Literary Terms

Literary Terms
An allusion is a figure of
speech that makes a reference
to something else, either
directly or by implication.
A character is a person or
an animal that takes part
in the action of a literary
•The antagonist is the
character or force in conflict
with a main character, or
• Diction is the manner in which
we express words; the wording
= enunciation
Imagery is words or phrases
that appeal to one or more of
the five senses.
Mood, or atmosphere, is the feeling
created in the reader by a literary
work or passage. Writer’s use
many devices to create mood,
including images, dialogue,
setting, and plot.
Plot is the sequence of events.
The plot usually begins with an exposition that
introduces the setting, the characters, and the
basic situation. This is introduced and developed.
The conflict then increases until it reaches a high
point of interest or suspense, the climax. The
climax is followed by the falling action, or end, of
the central conflict. Any events that occur during
the falling action make up the resolution.
Conflict Introduced
Conflict is the struggle
between opposing forces in
a story or play. There are
two types:
External Conflict
External conflict exists when a character
struggles against some outside force, such
as another character, nature, society, or
Man vs. Man
Man vs. Nature
Internal Conflict
Internal conflict exists within the mind of a
character who is torn between different
courses of action.
Man vs. Himself
A flashback is a literary device in
which an earlier episode,
conversation, or event is inserted
into the sequence of events.
Foreshadowing is the author’s use of clues
to hint at what might happen later in the
story. Writers use foreshadowing to build
their readers’ expectations and to create
suspense. This is used to help readers
prepare for what is to come.
Suspense is the growing interest and
excitement readers experience while
awaiting a climax or resolution in a work
of literature. It is a feeling of anxious
uncertainty about the outcome of events.
Writers create suspense by raising
questions in the minds of their readers.
Point of View
Point of View is the perspective from which
a story is told.
First-person is told by a character who uses
the first-person pronoun “I”.
Third-person limited point of view is the
point of view where the narrator uses
third-person pronouns such as “he” and
“she” to refer to the characters.
The setting of a literary work is the time and
place of the action.
Details such as dialect, clothing, customs, and
modes of transportation are often used to
establish setting.
Style is the distinctive way in which
an author uses language.
Word choice, phrasing, sentence
length, tone, dialogue, purpose,
and attitude toward the audience
and subject can all contribute to
an author’s writing style.
The theme of a literary work is its central
message, concern, or purpose. A theme can
usually be expressed as a generalization, or
general statement, about people or life.
The theme can be given directly or indirectly.
Tone is a reflection of a writer’s or speaker’s
attitude toward a subject of a poem, story, or
other literary work. Tone may be communicated
through words and details that express
particular emotions and that evoke an emotional
response from the reader.
Figures of Speech
A figure of speech is a specific device or kind of
figurative language, such as hyperbole,
metaphor, personification, simile, or
Figurative language is used for descriptive effect,
often to imply ideas indirectly. It is not meant
to be taken literally.
A Metaphor is a type of speech that
compares two unlike things without using
a connective word such as like, as, than,
or resembles.
Example: Life is a bowl
of cherries.
A Simile is another figure of speech that
compares seemingly unlike things using
the words like or as.
Example: Her voice was like nails on a
An Oxymoron is a figure of speech that is a
combination of seemingly contradictory
Same difference
Pretty ugly
Roaring silence
Personification is a figure of speech
in which an animal, object, force of
nature, or idea is given human
qualities or characteristics.
Example: Tears began to fall from
the dark clouds.
Alliteration is the repetition of sounds, most
often consonant sounds, at the beginning
of words. Alliteration gives emphasis to
Example: Peter Piper picked a peck of
pickled peppers
• Contrast between expectation and
Types of Irony
• Verbal irony- when a writer or speaker
says one thing but really means
something completely different.
• Situational irony- when there is a contrast
between what would seem appropriate
and what really happens.
• Dramatic irony- when the audience or
reader knows something that the
character does not know.
• Figure of speech that uses
exaggeration to express strong
emotion or to create a comic effect.
• Person, place, thing or event that stands
for itself and something beyond itself as
• The substitution of a mild, indirect, or
vague expression for one thought to
be offensive, harsh, or blunt.
• Comparison mad between two things
to show how they are alike in some