A work that functions on a symbolic level.
The repetition of initial consonant sounds, such as “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”
A reference contained in a work.
A metrical pattern of two unaccented syllables followed by an accented syllable.
The force or character that opposes the main character, the protagonist.
Direct address in poetry. Yeats’ line “Be with me Beauty, for the fire is dying” is a good example.
Words spoken by an actor intended to be heard by the audience but not by other characters on stage.
A love poem set at dawn which bids farewell to the beloved.
A simple narrative poem, often incorporating dialogue that is written in quatrains, generally with a rhyme scheme of a b c d.
Unrhymed iambic pentameter. Most of Shakespeare’s plays are in this form.
Harsh and discordant sounds in a line or passage of a literary work.
A break or pause within a line of poetry indicated by punctuation to emphasize meaning.
According to Aristotle, the release of emotion that the audience of a tragedy experiences.
One who carries out the action of the plot in literature. Major, minor, static, and dynamic are types of characters.
The turing point of action or character in a literary work, usually the highest moment of tension.
The inclusion of a humorous character or scene to contrast with the tragic elements of a work, thereby intensifying the next tragic event.
A clash between opposing forces in a literary work, such as man vs. man; man vs. nature; man vs. God; man vs. self.
The interpretive level of a word based on its associated images rather than its literal meaning.
A traditional aspect of a literary work, such as a soliloquy in a Shakespearean play or a tragic hero in a Greek tragedy.
Two lines of rhyming poetry; often used by Shakespeare to conclude a scene or an important passage.
A foot of poetry consisting of a stressed sylable followed by two unstressed syllales.
The literal or dictionary meaning of a word.
The conclusion or tying up of loose ends in a literary work; the resolution of the conflict and plot.
Deus Ex Machina
A Greek invention, literally “the god from the machine” who appears at the last moment and resolves the loose ends of a play. Today, the term refers to anyone, usually of some stature, who untangles, resolves, or reveals the key to the plot of a work. See the conclusion of Euripides’ Medea for an example or the sheriff at the end of Desire under the Elms by O’Neill.
The author’s choice of words.
A type of poem that presents a conversation between a speaker and an implied listener. Browning’s “My Last Duchess” is a perfect example.
A poem that laments the dead or a loss. “Elegy for Jane” by Roethke is a specific example. Gray’s “Elegey in a Country Church Yard” is a general example.
A technique in poetry that involves the running on of a line or stanza. It enables the poem to move and to develop coherence as well as directing the reader with regard to form and meaning. Walt Whitman uses this continually.
A lengthy, elevated poem that clebrates the exploits of a hero. Beowulf is a prime example.
A brief witty poem. Pope often utilizes this form for satiric commentary.
The pleasant, melliflous presentation of sounds in a literary work.
Background information presented in a literary work.
A simple, symbolic story, usually employing animals as characters. Aesop and La Fontaine are authors who excel at this form.
The body of devices that enables the writer to operate on levels other than the literal one. It includes metaphor, simile, symbol, motif, hyperbole, and others discussed in chapter eight.
A device that enables a writer to refer to past thoughts, events, episodes.
A metrical unit in poetry; a syllabic measure of a line: iamb, trochee, anapest, dactyl, and spondee.
Hints of future events in a literary work.
The shape or structure of a literary work.
Poetry without a defined form, meter, or rhyme scheme.
Extreme exaggeration. In “MY Love is Like a Red, Red Rose,” Burns speaks of loving “until all the seas run dry.”
A metrical foot consisting of an unaccented syllable followed by an accented one; the most comon poetic foot in the English language.
A type of lyric poem which extols the virtues of an ideal place or time.
A verbal approximation of a sensory impression, concept, or emotion.
The total effect of related sensory images in a work of literature.
Writing that reflects a personal image of a character, event, or concept. The Secret Sharer is a fine example.
An unexpected twist or contrast between what happens and what was intended or expected to happen. It involves dialogue and situation, and it can be intentional or unplanned. Dramatic irony centers around the ignorance of those involved while the audience is aware of the circumstance.
A type of poetry characterized by emotion, personal feelings, and brevity; a large and inclusive category of poetry that exhibits rhyme, meter, and reflective thought.
A type of literature that explores narratives by and about characters who inhabit and experience their reality differently from what we term the objective world. Writers who are frequently placed in this category include Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Gunter Grass, and Isabel Allende.