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GRE Literature: Literary Terms

Subjects : gre, literature
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1. One of the neoclassical principles of drama - calling for a relation of style to content in the speech of dramatic characters. For example - a character'S speech must be styled according to her social station - and in accordance to the situation. Exa

2. Work narrated using pronoun 'I.' Narrator can be protagonist - or an omniscient speaker who is not even a clear character in the story. Example: Edgar Allan Poe'S 'The Tell-Tale Heart'

3. A derogatory term used to describe poetry whose subject is trite and whose rhythm and sounds are monotonously heavy-handed.

4. Line of iambic hexameter Example: 'That like a wounded snake - drags its slow length along' (Pope'S 'Essay on Criticism')

5. Couplets of rhymed tetrameter lines (Samuel Butler) or to any deliberate - humorous - ill-rhythmed - ill-rhymed couplets. From Butler'S Hudibras

6. Narrator uses pronoun 'we.' This voice forces the reader to concentrate more on what the story is about than who is telling it.

7. Verse form that consists of 3-line stanzas with interlocking rhyme scheme: aba bcb cdc ded - etc Example: Dante'S Divine Comedy

8. Not to be confused with pastoral poetry - which idealizes life in the countryside - georgic poems deal with people laboring in the countryside - pushing plows - raising crops - etc. Example: Virgil'S Georgics

9. The repetition of initial consonant sounds Example: 'I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet' (Robert Frost 'Acquainted with the Night')

10. A type of poem that takes the form of an elegy (a lament for the dead) sung by a shepherd. The shepherd who sings the elegy is a stand-in for the poet - and the elegy is for another poet Example: Milton'S 'Lycidas' and Shelley'S 'Adonais' (lament for

11. A term coined by John Ruskin. It refers to ascribing emotion and agency to inanimate objects Example: Ruskin'S famous line: 'The cruel crawling foam.'

12. A repeated descriptive phrase - as found in Homer'S epics. Example: 'The wine dark sea'

13. 7-line iambic pentameter stanza rhyming ababbcc Example: 'They Flee from Me That Sometime Did Seek: by Sir Thomas Wyatt

14. A rhyme ending on the final stressed syllable (aka regular old rhyme) Example: 'Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening' by Robert Frost

15. A poem written to celebrate a wedding. Example: Edmund Spenser'S 'Epithalamium'

16. Unrhymed verse without a strict meter Example: 'Song of Myself' by Walt Whitman

17. Unrhymed iambic pentameter Example: Alfred Lord Tennyson'S 'Ulysses'; John Milton'S Paradise Lost

18. A word derived from Lyly'S Euphues (1580) to characterize writing that is self-consciously laden with elaborate figures of speech. This was a popular and influential mode of speech and writing in the late sixteenth century. Example: Polonius in Hamle

19. Terms coined by EM Forster to describe characters built around a single dominant trait (flat characters) - and those shaded and developed with greater psychological complexity (round characters). Example of flat: Mrs Micawber in Dickens' David Copper

20. The principal character in a work of fiction Example: Othello in Othello

21. Giving human characteristics to inanimate objects

22. The rhythm created and used in the 19th century by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Like Old English verse - sprung rhythm fits a varying number of unstressed syllables in a line - only stresses count in scansion Example: 'Pied Beauty' by Hopkins

23. Four lines of iambic tetrameter rhyming abba Example: can be found in a stanza of Tennyson'S 'In Memoriam A.H.H.'

24. 39-line poem of six stanzas of six lines each and a final stanza (called an envoi) of three lines. Rhyme plays no part in the sestina. Instead - one of six words is used as the end word of each of the poem'S lines according to a fixed pattern. Examp

25. Understatement for rhetorical effect (especially when expressing an affirmative by negating its contrary - 'a citizen of no ordinary city' (Paul in the book of Acts)

26. A novel - typically loosely constructed along an incident-to-incident basis - that follows the adventures of a more or less scurrilous rogue whose primary concerns are filling his belly and staying out of jail. Examples: Twain'S Huckleberry Finn; Def

