Literary Terms and Definitions





Week One

#1.    Allusion
-  a reference to a historical or literary figure or event

#2.     Ambiguity-
a word or expression that can be understood in two or more possible ways : an ambiguous word or expression

#3.    Anecdote- a usually short story of an interesting, amusing, or biographical incident

Week Two

#4.    Antagonist -
is the character that is directly opposed to the protagonist (a rival, opponent, enemy). The antagonist can be another character in the work, the forces of nature, fate, chance, or any combination of these things.

#5.   Autobiography- the life story of a person told by himself or herself

#6.    Anti-hero - is the protagonist who is the opposite of what we would expect a hero to be. 

Week Three

#7  Aside- a character’s speech in a play, directed to the audience, that is not supposed to be heard by other characters on stage

#8  Ballad- a narrative poem written in rhythmic verse suitable for singing

#9  Biography- a written history of a person’s life written by another person

Week Four

#10  Carpe Diem- (Seize the Day) the enjoyment of the moment without concern for the future

#11  CharacterThe people, animals, or figures in a story.

#12  Characterization - is the creation of imaginary persons so that they seem lifelike. The author creates and reveals the characters personality through the following:

1. Physical characteristics

2. Character’s speech and behavior

3. Opinions and reactions of other characters to the individual

4. Character’s thoughts and feelings 

Week Five

#13  Comedy- an amusing story with a happy ending

#14  Conclusion-plot resolution

#15  Conflict - is the struggle between two opposing forces. The five basic types of conflicts are:

  • Person vs. Nature is where man struggles with weather, wind, water or other natural elements.
  • Person vs. Person is where humans struggle against other humans or human forms.
  • Person vs. Self is where a human struggles against two or more elements within himself. Internal and external struggles.
  • Person vs. Society is where man struggles against society’s institutions (such as IRS, legal systems, prejudice, peer pressure etc.)
  • Person vs. Supernatural is where a human struggles with some opposing force outside of the ordinary (such as ghosts, “magical forces,” etc.) 

Week Six
#16  
Climax - is always the point of highest interest where the reader feels the greatest emotional response. It is usually the turning point in the action.

#17   connotation - an association that comes along with a particular word

 #18  denotation -  the exact meaning of a word, without the feelings or suggestions that the word may imply.

Week Seven

#19  Dialogue – When 2 or more characters engage in conversation.

#20  Drama- Also called a play, this writing form uses dialogue to share its message and is meant to be performed in front of an audience.

#21 Denouement - is usually the unraveling of the “knot” created by the struggle between the main characters. It is the solution of the mystery or the explanation or outcome of what happens because of the climax or crisis.

Week Eight


#22  Dramatic Monologue- a literary device where a character reveals his or her innermost thoughts and feelings through a long speech

#23  Elegy- a poem that expresses sorrow or loss usually for someone who has died

#24  Epic- an extended narrative poem that celebrates the feats of a hero

Week Nine

#25  Exposition- The part of the story, usually near the beginning, in which the characters are introduced, the background is explained, and the setting is described. 

#26  Fable- a narration intended to enforce a useful truth

 #27 Falling Actionthe part of a literary plot that occurs after the climax has been reached and the conflict has been resolved