Alliteration—Alliteration is the repetition of beginning consonant sound in a line of poetry. Let us go forth to lead the land we love. J. F. Kennedy, Inaugural Allusion


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Literary Terms with Examples

Pre-AP English Grades 6-8

Alliteration—Alliteration is the repetition of beginning consonant sound in a line of poetry.

  • Let us go forth to lead the land we love. J.F. Kennedy, Inaugural

Allusion—An allusion makes reference to a historical or literary person, place, or event with which the reader

is assumed to be familiar. Many works of prose and poetry contain allusions to the Bible or to

classical mythology.

  • Allusions can be historical, (like referring to Hitler), literary (like referring to Kurtz in

Heart of Darkness), religious (like referring to Noah and the flood), or mythical (like

referring to Atlas).

Analogy---makes a comparison between two or more things that are similar in some ways but otherwise

Antagonist—The antagonist (bad guy) is the character who is placed in opposition to the protagonist (good

guy). He is a rival or enemy of the protagonist.

  • The antagonist in Tolsoy’s “The Long Exile” is Makar Semyonof.

Archetype—An image, plot, character, or descriptive detail that occurs frequently in literature, myth, religion,

or folklore, and causes emotion in the reader because it awakens an image in unconscious

memory. The archetype is universally recognized, transcending cultures and time.

The symbols that exists in the collective unconscious of people that include symbols in art,

literature, myths, religion that reoccur over time and across cultures. All archetypes must be

primordial, universal, and recurring. There are three types of archetypes: situational, character,

and symbolic.

1—situational archetypes

a—the quest—this motif describes the search for someone or some talisman which when

found and brought back, will restore fertility to a waste land, the desolation of

which is mirrored by a leader’s illness and disability

b—the task—to save the kingdom, to win the fair lady, to identify himself so that he may

reassume his rightful position the hero must perform some nearly superhuman

deed or the function of the ultimate goal

c—the initiation—this usually take the form of an initiation into adult life. The adolescent

comes into his/her maturity with new awareness and problems along with

new hope for the community

d—the journey—the journey sends the hero in search for some truth or information necessary

to restore fertility to the kingdom. Usually the hero descends into a real or

psychological hell and is forced to discover the blackest truths, quite often

concerning his faults. Once the hero is at his lowest point, he must accept

personal responsibility to return to the world of the living. A second use of this

pattern is the depiction of a limited number of travelers on a sea voyage, bus

ride, or any other trip for the purpose of isolating them and using them as a

microcosm of society.

e—the fall—this archetype describes a descent from a higher to a lower state of being. The

experience involves a defilement and/or loss of innocence and bliss. The fall is

often accompanied by expulsion from a kind of paradise as penalty for

disobedience and moral transgression

f—death and rebirth—the most common of all situational archetypes, this motif grows out of

the parallel between the cycle of nature and the cycle of life. Thus,

morning and springtime represent rebirth, birth, and youth; evening and

winter suggest old age and death

g—nature vs. mechanistic world—nature is good while technology and society are often evil

h—battle between good and evil—obviously the battle between two primal forces. Mankind

shows eternal optimism in continual portrayal of good

triumphing over evil despite great odds

i—the unhealable wound—this wound is either physical or psychological and cannot be healed

fully. This wound also indicated a loss of innocence. These

wounds often drive the sufferer to desperate measures.

k—the ritual—the actual ceremonies the initiate experiences that will mark his rite of passage

into another state. The importance of the ritual rites cannot be over stressed as

they provide clear sign post for character’s role in society as well as our own

position in the world.

l—the magic weapon—this symbolizes the extraordinary quality of the hero because no one

else can wield the weapon or use it to its fullest potential. It is usually

given by a mentor figure.

m—paradise—is seen as a place of peace, light, and beauty, echoing the primordial perfection

of nature. It sometimes represents heaven itself and sometimes a stage on the

road toward it. It may be depicted as a garden or, in the Christian tradition, as

the New Jerusalem.

