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Literary Elements Terms Review

Setting, Character, Plot, Conflict, Theme

Brenda Measom

on 24 May 2016

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Transcript of Literary Elements Terms Review

Literary Elements
Terms Review
Aspects of Setting
Plot Components
Character = a person in a work of fiction.
Two Main Character Types
Characters can also be described as . . .
Literary Elements
Setting = The time and location in which a story takes place
In some stories, the setting is crucial. The story could not exist without its setting. Ex. The Hunger Games relies heavily on the setting of a futuristic society.
In other stories, the setting is not as important. The story could take place in any place or time and still be the same essential story. Ex. Cinderella can take place in any time or place and still be the same basic story.
1. Place
2. Time
3. Culture
Place = WHERE the story takes place (city, country, wilderness, etc.)
Time = WHEN the story takes place (historical time period, time of day, the year, etc.)
Culture = The culture, society, or environmental conditions of a story.
Plot = the sequence of events in a story. Plot is a planned, logical series of events having a beginning, middle, and end.
Shorter stories generally have 1 plot
Longer stories tend to have 1 main plot and several subplots, which enrich and deepen the story.
Inciting Incident
Falling Action
Exposition (background information) = the beginning of the story when the most of the main characters are introduced and the setting is revealed.
Example (Lord of the Rings): The main characters of Frodo, Hobbits, Gandalf are introduced. Middle Earth is revealed as the setting.
Inciting Incident (conflict) = the event that introduces the conflict of the story. The inciting incident begins the rising action.
Example (Lord of the Rings): Frodo discovers the one ring and is given the task of destroying it.
Rising Action
Rising Action (complication) = the series of escalating conflicts and problems in the story that lead to the climax.
Example (Lord of the Rings): Hobbits leave The Shire; fellowship forms; fellowship breaks up; Frodo and Sam venture in to Mordor to destroy ring
Climax (crisis)= the turning point in the story when the conflict reaches its most intense moment. The conflict is not always resolved at this point, it just comes to a head.
Example (Lord of the Rings): Frodo reaches Mount Doom and the ring is destroyed.
Falling Action (story settles) = the events and complications of the rising action and climax begin to resolve themselves.
Example (Lord of the Rings): Sam and Frodo rescued; victories celebrated; Hobbits return home
Resolution (conclusion) = the final outcome of the story. The resolution is when the conflict is resolved. The resolution does not have to be a happy one.
Example (Lord of the Rings): Frodo realizes that his life will never be the same; joins other ring bearers and leaves the shire forever.
Conflict = the basic opposition or tension that sets the story in motion.
Without conflict, there is no story!
Conflict ties one incident in the story to another and makes the plot move.
In shorter stories, there is generally 1 conflict.
In larger works, there are many conflicts.
Types of Conflict
There are five main types of conflict:
1. Character vs. Character
2. Character vs. Self
3. Character vs. Society
4. Character vs. Nature
5. Character vs. Supernatural
Character vs. Character (physical) = when the main character struggles against another person.
This struggle is not necessarily a physical fight. It can be a competition between two people.
Ex. Tom and Jerry
Character vs. Self (psychological) = when the main character struggles with something inside himself/herself (fear, depression, past experiences, etc.)
Ex. The Fault in Our Stars
Character vs. Society (social) = when the main character struggles against the ideas, prejudices, injustices, practices, or customs of other people.
Ex. To Kill a Mockingbird
Character vs. Nature (survival) = when the main character struggles to survive against the natural world.
Ex. Hatchet
Character vs. Supernatural (Paranormal/Magic) = when the main character struggles against a supernatural force (ghosts, evil spirits, magic, aliens, etc.)
Ex. Paranormal Activity
1. Protagonist
2. Antagonist
Protagonist = the major character of a story.
All of the major events of the story center around this character.
Protagonist does not equal good guy! There are many stories about people with questionable values, motives, or histories.
Harry Potter is an example of a Protagonist.
Antagonist = the person or force that the protagonist struggles against.
What the antagonist is depends on what the conflict is. If the conflict is man vs. man, the antagonist is a person. If the conflict is man vs. nature, then the antagonist could be a storm, an animal, or a deserted island.
Lord Voldemort is an example of an antagonist.
1. Static
2. Dynamic
3. Flat
4. Round
Static = a character that never learns or changes.
The events of the story do not make the character a better or a worse person. They stay the same.
Minor characters and villains are often static.
Dynamic = a character that changes, learns, or grows throughout the story.
Whether for better or for worse, the events of the story have changed the character and made them into a different person.
Protagonists and other main characters are usually dynamic.
Flat = a character that only has one or two characteristics.
These characters are not well developed. We as readers only get to see one side of a flat character’s background or personality, and we do not get into their heads.
In other words, these characters are stereotypes. e.g. brilliant detective, drunk, scrooge, cruel stepmother, etc.
Minor characters and villains are often flat.
Round = a character that is complex, multidimensional, and well developed.
We get to know these characters very well. We as readers get insight into their past, their thoughts, and their motivations.
Protagonists and other main characters are usually round.
Crabbe, Goyle, and Malfoy are examples of static characters.
Ron Weasley is an example of a dynamic character.
Professor McGonagel is an example of a flat character.
Hermione Granger is an example of a round character.
Theme = what the author is trying to say about life, society, or human nature.
The theme is revealed through the events of the story and the thoughts/feelings of the characters.
Theme is often described as the moral of the story.
Theme is NOT the actual conflict of the story! Rather, theme is what the author is trying to SAY about the effects of that conflict.
An understanding of theme is dependent upon your previous experience with life and literature.

