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AP English Literary Terms

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Analogy A comparison made between two things to show how they are alike.
Allusion A reference to someone or something that is known from history, literature, religion, politics, sports, science or some other branch of culture.
Antagonist The opponent who struggles against or blocks the protagonist.
Atmosphere The mood or feeling created in a piece of writing
Character An individual in a story or play.
Static Character/Dynamic Character A character who does not change / One that does
Flat Characters/Round Characters Have few personality traits / have more dimensions to personality
Climax The point in the plot that creates the greatest intensity, suspense, or interest.
Comedy In general, a story that ends with a happy resolution of the conflicts faced by the main characters or character.
Conflict The struggle between opposing forces or characters in the story
Connotation The association and emotional overtones that have become attached to a word or phrase in addition to its strict dictionary definition.
Denouement The conclusion (or resolution) of a story.
Diction A speaker or writer's choice of words.
Doppelganger A ghostly counterpart of a living person, a double.
Double-Entendre A pun with one clean meaning and one baudy meaning.
Exposition One of the four major forms of discourse, in which something is explained or ""set forth""
Flashback A scene that interrupts the normal chronological sequence of events in a story to depict something that happened at an earlier time.
Foil A character that acts as a contrast to another character.
Foreshadowing The use of hints and clues to suggest what will happen later in the plot.
In media res In or into the middle of a narrative or plot.
Irony In general, a discrepancy between appearances and reality.
Verbal Irony Occurs when someone says one thing but really means something else.
Situational Irony Takes place when there is a discrepancy between what is expected to happen, or what would be appropriate to happen, and what really does happen.
Dramatic Irony Used in plays. A character thinks one thing is true but the audience/reader knows better.
Allegory A story or poem in which characters, settings, and events stand for other people or events or for abstract ideas or qualities.
Parable A relatively short story that teaches a moral, or lesson, about how to lead a good life.
Paradox A statement that appears self contradictory but that reveals a kind of truth.
Parody A work that makes fun of another work by imitating some aspect of the writer's style.
Plot The series of related events in a story or play, sometimes called the story line.
Point Of View: The vantage point from which the writer tells a story.
First-person POV One of the characters in the story tells the story using first person pronouns such as ""I"" and ""we""
Third-person limited POV An unknown narrator (usually thought of as the author) tells the story but focuses on the thoughts and feelings of only one character.
Omniscient POV The narrator tells the story using third-person pronouns but tells the reader about many characters
Objective POV A narrator who is totally impersonal and objective tells the story with no comment on any characters or events.
Protagonist The central character in a story, the one who initiates or drives the action.
Pun A ""play on words"" based on the multiple meaning of a single word or on words that sound alike but mean different things.
Resolution The conclusion of a story when all or most of the conflicts have been settled.
Satire A type of writing that ridicules the shortcomings of people or institutions in an attempt to bring about a change.
Setting The time and location in which a story takes place.
Soliloquy A long speech made by a character in a play while no other characters are on stage.
Stream Of Consciousness A style of writing that portrays the inner (often) chaotic workings of a character's mind.
Suspense A feeling of uncertainty and curiosity about what will happen next in the story.
Symbol: Public / Personal A person, place, thing, or event that has meaning in itself and that also stands for something more than itself.
Theme The insight about human life that is revealed in a literary work.
Tone The attitude a writer takes towards the subject of a work, the characters in it, or the audience.
Tragedy In general, a story in which a heroic character either dies or comes to some other unhappy end.
Understatement (litotes) A statement that says less than what is meant.
Aside Words spoken by an actor directly to the audience which are not heard by the other characters
Chorus A group in a greek tragedy that make comments on the events.
Catastrophe The action at the end of a tragedy that initiates the denouement or falling action of the play.
Catharsis The purging of feelings that, according to Aristotle, occurs within the audience of a tragedy.
Comic Relief The use of a comic scene to interrupt a succession of tragic scenes.
Convention A customary feature of a literary work.
Narrator The voice and speaker of a fictional work.
Novella Short novel.
Pathos A quality of a play stimulating pity.
Syntax The grammatical order of words in a sentence or line.
Unities The idea that a play should be limited to a specific time, place, and story line.
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