force, represents ideas that are diametrically opposed (that is, ____) to those of the Jedi Knights.)

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16

Anapest

a metrical foot of poetry consisting of two unaccented syllables, followed by u u / one accented syllable. (ex. un - der - stand)

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17

Anaphora

Repetition of an opening word or phrase in a series of lines. (E.g.: "So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania" from Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech contains ____.

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18

Anthropomorphism

Giving a human quality, emotion or ambition to a non-human object or being. This differs from personification in that the non-human objects acts like a human rather than simply being given the trait. (E.g. Simba from The Lion King)

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19

Aphorism

A terse statement that expresses a general truth or moral principle; sometimes considered a folk proverb. (E.g.: "Life's tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late." ~Benjamin Franklin)

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20

Apostrophe

A rhetorical (not expecting an answer) figure of direct address to a person, object, or abstract entity. (E.g.: John Donne's sonnet "Death Be Not Proud" or Anthony's address to the dead Caesar in Julius Caesar)

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21

apotheosis

Elevating someone to the level of a god. (E.g.: Helen of Troy is considered the ____ of beauty in Greek mythology.)

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22

Archetype

A character, situation, or symbol that is familiar to people from all cultures because it occurs frequently in literature, myth, religion, or folklore. (E.g.: Character -The ____ gunslinger, having been forced to duel once more, rides off into the sunset, leaving behind a town full of amazed and awestruck citizens. Situation- Just when it looks like the battle will be won by the enemy, reinforcements arrive. Symbol- The dove of peace.)

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23

Aside

A short remark made by an actor to the audience rather than to the other characters, who do not hear him or her. Shakespeare's characters often share their thoughts with us in this way. (E.g.: After Regan and Goneril profusely profess their love for their father in William Shakespeare's King Lear, Cordelia states in an ____ "What shall Cordelia do? Love, and be silent.")

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24

Assonance

The repeated use of a vowel sound. (E.g.: How now brown cow?)

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25

Asyndeton

A rhetorical term for a writing style that omits conjunctions between words, phrases, or clauses. (E.g.: "An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was thick, warm, heavy, sluggish." -from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness)

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