Prose and Poetry Terms

Plot
a sequence of events in a narrative that is carefully constructed by the author for artistic purpose

Simple narrative account
a chronological description of real events

exposition
background information on the characters, setting, and other events necessary for understanding the story are given

complication
the conflict is developed, suspense is created, and foreshadowing may be used

conflict
the interplay between opposing elements

internal conflict
protagonist vs. self

external conflict
protagonist vs. other(s)

external conflict
protagonist vs. environment

technical climax
the turning point in the plot at which the outcome of the action is determined

resolution
the events following the technical climax in which the outcome is actually worked out

conclusion
the final event of a story’s plot

dramatic climax
the point of greatest interest or intensity to the story

plotless short story
a very modern creation that is pleasurable to read as it describes characters in a situation, but does not employ the development or the resolution of a conflict

setting
the represented time and place of events in a literary work

character
a fictional personality created by an author

characterization
the technique a writer uses to create and reveal characters in a work of fiction

expository
telling the reader about a character in a straightforward manner

dramatic
showing the reader what a character is like through descriptions of thought, dialogue, action, etc.

motivation
the reasons that cause characters to act as they do

protagonist
the central character in a work of fiction about whom the audience is most concerned

antagonist
the principal opponent of the main character

round
a character who is well described and whose thoughts and actions are revealed during the development of the story

flat
a character who is not well developed in a story, but who represents a type rather than an individual

dynamic
a character who grows, learns, or changes in some significant way throughout the story

static
a character who resists change or refuses to change during the school

foil
a character that contrasts in some important way with a more important character

consistent
a character whose speech, thoughts, and actions are what the reader has been lead to expect from that particular character

stock
a TYPE of character that is usually found in a particular literary form

stereotyped
a character created according to widely held, often narrow-minded, ideas

point of view
the physical and psychological relationship between the narrator and the story’s characters and events

narrator
the teller of the story

first person
the narrator is a character in the story

third person objective
the narrator is not a character in the story and reports only what can be seen and heard

third person limited
the narrator is not a character in the story and reports not only what can be seen and heard, but also the thoughts and feeling of a few characters

third person omniscient
the narrator is not a character in the story and report what can be seen and heard, along with the thoughts and feelings of all the characters

theme
the controlling idea of a literary work that is a general truth or commentary about life, people, the work that is brought out in the story

mood
describes the reader’s state of mind after finishing the story

atmosphere
describes the general feeling of the story itself

style
the distinctive handling of language by a writer through the purposeful selection of words and sentence structure

diction
selection of words

syntax
sentence structure

tone
the author or speaker’s attitude toward the characters, events, or audience

symbolism
the use of something concrete to represent something abstract

irony
contrast between the way things are and the way they appear to be

verbal irony
a discrepancy between the literal meaning of a work and the meaning actually conveyed

dramatic irony
a discrepancy between knowledge held by the reader and a character’s ignorance of that knowledge

situational irony
a discrepancy between the expected outcome of a situation and the actual outcome

poetry
a rhythmic, compressed language that uses figures of speech and imagery to appeal to emotion and imagination

narrative
a story told in verse form

lyric
a brief, personal poem that is especially musical and filled with emotion

ballad
a type of poem that is meant to be sung and is both lyric and narrative in nature

simile
two dissimilar things that are compared using words such as “like, “as”, “than”, or “resembles”

metaphor
two dissimilar things that are compared without using words such as “like”, “as”, “than”, or “resembles”

direct metaphor
directly compares two things with a verb such as “is”

implied metaphor
suggests a comparison without using “is”

extended metaphor
a metaphor that is developed over several lines of writing

personification
giving human or animate qualities to nonhuman or inanimate things

apostrophe
addressing something nonhuman as if it were human

literary allusion
a reference to a person, place, or thing from previous literature

hyperbole
exaggeration for the sake of effect, for emphasis, not to be taken literally; overstatement

