Literary Terms

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Literary Terms Packet

The terms in this packet will be used throughout the semester in literature discussions and on exams. Please memorize and be able to use and identify all terms in papers and on exams. Some information in this packet came from Modern English by Arnold Lazarus, and A Dictionary of Literary, Dramatic, and Cinematic Terms by Sylvan Barnet,

A reference to someone or something that is known from history, literature, religion, politics or some other branch of culture. An example is Sandra Cisneros' "Straw into Gold," which is an allusion to the folktale about Rumpelstiltskin. Example: "I have seen my head . . . brought in upon a platter" is an allusion to the execution of St. John the Baptist. Example: "In the room women come and go, talking of Michelangelo" is an allusion the famous artist Michelangelo. Example: "No, I am not Prince Hamlet" is an allusion to Shakespeare's play, Hamlet.

Please write two sentences, each of which uses an allusion. the allusion and then share with a neighbor. __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________


A technique by which a writer suggests deliberately two or more different and sometimes conflicting meanings in a work. Writers use ambiguity to make us think. Example: In "Mystery of Heroism," Stephen Crane ends his story by not telling us if Collins came back with water or not. Example: In "Weary Blues," Langston Hughes doesn't tell us exactly what happens to the blues player at the end.

A brief, cleverly worded statment that makes a wise observation about life. Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack is a book of aphorisms. We see them also in the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Example: "Let us die trying."--from Two Old Women. Exampe: "Comedy is a tragedy plus time." Carol Burnett Example: "Whoso would be a man must be a non-conformist." Emerson

Ralph W.

Please write two aphorisms that you have heard and share with a partner.


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Sometimes, apostrophe is confused with personification because it assumes an object can hear. But, an apostrophe is unique in that it is the adressing or speaking to a thing or object or to a person who is often not present. The persona of the poem directly addresses something. "My lute, awake." "Romeo, wherefore art thou?" "Milton! thou shouds't be listening at this hour."

Please write two examples of apostrophe: ____________________________________________________________

______ ____________________________________________________________


Atmosphere or Mood

The mood or feeling is created in a piece of writing with the use of specific words and details. A story's atmosphere, for example, might be peaceful, festive, menacing, melancholy, etc. Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabel Lee" has a sad mood. Nathaniel Hawthorne's "A Minister's Black Veil" has a suspenseful, ominous mood.

Think of two films you have seen. Please write the name of the film and its mood. __________________________________==__________________________ and __________________________________==________________________________



Caesura is simply a pause (comma) or break (dash, period, semi-colon) within a line of poetry. Pauses are usually indicated by punctuation. Writers use caesura to change thoughts or to emphasize the next few words of the line. Example: Example: "Comes a still voice.-Yet a few days, and thee"--Wm. Cullen Bryant "Are but the solemn decorations all Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun,"--William Cullen Bryant


A character always has human traits, even if the character is an animal or a god. How...
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