Close Reading Terms

character, action, or situation that is a prototype, or pattern, of human life, occurring over and over again in literature, such as a quest, an initiation, or an attempt to overcome evil.

archetypal characters
those who embody a certain kind of universal human experience.

archetypal setting
areas associated with universal symbols

people or animals who take part in the action of a literary work

central character of a drama, novel, short story, or narrative poem.

adversary of the protagonist

flat character
character that has only a single important trait

round character
a three-dimensional character

static character
character who changes little over the course of a narrative

dynamic character
character who changes in response to the experience through which he or she passes

the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal

a moment of sudden revelation or insight

a character, usually minor, designed to highlight qualities of a major character

stock character
a flat character in a standard role with standard traits

facts, revealed by the author or speaker, facts that support the attitude or tone in a piece of poetry or prose

word choice intended to convey a certain effect

denotative diction
refers to the dictionary definition of a word

connotative diction
refers to the feelings and attitudes associated with a word

the speech of a particular region or group as it differs from those of a real or imaginary standard speech

the use of a word or phrase that is less expressive or direct but considered less distasteful or offensive than another

an accepted phrase or expression having a meaning different from the literal

consists of the words or phrases appealing to the senses – the descriptive diction – a writer uses to represent persons, objects, feelings, and ideas

emotional atmosphere in a literary work

sequence of events or actions in a short story, novel, play, or narrative poem

a term that describes the tension between opposing forces in a work of literature and is an essential element of plot

a scene that interrupts the action of a work to show a previous event

use of hints or clues in a narrative to suggest future action

the quality of a short story, novel, play, or narrative poem that makes the reader or audience uncertain or tense about the outcome of events

point of view
perspective from which a narrative is told

rhetorical shift
refers to a change or movement in a piece resulting from an epiphany, realization, or insight gained by the speaker, character, or reader

time and place in which events in a short story, novel, play, or narrative poem take place

writer’s characteristic manner of employing language

is a central message of a literary work

the writer’s or speaker’s attitude toward a subject, character, or audience, and it is conveyed primarily through the author’s choice of diction, imagery, figurative language, details, and syntax

tone shift, multiple tones
reveals changes in attitude or creates new attitudes

figures of speech
words or phrases that describe one thing in terms of something else – always involve some sort of imaginative comparison between seemingly unlike things i.e., simile, metaphor, personification

form of personification in which the absent, or dead, are spoken to as if present, and the inanimate, as if animate

comparison of two unlike things not using like or as

extended metaphor
differs from a regular metaphor in that it is sustained for several lines or sentences or through a work

form of metaphor in that the name of one this is applied to another thing with which it is closely associated

form of paradox that combines a pair of opposite terms into a single unusual expression

occurs when the elements of a statement contradict each other

a kind of metaphor that gives inanimate objects or abstract ideas human characteristics

play on words that are either identical or similar in sound but have sharply diverse meanings

a comparison of two different things or ideas through the use of the words like or as

epic simile (Homeric)
more involved, more ornate than the typical simile

form of metaphor – a part of something is used to signify the whole: e.g., “All hands on deck.”

sound device
stylistic techniques that convey meaning through sound

two words having the same sound in two or more words or phrases that appear close to each other in a poem

repetition of similar vowel sounds

repetition of consonant sounds in the middle or at the end of words

words beginning with the same consonant sound

words that sound like their meaning

the measure, patterned arrangement of syllables according to stress and length in a poem

the varying speed,intensity, elevation, pitch, loudness, and expressiveness of speech, especially poetry

a reference to a mythological, literary, or historical person, place, or thing

a contrast or opposition

functions by convincing or persuading an audience, or by proving or refuting a point of view or an issue

moving from observations about particular things to generalizations

moving from generalizations to valid inferences about particulars – or some combination of the two – as its pattern of development

logical appeal found in persuasive/argument prose
that establishes the logic of an argument

ethical appeal found in persuasive/argument prose that builds the credibility of the speaker

emotional appeal found in persuasive/argument prose relies upon emotion

cause/effect argument
consists of arguing from the presence (or absence) of the cause to the existence (or nonexistence) of the effect, or result

one of the traditional ways of thinking about a subject, identifies the subject as a part of a larger group with shared features

a traditional rhetorical strategy based on the assumption that a subject may be shown more clearly by pointing out ways it is similar to something else

traditional rhetorical strategy based on the assumption that a subject may be shown more clearly by pointing out ways in which it is unlike another subject.

deliberate, extravagant, and often outrageous exaggeration

dramatic irony
occurs when a character or speaker says or does something that has a different meaning from he thinks it means, though the audience and other characters understand the full implications of the speech or action

situational irony
occurs when a situation turns out differently from what one would normally expect – though often the twist is oddly appropriate

verbal irony
occurs when a speaker or narrator says one thing while meaning the opposite

the use of verbal irony in which a person appears to be praising something but is actually insulting it. The remark may also be taunting or caustic.

a term that describes a pattern or strand of imagery or symbolism in a work of literature

refers to the use of devices like irony, understatement, and exaggeration to highlight a human folly or a societal problem. The purpose of the satire is to bring the flaw to the attention of the reader in order that it may be addressed, remedied, or eradicated.

the use of any object, person, place, or action that not only has a meaning in itself but also stands for something larger than itself, such as a quality, attitude, belief, or value.

opposite of hyperbole. It is a kind of irony that deliberately represents something as being much less that it really is.

release of emotion (pity and fear) from the audience’s perspective

tragic flaw that leads to the tragic hero’s downfall

arrogance before the gods

occurs as the hero meets his catastrophe, at which point he recognizes his flaw and the reason he must die

occurs when the opposite of what the hero intends is what happens