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From Acrostic to Dada  -  From Dialogue to Myth  -  From Narrative to Zeugma


Dialogue: A conversational passage between characters in a narrative or play. Written discussion between two or more people.
Example [from Catch-22, p. 20]:
"The put poison in everybody's food," Clevinger explained.
"And what difference does that make?"
"And it wasn't even poison," Clevinger cried heatedly, growing emphatic as he grew more confused.
Example [from Hamlet]:
Gertrude: Hamlet, thou hast they father much offended.
Hamlet: Mother, you have my father much offended. [Kristen Fraisse, '99]
Diction: The way words are selected in a particular literary work, usually poetry. The appropriate selection of words in a poem is poetic diction. The choice of words, phrases, sentence structure, and even figurative language, which give regards to clarity and accuracy.
"Thy Naid airs have brought me home To the glory that was Greece, And the grandeur that was Rome." "To Helen" by Edgar Allan Poe.
Naiad refers to nymphs who lived in and gave life to rivers, lakes, springs, and fountains in Classical Greek Mythology. This is an unusual form of diction which gives a specific meaning to the sentence. It is necessary that the reader knows the meaning of Naiad. [Sean Morin, '99]
Didactic Literature: Derived from the Greek word "to teach." Works that are written for the purpose of instructing or pressing some moral purpose. This has developed into the modern pedagogical novel. Examples include Nicholas Nickleby (UNDERLINED), which argues against such social abuses as youth exploitation, and "A Psalm of Life" by Henry Longfellow. I have included a segment of that poem below.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait. [Jamie Ellis-Simpson, '99]
Dramatic Monologue:
Elegy: A lyric poem lamenting death which first appeared in 1501. One famous example is Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" (1751) Another example is the final third of "Beowulf."
In ancient times an elegy was a poem written in distinct couplets. Poets such as Callimachus and Catullus used the elegiac form. But now it is content and tone that makes a poem elegiac. Key Words to remember about an elegy: Death and Sadness. [Elizabeth Trace, '99]
Epic: A long story usually told in poetry. Epics contain elements of myth, legend, folk tale, and history. Epics have very serious themes, and present portraits of the cultures which produced them. A larger than life hero embodies the values of the particular society and undertakes a quest to achieve something of great value for the people and himself. Some classic examples are Beowulf, Paradise Lost, the Iliad and the Odyssey. [Grant Aldrich, '99]
Epithet: In literature, a word or phrase preceding or following a name which serves to describe the character of that name. Poetry is essentially a combination of the familiar and the surprising, and the most successful surprises are achieved by the use of carefuly descriptive words or epithets. An epithet is a word which makes the reader see the object described in a clearer or sharper light. Normally, an epithet refers to an outstanding quality, but may also be used with a negative connotation.
In Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, as Jane first meets Mr. Brocklehurst, she feres to him as the "stony stranger."
In the same novel is a reference to Mr. Rochester by Mrs. Fairfax, as she says, "Old Mr. Rochester . . ." [Joel Carlson, '99]
Euphemism: A euphemism is a word used in a literary work that takes the place of another word because it is offensive, or would be used in bad taste. For example, freshman year we read The Diary of Anne Frank and learned that W.C. is a euphemism for the word "bathroom." In Jean-Paul Sartre's play, No Exit the dead people use words like "here" and "this place" to avoid saying the word Hell. They also avoid using the word Dead and refer to themselves as "absentees."[Sarah Gorback, '99]
Falling Action:

Farce: a form of drama/play that narrows in on an extremely unlikely plot with exuberant/exaggerated characters; an extreme situation, so extreme that it is to the point of becoming absurd.
1) conversation between Milo and Yossarian about bedsheet incident (p. 68)": "Why didn't you just hit him over the head and take the bedsheet away from him?" Yossarian asked.
Pressing his lips together with dignity, Milo shook his head. "That would have been most unjust," he scolded firmly. "Force is wrong, and two wrongs never make a right. It was much better my way. When I held the dates out to him and reached for the bedsheet, he probably thought I was offering to trade."
"What were you doing?"
"Actually, I was offering to trade, but since he doesn't understand English, I can always deny it."
"Suppose he gets angry and wants the dates?"
"Why, we'll just hit him over the head and take them away from him," Milo answered without hesitation.
* Although this is not a farce in the sense of drama, it is definitely a farcical situation. Milo insists it's not okay to hit the guy in order to get the bedsheet, but is okay to tempt him wrongly and then unlawfully take it from him. And, if the man is then to challenge the "transaction" he may hit him to get the bedsheet.
2) situation where Yossarian claims he sees everything twice to get out of flying, and then claims he sees everything once (pp. 186-187): "I see everything twice!" the soldier who saw everything twice shouted when they rolled Yossarian in.
"I see everything twice!" Yossarian shouted back at him just as loudly, with a secret wink. . . .