2—character archetypes—

a—the hero—Lord Reglan in the Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama, contends that

this archetype is so well defined that the life of the protagonist can be clearly

divided into a series of well—marked adventured which strongly suggest

a ritualistic pattern. Reglan finds that traditionally the hero’s mother is a virgin,

the circumstances of his conception are unusual, and at birth some attempt is

made to kill him. He is, however, spirited away and reared by foster parents.

We know almost nothing of his childhood, but upon reaching manhood he

returns to his future kingdom. After a victory over the king or a wild beast, he

marries a princess, becomes a king, after which he meets a mysterious death,

often at the top of a hill. His body is not buried, but nevertheless, he has one of

more holy sepulchers

b—the young man from the provinces—this hero is spirited away as a young man and raised

by strangers. He later returns to his home and

heritage where he is a stranger who can see new

problems and solutions.

c—the initiates—these are young heroes or heroines, who prior to their quest, must endure

some training and ceremony.

d—mentors—these individuals serve as teachers or counselors to the initiates. Sometimes

they work as role models and often serve as a father or mother figure

e—mentor-pupil relationship—the mentor teaches by example the skills necessary to survive

the quest

f—father-son conflict—tension often results from separation during childhood or from an

external source when the individuals meet as men and where the

mentor often has a higher place in the affections of the hero than the

natural parent

g—hunting or group companions—loyal companions willing to face any number of perils in

order to be together

h—loyal retainers—these individuals are somewhat like servants who are heroic themselves.

Their duty is to protect the hero and reflect the nobility of the hero.

i—friendly beast—this shows that nature is on the side of the hero

k—the devil figure—evil incarnate, this character offers worldly goods, fame, or knowledge to

the protagonist in exchange for possession of the soul

l—the evil figure with the ultimately good heart—a redeemable devil figure saved by the

nobility or love of the hero

m—the scapegoat—an animal or more usually a human whose death in a public ceremony

expiates some taint or sin that has been visited upon a community. Their

death often mistakes them a more powerful force in society than when

they lived.

n—the outcast—a figure who is banished from a social group for some crime (real or imagined)

against his fellow man. The outcast is usually destined to become a wanderer

from place to place.

o—the woman figure

1—the earthmother—symbolic of fruition, abundance, and fertility. This character

traditionally offers spiritual and emotional nourishment to

those with whom she comes in contact. Often depicted in earth

colors and has large breasts and hips symbolic of her

childbearing capabilities

2—the temptress—characterized by sensuous beauty, this woman is one to who the

protagonist is physically attracted and who ultimately brings

about his downfall

3—the platonic ideal—this woman is a source of inspiration and a spiritual ideal, for

whom the protagonist or author has an intellectual rather than a

physical attraction

4—the unfaithful wife—a woman married to a man she sees as dull or distant and is

attracted to more virile or interesting men

5—the damsel in distress—the vulnerable woman who must be rescued by the hero.

She often is used as a trap to ensnare the unsuspecting


6—the star-crossed lovers—these two characters are engaged in a love affair that is

fated to end tragically for one or both due to the

disapproval of the society, friends, or family or some

tragic situation

p—the creature of nightmare—a monster usually summoned from the deepest, darkest part of

the human psyche to threaten the lives of the hero/heroine.

Often it is a perversion or desecration of the human body

3—symbolic archetypes

a—light vs. dark—light usually suggests hope, renewal, or intellectual illumination; dark implies

the unknown, ignorance, or despair

b—water vs. desert—because water is necessary to life and growth, it commonly appears as a

birth or rebirth symbol. Water is used in baptismal services, which

solemnizes spiritual births. Similarly, the appearance of rain in a work of

literature can suggest a character’s spiritual rebirth.

c—heaven vs. hell—Man has traditionally associated parts of the universe not accessible to

him with the dwelling places of the primordial forces that govern his

world. The skies and mountain tops house the gods; the bowels of the

earth contain diabolic forces that inhabit this universe

d—innate wisdom vs. educated stupidity—some characters exhibit wisdom and

understanding of situations instinctively as

opposed to those supposedly in charge. Loyal

retainers often exhibit this wisdom as they

accompany them on the journey.

e—haven vs. wilderness—places of safety contrast sharply against the dangerous wilderness.

