VJHS 8th Grade English Literary Terms

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  1. Alliteration
    The practice of BEGINNING several CONSECUTIVE or ADJACENT words with the same CONSONANT SOUND.

    • Ex.:  Suzie sells sea shells by the sea shore.
    • Hint:  Consecutive = in a row.
    •          Adjacent = nearby.
  2. Allusion
    A reference to a MYTHOLOGICAL, LITERARY, or HISTORICAL person, place, or thing (noun).

    Ex.:  "When she lost her job she acted like Scrooge and didn't buy anything."  Scrooge was an extremely stingy character from Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.
  3. Antagonist
    The CHARACTER who stands OPPOSED to the PROTAGONIST.

    Hint:  This is not the "bad guy" in the story because the book could be about a bad guy like the devil.  In that case the antagonist would be the person opposing the devil like an angel.
  4. Characterization

    The author does this by providing information directly or indirectly about the characters.
  5. Climax
    The point of GREATEST SUSPENSE or TENSION in a story.  Sometimes referred to as the TURNING POINT.
  6. Conflict
    The STRUGGLE between TWO (2) FORCES in a piece of literature.
  7. Diction
    An author's WORD CHOICE intended to give a CERTAIN EFFECT.

    Ex.:  Ominous glow versus beaming light.  They both pertain to light; however, they create a different feeling due to the choice of words selected by the author.
  8. Exposition
    The part of a novel where the CHARACTERS and SETTING are introduced.

    (Often in the beginning of a novel, but not always.)
  9. Falling Action
    All EVENTS that FOLLOW the CLIMAX.
  10. Flashback
    A scene that INTERRUPTS the action (plot) in a story to SHOW A PREVIOUS EVENT.
  11. Foreshadowing
    When an author gives HINTS or CLUES of COMING EVENTS.
  12. Hyperbole
    (Pronounced:  hi-per-bo-lee)

    (It is deliberate, extravagant, and somewhat outrageous.)

    Ex.:  My backpack weighs a thousand pounds.
  13. Imagery

    Ex.:  The hot July sun beat relentlessly down, casting an orange glare over the farm buildings, fields, and pond.
  14. Verbal Irony
    When a speaker SAYS (verbal) one thing but MEANS the opposite.

    Ex.:  In the Prologue of Act I in Romeo and Juliet which opens with "Two households, both alike in dignity, ..." When you first read this you think that the two households are equally dignified; but, as the play goes on you realize both families are violently competitive.
  15. Situational Irony
    When a SITUATION turns out DIFFERENTLY than you would normally expect.

    Ex.:  An example would be a woman who is apprehensive about going to a wedding because she is single decides to go and meets her future husband.
  16. Dramatic Irony
    When a CHARACTER (or speaker) says/does something that has a DIFFERENT MEANING from what he/she THINKS it means, although the AUDIENCE/other characters UNDERSTAND the FULL IMPLICATIONS of the speech/action.

    Ex.:  In Lemony Snicket's The Reptile Room, the protagonist says, "if you were in a restaurant and said out loud, 'I can't wait to eat the veal marsala I ordered,' and there were people around who knew that the veal marasala was poisoned and that you would die as soon as you took a bite, your situation would be one of dramatic irony."
  17. Metaphor
    A COMPARISON of TWO (2) UNLIKE THINGS NOT using "like" or "as."

    Ex.:  All the world's a stage.  Compares the world and the people in it to being actors on a stage.
  18. Mood
    The ATMOSPHERE or predominant emotion in a literary work.

    Ex.:  whimsical, serious, satirical.  These are the emotions the author makes the reader feel in indirect ways by the sounds of the words, the length and rhythm of the sentences, and the choice of images and their associations.
  19. Onomatopoeia
    Words that MIMIC the SOUNDS they DESCRIBE.

    Ex.:  Bang, boom, hiss, splat.
  20. Oxymoron
    A pair of OPPOSITE TERMS combined into a SINGLE EXPRESSION.

    Ex.:  Jumbo shrimp, living dead, liquid gas, deafening silence, seriously funny.
  21. Personification
    A kind of metaphor that gives INANIMATE OBJECTS or abstract ideas HUMAN CHARACTERISTICS.

    Ex.:  The trees whispered in the breeze.  The walls spoke to me.
  22. Plot
    The SEQUENCE OF EVENTS or actions in a literary work.
  23. Point of View
    The PERSPECTIVE from which the story is told.
  24. Protagonist
    The MAIN or central CHARACTER in a literary work.
  25. Repetition
    The deliberate use of ANY element of language MORE THAN ONCE.  It can be a sound, word, phrase, or sentence.
  26. Rising Action
    All the EVENTS in a story that BUILD TENSION and LEAD to the CLIMAX.
  27. Rhyme
    The REPETITION of SOUND in two or more words.

    Ex.:  cat, bat, mat, hat, splat.
  28. Internal Rhyme
    Rhyme that occures WITHIN A LINE.

    Ex.:  "While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,/ As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door."
  29. Slant Rhyme

    Ex.:  (From Emily Dickinson's "Hope is the thing with feathers")  "Hope is the thing with feathers/ That perches in the soul,/ And sings the tune without the words,/ And never stops at all."  (The underlined words represent the slant (approximate) rhyme.)
  30. Rhyme Scheme

    (Usually it is labeled with letters that indicate which lines rhyme like ABBA, or ABCABC.)
  31. Sarcasm
    Is a form of verbal irony in which a person APPEARS to be PRAISING something, but is actually INSULTING it.
  32. Setting
    Is the TIME and PLACE of a literary work in which the EVENTS TAKE PLACE.
  33. Shift
    Is a CHANGE/MOVEMENT in a piece of literature that RESULTS from a REALIZATION/INSIGHT gained by the SPEAKER/READER.
  34. Simile
    A COMPARISON of two (2) unlike things USING "like" or "as."

    Ex.:  Amanda is like an onion; she has many layers.
  35. Symbol
    Any object, person, place, or action that has BOTH MEANING ITSELF AND STANDS FOR SOMETHING LARGER than itself, like a quality, attitude, belief, or value.

    Ex.:  The American Eagle is a bird of prey, but it also symbolizes freedom.
  36. Syntax

    Ex.:  Yoda says, "Size matters not.  Look at me.  Judge me by my size, do you?" instead of the proper English snytax, "Size does not matter.  Look at me.  Do you judge me by my size?"
  37. Theme
    The CENTRAL MESSAGE in a literary work.  It is the IDEA the AUTHOR wants to CONVEY about a SUBJECT.

    Note:  It cannot be expressed in one word.  Themes are often NOT directly stated, but implied.
  38. Tone
    The writer's/speaker's ATTITUDE towards a SUBJECT, CHARACTER, or AUDIENCE.

    It is conveyed through the author's choice of words and details.
  39. End Rhyme
    Rhyme that occurs at the END of LINES.

    • Ex.:  My black cat
    •         is so fat.
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VJHS 8th Grade English Literary Terms
VJHS 8th Grade English Literary Terms
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