Allegory—An allegory is a literary work that has an underlying meaning beneath the literal meaning. Allegory relies heavily on symbolism to teach a lesson or illustrate an idea. Characters often represent abstract concepts such as truth

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Archetypal symbols—

Numbers—

three—the Trinity ( Father, Son, Holy Ghost); mind, body, spirit; birth, life, death

four—Mankind—four limbs; four elements; four seasons; the ages of man

six—devil; evil

seven—Divinity (3) + Mankind (4) = relationship between man and God. Seven deadly sins; seven

days of the week; seven days to create the world; seven stages of civilization; seven colors of

the rainbow; seven gifts of the Holy Spirit

Shapes—


oval—woman, passivity

triangle—communication between heaven and earth, fire, the number 3, trinity, aspiration, movement

upward, return to origins, gas, light, sight



square—pluralism, earth, firmness, stability, construction, material, solidity, the number 4

rectangle—most rational, most secure

cross—tree of life, axis of the world, struggle, martyrdom, orientation in space

circle—heaven, intellect, thought, sun, unity, perfection, eternity, oneness, celestial realm, hearing,

sound


spiral—evolution of the universe, orbit, growth, deepening, cosmic motion, relationship between unity

and multiplicity, macrocosm, breath, spirit, water


Colors—


dark—matter, germ, before existence, chaos

light—spirit, mortality, all, creative force, the direction East, spiritual thought

red—sunrise, birth, blood, fire, emotion, wounds, death, passion, sentiment, mother, anger, excitement,

heat, physical stimulation



orange—fire, pride, ambition, egoism

green—earth, fertility, sensation, vegetation, death, water, nature, sympathy, adaptability, growth, envy

blue—clear sky, thinking, the day, the sea, height, depth, heaven, religious feeling, devotion,

innocence, truth, psychic ability, spirituality, physical soothing and cooling



violet—water, nostalgia, memory, advanced spirituality

gold—majesty, sun, wealth, corn (life dependency), truth

silver—moon, wealth

Nature—


air—activity, creativity, breath, light, freedom, liberty, movement

ascent—height, transcendence, inward journey, increasing intensity

center—thought, unity, timelessness, paradise, creator, infinity, neutralizing opposites

descent—unconscious, potentialities of being, animal nature

duality (ying/yang)—opposites, complements, positive-negative, male-female, life-death

earth—passive, feminine, receptive, solid

fire—ability to transform, love, life, health, control, spiritual energy, regeneration, sun, God, passion

image—highest form of knowing, thought as a form

lake—mystery, depth, unconsciousness

crescent moon—change, transition

moon—master of women, vegetation

mountain—height, mass, loftiness, center of the world, ambition, goals

valley—depression, low-points, evil, unknown

sun—hero, son of Heaven, knowledge, the Divine eye, fire, life force, creative guiding force, brightness,

splendor, active awakening, healing, resurrection, ultimate wholeness


unity—spirit, oneness, wholeness, transcendence, the source, harmony, revelation, active principle, a

point, a dot, supreme power, completeness in itself, the divinity


water—passive, feminine, change

rivers—life force, life cycle

streams—life force, life cycle

stars—guidance

wind—Holy Spirit, life, messenger

ice/snow—coldness

clouds—mystery, sacred

mist—mystery, sacred

rain—life giver

steam—transformation to the Holy Spirit

volcano—evil, shadow

lightening—intuition, inspiration

tree—where we learn, tree of life, tree of knowledge

forest—evil, lost, fear

Objects—


feathers—lightness, speed

shadow—our dark side, evil, devil, materiality

masks—concealment

boats/rafts—safe passage

bridge—change, transformation

right hand—rectitude

left hand—deviousness

feet—stability, freedom

skeleton—mortality, vanity

heart—love, emotions

hourglass—passage of time

father time—time swiftly passing; death

Gems—


pearl—royalty, power, passion, tears of joy or sorrow

emerald—fertility, faith, wisdom

jade—perfection, immortality

sapphire—Heaven

diamond—permanence, incorruptibility

Animals—


deer (stag)—wisdom

ox—power, strength

spider—web of life

pig—gluttony

griffin—guardian on path to salvation

cat—domesticity

tiger—ferocity, protectiveness

eagle—Sky God

lion—valor, royalty

cockerel—pride, courage


horse—speed, power, mobility

unicorn—female, purity

goat—devil

bear—bravery, strength

bull—power, stubbornness

toad—witchcraft

white elephant—patience, wisdom, long memory

lamb—sacrifice, innocence, purity

Birds—flight, ascension


feathers—speed, lightness

dove—peace, Holy Spirit

peacock—pride

pelican—self-sacrifice

raven—prophecy

bat—darkness, chaos
Aristotle’s Rules for Tragedy—the purpose of a tragedy is to arouse the emotions of pity and fear thus to

produce in the audience a catharsis of the emotions. An imitation of an

action that is complete, and whole, and of a certain magnitude

1--dramatic unities—the principles of dramatic structure involving actions,

time, and place; having a beginning, a middle, and an

end


2-- recognition—a plot in which the principal reversal or peripety results from

the acquisition by one of the characters of knowledge which

was previously withheld by the characters or the story and

now results in a decisive change of course for the character

3-- reversal—a change of fortune for the protagonist in a dramatic or fictional

plot

4-- hamartia—the character weakness or great error through which the

fortunes of the hero of a tragedy are reversed. This tragic flaw

may be caused by bad judgment, bad character, inherited

weakness, or any other possible causes of error that must be

expressed through a definite action or failure to perform such

an action

5-- catharsis—purgation of emotions

6-- hubris—is excessive pride, and it is often the downfall of literary

characters.

