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AP LITERARY TERMS
Transcript of AP LITERARY TERMS
A story or poem in which
characters, settings, and events
stand for other people or events
or for abstract ideas or qualities.
Some people believe that
The Lord of the Rings
allegory for World War II.
Example of Allegory
Repetition of the same or similar consonant sounds in words that are close together.
Example of Alliteration
Gerard Manley Hopkins
used alliteration in his poems for emphasis.
Reference to someone or something that is known from history,literature, religion, politics, sports, science, or another branch of culture. An indirect reference to something (usually from literature, etc.).
Example of Allusion
The book includes allusions to WWI on the Western Front.
Deliberately suggesting two or more different, and sometimes conflicting, meanings in a work. An event or situation that may be interpreted in more that one way.
Example of Ambiguity
Writers can use ambiguity to make readers think or to make their book more complicated.
Comparison made between two things to show how they are alike.
Example of Analogy
made an analogy to the rise and fall of the South with the Sutpen family.
Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of two or more sentences in a row. This is a deliberate form of repetition and helps make the writer's point more coherent.
Example of Anaphora
Marin Luther King's
I Have a Dream
speech uses anaphora to get his point across.
Inversion of the usual, normal, or logical order of the parts of a sentence. Purpose is rhythm or emphasis or euphony. It is a fancy word for
Example of Anastrophe
An example you want? This sentence I give.
Brief story, told to illustrate a point or serve as an example of something, often shows character of an individual.
Example of Anecdote
To explain why getting in cars with strangers is a bad idea, the father used an anecdote about a person who went missing.
Opponent who struggles against or blocks the hero, or protagonist, in a story.
Example of Antagonist
is the main antagonist of
Star Wars IV: A New Hope.
Repetition of words in successive clauses in reverse grammatical order.
Example of Antimetabole
Write to live and live to write.
Balancing words, phrases, or ideas that are strongly contrasted, often by means of grammatical structure.
Example of Antithesis
When life is dark, you must find the light.
Central character who lacks all the qualities traditionally associated with heroes. May lack courage, grace, intelligence, or moral scruples.
Example of Antihero
is an antihero because he is not unique until he turns into an insect.
Attributing human characteristics to an animal or inanimate object.
Example of Anthropomorphism
is an anthropomorphic snowman.
Brief, cleverly worded statement that makes a wise observation about life, or of a principle or accepted general truth.
Example of Aphorism
"Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils."
Calling out to an imaginary, dead, or absent person, or to a place or thing, or a personified abstract idea. If the character is asking a god or goddess for the inspiration it is called an invocation.
Example of Apostrophe
Chuck Noland in Cast Away displayed apostrophe by talking to a volleyball he found.
Placing in immediately succeeding order of two or more coordinate elements, the latter of which is an explanation, qualification, or modification of the first (often set off by a colon).
Example of Apposition
The repetition of similar vowel sounds followed by a different consonant sounds especially in words that are together.
Example of Assonance
"Examples of definitions are available on every other screen" is an example of assonance.
Commas used without conjunction to separate a series of words, thus emphasizing the parts equally; instead of X, Y, and Z, the writer uses X, Y, Z.
Example of Asyndeton
Veni, Vidi, Vici
is an example of an asyndeton.
Constructing a sentence so that both halves are about the same length and importance. Sentences can unbalanced to serve a special effect as well.
Example of Balance
The process by which the writer reveals the personality of a character.
Example of Characterization
The author reveals to the reader what the character is like by describing how the character looks and dresses, by letting the reader hear what the character says, by revealing the character's private thoughts and feelings, by revealing the character's effect on other people, or by showing the character in action
Example of Indirect Characterization
The author tells us directly what the character is like: sneaky, generous, mean to pets and so on.
Example of Direct Characterization
A character that does not change much in the course of a story
Example of a Static Character
A character who changes in some important way as a result of the story's action.
EXAMPLE OF A DYNAMIC CHARACTER
A character that only has one or two personality traits. They are one dimensional, and usually able to be summarized in one phrase.
Example of Flat Character
A character that has more dimensions to their personalities, which makes them more complex like real people.
Example of Round Character
Katniss Everdeen from
The Hunger Games
is a round character because she has a backstory with details.
In poetry, a type of rhetorical balance in which the second part syntactically balanced against the firsbut with the parts reversed.
