Literary Elements

Literary Elements
Part 1
Conflict, Plot, Antagonist,
and Protagonist,
The problem or struggle in a story
that triggers the action.
There are 5 basic types of conflict.
Types of Conflict
Man v. Man
Man v. Self
Man v.
Man v. Fate (God)
Man v. Nature
Internal Conflict
Any struggle or problem that is
going on within the character.
Man v. Self
External Conflict
Any struggle or problem that
involves the character and any
other person, thing or unknown
– Man v. Man
– Man v. Nature
– Man v. Society
– Man v. God (Fate)
The action or sequence of events in
a story.
It is usually a series of related
events that build up on one
another as the story develops.
Plot Line
(Crisis, turning point, point
of no return)
Exposition – The background or
situation surrounding the story.
Rising action - the series of
struggles that builds a story
toward a climax.
Climax – the most intense point in a
Falling action – part of the story
that works out decisions reached
during the climax.
Resolution – is part of the story in
which the problem is solved.
Antagonist and Protagonist
Protagonist - Main character
Antagonist - The person or thing
working against the protagonist
Literary Devices
Part 2
Theme, Irony, Suspense, Allusion
Characterization, etc.
The statement about life the author
is trying to get across in a story.
– In most cases the theme will be
implied rather than directly told.
In The Most Dangerous Game by
Richard Connell, the theme was “the
hunter becomes the hunted.”
A reference to a literary,
mythological, or historical person,
place, or thing.
-- Martin Luther King Jr. alluded to
the Gettysburg address in starting
his “I have a dream” speech by
saying “Five score years ago…”.
--This referenced Abraham Lincoln’s
“Four score and seven years ago.”
(Gettysburg address.)
• The use in a literary work of clues
that suggest events that will happen
later in a story.
• --In Romeo and Juliet, both main
characters state early on that they
would rather die than live apart.
• An event in which the essential
nature of something-a person,
situation, object- is suddenly
understood in a new way.
--Think of an “ah ha!” moment, or
visually, a light bulb going above
your head going on.
• Facts revealed by the author or that
support the attitude or tone of the
• --A detail gives more information.
For example, a detail about Killeen is
that it is the location of Fort Hood.
• A type of character, action, or
situation that occurs over and over
in literature.
• --An archetype can at times be
considered a generalization or
stereotype. “The princess must
always be rescued by a prince.”
• A main idea in a literary work. A
pattern or strand of imagery or
symbolism in literature.
• --A motif is different from a theme in
that it happens over and over in a
• The words used to represent
persons, objects, feelings, by
appealing to the five senses.
• --Ex. Her face is a garden.
• --He laughed like a hyena.
Point of view
• The view or perspective from which
a story is told.
• The author is not the one telling the
story, but the narrator. This can be
1st, 2nd, 3rd person point of view.
• The time and place of the story.
• --The setting of Batman is Gotham
City in the future.
• --The setting can change throughout
the story.
Is using a word or phrase to mean
the exact opposite of its literal or
normal meaning.
There are three kinds of irony:
Dramatic irony, in which the reader or
the audience sees a character’s
mistakes, but the character does not.
Verbal irony, in which the writer says
one thing and means another: “The
best substitute for experience is being
Situational irony, in which there is a
great difference between the purpose
of an action and the result.
The uncertainty or anxiety we feel
about what is going to happen
next in a story.
The Grip of Suspense
When we feel suspense, we feel as
if we are hanging in midair, like
those characters in a movie who
cling by their fingertips to cliffs,
their feet kicking out into space.
That’s suspense – and that’s why
stories like The Interlopers by
Saki are called cliffhangers.
Is the method an author uses to
reveal characters and their
There are two types of
Direct Characterization – In which a writer
tells us directly what a character is like or
what their motives are.
Indirect Characterization – In which a writer
shows us a character but allows us to
interpret for ourselves the kind of person we
are meeting.
•Private thoughts
•Actions and
•How others in the story feel about them.
Literary Elements
Part 3
Symbolism, Tone, and Mood
Person, place, thing, or event that
stands both for itself and for
something beyond itself.
A form of figurative language that is
identified with something else
Public symbols are symbols that are
widely recognized and accepted
Universal Examples
Symbolism, A long history…
Symbolism, Literary
•Why would the eagle be chosen
as a symbol of the United States?
•What metaphors exist within the
symbol of the eagle when
comparing it to a nation?
• Strength of an eagle’s wings…
• Sharp eyes…
• Largeness of the bird…
• Why do you think our forefathers
chose the eagle over Benjamin
Franklin’s proposed turkey?
Tone is the attitude that
an author takes toward
the audience, the
subject, or the character.
Tone is conveyed
through the author's
words and details.
Mood is the emotions that you feel
while you are reading. Some
literature makes you feel sad, others
joyful, still others, angry.
How does the following passage from
O. Henry's short story, After Twenty
Years, make you feel?
Literary Elements
Part 4
Figures of speech
• A comparison of two different things
or ideas through the use of the
words LIKE or AS.
• --He was as tall as a tree.
• --She was sick like a dog.
• A comparison of two unlike things
NOT using like or as.
• -- This homework is a breeze.
• --He showered her with gifts.
• A personification is when nonhuman objects are given human
• --The sun winked at me.
• A play on words that are identical or
similar in sound but mean two completely
different things.
• Shakespeare used puns often in his work.
• Mercutio: “Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you
Romeo: “Not I, believe me. You have dancing
shoes with nimble soles; I have a soul of lead so
stakes me to the ground I cannot move.”
More examples of puns
• Every oven in the restaurant was broken.
The patrons got a raw deal.
• Did you hear about the guy whose whole
left side was cut off? He's all right now.
• When two elements of a statement
contradict one another. It seems
impossible, but may show hidden
• A teenager told me, “All teenagers
are liars.”
• A form of paradox that combines a
pair of opposite terms into one single
unusual expression.
---Pretty ugly.
----Freezer burn.
----Great depression.
• A phrase or expression that has a
different meaning that its literal
• -- Call it a day: stop work for the day.
• "It's late and you've accomplished a
lot. Why don't you call it a day?
• An outrageous exaggeration.
---This is the best day ever!!!
---My sister wears so much makeup, she
weighs 50 pounds more after she puts
it on.
--- My teacher is so old, she taught cave
men how to start a fire.
The End