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LIterary Terms

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Samantha Gardiner

on 12 September 2014

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Transcript of LIterary Terms

Foreshadowing: Hints or clues about what will occur later in the plot.
Literary Terms
Mrs. Gardiner, English 1-2
Literary Terms
Please take Cornell Notes on this topic!
Plot: The sequence of events in a story.
Flashback: A scene that interrupts the present action to tell what happened earlier.

In Media Res: Means “in the middle of things.”
Protagonist: The main character in a story.
Sets up the events in the story by introducing the characters, setting, and the conflict.
Rising Action
This is where the plot gets interesting.

Sometimes the exposition of the story might be boring, but the rising action is, well, more action-y.

The conflict becomes clear.

Depending on the length of the story, there may be several events in the rising action
The turning point.

Something happens that changes the course of the story.

The main character cannot turn back.

Things will either turn out good or bad from here (and depending on the type of story, you should be able to tell which way it will go).

Falling Action
Characters deal with effects of climactic moment.

The fall-out, in other words, from the climax.

There may be several events in the falling action.

There is usually a confrontation that will decide the outcome of the conflict.

Sometimes there is a moment of final suspense (like a sword fight or wizard battle or whatever).

The end of the story.

Conflicts are resolved (sometimes).

Loose ends are tied up and the story leaves you with a sense of closure for the main conflict.

Sometimes there is very little resolution--conflict can be settled in the falling action.

Victory or defeat? Happiness or sadness?

Oftentimes we don’t know the significance or importance of the hint until later on in the story, when we have an “oh, that’s what that meant” moment.
The narrative starts at a crucial point in the action, rather than at the beginning of the sequence of events.
Antagonist: The character or force that is in opposition to the protagonist.
This can mean the “good guy” or the “hero,” but it doesn’t have to.

A protagonist can be evil, mean, bad, wicked, whatever.

As long as the plot revolves around him or her, then he or she is the protagonist.

In other words, whoever or whatever the protagonist is in conflict with.

This does not necessarily mean “bad guy,” but simply the thing that causes the conflict

Rising Action
Falling Action
Who is the protagonist? Who is the antagonist? Why?
Theme: An insight into human nature that the author believes is important.
CONSIDER whether the title may signify something significant about the story and whether is reveals a truth about life. Look at the title again after you have read the story to see if the meaning has changed.

CONSIDER whether the main character realizes a truth he/she hadn’t known before.

CONSIDER whether any important statements about life are made by characters/the narrator in the story.

CONSIDER whether the lesson learned is ironic—the author may be using irony to make a point about the nature of life or mankind.
Allusion: A direct reference to another literary work or a famous person, place or event (outside of what is being read).
Most allusions can be put into three categories: Biblical, Literary, Historical.

The verb ᾿allude῀ means "to refer to". The author assumes that the reader will be familiar with the reference.

This is different from an illusion (magic trick).
He's as strong as Hercules.

He's regular Einstein.

Follow the white rabbit. He's gone to the dark side.

Sheᾼhas been hit by Cupid's arrow.
The TIME and PLACE of the story (when and where).

This includes time of day, time period, artifacts/ clothing, transportation, etc.

Can be specific (August 18th at 2:00) or general (once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away).

A contrast between appearance and reality
(3 types).

A difference between:
What is expected and what happens.
What is said and what is meant.
What appears to be true and what is true.
Verbal Irony
Saying one thing but meaning the opposite; sarcasm is one form of verbal irony.

CONSIDER whether the irony is there the create comedy or tragedy.

CONSIDER whether it makes you think about people or a situation in a new or unexpected way.

Situational Irony
Dramatic Irony
The unexpected happens; sudden twist at end of story

CONSIDER whether the irony is there the create comedy or tragedy.

CONSIDER whether it makes you think about people or a situation in a new or unexpected way.
A police officer gets arrested.
A fire station burns down.
A tow truck being towed.
Donald Trump getting fired.
Someone moving to avoid a sprinkler and falling into a swimming pool.
Audience/reader knows something the characters do not.
If the characters had known, they would have done things differently and the outcome of the story would then be different.

CONSIDER whether the irony is there the create comedy or tragedy.

CONSIDER whether it makes you think about people or a situation in a new or unexpected way.

The act of revealing the personality of the characters (2 types).

Tied to character development, which is how a character changes from the beginning to the end of the story.

Not all characters change over the course of the story.
Direct Characterization
Author describes a character’s physical appearance.
Ex: Jim wore an impeccable 3-piece suit, socks the exact grey of his slacks, and his shoes were polished. He walked with a slight limp.

Author makes direct comments about the character.
Ex: Jim was sneaky and could simply not be trusted.

Indirect Characterization
Judgment based on character’s speech, thoughts, feelings or actions
Ex: Sally saw the little boy drop his ice cream. When he began to cry, she laughed.

