English Literary Terms

Definition- a comparison using like or as; a figure of speech in which two things, essentially different but thought to be alike in one or more respects, are compared.
Literary Examples: In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo says, ” My bounty as boundless as the sea.” He is comparing his bounty to the sea because his bounty has no boundry and seems infinite just like the sea.
Another Example of a simile is in A Midsummer Night’s Dream when Lysander is talking about Hermia and says, ” My love to Hermia, as melted as the snow”. He is talking about how his love with her is completey gone, and its melted away just like when snow melts and goes away.
Other Example: In A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens, there is a line that contains, “as good as gold.” It is used today to say that something is valuable.

Definition- a figure of speech in which a person not present or a personified nonhuman object is spoken to.
Literary Examples: Apostrophe is in the whole poem of “O Captain, My Captain!” The character, probably a sailor on his captain’s ship, is talking about how they won the prize and they are very close to shore after a long journey back home. But his captain is dead, and he is talking to a person not present the whole time and this fits right in with the definition of an apostrophe.
Another example is in the poem, “In Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”, one of the lines says, “Roll on thou dark and deep blue ocean.” This line is talking about how he is talking to the ocean and sees nothing but the ocean in sight.
Other Example: An example of an apostrophe is “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, How I wonder what you are.” For generations, parents have sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to their children; however many people don’t know that this nursery rhyme actually came from a poem written in the early 19th century called “The Star” written by Jane Taylor.

Definition- an indirect reference to a person, event, or condition presumably familiar but sometimes unknown to the reader.
Literary Examples: In Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hermia is talking to Lysander and says,”And by that fire which burned the Carthage queen, When the false Trojan under sail was seen” Dido is not referred to by name but by the Carthage queen, meaning she was the queen of the North African country of Carthage. Dido falls in love with The Aeneid’s main character, Aeneas, after he stops in Carthage on his way from Troy to Italy. But after he abandons her, she kills herself by falling on a sword. At sea on his ship, Aeneas can see Carthage glowing with the flames of Dido’s funeral pyre.
Another example is in Julius Caesar, when Cassius is saying, “Why, man he doth bestride the narrow world like a Colossus” This is an allusion to the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world
Other example: Catch-22- this phrase comes from a novel by Joseph Heller. Catch-22 is set on a U.S. Army Air Force base in World War II. “Catch-22” refers to a regulation that states an airman’s request to be relieved from flight duty can only be granted if he is judged to be insane.
In the book the old woman in Rome explains that Catch-22 means “They can do whatever they want to do.” This refers to the theme of the novel in which the authority figures consistently abuse their powers, leaving the consequences to those under their command.
In common speech, “catch-22” has come to describe any absurd or no-win situation.