. . . Yossarian nodded weakly too, eying his talented roommate with great humility and admiration. he knew he was in the presence of a master. His talented roommated was obviously a person to be studied and emulated. During the night, his talented roommated died, and Yossarian decided that he had followed him far enough.
"I see everything once!" he cried quickly.
A new group of specialists came pounding up to his bedside with their instruments to find out if it was true.
"How many fingers do you see?" asked the leader, holding up one.
The doctor held up two fingers. "How many fingers do you see now?"
The doctor held up ten fingers. "And how many now?"
The doctor turned to the other doctors with amazement. "He does see everything once!" he exclaimed. "We made him all better."
* How absurd is that? The doctors actually believed they had cured Yossarian from seeing things twice because now he "saw things once," which was not much of an improvement from before anyway. The doctors are incompetent and are able to make this normal situation quite farcical and ridiculous. [Vivian Ku, '99]]
Figurative Language:
Figure of Speech: a stylistic device that compares one thing with another to convey a meaning or exagerate a description. Similes, metaphors, and hyperbole are all considered figures of speech. An example from Catch-22 would be: Lieutenant Scheisskopf turned while as a sheet . . . [James Chung, '99]
Flashback: When the current action is broken by reference to something which occurred earlier in the work or prior to its beginning. An example of a flashback occurs in Oedipus Rex when both Iocaste and Oedipus recall past events that happened before the play began. Most of the story "A Rose for Emilyh" is a flashback since the narrator is thinking about Emily before her death, an evfent which occurs at the beginning of the story. [Kim Papenhausen, '99]
Foil: A character in a play that offsets the main character or other characters by comparison or thwarts a plan. For example, Stanley Kowalski thwarts Blanche DuBois' plan in A Streetcar Named Desire. [Becky Sando, '99]
Foot: A way of measuring meter in poetry using a series of stressed and unstressed syllables. A pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables that is repeated establishes a poetic foot. Here is an example from Robert Frost's "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening."
u / u / u / u /
The woods are lovely, dark and deep
u / u / u / u /
but I have promises to keep.
u / u / u / u /
And miles to go before I sleep.
The above lines follow a pattern known as iambic tetrameter.[Jill Chiurazzi, '99]
Foreshadowing: When the writer drops hints or clues in the plot that give the reader an idea of what is going to happen later in the story.
In Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, when the oracle tells Oedipus that he is the plague on the city and Oedipus does not believe him. Then the oracle says that even though Oedipus has eyes he cannot see and is blind to the truth, foreshadowing the final scene in the play where Oedipus tears out his eyes on stage. [Kristi Grewal, '99]
Free Verse: Poetry that is based on the irregular rhythmic cadence or the recurrence, with variations, of phrases, images, and syntactical patterns rather than the conventional use of meter. Rhyme may or may not be present in free verse, but when it is, it is used with great freedom. In conventional verse the unit is the foot, or the line; in free verse the units are larger, sometimes being paragraphs or strophes.
The poetry of the Bible, particularly in the King James Version, which attempts to approximate the Hebrew cadences, rests on cadence and parallelism. The Psalms and The Song of Solomon are noted examples of free verse. Milton sometimes substituted rhythmically constructed verse paragraphs for metrically regular lines, notably in the choruses of Samson Agonistes, as this example shows:
But patience is more oft the exercise
Of Saints, the trial of thir fortitude,
Making them each his own Deliver,
And Victor over all
That tyranny or fortune can inflict.
Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass was a major experiment in cadenced rather than metrical versification. The following lines are typical:
All truths wait in all things
They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it,
They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon. [Sean Morin, '99]
Genre: A class or category of literature having a particular form, content or technique, i.e. epic peotry, comedy, an fiction. For example, Shakespeare's Othello falls in the genre of dramatic tragedy. Sophocles Antigone is an example of epic drama. Joyce's The Dead could be labeled as realistic fiction. [Wes Austen, '99]
Haiku: A poetic form popular in Japan. It appeared during the sixteenth century. This form of poetry is made up of 17 syllables in a 5-7-5 sequence. Usually the first line is five syllables, the second is seven syllables, and the third is five syllables.
Scent of plum blossoms
on the misty mountain path
a big rising sun. [Melanie Petrash, '99]
Imagery: A vivid description, in speech or writing, that produces mental images. The image produced can be an emotion, a sensation, or a visual picture.
"A bed supported on massive pillars of mahogany, hung with curtains of deep red damsask . . ." [Jane Eyre, p. 11]
"And the startled little waves that leap in fiery ringlets from their sleep." "Meeting at Night," by Robert Browning. [Kristen Fraisse, '99]
Inference: The act of concluding from evidence; deduction. In literature it describes the act of figuring something out by using what you already know. If you know "a" and "b" you can deduce "c."