27. A form of humorous poetry - using very short - rhymed lines and a pronounced rhythm - made popular by John Skelton. The only real difference between a skeltonic and doggerel is the quality of the though expressed. Example: 'How the Doughty Duke of Al

28. 8-line stanza (usually iambic pentameter) rhyming abababcc Example: Lord Byron'S Don Juan

29. A work that deals with the lives of people - especially shepherds - in the country or in nature Example: Marlow'S 'The Passionate Shepherd to his Love'

30. Verse characterized by the internal alliteration of lines and a strong midline pause called a caesura Example: Beowulf

31. The assigning of human attributes - such as emotions or physical characteristics - to nonhumans - most often plants and animals. It differs from personification in that it is an intrinsic premise and an ongoing pattern applied to a nonhuman character

32. A term referring to phrases that suggest an interplay of senses. Example: 'Hot pink' and 'golden tones'

33. A reference to another work of literature - person - or event Example: title of Faulkner'S novel The Sound and the Fury is an allusion to Shakespeare'S Macbeth: '...it is a tale / told by an idiot - full of sound and fury - / signifying nothing'

34. The character who works against the protagonist in the story Example: Iago in Othello

35. A term coined by Aristotle to describe some error or frailty in character which brings about misfortune in Greek tragedy. Roughly equivalent to a tragic flaw - except that hamartia implies fate. Example: Oedipus; Macbeth

36. A deliberate exaggeration Example: 'Her once embattled farmers stood / And fired the shot heard round the world' (Emerson'S 'The Concord Hymn)

37. A phrase that refers to a person or object by a single important feature of that object or person Example: 'I should have been a pair of ragged claws / Scuttling across the floors of silent seas' (TS Eliot'S 'Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock'). The cla

38. Work narrated using a name or third-person pronoun (he - she - etc). Example: Most of Jane Austen'S novels - including Pride and Prejudice

39. Aristotle'S principles of dramatic structure applied (perhaps too rigidly) in neoclassical drama of the 17th 18th centuries. The essential unities are time - place - and action: To observe unity of time - a work should take place within the span of o

40. 9-line stanza. First 8 are iambic pentameter. The final line - in iambic hexameter - is an alexandrine. Rhyme scheme: ababbcbcc Example: The Faerie Queene - by Edmund Spenser

41. 19-line form rhyming aba aba aba aba aba abaa. Repetition of first and third lines throughout: aba ab1 ab3 ab1 ab3 ab13 Example: Dylan Thomas'S 'Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night'

42. Lines rhymed by their final two syllables. Properly - the penultimate syllables are stressed and the final syllables are unstressed. Example: Shakespeare'S Sonnet 20

43. Narrator speaks using pronoun 'you -' thereby making reader an active participant in the work. Rarely used.

44. A term for a phrase that refers to a person or object by a single important feature of the person - Example: 'The pen is mightier than the sword' - pen=written word; sword=violent acts

45. 14-line poem rhyming abbaabba cdecde. First 8 lines called octave. Last six called sestet. Example: John Milton'S 'When I Consider How My Light Is Spent'

46. 14-line poem rhyming abab bcbc cdcd ee Example: 'One Day I Wrote Her Name Upon the Strand' by Edmund Spenser

47. 14-line poem rhyming abab cdcd efef gg Example: Shakespeare'S sonnets

48. A figure of speech in which one directly addresses an absent or imaginary person - or some abstraction Example: 'Busy old fool - unruly sun - / Why does thou thus - / Through windows - and through curtains call on us?' (John Donne'S 'The Sun Rising')

49. German: 'novel of education.' It typically follows a young person over a period of years - from naivete and inexperience through the first struggles with the harsher realities and hypocrisies of the adult world. Example: A Portrait of the Artist as a

50. Used in folk ballad. Length determined by stressed syllables only. Rhyme scheme: abcb Example: 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' by Coleridge