Literary Terms: Playing with words

Literary Terms:
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Notes from Dr. Steven Van Zoost
• Meter
Carpe Diem
Courtly love
Platonic love
Rhythm & Meter
Whose woods these are I think I know
His house is in the village though
Tyger Tyger burning bright
In the forest of the night
The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold
Their cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold
Whether I wonder or whether I wince
Signals the difference ‘tween pauper and prince
Love’s not Time’s Fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come
• Connotation is an implied meaning of a
word. Opposite of denotation.
• Example:
Good night, sweet prince, and flights of
angels sing thee to thy rest (burial)
• Denotation is the literal meaning of a
word, the dictionary meaning. Opposite
of connotation.
• Example:
Good night, sweet prince, and flights of
angels sing thee to thy rest (sleep).
Connotation and Denotation
• The denotation of a word is its dictionary definition. The
word wall, therefore, denotes an upright structure which
encloses something or serves as a boundary. The
connotation of a word is its emotional content. In this sense,
the word wall can also mean an attitude or actions which
prevent becoming emotionally close to a person.
• In Robert Frosts "Mending Wall," two neighbors walk a
property line each on his own side of a wall of loose stones.
As they walk, they pick up and replace stones that have
fallen. Frost thinks it's unnecessary to replace the stones
since they have no cows to damage each other's property.
The neighbor only says "Good fences make good
neighbors." The wall, in this case, is both a boundary
(denotation) and a barrier that prevents Frost and his
neighbor from getting to know each other, a force
prohibiting involvement (connotation).
Carpe Diem A Latin phrase which translated means
"Sieze (Catch) the day," meaning "Make the
most of today." The phrase originated as the
title of a poem by the RomanHorace (65 B.C.E.8B.C.E.) and caught on as a theme with such
English poets as Robert Herrick and Andrew
Consider these lines from Herrick's "To the Virgins,
to Make Much of Time":
Gather ye rose-buds while ye may, Old Time is
still a-flying / And this same flower that smiles
today, To-morrow will be dying.
Pastoral A literary work that has to do with
shephards and rustic settings and often
describes events in a highly idealised
Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate
Shephard to His Love" and Robert Burns'
"Sweet Afton" are examples.
Courtly love was a medieval European
notion of ennobling love which found its
genesis in the ducal and princely courts in
regions of present-day southern France at
the end of the 11th century. In essence,
courtly love was a contradictory
experience between erotic desire and
spiritual attainment, "a love at once illicit
and morally elevating, passionate and selfdisciplined, humiliating and exalting,
human and transcendent".
Platonic love in its modern popular sense is
a non-sexual affectionate relationship,
especially in cases where one might
easily assume otherwise. A simple
example of platonic relationships is a
deep, non-sexual (i.e. overtly romantic)
friendship, not subject to gender pairings
and not excluding close relatives.
Synesthesia One sensory experience
described in terms of another sensory
experience. Emily Dickinson, in "I Heard a
Fly Buzz-When I Died," uses a color to
describe a sound, the buzz of a fly: with
blue, uncertain stumbling buzz
Synecdoche is when one uses a part to
represent the whole.
• Examples:
“lend me your ears” (give me your
• The head of a cow might substitute for the
whole cow. Therefore, a herd of fifty cows
might be referred to as "fifty head of
Supplemental notes
• Synecdoche is closely related to metonymy (the figure of speech in
which a term denoting one thing is used to refer to a related thing);
indeed, synecdoche is often considered a subclass of metonymy. It
is more distantly related to other figures of speech, such as
• The use of synecdoche is a common way to emphasize an
important aspect of a fictional character; for example, a character
might be consistently described by a single body part, such as the
eyes, which comes to represent the character.
• Also, sonnets and other forms of love poetry frequently use
synecdoches to characterize the beloved in terms of individual body
parts rather than a whole, coherent self. This practice is especially
common in the Petrarchan (or Italian) sonnet, where the idealised
beloved is often described part by part, from head to toe.
Metonymy and synecdoche
Synecdoche, where a specific part of something is taken to refer to the
whole, is usually understood as a specific kind of metonymy. Sometimes,
however, people make an absolute distinction between a metonymy and a
synecdoche, treating metonymy as different from rather than inclusive of
synecdoche. There is a similar problem with the usage of simile and
When the distinction is made, it is the following: when A is used to refer to B,
it is a synecdoche if A is a part of B and a metonymy if A is commonly
associated with B but not a part of it.
Thus, "The White House said" would be a metonymy for the president and
his staff, because the White House (A) is not part of the president or his
staff (B) but is closely associated with them. On the other hand, asking for
"All hands on deck" is a synecdoche because hands (A) are actually a part
of the people (B) to whom they refer.
Those who argue that synecdoche is a class of metonymy might point out
that "hands" (A) are a metonym for workers (B) since hands are closely
associated with the work the people do as well as a part of the people. That
is, hands are associated with work through a metonymy at the same time as
being associated with the people through synecdoche.
Metonymy and synecdoche
• An example of a single sentence that displays
synecdoche, metaphor and metonymy would be:
"Fifty keels ploughed the deep", where "keels" is
the synecdoche as it takes a part (of the ship) as
the whole (of the ship); "ploughed" is the
metaphor as it substitutes the concept of
ploughing a field for moving through the ocean;
and "the deep" is the metonym, as "deepness" is
an attribute associated with the ocean.
• Epistemology or theory of knowledge is the
branch of philosophy that studies the nature,
methods, limitations, and validity of knowledge
and belief.
• Much of the debate in this field has focused on
analyzing the nature of knowledge and how it
relates to similar notions such as truth, belief,
and justification. It also deals with the means of
production of knowledge, as well as skepticism
about different knowledge claims. In other
words, epistemology primarily addresses the
following questions: "What is knowledge?", "How
is knowledge acquired?", and "What do people
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