Heroes are often sheltered for a time to regain health and


f—supernatural intervention—the gods intervene on the side of the hero or sometimes

against him

g—fire vs. ice—fire represents knowledge, light, life, rebirth; while ice like desert represents

ignorance, darkness, sterility, and death

h—mandalas (India) and yantras (Tibet)—In Sanskrit, mandala means circle. Jung says that

one of the most powerful religious symbols is the

circle. He says that the circle is one of the most

powerful religious symbols is the circle. He says

that the circle is one of the greatest primordial

images of mankind and that, in considering the

symbol of the circle, we are analyzing the self.

The circle represents totality, everything within the

circle is one thing which is encircled, enframed.

But the temporal aspect of the circle is that you

leave, go somewhere, and always come back.

The circle suggests a complete totality, whether in

time or space.

i—mazes or labyrinth—inner journey through the confusing and conflicting pathways of the

mind until the seeker reaches the center and discovers the realities of

his/her own nature

Archetypal symbols—


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


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,


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

and multiplicity, macrocosm, breath, spirit, water


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


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


wind—Holy Spirit, life, messenger


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


feathers—lightness, speed

shadow—our dark side, evil, devil, materiality


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


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

emerald—fertility, faith, wisdom

jade—perfection, immortality


diamond—permanence, incorruptibility


deer (stag)—wisdom

ox—power, strength

spider—web of life


griffin—guardian on path to salvation


tiger—ferocity, protectiveness

eagle—Sky God

lion—valor, royalty

cockerel—pride, courage

horse—speed, power, mobility

unicorn—female, purity


bear—bravery, strength

bull—power, stubbornness


white elephant—patience, wisdom, long memory

lamb—sacrifice, innocence, purity

Birds—flight, ascension

feathers—speed, lightness

dove—peace, Holy Spirit




bat—darkness, chaos
Audience—the person or group of people for whom the piece of writing is intended
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”

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


    • 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.

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.

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”

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.

Exposition—The exposition is the portion of the story which reveals important character background, setting,

and initial conflict information.

Figurative Language (figures of speech)—writing or speech that is not meant to be taken literally. The many

types of figurative language include metaphor, simile, and


  • He ran like a hare down the street.

Figurative meaning—is the suggested by the connotations of words and by the images employed by an


Flashback—is a scene in a short story, novel, play, or narrative poem that interrupts the action to show an

event that happened earlier.

  • In “And Sarah Laughed,” the author Joanne Greenberg uses flashback when she relates Sarah’s memory of the day she first discovered that her baby was unable to hear.

Foreshadowing—is the author’s use of clues to hint at what might happen next in the story. It is used to build

the reader’s sense of expectations or to create suspense.

  • In Gerald Haslam’s “The Horned Toad,” the death of the toad and its burial in its natural environment foreshadow the death and burial of Grandma in the open country where she’d spent most of her life.

Hyperbole—A figure of speech in which conscious exaggeration is used without the intent of literal

persuasion. It may be used to heighten effect, or it may be used to produce comic effect.

Exaggeration or overstatement of an idea, attitude, emotion, or detail in a literary work.

  • “A hundred strong men strained beneath his coffin.” “The Funeral,” Gordon Parks

Idiom—an expression whose meaning is different from the sum of the meanings of its individual words.

  • Burning the midnight oil means “staying up late ar night.”

Imagery—Words and phrases create vivid sensory experiences for the reader. Though sight imagery is most

common, imagery may appeal to any of the senses. Good writers often attempt to appeal to

several senses.

  • Robert Lowell “Our Lady of Walsingham”

There once the penitents took off their shoes

And then waked barefoot the remaining mile;

And the small tress, a stream and hedgerows file

Slowly along the munching English lane,

Like cows to the old shrine, until you lose

Track of your dragging pain.

The stream flows down under the druid tree,

Shiloah’s whirlpools gurgle and make glad

The castle of God.

Irony—the general name given to literary techniques that involve surprising, interesting, or amusing


1—verbal irony—words are used to suggest the opposite of their usual meanings.

2—dramatic irony—there is a contradiction between what a character thinks and what the

reader or audience knows to be true

3—situation irony—an event occurs that directly contradicts the expectations of the

characters, the reader, or the audience.
Literal Meaning—surface meaning of a literary work derived by an emphasis on denotation, summary, and


Metaphor—a comparison between two unlike things.

