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


Narrative: narration is the act of telling a sequence of events, often in chronological order. Alternatively, the term refers to any story, whether in prose or verse, involving events, characters, and what the characters say and do. A narrative is likewise the story or account itself. Some narrations are reportorial and historical, such as biographies, autobiographies, news stories, and historical accounts. In narrative fiction common to literature, the narrative is usually creative and imaginative rather than strictly factual, as evidenced in fairy tales, legends, novels, novelettes, short stories, and so on. However, the fact that a fictional narrative is an imaginary construct does not necessarily mean it isn't concerned with imparting some sort of truth to the reader, as evidenced in exempla, fables, anecdotes, and other sorts of narrative. The narrative can begin ab ovo (from the start and work its way to the conclusion), or it can begin in medias res (in the middle of the action, then recount earlier events by the character's dialogue, memories, or flashbacks).
The "voice" that speaks or tells a story. Some stories are written in a first-person point of view, in which the narrator's voice is that of the point-of-view character. For instance, in The Adventures of Huck Finn, the narrator's voice is the voice of the main character, Huck Finn. It is clear that the historical author, Mark Twain, is creating a fictional voice to be the narrator and tell the story--complete with incorrect grammar, colloquialisms, and youthful perspective. In other stories, such as those told in the third-person point of view, scholars use the term narrator to describe the authorial voice set forth, the voice "telling the story to us." For instance, Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist presents a narrative in which the storyteller stands outside the action described. He is not a character who interacts with other characters in terms of plot. However, this fictionalized storyteller occasionally intrudes upon the story to offer commentary to the reader, make suggestions, or render a judgment about what takes place in the tale. It is tempting to equate the words and sentiments of such a narrator with the opinions of the historical author himself. However, it is often more useful to separate this authorial voice from the voice of the historical author.
Narrative Poem:
A oem that relates the events or ideas of the poem in story form. The most famous types of narrative poems are the epic poems, such as the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer, the Aeneid by Virgil, the Divine Comedy by Dante and Paradise Lost by Milton. Ballads are the most popular form of the narrative poem and include such works as "Barbara Allan." [1st][Kristi Grewal, '99]
Novel: a fictional prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals especially with human experience through a usually connected sequence of events. The characters are invented by the author and are placed in imaginary settings. A biographical novel uses historically real characters in real geographical locations doing historically verifiable things. [Kabir Affonso, '99]
Ode: A lyric poem written to praise and exalt a person, characteristic, quality, or object. It is written in a formal and exalting style. It varies in length and complexity. Examples of odes would be "To Helen" by Edgard Allan Poe, "Ode to the West Wind" by Percy Bysshe Shelley, and "Ode to a Nightingale" by John Keats. [Kim Friel, '99]
Onomatopoeia: When the sound of a word imitates the sound it represents. The purpose of these words is to amke a passage more effective for the reader or listener.
"Mildred rose and began to move about the room: Bang!, Smash! Wallop, bing, bong, boom." [Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, p. 55]
"Bing, gung, s0lat--the splat being the drawer flying out." ["A. & P." by John Updike][Jill Chiurazzi, '99]
Parable: A short story written to make an analogy with something unknown to the reader; it is usually used to teach a moral lesson or spiritual truth. Many parables can be found in the Bible, such as "The Prodigal Son." Another example of a parable can be found in the tale of the Grand Inquisitor from The Brothers Karamazov. [Kim Pappenhausen, '99]
Paradox: It is a situation in which a statement at first glance seems to contradict itself, but really does not. An example comes from a Dean Koontz book I read earlier this year in which a character says "When I was kidnapped, I was let go." At first glance it seems the character is contradicting himself, but he really means that by being kidnapped, he was set free from his strict environment. [Mike Isenberg,'99]
Parallel Structure: Parallel Structure Expressing two or more linked ideas, actions, or sentences in the same grammatical structure. The ideas are usually set off by commas. The parallel words in a sentence must match grammatically with their counterparts.
Examples: 1) William Shakespeare Hamlet
“…with his statues, his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers,his recoveries: is this the fine of his fines…” (Pg. 1158)
2) Joseph Heller Catch-22
“…encased from head to toe in plaster and gauze with both strange, rigidlegs, elevated from the hips and both strange arms strung up perpendicularly, all four bulky limbs in casts, all four strange, useless limbs hoisted up in the air by taut wire cables and fantastically long lead weights suspended darkly above him.” (Pg. 164)
3) Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird
“The tire bumped on gravel, skeetered across the road, crashed into a barrier and popped me like a cork onto pavement.” (Pg. 37)
The first example deals with the parallel structure of the pronoun “his” and the nouns followed after each one. (pronoun + noun, pronoun + noun, pronoun + noun structure) The last two deal with verb parallelism. The verbs are all in past tense and are linked in the sentence. [Peter Hsu, '99]
Parody: A piece of work that imitates the style of another work. It can be amusing, mocking, or an exaggeration of the work. A parody is very similar to a satire in that both mock an issue. However, a satire is written to arouse contempt, while a parody is written merely to amuse the reader. There are many examples of parodies in our English textbook from pages 569-574. These are parodies of poems. One worthy of noting is the parody of "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day." Every line in the parody takes the original line from the poem and says it in a startling or a blunt manner. One such example in the parody is the line, "People break their necks or just drop dead." On a lighter note, on a day to day basis, one may also encounter many of Weird Al Yankovic's parodies of popular songs. [Paymon Rahgozar, '99]
Pastoral: A type of literary work having to do with shepherds and rustic nature settings.
