Literary figures

ad hominem argument: From the Latin meaning “to or against the man,” this is an argument that appeals to emotion rather than reason,to feeling rather than intellect.¬†
allegory: The device of using character and/or story elements symbolically to represent an abstraction in addition to the literal meaning. In some of these, for example, an author may intend the characters to personify an abstraction like hope or freedom. The meaning usually deals with moral truth or a generalization about human existence.
alliteration: The repetition of sounds, especially initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words (as in “she sells sea shells”). Although the term is not frequently in the multiple choice section, you can look for this in any essay passage. The repetition can reinforce meaning, unify ideas, supply a musical sound, and/or echo the sense of the passage.
allusion: A direct or indirect reference to something which is presumably commonly known, such as an event, book, myth, place, or work of art. They can be historical, literary, religious, topical, or mythical. There are many more possibilities, and a work may simultaneously use multiple layers of allusion.
ambiguity: The multiple meanings, either intentional or unintentional, of a word, phrase, sentence, or passage.
analogy: A similarity or comparison between two different things or the relationship between them. This can explain something unfamiliar by associating it with or pointing out its similarity to something more familiar. This can also make writing more vivid, imaginative, or intellectually engaging.
anaphora: A sub-type of parallelism, when the exact repetition of words or phrases at the beginning of successive lines or sentences.
anecdote: A short, narrative account of an amusing, unusual, revealing, or interesting event. A good one has a single definite point and is used to clarify abstract points, to humanize individuals so that readers can relate to them, or to create a memorable image in the reader’s mind.
antecedent: The word, phrase, or clause referred to by a pronoun.
antithesis: A figure of speech involving a seeming contradiction of ideas, words, clauses, or sentences within a balanced grammatical structure. The resulting parallelism serves to emphasize opposition of ideas. The familiar phrase, “Man proposes, God disposes”
aphorism: A terse statement of known authorship which expresses a general truth or a moral principle. (If the authorship is unknown, the statement is generally considered to be a folk proverb.) It can be a memorable summation of the author’s point.
apostrophe: A figure of speech that directly addresses an absent or imaginary person or a personified abstraction, such as liberty or love. It is an address to someone or something that cannot answer. The effect may add familiarity or emotional intensity
argumentation: takes a stand on an issue and supports it with evidence and logical reasoning
argumentation: The purpose of this is to prove the validity of an idea, or point of view, by presenting sound reasoning, thoughtful discussion, and argument that thoroughly convince the reader. Persuasive writing is a type!
atmosphere: The emotional mood created by the entirety of a literary work, established partly by the setting and partly by the author’s choice of objects that are described. Even such elements as a description of the weather can contribute to the atmosphere. Frequently this foreshadows events. Perhaps it can create a mood.
caricature: A representation, especially pictorial or literary, in which the subject’s distinctive features or peculiarities are deliberately exaggerated to produce a comic or grotesque effect. Sometimes it can be so exaggerated that it becomes a grotesque imitation or misrepresentation. Synonymous words include burlesque, parody, travesty, satire, lampoon.
chiasmus: A figure of speech based on inverted parallelism. It is a rhetorical figure in which two clauses are related to each another through a reversal of terms. The purpose is usually to make a larger point or to provide balance or order. In classical rhetoric, the parallel structure structures did not repeat words, such as is found in Alexander Pope’s Essay on Man: “His time a moment, and a point his space.”
clause: A grammatical unit that contains both a subject and a verb.
conceit: A fanciful expression, usually in the form of an extended metaphor or surprising analogy between seemingly dissimilar objects. Displays intellectual cleverness as a result of the unusual comparison being made.
description: The purpose is to recreate, invent, or visually present a person, place, event or action so that the reader can picture that being described. Sometimes an author engages all five senses in description; good descriptive writing can be sensuous and picturesque. may be straightforward and objective or highly emotional an subjective.
description: writing that creates sensory images, often evoking a mood or atmosphere
diction: Related to style, this refers to the writer’s word choices, especially with regard to their correctness, clearness, or effectiveness.
didactic: From the Greek, this literally means “teaching.” Such works have the primary aim of teaching or instructing, especially the teaching of moral or ethical principles.
dramatic irony: When facts or events are unknown to a character in a play or piece of fiction but known to the reader, audience, or other characters in the work.
ethos: Establishes credibility in the speaker. this appeal sets up believability in the writer. He or she is perceived as someone who can be trusted and who is concerned with the reader’s best interests.
euphemism: From the Greek for “good speech,” these are a more agreeable or less offensive substitute for a generally unpleasant word or concept. This may be used to adhere to standards of social or political correctness or to add humor or ironic understatement. Saying “earthly remains” rather than “corpse” is an example
exposition: refers to writing that intends to inform and demonstrate a point
extended metaphor: A metaphor developed at great length, occurring frequently in or throughout a work.
