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Literary Devices and Elements of Literature

Mr. Carter This is a list of important words, which I want you to know, be able to use critical literary discussions, and eventually be able to implement in your essay writing. Many of these literary terms and devices are present in novels you are reading now and will become useful for when you are analyzing literature in the future. These words and ideas will enable you to access any piece of literature in new ways and will allow you to uncover ideas which are not blatant or obvious. SLTR HSE= “Slaughter House” by Richard Matheson 1. Plot: A sequence of related events that make up a story. In a typical plot, an exposition that introduces the characters and establishes the main conflict. Example: Basically, a timeline showing the order of events in a story. In SLTR HSE it starts with the two brothers buying a house that they’ve always wanted, then they find out the house is haunted, and concludes with the death of the brother and burning of the house. 2. Theme: The message about life or human nature that is conveyed by a literary work. A work may have more then one theme, and in many cases readers must infer the writer’s message. One way to infer a fictional work’s theme is to decide what general statement could be supported by the experiences of the main character. However, this is not the only way. 3. Setting: The time and place where a story occurs. 4. Symbol: A person, place, or action that can be represented as something else. Example: In SLTR HSE the locked cupboard symbolizes the unknown, terrible secrets of the house. 5. Protagonist: A central character or hero in a narrative or drama, usually the one

society. A. or even a force inside the main character. Example: The Protagonist in SLTR HSE is the brother that is telling the story from his point of view. such a character. Major Character. 9. Example: The Antagonist in SLTR HSE is the lady in the portrait that controls everything in the house and drives the brothers insane. He or she does not have to be good. Minor Character. It can be another character.Characters who change significantly. a force of nature. 8.the audience tends to identify.Characters who are less important than the main character. Static Character.Characters who change very little or not at all. Character: A person animal.The main character or the character the work of literature focuses on. The four ways of developing characters are (1) Presenting the character’s words and actions (2) Presenting the character’s thoughts (3) Describing the character’s appearance (4) Showing what others think about the character. . the main character is developed by his thoughts and feelings portrait in the journal he wrote about his experiences. Antagonist: A force working against the main character. Conflict: A struggle between two opposing forces. 7. or imaginary creature that takes part in the action of literary work. 6. Dynamic Character. Characterization: The techniques the author uses to create and develop characters. Example: In SLTR HSE. B.

ect different from one book to another? Or how are they different within the same book? 12. 14. there was Saul’s statement that he had felt a hand on his cheek. Imagery: It’s any of the five senses (sight. This shows the similarities between two or more ideas. The external struggle was the brother battling to get out of the burning house.Competitive or opposing action of incompatible antagonist state or action. And. A cold. 10. damp hand!” . or to show similarities. Comparison: An estimate or statement of related likeness or unlikeness. finally. or literary aspects. feeling. touch.Internal. and taste) used create a picture in the reader’s head. or opposition of one person needs. Foreshadowing: The writer uses clues or hints to indicate events that will occur later in the narrative. Example: SLTR HSE is a fiction because it is not a true story. External. drives. characters. external or internal demands. 11. themes. and poetry. Genre: A type of category within literature is called a genre. plots. 13. wishes. Example: The conflict in SLTR HSE internally is the mental struggle to keep sane when all of the strange events around them are occurring. the main genres are fiction. Example: “There was eerie blue light I had dreamed or actually seen beneath my door. non-fiction. hearing. Contrast: To place or set an opposition so as to show dissimilarities.Mental struggle resulting from in compatible. How are characters. This technique often creates suspense and prepares the reader for what is to come. the most obvious of evidence.

and slips and breaks his leg. Dramatic Irony. Verbal. B. Example: Verbal Irony.Occurs when one character or the reader expects something entirely Different occurs.A stunt man successfully goes down Niagara Falls in a barrel. Idiom: An idiom is an expression whose meaning is different than the sum of the . Irony: (Situational. Example: Love is an open door.He was a suspect in the robbery of a local convenience store. Example: Dramatic Irony. Verbal iron is when something is said. Verbal Irony.15. takes a shower. The reader knows that he did not commit the crime. but not the character. He then goes home. The comparison in a metaphor is often suggested rather than directly expressed. A. Situational Irony. 17. Metaphor: A form of figurative language that makes a comparison between things that don’t have something in common. His eyes were bug-like. It is the knowledge that the narrator makes available to the reader. or in which something that is intended fails to materialize.Is irony in the form of language. but mean something else) C. a metaphor does not use the words “like” or “as”. (You say something. Unlike a simile. but the detective thinks otherwise. 16.Sarcasm. but the meaning of the dialogue is different or the opposite of what is said. Example: Situational Irony.Refers to the contrast between what the character knows and what the reader and the audience knows. and Dramatic): A contrast between what is expected and what actually exists or happens. It describes a situation in which something that is expected with a great deal of certainty doesn’t happen.

but where as a metaphor implies a comparison. and angry can be used to describe different moods. or heart-stopping. 21. words such as amused. the animal are attributed human qualities such as the ability to speak human language and express complex emotion. 19. 18. and not all that glitters is gold. Almost every single cartoon by Disney contains personification. Writers use personification to make images and feeling concentrate to the reader. profits are up. “as”. similes are figures of speech. dialogues. . Example: “Break a leg” does not mean break your. was writing about the lack of civil rights. objected. Like metaphors. description.meaning of the its individual words.” Example: It was as slick as ice. and plot complications to establish moods. he would have had an angry tone. Example: In “Charlotte’s Web”. Example: The mood in SLTR HSE is very tense. and “resembles. “than”. Example: If Martin Luther King Jr. Mood: A mood or atmosphere is a feeling that a literary work conveys to the readers or writers use of a variety technique including word choice. Tone: The tone of a work is the writer’s attitude towards his/her subject. mysterious. Other examples include: less is more. Simile: A stated comparison between two things that are actually unlike. a simile expresses the comparison clearly by the words “like”. Personification: A figure of speech in which human qualities are attributed to a non-human object. but have something in common. 20. but instead it means to start working or good luck.