Judgment based on speech, thoughts, feelings or actions of other characters.
Ex: Jim walked on stage. The audience booed loudly.

Character Motivation
The event that drives a character to feel and react in a certain way. The emotion itself (say, anger) is not the motivation, but rather the event that caused the anger.

Example: Harry is motivated to destroy Voldemort because Voldemort killed his parents.

Character Types
A. Round Character: many traits; fully developed; usually a main character.
B. Dynamic Character: has a realization and changes in some way.
C. Flat Character: one-dimensional; not fully developed.
D. Static Character: does not change or have any realizations about life.
E. Stock character: a stereotype--recurring types of characters that fill a particular role (nerd, jock, snob, cheerleader, skater).

A. External Conflict:
Struggle between a character and another character, the setting, or something else
Can you think of a movie or story where the external conflict involved something not human?

B. Internal Conflict:
Struggle between character and self: conflicting emotions, a decision to be made, emotions to overcome

Figurative Language
Descriptions, phrases that are not meant to be taken literally.

Words are being manipulated for an artistic purpose.

Words and phrases may not mean what it looks like they should, or they mean more than what they look like.

Types of Figurative Language
A direct comparison between two unlike things (no like or as), used to point out a similarity between the two things that is not immediately obvious.

Sometimes the metaphor is implied, which means that you are not necessarily always given the two things being compared.

Life is a roller coaster, full of ups and downs.

A comparison between two unlike things using like or as in order to emphasize one particular aspect that the two things have in common
Can also be used to make you look at the things being compared in a new way.

Life is like a box of chocolates—you never know what you’re going to get.

He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.
She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.
John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

Which of these are similes?
Giving human traits to non-human things.


The sun is smiling down on the world.

Can you think of another?

Any object or action that represents something beyond itself.

It can be traditional (such as rose, flag, wedding ring) or original (Harry Potter’s scar).

CONSIDER: Is the symbol important to the text? Does it occur repeatedly? Does it appear at a climactic moment?
CONSIDER: Does the text call for a deeper interpretation?
CONSIDER: Does the symbolic reading make sense? Does it address the literal details without destroying them?
The repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of multiple words
Most tongue twisters use alliteration. Can you name one?

This just means you use extreme exaggeration to prove a point.
Have you ever been so hungry you could eat a horse?

Two words, side-by-side, that are opposites, and used to create an image or expression.
Often these are used for dramatic effect or humor.
Joke on the multiple meanings of a word or words that sound the same.
A sudden insight or awareness.
A “light bulb” moment.

Generally, if the character has a sudden realization, we as the readers/viewers are also supposed to learn the same thing.
The person telling the story (not necessarily the author).

Point of View
The vantage point from which the story is told (4 types)

Basically, the way a story is told and who tells it.

In particular, whose thoughts and feelings the reader has access to.

1st Person
The story is told by one of the characters in the story; uses "I."

I woke up this morning but did not feel like getting up. He hated mornings I had a headache and still felt tired. My sister annoyed me because she was so cheerful. She was humming a song at the top of her lungs. Even though I didn't want to, I knew I had to get to school because of my math test.

3rd Person Objective/Dramatic
3rd Person Limited
3rd Person Omniscient
Narrator is not a character in the story and tells only action and dialogue (what can be recorded with a camera and microphone).

John woke up this morning. He groaned and put his fingers to his head, rubbing his temples. He got out of bed slowly. He sighed when he bumped into his sister, who was humming a song loudly. He looked at his phone. A reminder popped up on the screen: Math Test TODAY!

Narrator is not a character in the story, relates action and dialogue and tells how more than one of the characters are responding and thinking; is free to move through time and space

John woke up this morning. He hated mornings. He had a headache and was still really tired. He got out of bed and was annoyed when he bumped into his sister. His sister, however, loved mornings. She was particularly happy this morning and was expressing her excitement for the day ahead by humming her favorite song while she got ready. John didn't know why she was humming, but he wished she would stop. Even though he didn't want to, he knew he had to go to school because he had to take a math test.

Narrator is not a character in the story, and describes action and dialogue and is confined to revealing the thoughts/ feelings of only one character and only follows that one character.

John woke up this morning. He hated mornings. He had a headache and was still really tired. He got out of bed and was annoyed when he bumped into his sister, who was loudly humming a song. Even though he didn't want to, he knew he had to go to school because he had to take a math test.

Character who is the opposite of another character.

This does not mean protagonist or antagonist (good vs. bad).

It usually means characters who have opposite traits of each other.

Happy vs. sad, silly vs. serious, ect.

The point of foils is to highlight the differences and make each trait more evident in each of the characters.
The attitude a writer takes toward a subject.

Reflects the feelings of the writer (serious, humorous, tragic, suspenseful, angry, ironic).

The way the words affect the reader while reading.

Do you feel scared? Happy? Sad?
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