irony
saying the opposite of what is true

antithesis
balancing or contrasting one thing against another for effect

synecdoche
using a part of something to represent the whole thing

metonymy
the substitution of one word for another closely associated word

paradox
an apparent contradiction which proves, upon examination, to be true

alliteration
the repetition of the initial consonant sound in two or more words in a line of verse

consonance
the repetition of consonant sounds that are NOT at the beginning of words in a line of verse

assonance
the similarity or repetition of vowel sounds in two or more words with different consonant sounds

onomatopoeia
the use of words that imitate the sounds they define

repetition
repeating a word or a phrase within a poem

refrain
the repetition of one or more phrases or lines at definite intervals in a poem, usually at the end of a stanza

stanza
a group of consecutive lines in a poem that form a single unit

couplet
a 2 line stanza

triplet
a 3 line stanza

quatrain
a 4 line stanza

quintet
a 5 line stanza

sestet
a 6 line stanza

octave
an 8 line stanza

rhyme
the similarity or likeness of sound in 2 or more words

perfect rhyme
rhyme involving sounds that are exactly the same

imperfect rhyme
rhyme involving words that sound similar, but are not exactly the same

eye rhyme
rhyme that depends on spelling rather than sound

end rhyme
rhyme that occurs between words found at the ends or two or more lines in a poem

internal rhyme
rhyme between words that occurs within a single line of poetry

rhyme scheme
the pattern or sequence in which end rhyme occurs throughout a poem

rhythm
the patter of stressed and unstressed syllables in words in a line of poetry

meter
a regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry

foot
a unit of meter

scansion
the process of marking lines of poetry to show the type of feet and the number of feet they contain

iambic
u /

trochaic
/ u

spondaic
/ /

pyrric
u u

anapestic
u u /

dactylic
/ u u

monometer
one foot per line

dimeter
2 feet per line

trimeter
3 feet per line

tetrameter
4 feet per line

pentameter
5 feet per line

hexameter
6 feet per line

heptameter
7 feet per line

octameter
8 feet per line

rhymed verse
consists of a verse with end rhyme and regular meter

blank verse
consists of unrhymed iambic pentameter

free verse
consists of lines of poetry that do not have a regular rhythm and do not rhyme

tragedy
a drama in which the larger-than-life protagonist’s actions lead him to commit an injustice which eventually causes disaster, often including his own death

tragic hero
a man of noble stature, with extraordinary qualities, passion or nobility of mind. he is basically good, but not perfect. must have a fall often ending in the hero’s death. before dying, he gains self-knowledge

hamartia
a criminal act committed in ignorance of some material fact or even for the sake of a greater good

tragic flaw
a character fault: can be the result of an excess of a virtue

catharsis
the audience’s reaction to the protagonist’s fall

propaganda
a misleading persuasive argument

ad hominem
attacking the opponent personally instead of their ideas

glittering generality
a generally accepted virtue or “God-term” is usually employed to stir up favorable emotions

card stacking
emphasizes only the favorable points of a product or idea and does not mention the unfavorable aspects

fancy figures
using statistics to impress or overwhelm the consumer

repetition
tireless repetition of an idea/slogan

appeal to fear
threatening someone that something bad will happen if they dont agree

appeal to prejudice
based on race, ethnicity, social-class

bandwagon
reinforces people’s natural desire to be on the winning side

testimonial
celebrity endorsement of a philosophy, movement or candidate

transfer
shows important people to support a position, idea, argument, or course of action

plain folks
the “common man” approach attempts to convince the audience that the propagandist’s positions reflect the common sense of the people

logical fallacy
one can usually draw a conclusion from one or more established premises; the premises may be accurate but the conclusion not

sonnet
14 lined poem written about love

ode
classical form with heightened, impassioned language, apostrophe where speaker invokes an object and develops a relationship with it

meditative poem
sounds like a person musing

byronic hero
an idealized but flawed character

communism
a totally classless society

satire
form of literature in which irony, sarcasm, and ridicule are employed to attack human vice and folly

allegory
pretend to discuss a different topic than which is implied

understatement
reduction ad absurdum (shrink excessively)