Literary Terms for High School English

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  1. Antagonist
    A character in a story who decieves the protagonist. The antagonist doesn't have to be a person.
  2. Character
    A person in the story responsible for thoughts or actions.
  3. Characterization
    The method a writer uses to reveal the characterisitcs or personalilty. This could be what the character/narrator says about the the character, by what others reveal about the character, or what the character's actions reveal.
  4. Climax
    The height of the plot where the conflict is most adressed. Secrets are revealed, are the character 'wins' or 'loses'.
  5. Conclusion
    The end of a story.
  6. Conflict
    Two or more opposing forces.
  7. What are the types of conflict?
    • - Man vs. man
    • - Man vs. nature
    • - Man vs. object
    • - Man vs. circumstance
    • - Man vs. society
    • - Man vs. self
  8. Direct charactarization
    When the author directly states a character's traits.
  9. Indirect characterization
    When the reader draws conclusions about a character based on the actions of the character.
  10. Dynamic character
    A character who changes throughout the course of the story.
  11. Flat character
    A character about whom little information is provided.
  12. Round character
    A character who is fully described by the author.
  13. Static Character
    A character who changes very little through the story.
  14. Didactic
    When a story teaches a lesson or a moral.
  15. Diction
    The author's choice of words.
  16. Exposition
    The first section of a plot where all necessary details are provided and characters and settings are introduced.
  17. Falling action
    The part after the climax.
  18. Foreshadowing
    A method used to build suspense by providing hints of what is to come.
  19. Imagery
    The use of language to create a mental picture and appeal to the senses.
  20. Dramatic Irony
    When the audience knows something that one or more characters does not.
  21. Verbal Irony
    Sarcasm. When a person says something that means directly the opposite.
  22. Situational Irony
    When the situation is far or opposite from what the characters expected it to be. Ex: Walking aside to avoid getting sprinkled from a wet dog shaking itself, but falling into a pool.
  23. Metaphor
    An unlikely comparison between two things without using "like" or "as".
  24. Mood
    A feeling created by the author through desprictions, plot, characters, etc.
  25. Myth
    An unverifiable story based on a religious belief.
  26. Personfication
    When a inadimate objects are given human characteristics.
  27. Resolution
    The part of the story after the climax where a new norm is established.
  28. Rising Action
    The second section in the story's plot where the protagonist begins to grapple on the the story's main conflict and important events that determine the how storyline takes place.
  29. Style
    • - Short story
    • - Novel
    • - Essay
    • - Poem
    • - Play
    • - Letter
  30. Symbolism
    A device in literature where an object represents an idea.
  31. Theme
    The topic the story is about.
  32. Tone
    The underlying message/air of the story. How the author sees the subject matter themselves.
  33. Hyperbole
    A great exaggeration not ment to be taken literally.
  34. Allegory
    When the entire story is symbolic or metaphorical.
  35. Allusion
    A brief reference to a well-known person, place or event.
  36. Euphemism
    Making an obscene or harsh term seem softer or milder.
  37. Pun
    A play on words for comic reception.
  38. Alliteration
    The repitition of initial (usually consonant) sounds.
  39. Consonance
    The repitition of identical consonant sounds before and after different vowels.
  40. Assonance
    The close repetition of similar vowel sounds.
  41. Satire
    Literature ment to mock and show the weaknesses of human nature.
  42. Parody
    When literature is imitated for comedy.
  43. Narrative Poem
    A poem that tells a story.
  44. Lyric Poem
    A musical poem with meter and rhythm. They express personal feeling.
  45. Didactic
    Instructive poetry. Intended to teach a moral lesson.
  46. Ballad
    A narrative poem often of folk origin often intended to be sung, usually having a refrain.
  47. Soliloquy
    Within a play, someone speaks to himself within one's mind.
  48. Rhyme Scheme
    A regular pattern of rhyme consistent throughout the poem.
  49. Quatrain
    A four-line stanza.
  50. Stanza
    Small unit within a poem.
  51. Couplet
    A pair of rhyming lines in poetry.
  52. Free Verse
    A poem with no formal structure. There are no restrictions to what a free verse looks like.
  53. Sonnet
    A Poem that contains fourteen lines and is written in iambic pentameter.
  54. What is the rhyme scheme of a Shakesperean sonnet?
    A, B, A, B, C, D, C, D, E, F, E, F, G, G
  55. Analogy
    A comparison of the similarities of two otherwise dissimilar things.
  56. Exposition
    Literature that explains certain concepts.
  57. Iambic Pentameter
    When there are ten syllables per line. Penta means five and iambic means two so five X two is ten.
  58. Paradox
    A statement which defies logic or reason. Ex: Everything I say is a lie...including this statement.
  59. Stream of Consciousness
    The written equivalent of somebody's thought process. Often without structure or a plotline.
  60. Saga
    A long story of heroic achievement.
  61. Epic
    A long poem about the adventures of a hero.
  62. Dystopia
    An imaginary place which repressive and controlled, usually this place is an extremely unpleasant.
  63. Foot
    The number of foots times two is the number of syllables in a line.
  64. How are the foots measured?
    • - Trimeter = Six syllables
    • - Tetrameter = Eight syllables
    • - Pentameter = Ten syllables
  65. Haiku
    A Japanese poem which has three line: The first line contains five syllables, the second seven, and the last five again.
  66. Concrete Poetry
    • A poem whose contents are portrayed through shaping the letters to make it look like an image. As Wikipedia puts it:
    • "Concrete poetry begins by assuming a total responsibility before language: accepting the premise of the historical idiom as the indispensable nucleus of communication, it refuses to absorb words as mere indifferent vehicles, without life, without personality without history — taboo-tombs in which convention insists on burying the idea."
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Literary Terms for High School English
A set of flashcards made by a high school student regarding basic high school literary terms.
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