Pastoral settings of purity and simplicity are usually contrasted with the corruption and artificiality of cities and courts. Pastoral poetry is very prevalent, but attributes of this kind are also found in drama and fiction. Jane Eyre is an example of pastoral leaning in works read this year, i.e. Jane enjoys the simple beauty of the countryside surrounding Moor House, and its inhabitants (Diana and Mary) are portrayed as kind and pure. [Christa Young, '99]
Pathetic Fallacy: Pathetic fallacy is when an emotion or feeling is attached to something inanimate, particularly things in nature.
1) In the poem "The Starry Night" by Anne Sexton (in reference to Van Gogh's The Starry Night) she writes "The night boils with eleven stars. . ." This is pathetic fallacy because no night could "boil eleven stars," it is a feeling or action associated or attached to the subject night.
2) In "The Sick Rose" by William Blake, he uses the phrase "howlingstorm" in describing the rose. This, too, is pathetic fallacy because Black maintains that a storm may howl, which in fact is not, and could not be, the case. [Vivian Ku, '99]
Personification: Giving a nonhuman object or concept a human characteristic or attribute that is not normally seen or literally associated that concept or object and used mainly for the purpose of animation or representation of that object or concept.
Example from text:
1) --Anne Sexton's "The Starry Night"--
The wind in Van Gogh's painting "Vincent" is described as: "The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars. ...That rushing beast of the night, sucked up by that great dragon." (Pg.584)
2) William Wordsworth in "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" describes that stars were:
"Tossing their heads in sprightly dance." (Pg. 490)
3) Robert Browning's Poem: "Meeting at Night"
" ...the startled little waves that leap."(Pg. 500) [Peter Hsu, '99]
Plot: The order of events and incidents that occur in the storyline of a novel. Plot usually goes from exposition to rising tension to climax to resolution.
Some examples of plot can be found in the novels Gulliver's Travels and Jane Eyre. The plot of the first describes the journey's of a seaman all ove the world and his encounters with new societies that satirize mankind. The second tells the story of a strong girl growing into a passionate woman.[Phil Tadlock, '99]
Point of View: the perspective the author uses to tell a story. He can use the first person perspective which is telling a story through to eyes of a character using the pronouns I or me. The author can also use the third person point of view which is telling the story as an onlooker. If the author uses the third person method and enters the mind of more then one character the style is referred to as omniscience.
John Steinbeck writes many of his novels using the third person perspective. Swift used the first person perspective in the book Gulliver's Travels. [Mark Kobal, '99]
Protagonist: The main character in a literary work, i.e. a poem, play or novel. Examples would be Oedipus in Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, Guy Montag in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and Jane Eyre in the novel by the same name by Charlotte Bronte. Protagonists are generally opposed by forces. When the opposingn force is another character, that charaacter is referred to as the antagonist. [James Chung, '99]
Rhyme: A piece of verse or poetry in which there is a repetition of corresponding sounds, usually at the end of lines. Robert Frost emloys a rhyme scheme in "The Road Not Taken."
16 I shall be telling this with a sigh A
17 Somewhere ages and ages hence B
18 Two roads diverged in a wood, and I A
19 I took kthe one less traveled , A
20 And that has made all the difference B
Internal rhyme occurs when words rhyme anywhere other than the end of the line. Eye rhyme occurs when words look similar, but do not necesarily sound the same ["trough" and "rough"]. Half rhyme occurs when the final consonants rhyme, but not the vowel sounds ["way" and "Willy"].[Doug Yuen, '99]
Rhyme Scheme: The pattern established by the arrangement of rhymed words at the ends of the lines in a stanza or poem. It is usually described by using letters of the alphabet to denote the recurrence of rhyuming lines.