  • [love] is a pot full of yellow corn

to warm your belly in winter “I Am Offering This Poem,” Jimmy Santiago Baca
1--extended metaphor—a subject is spoken of, or written, as though it were something else.

However, an extended metaphor differs from a regular metaphor in that

several comparisons are made.
Mood—Mood is the feeling or atmosphere that a writer creates for the reader. Connotative words, sensory

images, and figurative language contribute to the mood of a selection, as do the sound and rhythm of

the language.
Moral—a lesson taught by a literary work. A fable usually ends with a moral that is directly stated. A poem,

short story, novel, or essay often suggests a moral that is not directly stated. The reader must draw the

moral from other elements.

Motif—Motif is a simple element that serves as a basis for an expanded narrative. Less strictly, it is a

conventional situation, device, interest, or incident employed in folklore, fiction, or drama. The carrying

off of a mortal queen by a fairy lover is a motif about which full stories were built in medieval romance.

  • Luck is a central motif of D.H. Lawrence’s “The Rocking-Horse Winner.”

Motivation—Motivations is the presentation of reasons and explanations for the actions of a character in any

work of fiction. It results from a combination of the character’s temperament and moral nature

with the circumstances in which a character is placed.
Narration—is writing that tell a story.
Narrator---a speaker or character who tells a story.

1—third-person narrator—one who stands outside the action and speaks about it

2—first-person narrator—one who tells a story and participates in its action
Onomatopoeia—Onomatopoeia is the use of words which by their pronunciation suggest their meaning. The

words literally represent sound. The use of a word or words which imitate the sound they

stand for.

  • Examples—buzz, hiss, dong, crackle, moo, pop, whiz, whoosh, zoom

Oxymoron—contradiction; two contradictory terms or ideas are used together

  • Examples—sweet sorrow, jumbo shrimp, beginning expert, political honesty

Parallelism—the balancing of equal parts of a sentence, the repetition of a sentence pattern, or the repetition

of words at the beginning of lines of poetry. When an author frequently stresses the equal parts

of sentences, the word balanced is used to describe his style. The use of parallelism contributes

to the musical quality of prose of poetry. Expressing similar or related ideas in similar

grammatical structures.

  • Between the conception / and the creation /

Between the emotion / And the response /

Falls the Shadow “The Hollow Men,” T.S. Eliot

Personification—Personification gives an inanimate object characteristics of life.

  • And memory sleeps beneath the gray

And windless sky… “Rain in My Heart,” Edgar Lee Masters
Plot—the sequence of events in which each event results from a previous one and causes the next. In most

novels, dramas, short stories, and narrative poems, the plot usually involves both characters in a central

conflict. The plot usually begins with an exposition that introduces the setting, the characters, and the

basic situation. This is followed by rising action, in which the central conflict is introduced and developed.

The conflict then increases until it reaches a high point of interest or suspense, the climax. The climax is

followed by the falling action, or the end of the central conflict. Any events that occur during the falling

action make up the resolution.

Point of View—Point of view refers to the narrative method used in a short story, novel, or nonfiction selection.

1—first person—The narrator is a character in the story, narrating the action as he or she

understands it. First person point of view is indicated by the pronoun “I.”

2—third person—A third person narrator is not a participant in the action and thus maintains a

certain distance from the characters. Third person point of view is indicated

by he use of the pronouns “he,” “she,” “it,” and “they.”

3—third person omniscient—The narrator is all-knowing about the thoughts and feelings of

the characters. With this point of view, the writer can reveal

the emotional responses of all the characters and can

comment at will on the events taking place.

4—third person limited—The writer presents events as experienced by only one character.

5—perspective—a study and evaluation of the effects of an author’s choice of communicator

and his means of communication in a literary work that includes persona and

point of view

Protagonist—The protagonist is the character in opposition to the antagonist, the chief character in a drama

or work of fiction.

Pun—a play on the meaning of words.

