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GRE Literature: Literary Terms

Subjects : gre, literature
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This is a study tool. The 3 wrong answers for each question are randomly chosen from answers to other questions. So, you might find at times the answers obvious, but you will see it re-enforces your understanding as you take the test each time.
1. 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

2. A pause or break within a line of poetry - esp. in Old English verse.

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. 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'

6. 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

7. 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'

8. 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

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

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

11. 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

12. 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

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

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

15. 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

16. 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')

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

18. Giving human characteristics to inanimate objects

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

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

21. 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

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

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

24. 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'

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

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

27. 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'

28. 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

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

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

31. 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)

32. 14-line poem rhyming abab bcbc cdcd ee Example: 'One Day I Wrote Her Name Upon the Strand' by Edmund Spenser

33. 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'

34. 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

35. 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

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

37. 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

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

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

40. 7-line iambic pentameter stanza rhyming ababbcc Example: 'They Flee from Me That Sometime Did Seek: by Sir Thomas Wyatt

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

42. 8-line stanza (usually iambic pentameter) rhyming abababcc Example: Lord Byron'S Don Juan

43. 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.'

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

45. 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

46. 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

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

48. 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

49. 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

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