Glossary of Literary Terms

Flashcards by elnepotgieter, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by elnepotgieter about 7 years ago


Poetry and Short Stories Glossary

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ALLEGORY The REPRESENTATION of abstract ideas or principles by characters, figures, or events in narrative, dramatic, or in the form of pictures, e.g. "Napoleon" represents Stalin in Animal Farm. Sometimes called an EXTENDED METAPHOR
ALLITERATION The rhyming of CONSONANT SOUNDS at the beginning of two or more word close to one another. Provides or intensifies the rhythm. Can also link seemingly unrelated ideas with one another e.g. "Cool, Calm and Collected"
ALLUSION An explicit or indirect reference to a person, place or event in History, Mythology or the Bible e.g. "the rugby match was his Waterloo" means he was so badly injured that it was his final match.
ANONYMOUS When the author of the poem is unknown.
ANTHEM A solemn song / hymn of praise.
ANTICLIMAX The building up of ideas or events in order of increasing importance. However, the last event / idea is trivial, unimportant or a let down e.g. "I am a superhero, I have x-ray vision, the strength of five horses an the charm of Johnny Bravo"
ANTITHESIS Word / phrases / sentences / ideas strongly contrasted or balanced against one another in order to stress an idea or to create a definite expression e.g. "Tiny" as a name for a very large body builder. See also OXYMORON and PARADOX.
APOSTROPHE A direct address to a person / thing. (This is not the punctuation mark!)
ASSONANCE The repetition of the same VOWEL SOUNDS in word that are close to one another.
BLANK VERSE Unrhymed verses. Even though there is rhythm, the lines do not rhyme. With FREE VERSE, the lines are without any specific rhythm or rhyme.
CLIMAX Occurs when ideas or events are arranged in order of increasing importance e.g. "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind"
DICTION The kind and type of words the poet uses, e.g. the word "and" will support a narrative poem regarding everyday things.
ELISION Letter(s) left out to intensify the rhythm (like in a song)
ENJAMBMENT Also called a run-on line. One line of poetry runs into a next line without the usage of punctuation marks or natural pauses.
EPIGRAM It is a short, concise statement (or poem) but it has a deeper meaning e.g. "Here lies my wife: here let her lie! Now she's at rest - and so am I" by John Dryden.
EUPHEMISM An understatement of something unpleasant, vulgar, sexist or racist e.g. "he was asked to leave his job" instead of "he was fired" (a softer way to put it…)
HYPERBOLE Exaggeration. Pronounced "hi purr' billie"
IMAGERY The WORD PICTURES that the poet creates in the poem. He uses images and descriptions. The choice of words (diction) is thus very important. Try to understand what the poet was feeling when he wrote the poem. Look carefully at SIMILES, PERSONIFICATION, METAPHORS and ALLITERATION.
INNUENDO A hint at something (usually something unpleasant) without saying it directly e.g. the statement, "the vertical stripes in your dress do wonders for your figure" implies that the person is fat.
INTENTION The REASON behind the writing of a poem - WHY the poet wrote it. Is it just a plain statement? Does he want to express his feelings? Does he want to draw reaction or response from the reader?
IRONY The opposite of what happened (or should have happened) or what is meant. Also refers to a hidden meaning the reader understands. DRAMATIC IRONY is found in plays.
METAPHOR An indirect comparison between two things - where on thing is said to be another. With an EXTENDED METAPHOR the image is extended throughout the poem.
METONYMY The substitution of an idea / word for another related one, e.g. "the PEN is mightier that the sword".
MONOLOGUE Also called a soliloquy. A one-sided speech.
ONOMATOPOEIA The sound of something is imitated by the use of words.
OXYMORON Opposites / contrasts immediately next to one another e.g. "Bad love". See ANTITHESIS and PARADOX.
PARADOX A statement that at first seems absurd or contradictory, but if it is considered carefully, it contains some truth in it e.g. "you have to be cruel to be kind". See also OXYMORON and ANTITHESIS.
PARENTHESIS A word, phrase or sentence inserted between other parts to serve as extra information or to place emphasis on the original idea.
PATHOS The quality in an image or event that fills the reader with pity and sympathy.
PERSONIFICATION When lifeless things (or animals) are given human characteristics and attributes.
PUN & AMBIGUITY A deliberate play on words so that the sentence / idea / concept has a double meaning e.g. "Yesterday I rode my bid twice, I guess that makes me a recycler". Ambiguity is always a pun, however, the double meaning is unintentional and innocent e.g. the name "Hansie".
RHETORICAL QUESTION A question that does not require an answer. It is used to attract the reader's attention.
RHYME The repetition of the same sounds at the end of two or more lines of poetry.
RHYTHM The basic element of poetry. It contributes to the overall effect of the poem. It must suit the subject, mood and emotions of the writer e.g. slow, smooth, jerky, steady.
SARCASM A from of irony intended to hurt someone, e.g. when one of your friends says to someone who received 90% for Maths, "you think you are Einstein".
SATIRE Poetry that attacks social evils or injustices to change society for the better.
SENSES AND SYNAESTHESIA (appealing to more than one sense) There are 5 regarding the reading of poetry. - olfactory (smell) - gustatory (taste) - auditory (listen) - visual (see) tactile (feeling with your hands)
SIMILE A direct comparison using the words "like" or "as"
SONNET A poem consisting of 14 lines. This is a very strict, rigid and formal form of poetry. There are 4 types of sonnets. - Petrarchan / Italian = consists of two parts. First part 8 lines = octave. Second part 6 lines = sestet. - English / Shakespearean = consists of two parts. First part = 3 quatrains. Second part 2 lines = heroes couplet. - Spenserian (created by Edmund Spenser) - The Unclassified (these do not follow a strict sonnet pattern).
STANZA A "grou" of lines (verses) that form a unit. Couplet : Two consecutive lines of poetry that rhyme (as one unit). Quatrain : four-lined stanza Sestet : six-lined stanza. Part of a sonnet. Octet : eight-lined stanza. Part of a sonnet.
SYMBOL A word or sign standing for something else.
SYNECDOCHE A part for the whole e.g. "South Africa won the soccer" or "all hands report to the captain" means not all the hands must report, but every person.
THEME The underlining thought or idea of the poem. The "moral of the story". Sometimes it consists of a universal fact.
TONE (MOOD or ATTITUDE) The poet's attitude towards the subject of the poem. Is he enthusiastic, bitter, indifferent, warm?
ZEUGMA A verb followed by two nouns, one abstract and one concrete e.g. "That evening I ventured with no TREPIDATIONS and a TORCH…"
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