English Literary Items

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alliteration

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All the literary items needed for analysis

100 Terms

1

alliteration

the repetition of the same consonant in a stretch of language, most often at the beginnings of words or on stressed syllables

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2

allusion

a passing reference in a work of literature to something outside the text; may include other works of literature, myth, historical facts or biographical detail

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3

alter ego

a second self, or second persona within a person

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4

anaphora

in poetry the repetition of the same word or words at the beginning of lines to create poetic effects

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5

antithesis

the placing together of contrasting ideas usually to create balance

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6

archetype

in literature a recurring symbol or motif often with its roots in myth. In psychoanalysis these are symbols of the unconscious that have primitive origins

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7

assonance

the use of the same vowel sound with different consonants or the same consonant with different vowel sounds in successive words or stressed syllables in a line of verse

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8

blank verse

unrhymed iambic pentameter

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9

cadence

the recurring rise and fall of the rhythms of speech. Can also refer to a rhythm that comes at the close of a line or poem

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10

caesura

a pause during a line of poetry

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11

cantos

short divisions of a long poem

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12

cautionary tale

a story that warns of danger, usually with a moral. Typically the character disobeys a warning or is incautious and comes to an unfortunate end

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13

cliché

a widely used expression which, through overuse, has lost impact and originality closed couplet a couplet that is usually rhymed and contains an entire thought colloquial the everyday speech used by people in informal situations

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14

conceit

an extended or elaborate concept that forges an unexpected connection between two apparently dissimilar things

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15

connotation

an idea or feeling implied by words, beyond the literal meaning

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16

consonance

repeated arrangements of consonants, with a change in the vowel that separates them, for example slip / slop, lump / limp / lamp

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17

construct

a model or concept

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18

couplet

a pair of rhymed lines of any metre

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19

deconstruction

in literary theory, a post-structuralist approach in which a text is unpicked and meanings sought, only to find that meanings shift and complicate

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20

dipodic

a light rocking metre of two feet (a unit of rhythm)

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21

discourse

a formal written or spoken communication or debate. Used in literary theory to refer to a particular kind of debate or reasoning, as in “feminist discourse”

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22

doggerel

verse that is trite or sentimental or has a forced rhythm. Sometimes used by poets purposely to create comic effects

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23

double entendre

a double meaning; sometimes with a crude connotation

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24

double meaning

a figure of speech in which meaning can be understood in two ways double rhyme in which two final syllables rhyme: double trouble

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25

dramatic monologue

a poetic form in which a single voice addresses the reader at any one time, creating a strong sense of personality. A poem may contain more than one voice, or voices in unison

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26

elegy

a formal poem lamenting a death or written in sorrowful mood

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27

end rhyme

rhyme at the end of lines of poetry

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28

end stop

a pause at the end of a line of poetry

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29

enjambment

in poetry when a line runs on into the next line, without pause, so carrying the thought with it. See also run-on line

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30

epigraph

a quotation or comment at the beginning of a poem or other work, relevant to the theme or content

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31

euphemism

an inoffensive word or phrase substituted for one considered offensive or harmful

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32

existentialism

a philosophical approach, in which the individual can only be free by acknowledging their illogical position in a meaningless universe. It is an anti-religious philosophy. The individual is a free agent, who governs their own development through their own will

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33

feminine

the term, when used in literary theory, particularly feminism, refers to the socially and culturally constructed woman

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34

feminine rhyme

an unaccented syllable at the end of a line of poetry, for example walking/ talking

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35

feminism

a range of movements seeking equality for women socially, politically, economically and culturally

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36

figurative

when language is used in an non-literal way, for example a literary device such as metaphor

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37

foregrounded

a literary term used to point to a feature of the text that is accentuated, such as the narrator

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38

free verse

verse verse without a metrical pattern; may contain some rhyme

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39

full rhyme

when the vowel and consonant in words rhyme, for example June/ moon

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40

gender politics

a politics concerned with the significance of gender at a social, cultural and psychological level

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41

Gothic

in literature a style that includes horror and the supernatural, popular in the eighteenth century.

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42

Grand Guigno

short play depicting violence and horror popular in Parisian cabarets in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, mainly at the Théâtre du Grand Guignol

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43

hyperbole

deliberate exaggeration, used for effect (from the Greek for 'throwing too far')

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44

iambic pentameter

a line of poetry consisting of five iambic feet (iambic consisting of a weak syllable followed by a strong one)

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45

icon

in popular culture a famous person or image that embodies certain qualities ideology a belief system or system of ideas

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46

imagery

descriptive language which uses images to make actions, objects and characters more vivid in the reader's mind. Metaphors and similes are examples of imagery imperative direct request or command

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47

insult

poem a comic poem that pokes fun at someone, using exaggeration internal rhyme when words rhyme in the middle and at the end of a line intertextuality the explicit or implicit referencing of other texts within a work of literature. It is designed to put the work within the context of other literary works and traditions and implies parallels between them

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48

irony

the humorous or sarcastic use of words to imply the opposite of what they normally mean; incongruity between what might be expected and what actually happens; the ill-timed arrival of an event that had been hoped for

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49

juxtaposition

contrasting ideas that are placed together

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50

lyric poetry

complex or simple, that expresses the emotions and thoughts of the speaker, often exploring a single feeling or idea

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51

Marxism

the political and economic theories of Karl Marx (1818-83) and Friedrich Engels (1820-95). In Marxism the class struggle is the basic force behind historical change. The economic conditions of a period determine or profoundly influence the political, social and cultural ideology. Marxist literary criticism is concerned with the relationship between the historical conditions and the ideology expressed in literature and which produces the work