Audience—the person or group of people for whom the piece of writing is intended
Autobiography---is a form of nonfiction in which the writer tells the story of his or her own life. An

autobiography may tell about the person’s whole life or only a part of it.


Aside—a convention in drama whereby a character interrupts a conversation to address the audience and not

the person to whom he has been talking




  • An example occurs in Act I, scene 4 of Macbeth:

King. My worthy Cawdor!

Macbeth. [Aside.] The prince of Cumberland!

That is a step

On which I must fall down, or else o’erleap,


Assonance—Similar vowel sound in stressed syllables that end with different consonant sounds.



  • That hoard and sleep and feed, and know not me. Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “Ulysses”


Asyndeton—conjunctions are omitted, producing a fast-paced and rapid prose.



oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. J.F. Kennedy, Inaugural

Atmosphere—the mood or moods of a literary work created by the description of settings, by the actions and

words of characters, by the tone of an author or the voice through which he speaks.




  • The description of weather in Robert Browning’s “Porphyria’s Lover” builds an atmosphere of suspense and foreboding.

Ballad—a narrative song that generally contains a simple but dramatic narrative for which little background is

given. The story and emotional force of the ballad are usually conveyed by dialogue;

understatement of the situation and repetition (refrain) contribute to the power of the ballad.




  • Literary ballads are written in imitation of folk ballads and have a known author, as opposed to the anonymous folk ballad. Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is an example of a literary ballad.


Biography---a form of nonfiction in which a writer tell the life story of another person. Most biographies are

written about famous or admirable people. Although biographies are nonfiction, the most

effective ones share the qualities of good narrative writing.
Blank verse—unrhymed iambic pentameter that is frequently used in poetry and also in poetic drama, perhaps

because it is more natural and closer to speech than most metrical lines. It is open to subtle

variations by means of a shift in the pauses within lines, or of run-on lines, or of slight

alterations of the iambic pattern.




  • Friar: Be pa’ / tient, for’ / the world’ / is broad’ / and wide’. Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet


Caesura—the main internal pause of a line of poetry. The pause can be dictated by punctuation, grammar,

natural stops in speech, or rhetorical emphasis in oral delivery.





  • For example, the following line from John Donne’s “Death Be Not Proud” has a caesura:

One short sleep past, // we wake eternally.
Caricature—an unsubtle, oversimplified, and exaggerated presentation of a character, generally stressing only

one aspect, so that the reader understands what the character represents. It is designed to

make a person or a type of person seen ridiculous.


  • Shakespeare Henry IV and The Merry Wives of Windsor—the character of Falstaff

Character---is a person or an animal that takes part in the action of a literary work. A main or major character

is the most important character in a story, poem, or play. A minor character plays a lesser role

but is necessary for the story to develop.

1—round character---a fully developed character in whom many traits are exhibited


    • Walter Mitty in James Thurber’s “the Secret Life of Walter Mitty”

2—flat character—a one-sided or stereotypical character

    • Montresor, the vengeful murderer, in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”

3—static character—a character who does not undergo a change

    • the king in Frank R. Stockton’s “The Lady, or the Tiger?”

4—dynamic character---a character who changes or grows in some way during the course of a

piece


    • Sarah in Joanne Greenberg’s “And Sarah Laughed”

5--stock character—a stereotype, character types that occur repeatedly in written and visual

stories and are easily recognizable by readers and viewers.


Characterization—the process by which author’s create memorable characters. Authors use two major

methods of characterization—direct and indirect.

1—direct characterization—an author tells what the character is like—looks and actions


  • “He was a tall, rawboned man with a bullet-shaped head, and he looked exactly ike what he was—a deacon in a church.” “Before the End of Summer,” Grant Moss Jr.

2—indirect characterization—a writer reveals a character’s personality through his or her own

appearance, words, actions, and effects on others. Sometimes

the writer describes what other participants in the story say and

think about the character. The reader draws his/her own

conclusions about the character being analyzed.


Chiasmus—derived from the Greek letter CHI (X); grammatical structure of the first clause or phrase is

reversed in the second, sometimes repeating the same word.



  • The Vanity of Human Wishes—“By the day the frolic, and the dance by night.”


  • Essay on Man—“His time a moment, and a point his space.”


Climax—The point of highest interest: the point at which the reader makes the greatest emotional response. It

is also used to designate the turning point in the action—the place at which the rising action

reverses and becomes falling action.