figurative language: Writing or speech that is not intended to carry literal meaning and is usually meant to be imaginative and vivid.
figure of speech: A device used to produce figurative language. Many compare dissimilar things. include apostrophe, hyperbole, irony, metaphor, oxymoron, paradox, personification, simile, synecdoche, and understatement.
generic conventions: This term describes traditions for each genre. These help to define each genre; for example, they differentiate an essay and journalistic writing or an autobiography and political writing.
genre: The major category into which a literary work fits. The basic divisions of literature are prose, poetry, and drama. However, this is a flexible term; within these broad boundaries exist many subdivisions that are often called genres themselves. For example, prose can be divided into fiction (novels and short stories) or nonfiction (essays, biographies, autobiographies, etc.). Poetry can be divided into lyric, dramatic, narrative, epic, etc. Drama can be divided into tragedy, comedy, melodrama, farce, etc.
homily: This term literally means “sermon,” but more informally, it can include any serious talk, speech, or lecture involving moral or spiritual advice.
hyperbole: A figure of speech using deliberate exaggeration or overstatement. (The literal Greek meaning is “overshoot.”) often have a comic effect; however, a serious effect is also possible. Often, they produce irony at the same time. The opposite is understatement.
imagery: The sensory details or figurative language used to describe, arouse emotion, or represent abstractions. On a physical level, this
uses terms related to the five senses: visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, and olfactory.
infer: To draw a reasonable conclusion from the information presented.
invective: An emotionally violent, verbal denunciation or attack using strong, abusive language. (For example, in Henry IV, Part I, Prince Hal calls the large character of Falstaff “this sanguine coward, this bedpresser, this horseback breaker, this huge hill of flesh.”)
irony: The contrast between what is stated explicitly and what is really meant, or the difference between what appears to be and what is actually true. This is often used to create poignancy or humor. In general, there are three major types of irony used in language:
juxtaposition: Placing dissimilar items, descriptions, or ideas close together or side by side, especially for comparison or contrast.
litotes: A form of understatement that involves making an affirmative point by denying its opposite. is the opposite of hyperbole. Examples: “Not a bad idea,” “Not many,” “It isn’t very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain” (Salinger, Catcher in the Rye).
logical fallacy: a mistake in reasoning. There are many “types” of mistakes in reasoning (for example, refer to the terms “ad hominem,” and “circular reasoning”). generally occur in arguments that fail to make concrete, logical claims for support.
logos: Employs logical reasoning, combining a clear idea (or multiple ideas) with well-though-out and appropriate examples and details. These supports are logically presented and rationally reach the writer’s conclusion.
loose sentence: A type of sentence in which the main idea (independent clause) comes first, followed by dependent grammatical units such as phrases and clauses. If a period were placed at the end of the independent clause, the clause would be a complete sentence. often seems informal, relaxed, or conversational. Generally, loose sentences create loose style. The opposite of a loose sentence is the periodic sentence.48. meiosis: The Greek term for “understatement” or “belittling,” is a rhetorical figure by which something is referred to in terms less important that it really deserves. It describes something that is very impressive with its simplicity.
metaphor: A figure of speech using implied comparison of seemingly unlike things or the substitution of one for the other, suggesting some similarity. this language makes writing more vivid, imaginative, thought provoking, and meaningful.
metonymy: A term from the Greek meaning “changed label” or “substitute name,” this is a figure of speech in which the name of one object is substituted for that of another closely associated with it.
modes of discourse: term encompasses the four tradiational categories of written text
mood: The prevailing atmosphere or emotional aura of a work. Setting, tone, and events can affect the this. This is similar to atmosphere.
narration: The purpose is to tell a story or narrate an event or series of events. This writing mode frequently uses the tools of descriptive writing.
narration: refers to writing that tells a story or that relates to a series of events
narrative: The telling of a story or an account of an event or series of events.
onomatopoeia: A figure of speech in which natural sounds are imitated in the sounds of words.
oxymoron: From the Greek for “pointedly foolish,” an this is a figure of speech wherein the author groups apparently contradictory terms to suggest a paradox. Simple examples include “jumbo shrimp” and “cruel kindness.”
paradox: A statement that appears to be self-contradictory or opposed to common sense but upon closer inspection contains some degree of truth or validity.
parallelism: this term comes from Greek roots meaning “beside one another.” It refers to the grammatical or rhetorical framing of words, phrases, sentences, or paragraphs to give structural similarity. This can involve, but is not limited to, repetition of a grammatical element such as a preposition or verbal phrase.The effects of this include: act as an organizing force to attract the reader’s attention, add emphasis and organization, or simply provide a musical rhythm.
