Select Literary Terms for BA Students

1.      What is Poetry? Poetry is a spontaneous and powerful overflow of human feelings.

2.      Drama (Play)  (GR. Deed, action, play) the form of literature intended to be performed usually in some kind of theater. Drama comes to life when it is interpreted in the performance of actors who adopt the roles of characters and speak the dialogues.

3.      Farce A kind of drama intended primarily to provoke laughter, using exaggerated characters and complicated plots, full of absurd episodes, ludicrous situations and knockabout action. Mistaken identity is frequently an element in the plot. The example being The Bear in BA and The Importance of Being Earnest at Master’s. Comedy A  road genre which encompasses a large variety of different kinds of literature; however, Comedy is used most often with reference to a kind of drama which is intended primarily to entertain the audience, and which ends happily for the characters.

4.      Satire Literature which examines or exhibits vice and folly and makes them appear ridiculous or contemptible. Satire differs from Comic in having a purpose. It is directly against a person and thing.

5.      Allegory  An emblem; a picture or a piece of writing in which meaning is symbolically represented. The simplest form of Allegory consists of a story or situation written in such a way as to have two coherent meanings. The Old Man and the Sea  is an allegorical novel.

6.      Tragedy Basically a tragedy traces the career and downfall of an individual and shows in the downfall both the capacities and limitations of human life. The Protagonist may be a superhuman, a monarch or, in the modern age, an ordinary person. Aristotle in his Poetics analyzed and observed that it presented a single action of a certain magnitude, that it provoked in the audience the emotions of pity and terror which were then resolved or dissolved by Catharsis at the play’s climax. 
7.      Soliloquy (Lat. To speak alone) A curious but fascinating dramatic convention, which allows a character in a play or novel to speak directly to the audience, as if thinking aloud about motives, feelings and decisions. In Othello, Iago has soliloquized his motives and so has Smirnov in the Bear.

8.      Irony  is a contradictory outcome. There are many types of Irony. In dramatic irony, When the audience of the play know more than the characters and can therefore foresee the tragic or comic circumstances which will befall. In situational irony, there is difference from expectation: Suicide committed by an admired person or murder may be plotted by an apparently harmless person. In verbal irony, we say one thing but mean another: the meaning is far from the usual meaning, calling a humble baker a rich man. It implies a contrast or discrepancy between what is said and meant.

9.      Novel. Almost no one definition is complete because novels are so varied and different in nature. Still one can start, Novel is an extended prose fiction narrative of 50,000 words or more, broadly realistic–concerning the everyday events of ordinary people–and concerned with character. “People in significant action” is one way of describing it.  Another definition might be “an extended, fictional prose narrative about realistic characters and events.” It is a representation of life, experience, and learning. Action, discovery, and description are important elements, but the most important tends to be one or more characters–how they grow, learn, find–or don’t grow, learn, or find.  

10.  Symbol. Something that on the surface is its literal self but which also has another meaning or even several meanings. For example, a sword may be a sword and also symbolize justice. A symbol may be said to embody an idea. There are two general types of symbols: universal symbols that embody universally recognizable meanings wherever used, such as light to symbolize knowledge, a skull to symbolize death, etc., and constructed symbols that are given symbolic meaning by the way an author uses them in a literary work, as the whales become  symbols of evil and lions of strength in the Old man and the Sea.

11.  Alliteration:  repetition of the same sound beginning several words in sequence. It was roses roses all the way, with myrtle mixed in my path like mad.

12.  Metaphor: implied comparison achieved through a figurative use of words; the word is used not in its literal sense, but in one analogous to it *Life’s but a walking shadow; a poor player. You are a lion of the jungle.

13.   .Personification:  is attribution of personality to an impersonal thing.   

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance                   
And watch her feet, how they can dance

14.  Simile: an explicit comparison between two things using ‘like’ or ‘as’

You are as brave as a tiger.       
People were walking like the dead with vacant eyes. 
She is like a friend to me.

15.  Dramatic Monologue: A speech delivered when a character is either alone or isolated on the stage.  In dramatic monologue or soliloquy, the character freely gives vent to his feelings. The audience overhears the character talking to himself or herself. The Monologues could be private as well as public.

16.  Image and Imagery: A figurative or descriptive language that appeals to the five senses or the use of words and sentences to create an object or scene in the mind of the reader or listener is called an image. Imagery is the whole painted atmosphere created by the use of images.

17.  Syllables:  The unit of sound is called a syllable such as Work has one syllable; but  Work-ing has two.

18.  Line, verse, stanza:  The single written poetic line is called the Line when two lines are combined they make a Verse and when two or more verses are collected, they form a Stanza.

19.  Subjective or Objective: A thought is subjective when it is concerned with the personal reaction of somebody and objective when it ignores what the individual feels about something; but concentrates on the object itself. The Protagonist (main character of the story) in Araby by James Joyce has subjective feelings about the bazaar but the objective reality of that place was different.

20.  Protagonist: The main character in a story, novel or play about whom the wh
ole story revolves such as the Old Man in the novel and the writer in James Joyce’ Araby.

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