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Elements of Literature

Allegory: A story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning. Alliteration: When two or more words are near each other that begin with the same letter or sound. Characterization: The choices an author makes to reveal a character’s personality, such as appearance, actions, dialogue, and motivations. Protagonist: The character the story revolves around. Antagonist: A character or force that opposes the protagonist. Major Character: A character whose absence would change the entire story if removed. Minor Character: Often provides support and illuminates the protagonist. Static Character: A character that remains the same. Dynamic Character: A character that changes in some important way. Direct Characterization: When a description is given straightforward. Indirect Characterization: When a character is described through actions and dialogue Conflict: The struggle between opposing forces or the main issue. External Conflict: A struggle between two characters or things in the story and exists outside the character. Internal Conflict: A struggle that a character experiences within his/her own self. Man vs. Man: A struggle between two characters. Man vs. Nature: A struggle between a character and a natural force.

Man vs. Self: A struggle within one character. Man vs. Society: A struggle between a character and a force of society. Connotation: An idea or feeling that a word invokes in addition to its literal or primary meaning. Denotation: The dictionary definition of a word. Dialogue: The words spoken by characters. Diction: The choice and use of words and phrases in speech or writing. Figurative Language: The use of words to express meaning beyond the literal meaning of the words themselves. Metaphor: Contrasting two different things to enhance the meaning of a situation or theme without using “like” or “as”. Simile: Contrasting two different things to enhance the meaning of a situation or theme using “like” or “as”. Hyperbole: An exaggeration. Personification: Giving non-human objects human-like characteristics. Imagery: the author’s attempt to create a mental picture in the mind of the reader by describing with the five senses. Irony: When the events that occur are the opposite of what was expected. Plot: The arrangement of ideas and/or incidents that make up a story. Flashback: When a portion of the story goes back in time to another event. Foreshadowing: When the writer clues the reader into something that will eventually occur in the story; it may be explicit (obvious) or implied (disguised). Suspense: The tension that the author uses to create a feeling of discomfort about the unknown. Exposition: Background information regarding the setting, characters, plot.

Rising Action: The process the story follows as it builds to its main conflict. Climax: A significant turning point in the story that determines how it must end. Falling Action: The process of resolving conflict and winding down from the climax. Resolution: The conclusion of the story. Point of View: Who tells the story and how it is told. Narrator: The person telling the story who may or may not be a character in the story. First-Person: The narrator participates in the action of the story and tells the story through his/her perspective. Second-Person: The narrator addresses the reader directly as though she is part of the story. Third-Person (Objective): Narrator is a detached observer who does not assume a character's perspective. Third-Person (Omniscient): The narrator is a detached observer who knows what each character is thinking and feeling, not just what they are doing throughout the story. Rhythm: the juxtaposition of stressed and unstressed beats in a poem, and is often used to give the reader a lens through which to move through the work. Setting: The place or location of the action. The setting provides the historical and cultural context for characters. and can symbolize the emotional state of characters. Speaker: The person delivering a poem. This is not always the same person as the poet. Structure (Fiction): The way that the writer arranges the plot of a story. Structure (Poetry): The pattern of organization of a poem. Symbolism: When an object is meant to be representative of something or an idea greater than the object itself.

Theme: The overall message or overlaying concept within a story/poem. Tone: The implied attitude towards the subject that is meant to leave a certain impression on the reader.