Example of Chiasmus
A word or phrase often a figure of speech, that has become lifeless because of overuse.
Example of a Cliche
A word or phrase in everyday use in conversation and informal writing but is inappropriate for formal situations.
Example of Colloquialism
In general, a story that ends with a happy resolution of the conflicts faced by the main character or characters.
Example of Comedy
An elaborate metaphor that compares two things that are startlingly different.
Example of Conceit
A twentieth century term used to describe poetry that uses intimate material from the poet's life.
Example of Confessional Poetry
The struggle between opposing forces or characters in a story
Example of Conflict
Conflicts can exist between two people, between a person and nature or a machine or between a person and a whole society
Example of External Conflict
A conflict can be internal, involving opposing forces within a person's mind.
Example of Internal Conflict
The associations and emotional overtones that have become attached to a word or phrase, in addition to its strict dictionary definition.
Example of a Connotation
Two consecutive rhyming lines of poetry.
Example of a couplet
A way of speaking that is characteristic of a certain group or of the inhabitants of a certain geographical area.
Example of a dialect
A speaker or writer's choice of words.
Example of Diction
Form of fiction or nonfiction that teaches a specific lesson or moral or provides a model of correct behavior on thinking.
Example of a didactic
A poem of mourning, usually about someone who has died.
Example of an elegy
Device of repetition in which the same expression (single word or phrase) is repeated both at the beginning and at the end of the line, clause, or sentence.
Example of epanalepsis
A long narrative poem, written in heightened language, which recounts the deeds of a heroic character who embodies the values of a particular society.
Example of an epic
A quotation or aphorism at the beginning of a literary work suggestive of the theme.
Example of an epigraph
Device of repetition in which the same expression (single word or phrase) is repeated at the e
An adjective or adjective phrase applied to a person or thing that is frequently used to emphasize a characteristic quality.
Example of an epithet
One of the four forms of discourse which uses logic, ethics, and emotional appeals (logos, ethos, pathos) to develop an effective means to convince the reader to think or act a certain way.
Example of an argumentation essay
An essay that relies more on emotional appeals that on facts.
Example of a persuasive essay
Form of argumentation in which the writer claims that one thing results from another, often used as part of a logical argument.
Example of causal relationship
A form of discourse that uses language to create a mood or emotion.
Example of a description essay
One of the four major forms of discourse, in which something is explained or "set forth".
Example of an exposition essay
The form of discourse that tells about a series of events.
Example of a narrative essay
Act of interpreting or discovering the meaning of a text, usually involves close reading and special attention to figurative language.
Example of explication
A very short story told in prose or poetry that teaches a practical lesson about how to succeed in life.
Example of a fable
A type of comedy in which ridiculous and often stereotyped characters are involved in silly, far-fetched situations.
Example of a farce
Words which are inaccurate if interpreted literally, but are used to describe.
Example of figurative language
A scene that interrupts the normal chronological sequence of events in a story to depict something that happened at an earlier time.
Example of a flashback
A character who acts as contrast to another character. Often a funny side kick to a dashing he or a villain contrasting the hero.
Example of a foil
The use of hints and clues to suggest what will happen later in a plot.
Example of foreshadowing
Poetry that does not conform to a regular meter of rhyme scheme.
Example of free verse
A figure of speech that uses an incredible exaggeration or overstatement, for effect.
Example of hyperbole
Sentence marked by the use of connecting words between clauses or sentences, explicitly showing the logical or other relationships.
Example of a hypotactic
The use of language to evoke a picture or a concrete sensation of a person, a thing, a place, or an experience.
Example of imagery
The reversal of a normal word order in a sentence or phrase.
Example of inversion
child of scorn
grew lean while he assailed the seasons"
"Buy a bucket of chicken and have a barrel of fun."
-(advertising slogan for KFC)
Every character has characterization. It's impossible for them not to.
Joe was motivated by money. He had no use for love or family.
The Lion King
Ebenezer Scrooge from
A Christmas Carol
Emily Grierson from
A Rose for Emily
Never let a fool kiss you or a kiss fool you.
"Clichés are a dime a dozen. If you've seen one, you've seen them all. They've been used once too often. They've outlived their usefulness. Their familiarity breeds contempt. They make the writer look as dumb as a doornail, and they cause the reader to sleep like a log. So be sly as a fox. Avoid clichés like the plague. If you start to use one, drop it like a hot potato. Instead, be smart as a whip. Write something that is fresh as a daisy, cute as a button, and sharp as a tack. Better safe than sorry."
