Essay: Literary Terms Booklet

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¶ … unifies and permeates an entire literary work. The theme can be a brief and meaningful insight or a comprehensive vision of life; it may be a single idea. The theme may be also a more complicated paradigm. A theme is the author's way of communicating and sharing ideas, perceptions, and feelings with readers. It may be directly stated in the book, or it may only be implied. Example: Socialism as a means to cleanse society of capitalism in The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.

Metaphor -- A comparison or analogy describe to implicate that one object is another one, figuratively speaking. Example: Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.

Internal conflict -- An argument or decision-making progress within one character's mind. An internal conflict has intent and the resolution is crucial to the success of the plot. Example: Brutus in "Julius Caesar" by William Shakespeare.

Dialect -- The language of a particular district, class, or group of people. The term encompasses the sounds, spelling, grammar, and diction employed by a specific people as distinguished from other persons either geographically or socially. Example: Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston.

Alliteration -- The repeating of a consonant sound in words in close proximity to others, or repeating a sound at the beginning several words with the same vowel sound. Most often it involves the sounds at the beginning of words in close proximity to each other. Example: "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe.

Drama -- A composition presenting, using action and dialogue, a narrative involving conflict between a character or characters and some external or internal force. Example: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

Autobiography -- A non-fictional account of a person's life -- usually a celebrity, important historical figure, or a writer -- written by that actual person. Example: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, by Benjamin Franklin.

Non-fiction -- A narrative that is based on actual events, facts, and persons. It is the opposite of fiction. Example: The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams.

Fiction -- An imagined story, whether in prose, poetry, or drama. Example: Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut.

Climax -- The turning point of the action in the plot of a play or story, typically the most important point of the story. Example: "Oedipus Rex" by Sophocles when Oedipus realizes he's killed his father and married his mother.

Biography -- The story of a person's life written by someone other than the person whose life story it is. Example: Gandhi, by Amy Pastan and Primo Levi.

Protagonist -- The main characters in a work, on whom the author focuses the most of the narrative attention, usually what we could call "the good guy." Example: Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Antagonist -- The character against whom the protagonist struggles against, usually who we would call "the bad guy." Example: Luzhin in Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Simile -- An analogy or comparison created usually by using adverbs such as "like" or "as." Example: "The late afternoon sky bloomed in the window for a moment like the blue honey of the Mediterranean," from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Tragedy -- A serious narrative in which the chief character, by some peculiarity of psychology, passes through a series of misfortunes leading to a final devastating catastrophe. Example: "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare.

Comedy -- A dramatic performance in which pits two societies against each other in an amusing conflict, generally intended to amuse by creating laughter.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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