In Catch-22 Yossarian inferred that he could get out of the war by declaring himself crazy. Yet if you are sane enough to know you're crazy, then, in reality, you aren't crazy. Yossarian thought he knew all thte details, and inferred a way to escape the war. [Jarrod Armour, '99]
Irony: There are three forms of irony in the literary world. Verbal Irony is an expression or statement where the meaning of the words used is the opposite of their sense. Irony of Situation is where an action done by a character is the opposite of what was meant to be expected. In Dramatic Irony the audience of a play knows something that the main character does not. The most common of the three is Irony of Situation.
An example of irony can be seen in Sophicles' play Oedipus Rex. Oedipus, in trying to find the man who killed King Laios in order to life the curse, accuses the blind man of being a fraud because he cannot give Oedipus the answer he is seeking, when in fact Oedipus is the one blind because he cannot ascertain that he is the murderer of the king. [Frederick Kim, '99]
Local Color: The presentation of the features and characteristics of a certain locality, so that the reader can picture the setting being described.
Example from literature:
Besides the obvious description of any setting from any novel....
In Gulliver's Travels Swift used local color as he described each new land that Gulliver traveled to so that the reader would have a different feel for each new place, and so that each new land would have a more dictinct identity. [Heather Coe, '99]
Lyric Poem:
Metaphor: A literary device by which one term is compared to another without the use of a combining word such as like or as.
Two Actual Usages
1. "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks. It is the east and Juliet is the sun." [Romeo and Juliet]
2. "Oh, beware my lords,of jealousy. It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock the meat it feeds on. [Othello] [Joel Mankey, '99]
Meter: A regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry. The number of feet in a line forms a way of describing a meter. The standard meters are as follows:
Monometer--a metrical line with one foot
Dimeter--a metrical line with two feet
Trimeter--a metrical line with three feet
Tetrameter--a metrical line with four feet
Pentameter--a metrical line with five feet
Hexameter--a metrical line with six feet
Heptameter--a metrical line with seven feet
Octameter--a metrical line with eight feet
One example is in Theodore Roethke's poem, "The Waking." The following lines are pentameter:
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow,
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
"She Walks in Beauty" by Lord Byron is written in tetrameter:
She walks in beauty like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies. [Lacey Cope, '99]
Metonymy: A figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for a related word or phrase
“count heads (or noses)” rather than “count people”
“Washington” rather than “the United States Government”
“warm heart” rather than “warm affections”
“the bottle” rather than “a strong drink”
“lands belonging to the crown” rather than “ the king” [Emily Grider, '99]
Mood: The emotinal ambience established by a literary work. This effect is fabricataed through descriptions of feelings or objects which establish in kind feelings of fear, patriotism, sanctity, hope, et. al., in the mind and emotional perception of the reader. The writer's mood (or emotional state and feeling) may be said to have flowed from his/her hand, to the reader's eyes and from thence to the reader's mind. Mood is a transfer of emotional-substance 'coloring,' depicted in likeness to teh hues woven within a writer's mind, that he/she may color attune hues in the mind of the reader.
The poem "Dream Nocturne" by Juan Ramon Jimenez establishes a mood of sacrosanctity. Eternal life contrasted with mortality, the sea controlled by the heavens whilst the mortal shell of our Earthly life remains cold on the shore controlled by none but itself. The calm sea, the traveling soul, the voyage towards eternal life--all of these elements help to establish a mood of reverence and religious tranquility.
"The Dead" by James Joyce creates a mood of romantic nostalgia. This mood is established specifically within the last two pages before the mention of Michael Furey. Gabriel's description of his desire towards his wife, interwoven with reminiscences of their past together--aglow with fresh flame from stoked embers of stale love--construct an emotional atmosphere within the mind of the reader that overwhelmingly feels like the sentimental sensation of love's pinnacle recalled. One experiences the mood, or feeling, of love-sick nostalgia flowing over their synaptic gaps while one is caught up in the sentimentality of the protagonist. The reader experiences the emotini of lvoe, desire, and unmitigated, irrational bliss through the established mood. [Wes Austen, '99]
Myth: A story used to describe the origins of basic elements and assumptions of cultures. These myths were written to show a proper way of knowing reality. These stories take place in a time before our world came into being. All myths are different in the subjects that they deal with, but they all have the presence of gods and goddesses. These gods and goddesses control the events that take place in the story. Humans are usually present in myths. The gods can help the huans or they can punish them if they desire to.
An example of a myth is the epic poem, the Odyssey. This story deals with a man involved in the Trojan War. Finally it is time for him to see his wife and son. He starts on his journey but on the way he runs into many adventures and challenges. He cannot get home because Poseidon, the god of the sea, will not let him. [Melanie Petrash, '99]

From Acrostic to Dada  -  From Dialogue to Myth  -  From Narrative to Zeugma

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