Onomatopoeia: The use of words which in their pronunciation suggest their meaning. Hyperbole: Exaggeration used for emphasis. Example: Dr. C. but can be continued on indefinitely. feels.The narrator is all knowing. 24. and they. and we.The narrator is a character in the story and is involved in the action. Hyperboles can be used to heighten effect or to create humorous perception. usually in an adjective. Point of View (First and third*): The perspective from which a story is told. D. Example: “Sound effects” Buzz! Bang! Kapowee! 27. Uses first person pronouns such as: I. it. A. me.The narrator tells us what one character thinks. This point of view allows the narrator to relate the thoughts and feelings of all of the story’s characters. 25. * Do not ask me about second person point of view. she. First Person. Third Person. and observes. I could eat a horse. B. The repetition is usually limited to two words. Oxymoron: A paradox reduced to two words. Uses pronouns such as he.noun or . Shoells shoe soles. Flashback: A literary device in which the writer presents events that happened before the time of the current narration or current events.” or “I’m so hungry. Third Person Omniscient. not by one of the characters. Example: “He has a brain the size of a pea. Third Person Limited Point of View.The perspective from which the story is told by a narrative voice outside the action.” 26.21. 23: Alliteration: The recurrence of initial consonant sounds.

political cartoons. grammatical structure. use of literary devices. a Saturday Night Live skit. Stephen Colbert. Example: Any song by Weird Al Yankovic. Mark Twain a. Cummings has an erratic and original poetic style. or whatever makes the author unique. The parodist exploits the peculiarities of an author’s expression. Persona: Persona is a social role or a character played by the actor or the person created by an author to tell a story. Example: Pretty ugly. produced by choice of words. Style: The manner of expression of a particular writer. living dead. Mad TV… 29. Example: Lemony Snicket in The Series of Unfortunate Events. Parody: An imitation of work of an author with the idea of ridiculing his ideas. 31. High students on a regular basis. expressing sneering. E. deafening silence. and all the possible parts of language use.k. personal disproval in the guise of praise. Satire: A manner of writing that mixes a critical attitude with wit and humor in an effort to improve mankind and human institution. Example: Richard Bachman a. 30.” Or “This is perfect.E.a Stephen King. or Sr.” 32. .his tendency to use too many parentheses.a Samuel Clemens. favorite words. 33. Pseudonym: A “false” name used by the writer who does not want to use his/her real name. jumbo shrimp. Sarcasm: A form of verbal irony.adjective relationship and is used for effect. Example: Poem have words all over the place. Often used casually between friends or by a Jr. Example: When something bad happens: “This is just wonderful. in different fonts and sizes.adverb. or work. 28.k. Dr. Example: Jon Stewart.

35. 36. Historical Allusion. . Most Subplots have some connection with the main plot. Subplot: A subordinate or minor collection of events in a novel or drama. Example: The rock is to hard as the pillow is too soft. acting as foils to. for the purpose of explaining or clarifying some unfamiliar or difficult idea or object by showing how the idea or object is similar to a familiar one. The opposite of hyperbole. Understatement: Expressing an idea with less emphasis or in lesser degree then is the actual case. we often speak of the Napoleon complex. Understatement is employed for ironic emphasis. Sometimes multiple opening subplots merge into a main plot. The reader will have to understand the historical event or person in order to comprehend the point the author is making. Allusion: A reference to famous event. you don’t need to indulge in his Peter Pan syndrome by smothering him. Example: When we talk of someone who is physically short and desires power. Literary Allusion. Example: Saying someone is just a bit upset. setting. complications of.When an author refers to a historical event or person in their writing. or idea from a past literary work or different era. commentary on. character.34.A reference to a commonly known story or piece of literature’s famous attributes. Example: Let him fix his own cocoa. 37: Analogy: The comparison of two things which are alike in several aspects. when they are absolutely furious. or to support the theme of the main plot.

41. Standards Covered Reading 1.38. established by the regular recurrence of similar accent patterns (called feet). 39. or in some ways. Coming-of-age story: A type of novel where the protagonist is initiated into adulthood through knowledge. Rhyme: The similarity between syllable sounds at the end of two or more lines.1 Analyze idioms. Example: “People in significant action” is one way of describing it. Example: Their was a goat that would float on a boat around moat. experience. Reading 3.3 Use word meanings with context clues Reading 2. the loss of innocence. a destruction of a false sense or security. similes Reading 1. . Example: The book Old Yeller or the movie “Titanic”. often by a process of disillusionment. metaphors.2 Identify events that advance the plot… and explain how these events foreshadow future action. Reading 3.2 Analyze text for literary elements.3 Evaluate the structural elements of plot and conflict.000 words or more. 40. broadly realistic-concerning the everyday events of ordinary people and concerned with character. Understanding comes after dropping of preconceptions. analogies. Meter: The repeated pattern of musical beats in a measure. or both. Novel: A novel is an extended prose fiction of 50. The rhythmic pattern that emerges when words are arranged in such a way that their stressed and unstressed syllables fall into a more or less regular sequence.

1 Write narrative with a plot line.Writing application 2. . climax. and point of view. Develop complex characters and use a range of literary devices. rising action. conflict.