  • coals, colliers, choler, collar from ACT I, scene 1. Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Refrain—Refrain is a group of words forming a phrase or a sentence and consisting of one or more lines

repeated at intervals in a poem, usually at the end of a stanza.

  • Sir Thomas Wyatt—

Disdain me not without desert,

Nor leave me not so suddenly;

Since well ye wot that in my heart

I mean ye not but honestly.

Disdain me not.
Refuse me not without cause why,

Nor think me not to be unjust;

Since that by lot of fantasy

This careful knot need knit I must.

Refuse me not…
Repetition—the use, more than once, of any element of language—a sound, word, phrase, clause, or


Rhetoric—describes the principles governing the art of writing effectively, eloquently, and persuasively
Rhetorical Devices—the skill of using spoken or written communication effectively; the art of guiding the

reader or listener to agreement with the writer or speaker.

1—analogy—making clear a concept or idea by showing its similar to a more familiar


2—analysis of cause—identifying the forces responsible for an effect.

3—alternatives—considering of other options.

4—appeal—an address to the audience usually through the pronoun YOU or WE used

to link the speaker or writer to listener or reader.

5—assertion—to suggest for consideration as true or possible.

6—antithesis—a statement of purpose opposed to an earlier assertion or thesis.

7—anticipate an objection—to anticipate an objection, addressing it before anyone

else can raise the objection.

8—ad hominem—to attack another person’s argument as weak because of a human

falling that is not logically part of the argument.

9—ad misericordiam—an appeal for sympathy.

10—ad populum—appeal to the crowd.

11—ad vericundiam—an appeal to authority.

12—composition—arguing that a group must have the same qualities or characteristics

as its members.

13—concession—an acknowledgment of objections to a proposal.

14—consequences of events—listing or indicating what resulted from a particular

event or condition.

15—contradictory premises—the main premises contradict each other.

16—correction of erroneous views of statement—pointing out where another

person’s observations need

modification or correction.

17—corrective measures—proposing measures to eliminate undesirable conditions.

18—description—the enumeration of characteristics of objects that belong to the same


19—definition—to define a concept like “excessive violence” to help resolve a question

by narrowing or clarifying meaning.

20—deduction—arguing from a general point to a particular point or application.

21—direct address—to speak to directly, remove any separation between speaker and


22—division—arguing that an individual must have the same qualities or characteristics

of the group.

23—dicto simpliciter—an argument based on n unqualified generalization.

24—either/or fallacy—requires absolutes which do not allow for intermediate cases;

very clear statements or choices.

25—emotional appeal—a speaker’s or writer’s effort to engage feelings in the audience

or reader.

26—equivocation—using the same term with a different meaning in the same


27—extended metaphor—a protracted metaphor which makes a series of parallel

comparisons throughout the speech or writing.

28—false analogy—wrongful comparisons of dissimilar situations, conditions, or events.

29—faulty dilemma—the major premise presents a choice that does not exhaust the


30—guilt or innocence by association—providing examples that prove the guilt or

innocence of a person based on his/her

actions, beliefs, or motivations.

31—hypothesis contrary to the fact—beginning with a premise that is not necessarily

true and then drawing conclusions from it.

32—inquiry as introduction—setting an essay in motion by raising a question and

suggesting that the answer may be interesting or


33—illustration of ways to correct a condition—create specific examples to correct a

condition or situation and give very

clear, concise details.

34—non-sequitur—the conclusion does not follow in logic from the preceding


35—over generalizing or hasty generalization—too few or too many instances are

presented to reach an accurate


36—premise and the common ground—the terms of the premise must be accepted as

true by the reader or the audience.

37—rebuttal—final opposition to an assertion; disprove or refute the ideas or opinions of

another person.

38—reduce to the absurd—to show the foolishness of an argument by taking the

argument to its logical conclusion.

39—rhetorical question—to ask a question of an audience or reader to engage them

without having a response from the audience or reader.

40—self-evident truth—proceeding from an unwarranted assumption to a foregone

conclusion (time is money)

41—specious reasoning—having only apparent logic; not truly logical but presented to

be as such.

42—thesis—a statement of purpose or intent.

43—under/over statement—to say considerably more or less than a condition

warrants; usually applied for ironic or unexpected contrast.