  • In Amy Tan’s “Rules of the Game,” the climax falls toward the end of the story when Meimei and her mother exchange harsh words and then Meimei runs away.


Colloquial—the use of slang or informalities in speech and writing


  • The man, a dodgy customer with a shifty look inhis eye, was clearly up to no good.


Comedy—a form of drama that generally entertains and induces varying degrees of laughter, although at

times it can comment searchingly on human nature and society.




  • Gore Vidal’s “Visit to a Small Planet” is a comedy.


Comic relief—momentary release from the build-up of tragic tension in a narrative, usually a drama, though

the use of comic scenes





  • ACT IV, scene 4. Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet


Conceit—a fanciful expression usually in the form of an extended metaphor or surprising analogy between

dissimilar objects; types of conceits include conceit of oxymoron, jealousy conceit, inventory of

blazon conceit, carpe diem conceit, traditional conceit of the idealizers, conceit of the pastoral

hyperbole, heraldic conceit, etymological conceit, concetti predicabili, Clevelandism conceit, and the

metaphysical conceit.


  • Jealousy Conceit—Romeo and Juliet, II, I

See! How she leans her cheek upon her hand:

O! that I were a glove upon that hand,

That I might touch that cheek.


Concrete Poem—a poem with a shape that suggests it subject. The poet arranges the letters, punctuation,

and lines to create an image, or picture, on the page.


Conflict—The struggle which grows out of the interplay of the two opposing forces in a plot. At least one of

the opposing forces is usually a person. This person, usually the protagonist, may be involved in

conflicts of four different kinds:

1against the forces of nature

2against another person, usually the antagonist

3against society as a force

4against opposing elements within the person

5against Fate or Destiny




  • In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus’s conflicts with Polyphemus, Scylla and Charybdis, and the suitors are all external.

  • In W.D. Wetherell’s “The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant,” the narrator is torn between reeling in a fish (and losing the potential affections of Sheila) and letting it go (and losing the catch of a lifetime), causing an internal conflict.


Connotation—the implications, inferences, or suggestive power of words, phrases, or figures of speech



  • The word din suggests noise that does not let up, to the point of being maddening or

deafening. Elie Wiesel, from NIGHT
Consonance—The use at the end of verses of words in which the final consonant in the stressed syllable

agree but the vowels that precede them differ.




  • … like a pair of thick socks... Jimmy Santiago Baca, “I Am Offering This Poem”


Content—the basic meanings, emotions, actions, or attitudes in a literary work which an author shapes

through techniques

Context—the surroundings in which an element of a literary work appears. The study of the relationships of

that element to other details or actions in the verbal environments is basic to literary analysis

Contrast—the juxtaposition of opposites—details, concepts, or people.
Convention—in literary works traditional practices, involving both technique and content, which accumulate as

a literary type develops. In literary analysis a knowledge of conventions can help you recognize

how an author develops meaning within a given work. It also allows you to determine whether

an author is deviating from the traditions. Your knowledge of conventions should be put in the

context of the specific work being studied. The study of convention in regard to content may

also enter into characterization and plot situations. The old-fashioned melodrama the villain

who pursues and torments the heroine is a conventional people figure.


  • Dr. Johnson—Preface to Shakespeare—Delusion, if delusion be admitted, has no certain limitation; if the spectator can be once persuaded, that his old acquaintance are Alexander and Caesar, that a room illuminated with candles is the plain of Pharsalia, or the bank of Granicus, he is in a state of elevation about the reach of reason, or of truth, and from the heights of empyrean poetry, may despise the circumscriptions of terrestrial nature. There is no reason why a mind thus wandering in exstasy should count the clock, or why an hour should not be a century in that calenture of the brains that can make the stage a field. The truth is, that the spectators are always in their senses, and know, from the first act to the last, that the stage is only a stage, and that the players are only players.


Couplet—a pair of lines in poetry ending with the same rhyme


  • For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings

That then I scorn to change my state with kings. Shakespeare, “Sonnet 29

Denotation—the exact or dictionary meaning of a word without its emotional or suggestive associations


  • The denotation of the word politician is one who is professionally engaged in politics.


Description—a portrait, in words, of a person, place, or object. Descriptive writing use images that appeal to

the five senses.




  • The last graveyard flowers were blooming, and their smell drifted across the cotton field and

through every room of our house, speaking softly the names of our dead. James Hurst,

“The Scarlet Ibis”


Dialect—a form of language spoken by people in a particular region or group. Dialects differ in pronunciations,

grammar, and word choice. Writers use dialect to make their characters seem realistic.




  • The following lines from “A Red, Red Rose” by Robert Burns make use of Scottish dialect:

Till a’ seas gang dry, my dear,

And the rocks melt wi’ the sun!


Dialogue—the conversation between people in poetry, plays, and stories. It is a basic source of the study of

characters and of an author’s style. Although important in all types of literature, dialogue is

perhaps most crucial in drama.
Diction—the choice and arrangement of words in phrases and images or in larger units such as poetic lines

and sentences. Poetic diction has been interpreted as the use of artificial and specialized language

for the purpose of distinguishing poetry from prose or ordinary speech.




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