At the same time, theme in literature can enlarge your own understanding of life.
Common Literary Themes
1. Quest for Eternal Life
2. Individual Needs vs. Group Needs
3. Understanding/Accepting Yourself
4. Relationship to the Natural World
5. Obtaining Justice
6. What it means to be a hero.
7. What it means to be a survivor.
8. What does the future hold for us?
9. Love (in all its forms) and its effects
Plot Structure Practice
Watch “For the Birds” and pick out the different components of plot from the short. Fill out the plot diagram on your worksheet when you are done watching.
You need at least 4 separate events in the rising action and 2 in the falling action.
Come up with an example of a story where the setting is crucial and another example of a story where the setting does not matter.
Come up with an example of a story where the place is crucial, the time is crucial, and the atmosphere is crucial (separate example for each one).
Come up with an example story for each type of conflict (separate example for each one).
Come up with an example of a protagonist and an antagonist. They can come from the same story.
Come up with an example character for each character type (separate example for each one).
Come up with an example of a story for each different common literary theme (separate example for each one).
Quest for Eternal Life
When a character is dealing with death (avoiding it or accepting it).
Ex. Frankenstein
Individual Needs vs. Group Needs
When a character is dealing with balancing their need to be individual with the need to fit in.
Ex. The Outsiders
Understanding/Accepting Yourself
Character is dealing with figuring out who they are. Often called "coming of age" stories.
Ex. Penelope
Relationship to the Natural World
Stories with this theme deal with human interaction with and responsibility to nature.
Ex. Castaway
Obtaining Justice
These stories deal with the idea of getting justice for those wronged.
Ex. Batman
What It Means To Be a Hero
These stories deal with the idea of what makes someone heroic.
Ex. Robin Hood
What It Means To Be a Survivor
These stories deal with the idea of how people deal with and move on from traumatic experiences.
Ex. P.S. I Love You
What Does the Future Hold for Us?
These stories deal with what the future could look like if we don't change something in our present.
Ex. Wall-E
Love (in All Its Forms) and Its Effects
These stories deal with human relationships, in all their forms: Romance, Compassion, Love of Country, Admiration, Dependency, Possessiveness, Self-Centered Love, Unrequited Love, Godly Love, Familial Love, Infatuation, Erotic Love, Jealousy
Ex. My Sister's Keeper
Example of a story where the PLACE is important: Soul Surfer
Example of a story where TIME is important: Titanic
Example of a story where CULTURE is important: My Big Fat Greek Wedding
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