parody: A work that closely imitates the style or content of another with the specific aim of comic effect and/or ridicule. It exploits peculiarities of an author’s expression
pathos: In rhetoric, this is a writer or speaker’s attempt to inspire an emotional reaction in an audience – often a deep feeling of suffering, but sometimes joy, pride, anger, humor, patriotism, or any other strong emotions. In its critical sense, pathos signifies a scene or passage designed to evoke the feeling of pity or sympathetic sorrow in a reader or viewer.
pedantic: An adjective that describes words, phrases, or general tone that is overly scholarly, academic, or bookish
periodic sentence: a sentence that presents its central meaning in a main clause at the end. This independent clause is preceded by a phrase or clause that cannot stand alone.
personification: A figure of speech in which the author presents or describes concepts, animals, or inanimate objects by endowing them with human attributes or emotions.
point of view: In literature, the perspective from which a story is told. There are two general divisions of POV
predicate adjective: one type of subject complement – an adjective, group of adjectives, or adjective clause that follows a linking verb. It is in the predicate of the sentence, and modifies or describes the subject.
predicate nominative: Another type of subject complement – a noun, group of nouns, or noun clause that renames the subject. It, like the predicate adjective, follows a linking verb and is located in the predicate of the sentence.
prose: One of the major divisions of genre, refers to fiction and nonfiction, including all its forms.
repetition: The duplication, either exact or approximate, of any element of language, such as a sound, word, phrase, clause, sentence, or grammatical pattern.
rhetoric: From the Greek for “orator,” this term describes the principles governing the art of writing effectively, eloquently, and persuasively.
rhetorical appeal: The persuasive device by which a writer tries to sway the audience’s attention and response to any given work.
rhetorical modes: flexible term describes the variety, the conventions, and the purposes of the major kinds of writing
rhetorical question: A question that is asked merely for effect & does not expect a reply.
sarcasm: From the Greek meaning “to tear flesh,” involves bitter, caustic language that is meant to hurt or ridicule someone or something. When well done, sarcasm can be witty and insightful; when poorly done, it is simply cruel.
satire: A work that targets human vices and follies or social institutions and conventions for reform or ridicule. Regardless of whether or not the work aims to reform human behavior, it is best seen as a style of writing rather than a purpose for writing.
situational irony: When events turn out the opposite of what was expected
style: The consideration of this has two purposes: (1) An evaluation of the sum of the choices an author makes in blending diction, syntax, figurative language, and other literary devices. can be called flowery, explicit, succinct, rambling, bombastic, commonplace, incisive, laconic, etc. (2) Classification of authors to a group and comparison of an author to similar authors. By means of such classification and comparison, we can see how an author reflects and helps to define a historical period, such as the Renaissance or the Victorian period, or a literary movement, such as the romantic, transcendental, or realist movement.
subject complement: The word (with any accompanying phrases) or clause that follows a linking verb and complements, or completes, the subject of the sentence by either (1) renaming it or (2) describing it .
subordinate clause: Like all clauses, this word group contains both a subject and a verb (plus any accompanying phrases or modifiers), but unlike the independent clause cannot stand alone.
syllogism: From the Greek for “reckoning together,” this is a deductive system of formal logic that presents two premises (the first one called “major” and the second called “minor”) that inevitably lead to a sound conclusion. A frequently cited example proceeds as follows:
major premise: All men are mortal.
minor premise: Socrates is a man. conclusion: Therefore, Socrates is a mortal. the conclusion is valid only if each of the two premises is valid. this may also present the specific idea first (“Socrates”) and the general second (“all men”).
symbol: Generally, anything that represents itself and stands for something else. (Natural:usig nature to represent ideas/ Conventional:invested w/in meaning ex. Relgious/ literary: can be conventional, found in variety of works)
syntax: The way an author chooses to join words into phrases, clauses, and sentences. similar to diction, but you can differentiate them by thinking of this as groups of words, while diction refers to the individual words.
theme: The central idea or message of a work, the insight it offers into life.
thesis: In expository writing, the this is the sentence or group of sentences that directly expresses the author’s opinion, purpose, meaning, or position.
tone: Similar to mood, this describes the author’s attitude toward his material, the audience, or both.
transition: A word or phrase that links different ideas.
understatement: The ironic minimalizing of fact, this presents something as less significant than it is. The effect can frequently be humorous and emphatic. opposite of hyperbole. Two specific types of exist
verbal irony: When the words literally state the opposite of the writer’s (or speaker’s) meaning.
wit: intellectually amusing language that surprises and delights. This usually uses terse language that makes a pointed statement.