(Gary Provost, 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing. Mentor, 1985)
"Over and over, I would read her account of the turning point in her career--the night she got her first standing ovation, hours after being dumped by her fiance because she wouldn't quit acting."
Definitely not Faulkner
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
Glittering white, the blanket of snow covered everything in sight.
"One December morning near the end of the year when snow was falling moist and heavy for miles all around, so that the earth and the sky were indivisible, Mrs. Bridge emerged from her home and spread her umbrella."
-Evan S. Connell
I am so hungry I could eat a horse.
The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
George killing Candy’s dog foreshadows Candy killing Lennie because Candy is comparable to George and Lennie to the dog.
Scrooge and his nephew in
The Christmas Carol.
Many parts of Benjy's section in
The Sound and the Fury
The poorest man is the richest, and the rich are poor.
The Ant and the Grasshopper
is a famous fable.
Occurs when someone says one thing but really means something else
Example of verbal irony
Takes place when there is a discrepancy between what is expected to happen, or what would be appropriate to happen, and what really does happen
Example of situational irony
A actor in the play or story thinks one thing is true, but the audience or reader knows better
Example of dramatic irony
Poetic and rhetorical device in which normally unassociated ideas, words, or phrases are placed next to one another, creating an effect of surprise and Ezra Pound: "The apparition of these faces in the crowd, Petals on a wet, black bough. Juxtaposition is also a form of contrast by which writers call attention to dissimilar ideas or images or metaphors.
Example of juxtaposition
A form of understatement in which the positive form is emphasized through the negation of a negative form
Example of a litote
A term applied to fiction or poetry which tends to place special emphasis on a particular setting, including its customs, clothing, dialect and landscape.
Example of local color
One in which the main clause comes first, followed by further dependent grammatical units.
Example of a loose sentence
A poem that does not tell a story but expresses the personal feelings or thoughts of the speaker
An example of a lyric poem
Figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things without the use of such specific words of comparison as like, as, than, or resembles
Example of a metaphor
Does not state explicitly the two terms of the comparison
Example of an implied metaphor
Is a metaphor that is extended or developed as far as the writer wants to take it.
Example of an extended metaphor
A metaphor that has been used so often that the comparison is no longer vivid
Example of a dead metaphor
A metaphor that has gotten out of control and mixes its terms so that they are visually or imaginatively incompatible.
Example of a mixed metaphor
A figure of speech in which a person, place, or thing, is referred to by something closely associated with it
Example of metonymy
A recurring image, word, phrase, action, idea, object, or situation used throughout a work (or in several works by one author), unifying the work by tying the current situation to previous ones, or new ideas to the theme.
Example of a motif
The reasons for a character's behavior
Example of motivation
The use of words whose sounds echo their sense.
Example of onomatopoeia
Figure of speech that combines opposite or contradictory terms in a brief phrase.
Example of an oxymoron
A relatively short story that teaches a moral, or lesson about how to lead a good life.
Example of a parable
A statement that appears self-contradictory, but that reveals a kind of truth.
Example of a paradox
A paradox used in Zen Buddhism to gain intuitive knowledge
Example of a koan
PARALLEL STRUCTURE (parallelism) - the repetition of words or phrases that have similar grammatical structures
Example of a parallel structure
PARATACTIC SENTENCE - simply juxtaposes clauses or sentences
I am tired: it hot.
Example of a paratactic sentence
PARODY - a work that makes fun of another work by imitating some aspect of the writer's style
Example of a parody
PERIODIC - sentence that places the main idea or central complete thought at the end of the sentence, after all introductory elements.
Example of a periodic
PERSONIFICATION - a figure of speech in which an object or animal is given human feelings, thoughts, or attitudes.
Example of personification
PLOT - the series of related events in a story or play, sometimes called the storyline.