Rhetorical Shift—a shift from tone, attitude, etc. Some signal words for a shift include: however, but, even

though, although

Sarcasm—A form of verbal irony in which, under the guise of praise, a caustic and bitter expression of strong

and personal disapproval is given. Sarcasm is personal, jeering, intended to hurt, and is intended

as a sneering taunt.
Sensory Language—writing or speech that appeals to one or more of the five senses.
Setting—the time and place of the action. The setting includes all the details of a place and time—the year,

the time of day, even the weather. The place may be a specific country, state, region, community,

neighborhood, building, institution, or home. Details such as dialect, clothing, customs, and modes of

transportation are often used to establish the setting.

Shift—a change in tone, mood, setting, or characterization that affects the movement of the selection.

Simile---a comparison between two unlike things using the words like or as

  • The rugby ball was like a giant egg, which he held carefully while he ran.

Speaker—the imaginary voice assumed by the writer of a poem.
Stanza—a group of poetic lines arranged into a pattern generally suggested by a rhyme scheme. Stanzas are

roughly the equivalent of paragraphs in prose.

Stream of consciousness---an author’s representation of the flow of inner thoughts, feelings, and memories

of a character, regardless of logical order and transitions. This approach is

based on the assumption that our half-conscious and even conscious thoughts

and feeling do not come to us in neat patterns or in carefully constructed plots.

  • William Faulkner The Sound and the Fury—Caddy uncaught me and we crawled through. Uncle Maury said to not let anybody see us, so we better stoop over, Caddy said. Stoop over, Benjy. Like this, see. We stooped over and crossed the garden, where the flowers rasped and rattled against us. The ground was hard. We climbed the fence, where the pigs were grunting and snuffing. I expect they're sorry because one of them got killed today, Caddy said. The ground was hard, churned and knotted. Keep your hands in your pockets, Caddy said. Or they'll get froze. You dont want your hands froze on Christmas, do you.

Structure—the basic organization or arrangement of events, details, words, or parts in a literary work.
Style—an author’s choice of words and their arrangements in various patterns of syntax, imagery, and rhythm
Suspense—a feeling of anxious uncertainty about the outcome of events in a literary work.
Symbol—Symbol is any object, happening, person, or place which stands not only for itself but also for

something else.

  • The lamb is a symbol of innocence in William Blake’s “The Lamb.”

  • To Mr. Shimada and his faithful employees in Yoshiko Uchida’s “Of Dry Goods and Black Bow Ties,” the bow tie is a symbol of dignity, honesty, and respectability.

Technique—any resources or any combinations of means used by an author to shape his material, such as

his choice and arrangement of words (style), his organization of his material (structure), or his

handling of characters (characterization).
Theme—The main idea of message a writer expresses in a work of literature. It is a writer’s perception about

life or humanity shared with a reader. Themes are seldom stated directly and may reveal

themselves only through careful reading and analysis.

  • A theme of Doris Lessing’s “A Mild Attck of the Locusts” is that life goes on.

Tone—Tone is the attitude a writer takes toward a subject. It might be humorous, serious, bitter, angry, or

detached among other possibilities.

  • The tone of Thomas Hardy’s “Ah, Are You Digging on My Grave?” is one of bittersweet humor.

Understatement—the deliberate playing down of an emotion, thought, judgment, or situation. When emotion

is involved, an author will sometimes employ understatement to imply that the emotion is

too powerful or too vast to express. The lack of stress creates an ironic difference

between what the author actually says and what the circumstances would really allow him

to say.

  • In “Field Trip, Naomi Shihab Nye uses understatement when she says that the woman who cut off her finger was “distracted.”

Quinn, Edward. A Dictionary of Literary Terms and Thematic Terms. Checkmark Books: New York, 1999.

Abrams, M.H. A Glossay of Literary Terms: Sixth Edition. Harcourt Brace: New York, 1993.
Hibbard, Allison, C. Hugh Holman, and William Flint Thrall. A Handbook to Literature. The Odyssey Press: New York, 1960.
Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory: Fourth Edition. Penguin Books: London, 1998.

Kristina Janeway

Terra Vista Middle School

Lubbock, Texas


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