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Literary Terms

English 10 Definitions

Meredith Heilmann

on 25 August 2016

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Transcript of Literary Terms

English 10 Literary Terms
Plot: the sequence of events in a play, novel, or similar work
Exposition: introduces important background information to the audience, such as the setting and character back stories
Rising Action: a related series of incidents build toward the point of greatest interest
Climax: point of highest tension or drama or when the action starts in which the solution is given
Falling Action: the conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist unravels, with the protagonist winning or losing against the antagonist. The falling action may contain a moment of final suspense, in which the final outcome of the conflict is in doubt
Resolution: the outcome of the conflict in a play or story
Protagonist: the main character, who ends up in conflict because of the antagonist. The audience is intended to most identify with the protagonist.
Antagonist: is a character, group of characters, or institution that represents the opposition against which the protagonist must contend. In other words, an antagonist is a person or a group of people who oppose the main character
Conflict: a struggle between two opposing forces
Internal Conflict: the struggle occurring within a character's mind. The dilemma posed by an internal conflict is usually some ethical or emotional question.
External Conflict: a struggle occurring outside the mind of a character
Person vs. Person: characters are against each other
Person vs. Nature: an external struggle against an animal or a force of nature
Person vs. Society: against a man-made institution
3 Functions of Setting


#2 Character


Theme: an idea or concept that is central to a story, the lesson that the creator wants you to learn
The attitude a writer takes toward the audience, subject, or a character. Tone is conveyed through the writer’s choice of words and detail.

The emotional feeling a piece of literature evokes.

Mood vs. Tone

The vantage point from which the writer has chosen to tell the story.

First Person – the narrator is a character in the story , and the reader sees everything through this person’s eyes. The pronoun “I” is used.

Third Person Omniscient – the narrator is not a character in the story and can tell us everything about all characters.

Third Person Limited – the narrator is not a character in the story and can tell us the thoughts and feelings of just one character.

Point of View

Situational Irony: describes a sharp discrepancy between the expected result and actual results in a certain situation
Dramatic Irony: the audience has information that at least one of the characters is unaware of, thus placing the audience a step ahead
Verbal Irony: the intended meaning is the opposite of that expressed by the words used
Clues to hint at events that will occur later in the plot.

Foreshadowing builds up suspense and sometimes anxiety in the reader or viewer.


Direct Characterization: the author simply tells us what the character is like

Oftentimes, the reader must infer what a character is like with hints the author provides through:
•character’s words
•character’s actions
•character’s reactions
• character’s inner thoughts
• character’s physical appearance
• others’ words about the character

Indirect Characterization

"...and see the little girl from District 11 standing a bit back, watching us. She's the twelve-year-old, the one who reminded me so of Prim in stature. Up close she looks about ten. She had bright, dark eyes and satiny brown skin and stands tilted up on her toes with her arms slightly extended to her sides, as if ready to take wing at the slightest second. It's impossible not to think of a bird." -narrator Katniss Everdeen about Rue,
The Hunger Games
A symbol is a person, place, thing, or an event stands for itself and for something beyond itself.



A scene that interrupts the present action of the plot to “flash backward” and tell what happened at an earlier time.

Figurative Language
Allusion: a reference to, or a representation of, people, places, events, literary work, myths, or works of art, either directly or by implication
Figurative Language
Imagery: an author's use of vivid and descriptive language that appeals to human senses to deepen the reader's understanding of the work
"But above the gray land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you precieve, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T.J.Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T.J.Eckleburg are blue and gigantic - their irises are one yard high. They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose. Evidently some wild wag of an oculist set them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens, and then sank down himself into eternal blindness, or forgot them and moved away.But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days, under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground." -The Great Gatsby
Figurative Language
Personification: the attribution of human characteristics to something nonhuman, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form
Figurative Language
Simile: the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind
Metaphor: a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable
Hyperbole: exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally
Gryffindors are as brave as lions
Idiom: a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words
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