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52

materialism

in philosophy the idea that nothing exists except the material world and its shifts or changes, as opposed, for example, to religious or spiritual belief (Marxism is a materialist theory)

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53

metaphor

a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object, a character or an action which does not literally belong to it, in order to imply a resemblance and create an unusual or striking image in the reader's mind

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54

metre

the rhythmic arrangement of syllables in poetic verse

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55

misogyny

a dislike or hatred of women

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56

motif

a recurring idea in a work, which is used to draw the reader's attention to a particular theme or topic

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57

narrative story

tale or any recital of events, and the manner in which it is told narrator the voice telling the story or relating the sequence of events

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58

objectify

to treat people as objects rather than as individual human beings. Women, for example, may be treated as sex objects, in which sexual characteristics are the focus. Objectification is an important issue in feminism

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59

parody

an imitation of a work of literature or a literary style designed to ridicule the original

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60

pastiche

a work in a style or manner that imitates that of another work; when deliberate, it may be a form of parody

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61

pathos

the power of arousing feelings of pity and sorrow in a work

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62

patriarchy

a social system in which masculine values and power dominate

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63

performance poem

a poem written to be presented to an audience, rather than read privately

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64

persona

in literature the voice of the speaker or narrator, not the author's voice, presenting a point of view

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65

personification

the treatment or description of an object or an idea as human, with human attributes and feelings

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66

Petrarchan sonnet

sonnet that has an abba abba rhyme scheme followed by a sestet cdcdcd or other rhyme patterns; also known as an Italian sonnet. See also sonnet

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67

phallocentric

used in feminism to refer to the dominance of masculine values

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68

post-colonialism

philosophical and literary approaches that study the aftermath of colonial rule, usually looking at texts and issues that focus on cultural identity as a result of or after colonisation

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69

postmodernism

a radical movement that gained ground in the late twentieth century, postmodernism overlaps many fields of study. In literary criticism a text is viewed as open to a plurality of meaning and form. Uncertainty rather than a fixed perspective is a key feature of postmodernism

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70

post-structuralism

an approach that questions many of the assumptions inherent in structuralism, seeing meanings as fluid and unstable

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71

protagonist

the principal character in a work of literature

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72

psyche

in psychoanalysis, the self. Can also refer to the human mind or spirit. In Greek mythology Psyche is the mortal woman with whom Eros falls in love

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73

psychoanalytic criticism

in literature, applying an approach to understanding a text by analysing the unconscious motivations of, for example, the characters

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74

pun

similar to a word with a double meaning, a pun plays with two or more meanings in a word. Most often used for comic effect

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75

quatrain

four lines of verse. Can stand alone or be a repeating form in a poem

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76

quintain

five lines of verse. Can stand alone or be a repeating form in a poem

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77

rap

in popular culture, a monologue with a strong rhythm and rhyme performed with musical backing

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78

register

styles of speech used in different social situations

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79

revisionism

in literature the rewriting of a well-known text in which character and/or plot is changed in order to challenge the view presented in the original

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80

rhetoric

the art of persuasive speaking or writing. A rhetorical question is asked for effect rather than to elicit an answer

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81

rhyming couplet

two lines of poetry, usually the same length, that rhyme

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82

run-on line

see enjambment

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83

satire

a type of literature in which folly, evil or topical issues are held up to scorn through ridicule, irony or exaggeration

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84

semiotics

the study of human communication through signs, symbols and groups of signs (such as words) and their relationship to meaning

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85

Shakespearean sonnet

a sonnet that has an abab cdcd efef gg rhyme scheme. See also sonnet

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86

simile

a figure of speech in which one thing is compared to another using 'like' or 'as' slant rhyme rhyme which is not exact and where the vowel is different: tomb / time. Sometimes called half rhyme or off rhyme

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87

socialisation

learning the values, attitudes and customs of a society through family, school and other social groups, to the extent that these values are accepted as true

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88

soliloquy

a dramatic device which allows a character to speak as if thinking aloud, revealing their inner thoughts, feelings and intentions

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89

sonnet

a fourteen-line verse which includes a rhyming couplet at the end, written in iambic pentameter. See also Shakespearean sonnet and Petrarchan sonnet

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90

stanza

traditional verse that has a fixed number of lines and a rhyme scheme that is repeated

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91

structuralism

in literary theory a way of analysing a text for its underlying deeper elements or structure and its relationship to other texts of a similar structure, rather than examining, for example, the features and effects of character or the narrative voice. Structural theories are evident in a variety of fields such as linguistics, the social sciences and the humanities

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92

subtext

an underlying theme or idea in a literary work

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93

symbolism

investing material objects with abstract powers and meanings greater than their own; allowing a complex idea to be represented by a single object

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94

synonym

a word that means the same or nearly the same as another word

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95

tercet

a verse of three lines, sometimes rhymed

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96

timbre

in literature the quality of the voice or tone

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97

tragedy

in its original sense, a drama dealing with elevated actions and emotions and characters of high social standing in which a terrible outcome becomes inevitable as a result of an unstoppable sequence of events and a fatal flaw in the personality of the protagonist. More recently, tragedy has come to include courses of events happening to ordinary individuals that are inevitable because of social and cultural conditions or natural disasters

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98

transformation

in myth and folklore the physical change of a human, animal, plant or inanimate object. In the fairy tale 'Beauty and the Beast', for example, the beast is transformed into a man

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99

vernacular

regional speech

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100

vers libre

free verse

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