EXPOSITION - introduces characters, situation, and setting
RISING ACTION - complications in conflict and situations (may introduce new ones as well)
CLIMAX - that point in a plot that creates the greatest intensity, suspense, or interest. Also called "turning point"
RESOLUTION - the conclusion of a story, when all or most of the conflicts have been settled; often called the denouement
FIRST PERSON POINT OF VIEW - one of the characters tells the story
Example of first person POV
THIRD PERSON POINT OF VIEW - an unknown narrator, tells the story, but this narrator zooms in to focus on the thoughts and feelings of only one character
Example of third person POV
OMNISCIENT POINT OF VIEW - an omniscient or all knowing narrator tells the story, also using the third person pronouns. This narrator, instead of focusing on one character only, often tells us everything about many characters.
Example of an omniscient POV
OBJECTIVE POINT OF VIEW - a narrator who is totally impersonal and objective tells the story, with no comment on any characters or events
Example of an objective POV
POLYSYNDETON - sentence which uses a conjunction with NO commas to separate the items in a series.
Example of a polysyndeton
Instead of X, Y, and Z. Polysyndeton results in X and Y and Z...
PROTAGONIST - the central character in a story, the one who initiates or drives the action. Usually the hero or anti-hero; in a tragic hero, like John Proctor of The Crucible, there is always a hamartia, or tragic flaw in his character which will lead to his downfall
Example of a protagonist
PUN - a "play on words" based on the multiple meanings of a single word or on words that sound alike but mean different things.
Example of a pun
QUATRAIN - a poem consisting of four lines, or four lines of a poem that can be considered as a unit.
Example of a quatrain
REFRAIN - a word, phrase, line, or group of lines that is repeated, for effect, several times in a poem.
Example of a refrain
RHYTHM - a rise and fall of the voice produced by the alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables in language
Example of a rhythm
RHETORIC - Art of effective communication, especially persuasive discourse.
RHETORICAL QUESTION - a question asked for an effect, and not actually requiring an answer
Example of a rhetorical question
ROMANCE - in general, a story in which an idealized hero or heroine undertakes a quest and is successful
Example or romance
SATIRE - a type of writing that ridicules the shortcomings of people or institutions in an attempt to bring about a change.
Example of satire
SIMILE - a figure of speech that makes an explicitly comparison between two unlike things, using words such as like, as, than, or resembles.
Example of a simile
SOLILOQUY - a long speech made by a character in a play while no other characters are on stage
Example of a soliloquy
STEREOTYPE a fixed idea or conception of a character or an idea which does not allow for any individuality, often based on religious, social, or racial prejudices.
Example of a stereotype
STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS a style of writing that portrays the inner (often chaotic) workings of a character's mind.
Example of a stream of consciousness
SUSPENSE - a feeling of uncertainty and curiosity about what will happen next in a story
Example of suspense
SYMBOL - a person, place, thing, or event that has meaning in itself and that also stands for something more than itself
Example of a symbol
SYNECDOCHE - a figure of speech in which a part represents the whole.
Example of a synecdoche
"If you don't drive properly, you will lose your wheels." The wheels represent the entire car
SYNTACTIC FLUENCY - Ability to create a variety of sentence structures, appropriately complex and or simple and varied in length.
Example of a syntactic fluency
TALL TALE - an outrageously exaggerated, humorous story that is obviously unbelievable.
Example of a tall tale
TELEGRAPHIC SENTENCE A sentence shorter than five words in length.
Example of a telegraphic sentence
That's a big car.
THEME - the insight about human life that is revealed in a literary work.
Example of theme
TONE - the attitude a writer takes toward the subject of a work, the characters in it, or the audience, revealed through diction, figurative language, and organization.
TRAGEDY - in general, a story in which a heroic character either dies or comes to some other unhappy end.
Example of a tragedy
TRICOLON - Sentence of three parts of equal importance and length, usually three independent clauses
Example of a tricolon
UNDERSTATEMENT - a statement that says less than what is meant
Example of an understatement
During the second war with Iraq, American troops complained of a fierce sand storm that made even the night-vision equipment useless. A British commando commented about the storm: "It's a bit breezy"
UNITY - Unified parts of the writing are related to one central idea or organizing principle. Unity is dependent upon coherence.
VERNACULAR - the language spoken by the people who live in a particular locality
IMPRESSIONISM - a nineteenth-century movement in literature and art which advocated a recording of the artist's personal impressions of the world, rather than a strict representation of reality
MODERNISM - a term for the bold new experimental styles and forms that swept the arts during the first third of the twentieth century
NATURALISM - a nineteenth century literary movement that was an extension of realism and that claimed to portray life exactly as it was
PLAIN STYLE - Writing style that stresses simplicity and clarity of expression (but will still utilize allusions and metaphors), and was the main form of the Puritan writers.