Example: Piano by D.H. Lawrence
Somewhere beneath that piano's superb sleek black A
Must hide my mother's piano, little brown, with the back A
That stood close the wall, and the front's silk both torn, B
And the keys with little hollows, that my mother's fingers had worn. B
The rhyme scheme for this stanza is AABB [Jessica Sharron, '99]
Rising Action:
Saga: Historically, it is a medieval Scandinavian story of battles, customs, and legends, written between 1120 and 1400, and is often narrated in prose. It traditionally deals with families that first settled Iceland and their descendants, and can include histories of important families of nobility. Today it is better defined as any long story of adventure or heroic deeds, telling the tales of a hero or following a family through several generations. A contemporary example of a saga would be Mario Puzo's The Godfather series. [Todd Sterhan, '99]
Satire: The use of mockery, irony, or wit to attack or ridicule something, such as a habait, idea or custom which is considered to be foolish or wrong. An example of satire is the novel Gulliver's Travels. Here Jonathan Swift ridicules the absurd manners and traditions of the British Empire. [Sarah Mitchell, '99]
Setting: The time and place in which a work of literature occurs.
Examples: One of the settings in Gulliver's Travels was the island of Lilliput. One of the settings in Jane Eyre was the Lowood Institution. [Nicki Roberts, '99]
Short Story: A fictional narrative shorter than a novel. It aims at creating mood and effect rather than plot. Typical features of a short sotry are: its plot is based on probability, its characters are human and have normal human problems, its time and place are established in realistic settings, and its elements work toward unifying the story. An example is "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkinss Gilman and "Battle Royal" by Ralph Ellison, a short story created out of an excerpt from the longer novel Invisible Man [Samantha Shelton, '99]
Simile: a figure of speech which makes a comparison between two unlike things using words "like" or "as". An example would be the line "Like the circle of a throat/ The night on every side was turning red," from Louis Simpson's poem "The Battle." Simpson is using the circle that would appear if one were to choke someone's throat, to make a comparison with the night. [Paymon Rahgozar]
Soliloquy: When a character in a play or novel is alone and talking to himself outloud. Example: From "Hamlet":
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. ..'
From: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare[Nora Quiros, '99]
Sonnet: The sonnet is usually made up of fourteen lines, and expresses an emotion. There are two types of sonnets: the English sonnet, often used by William Shakespeare, and the Italian sonnet, or the Petrarchan. An Italian sonnet is composed of an eight-line octave and a six-line sestet, and the English sonnet is composed of three four line quatrains and a concluding two-line couplet. The thought or feelings of the poem is evident through their structure. For example in the English sonnet a subject will develope in the first twelve lines and conclude in the last two. An Italian sonnet may state a problem at the biginning and present a solution in the lest six lines. Here is an example of an English, or Shakespearean sonnet on pg. 503 of the lit book:
That time of year thou may'st in me behold
That time of year thou may'st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by - and - by black night doth take away,
Death's second shelf that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
-William Shakespeare, [Sarah Gorback, '99]
Spondee: A metrical foot consisting of two long or stressed syllables, used to draw the reader's attention to some noteworthy phenomenon within the literary work, either to illuminate or to intensify. [Kabir Affonso, '99]
Stanza: An Italina word derived from Latin which denotes a group of lines in a poem considered as a unit. Many poems are divided into stanzas which are commonly separated by spaces. They often symbolize a different idea or thought, possibly a different subject in a poem, much like a paragraph in prose represents. Each one, again like a paragraph in prose, states and develops a main idea. This division in a poem consisting of a series of lines arrangeed together often have a recurring patern of meter and rhyme. Stanza is the Italian word for "stopping place," which makes sense considering a poem or a song stops between stanzas, each of which has a further thought about the poem's subject. Stanzas, also another literary term for verses, comes in:
couplets: two line stanzas
tercets: three line stanzas
quatrains: four line stanzas
cinquains: five line stanzas
sestets: six line stanzas
heptastichs: seven line stanzas
octaves: eight line stanzas
Stanzas are seen in almost all forms of poetry, such as William Wordsworth's poem "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," which has four stanzas, each oneof them being sestets, or six line stanzas. The stanzas hae a "ababcc" rhyme scheme. [Marc Gentzler, '99]
Stereotype: A stereotype is a conventional and oversimplified opinion or image of a person or group of people. An author often stereotypes a character so that the person is readily identified with a distinct group of individuals. This literary device is most often used in a negative, and sometimes derogatory, fashion. A few examples are a person of Asian deascent being likened to martial arts, a Harvard student being thought of as a "bookworm", or an Alaskan that is envisioned as living in an igloo. In "A & P" by John Updike, Sammy is stereotyped as an irresponsible teen who would rather chase girls than keep a steady job. Ralph Ellison also stereotypes the Negro teens in "Battle Royal." They are identified as being poor and uneducated as they tumble for mere pocket-change while continuously shocking themselves on an electrified rug. [Todd Sterhan, '99]
Style: A writer's typical way of writing. Style includes word choice [diction], tone, degree of formality, figurative language, rhythm, grammatical structure, sentence length, organization and every other feature of a writer's use of language. Simple prose, aphoristic, and reflective are some examples of style. Styles can be plain, orante, metaphorical, spare or descriptive. Style lis determined by such factors as sentence length and complexity, syntadx, use of figurative language, imagery, and diction, and possibly even th euse of sound effects. Style is also known as a way in which a writer uses language.
