Literary Terms

Name: ________________________________________
Date: _________
Literary Terms
Personification- an idea, object, or animal is given human characteristics
“The starts came out and they danced about and again.”
Alliteration- the repeating of beginning consonant sounds
“Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark yard.”
Simile- a comparison of two things using "like" or "as"
“Her eyes were gray like storm clouds.”
Metaphor- a comparison of two related things
“His legs were a well-oiled machine.”
Flashback- a technique in which a writer interrupts a story to go back and explain an earlier event
“When I was a little girl, my father had bought me what would become my favorite shirt.”
Allusion- a reference to a well-known person, place, or event from history or literature
“Hector rushed in like Superman and rescued the cat from the burning building.”
Tone- the author’s attitude toward the subject matter
Tone is conveyed through the author’s word choices.
Words that can describe tone include doubtful, humorous, gleeful, serious, and questioning.
Mood- the feeling the reader gets from a work of literature – atmosphere
Authors create mood through word choice, imagery, dialogue, setting, and plot. Mood can be described as
calm, creepy, romantic, sad, or tense.
Imagery- language that portrays experiences of the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch
“The gushing brook stole its way down the lush green mountains, dotted with tiny flowers in a riot of colors
and trees coming alive with chirping birds.”
Hyperbole- extreme exaggeration used for emphasis or effect
“I almost died of boredom.”
point of view- the perspective from which a story is told
first person – the narrator is a character in the story - “I”
third person – the narrator is not one of the characters in the story
conflict- a struggle between opposing forces - a conflict may be external or internal
character vs. character
character vs. nature
character vs. society
character vs. himself/herself
dialogue- the words that characters speak aloud between and among each other
The dialogue is meaningful and advances the plot.
Plot- the series of related events that the author describes from the beginning of a story to the end
Exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution
setting- the environment in which a story takes place, including time period, the location, and the physical
characteristics of the surroundings
protagonist- the main or central character of a work of literature, usually involved in a conflict with the
Examples: Percy, Annabeth, and Grover are protagonists in The Lightning Thief.
Antagonist- the opponent or enemy of the main character
Example: Luke is an antagonist in The Lightning Thief.
Irony- a contrast between what is expected and what actually exists or happens
situational irony
dramatic irony
verbal irony
static character- a character who does not undergo a significant change over the course of a story
Example: Timothy in The Cay
Stanza- a grouping of two or more lines within a poem
“Oranges” has two stanzas.
dynamic character- a character who undergoes a significant internal change over the course of the story
Example: Phillip in The Cay
Characterization- the means an author reveals a character’s personality
Examples: direct – the author or narrator is telling what the character is like, or indirect – the author shows
what the character is like
Genre- a type or category of writing
autobiography, fantasy, poetry, science fiction, historical fiction, news article, etc.
climax- the point in a play, novel, short story, or narrative poem at which the conflict reaches its greatest
rhyme scheme- the pattern of end rhyme in a poem
I quarreled with my brother
I don’t know what about
One thing led to another
And somehow we fell out
figurative language- uses words in some way other than for their literal meanings to make a comparison, add
emphasis, or say something in a fresh or creative way
Examples: alliteration, hyperbole, idiom, imagery, metaphor, onomatopoeia, personification, and simile
narrator or speaker- the teller of a story / the voice that talk to the reader in a poem
In “Oranges,” the speaker is a twelve-year-old boy. In The Lightning Thief, the narrator is Percy Jackson.
Idiom- an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its individual words
Example: “It’s raining cats and dogs” means it’s raining really hard.