PURITANISM - Writing style of America's early English-speaking colonists. emphasizes obedience to God and consists mainly of journals, sermons, and poems.
RATIONALISM - a movement that began in Europe in the seventeenth century, which held that we can arrive at truth by using our reason rather than relying on the authority o the past, on the authority of the Church, or an institution. ALSO CALLED NEOCLASSICISM AND AGE OF REASON
REALISM - a style of writing, developed in the nineteenth century, that attempts to depict life accurately without idealizing or romanticizing it
REGIONALISM literature that emphasizes a specific geographic setting and that reproduces the speech, behavior, and attitudes of the people who live in that region.
ROMANTICISM - a revolt against Rationalism that affected literature and the other arts, beginning in the late eighteenth century and remaining strong throughout most of the nineteenth century
SURREALISM - a movement in art and literature that started in Europe during the 1920s. Surrealists wanted to replace conventional realism with the full expression of the unconscious mind, which they considered to be more real than the "real" world of appearances.
SYMBOLISM a literary movement that originated in late nineteenth century France, in which writers rearranged the world of appearances in order to reveal a more truthful version of reality
TRANSCENDENTALISM - a nineteenth century movement in the Romantic tradition which held that every individual can reach ultimate truths through spiritual intuition, which transcends reasons and sensory experience.
They do not seem the happiest couple around.
He might consider paying the higher fees at a private university, if the teacher/student ratio is small, the teachers are highly qualified, and the job placement rate is high.
Turn back the heart you've turned away
Give back your kissing breath
Leave not my love as you have left
The broken hearts of yesterday
But wait, be still, don't lose this way
Affection now, for what you guess
May be something more, could be less
Accept my love, live for today.
"The curtain of night"
Samuel brayed his refusal to leave the party peacefully.
Kansas City is oven hot, dead metaphor or no dead metaphor.
Now, there is no silver bullet, to use a mixed metaphor.
England decides to keep check on immigration.
A person who is motivated by the desire for achievement or status may spend many hours studying, apply to graduate school, and wish to become a college professor.
The Story of the Butterfly - Shows that sometimes we need struggles to grow
Your enemy’s friend is your enemy.
What is the sound of one hand clapping?
Ashley likes to ski, to swim and to jump.
The movie Police Academy
In spite of heavy snow and cold temperatures, the game continued.
The stars danced playfully in the moonlit sky.
from The Sound and the Fury
Pride and Prejudice
Quentin Compson from
The Sound and the Fury
What makes a pig pink? Pigment!
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there’s some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster…
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King’s horses, And all the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again!
Are you stupid?
Romeo and Juliet. Close enough.
What’s the use you learning to do right, when it’s troublesome to do right and isn’t no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?
Cute as a kitten
Yet art thou still but Faustus and a man
The South being racist.
William Faulkner's writing
The theme of many Faulkner novels is time.
It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children
Thou counterfeit’st a bark, a sea, a wind;
For still thy eyes, which I may call the sea,
Do ebb and flow with tears; the bark thy body is,
Sailing in this salt flood; the winds, thy sighs;
Who, raging with thy tears, and they with them,
Without a sudden calm, will overset
Thy tempest-tossed body.
One kind of external conflict sets a character against the evil that dominates a society. In such kind of conflict, a character may confront a dominant group with opposing priorities. For instance, in Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”, an honest lawyer Atticus Finch goes up against the racist society in which he lives. Atticus has the courage to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, who has been falsely accused of a murder. Though Atticus has the support of a few like-minded people, most of the town express their disapproval of his defense of a black man.
Another kind of external conflict sets a character against the evil that dominates a society. In such kind of conflict, a character may confront a dominant group with opposing priorities. For instance, in Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”, an honest lawyer Atticus Finch goes up against the racist society in which he lives. Atticus has the courage to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, who has been falsely accused of a murder. Though Atticus has the support of a few like-minded people, most of the town express their disapproval of his defense of a black man.
Fat is a rude word, but correct for large creatures.
Blessed are you whose worthiness gives scope, Being had, to triumph; being lacked, to hope.
A politician's diction is different than a grocery bagger's diction.
“All animals are equal but a few are more equal than others.”
With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress;
In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.
Next time there won't be a next time.