Style can be found in every piece of literature. One example would be the poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost. He uses plenty of imagery when heh talks kabout sleep and about the snow falling, and uses such sound effects as the bells on the horse and the wind, and emphasizes the tranquillity when the wind stops and the snow flakes fall. Frost uses syntax when repeating the last two lines of the poem, and pays close attention to diction when describing the evening and the forest as dar, metaphorically meaning gloomy and dismal. [Marc Gentzler, '99]
Subtext: What something really means, not just what it appears to mean. Irony is the primary example, with diction and meaning different, often opposite.
Example [from Catch-22]: The meaning of the term derives from the fact that anyone desiring to get out of combat duty because of craziness really isn't crazy. The subtext is the only way outof combat duty is death. [Anthony Gurvitz-Shaw, '99]
Suspense: The growing of excitement felt by an audience or individual while awaiting the climax of a movie, book, play, etc. due mainly to its concern for the welfare of a character they sympathize with or the anticipation of a violent act.
An example of suspense can be found in the short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find" in the AP literature textbook. When the family is systematically killed off one by one, the reader cannot help but have a sense of sympathy for the poor unfortunate souls of the unlucky family members thus adding to the suspense of the story. [Frederick Kim, '99]
Symbolism: A device in literature where an object represents an idea. In the poem "The Sick Rose" by William Blake, the rose symbolizes perfection. The worm is a symbol of death. The storm is a symbol of chaos. Night represents darkness and evil, and the bed symbolizes the vulnerability of innosence and sleep.
The Sick Rose
O Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night
In the howling storm,
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy,
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy. [Eric Frey, '99]
Theatre of the Absurd: A drama based ujpon some absurd idea or situation. It is often derived from the themes of Existentialism. These plays typically express man's feelings of isolation and frustration, among others, and are often allegorical. Though not a play, the best example we have read of the absurd is the nouvelle The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. Another example is Jean Paul Sartre's short play No Exit, which begins with three souls dropped into a hell that has been economizing on labor. Eugene Ionesco's The Lesson is also an example from this theatre. [Jamie Ellis-Simpson, '99]
Tone: The tone of a work is the attitude of the author toward the subject he is writing about. It is the style or manner of a piece of work, an inflection of the mood of the piece. For example, the tone of Joseph Heller's Catch-22 is one of sarcasm and humor, as well as indifference. Joseph Heller seems neither to approve or disapprove of his characters' actions; he simply records the foolishness and mindlessness of what they say and do. [Leah Porter, '99]
Tragedy: Tragedy, as defined by Aristotle in the Poetics is “the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself.” Aristotle set down the guidelines for tragedy which consists of:
1. the tragic hero who should be of high worth or standing, but not perfect.
2. a tragic flaw, weakness, or transgression (hubris) in the hero which leads to the hero’s downfall.
3. the recognition scene where the hero realizes what he has done.
4. the effect of the inevitable disaster (catastrophe) on the spectators is the cleansing (catharsis.) The cleansing process is due to the emotions ofpity for the tragic hero and terror through what they have seen.
In the "The Tragedy of Othello," Othello was the tragic hero of high standing. A general of the army his tragic flaw was he allowed rumors spawn his jealousy into a violent rage. He recognizes his blinded rage when the truth unfolds before him and he takes his own life. The audience should feel a cleansing process from the terrible and tragic ending with the death of Desdemon and Othello. [Alisso Ko, '99]
Understatement is a form of speech in which a lesser expression is used than what would be expected. This is not to be confused with euphemism, where a polite phrase is used in place of a harsher or more offensive expression. Understatement is a staple of humor in English-speaking cultures, especially in British humor.
(Greek "yoking" or "bonding"): Artfully using a single verb to refer to two different objects grammatically, or artfully using an adjective to refer to two separate nouns, even though the adjective would logically only be appropriate for one of the two. For instance, in Shakespeare's Henry V, Fluellen cries, "Kill the boys and the luggage." (The verb kill normally wouldn't be applied to luggage.) If the resulting grammatical construction changes the verb's initial meaning, the zeugma is sometimes called syllepsis. Examples of these syllepses abound--particulary in seventeenth-century literature:
"If we don't hang together, we shall hang separately!" (Ben Franklin).
"The queen of England sometimes takes advice in that chamber, and sometimes tea."
". . . losing her heart or her necklace at the ball." (Alexander Pope).
"She exhausted both her audience and her repertoire." (anonymous)
"She looked at the object with suspicion and a magnifying glass." (Charles Dickens)

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