Literary Terms As You Like It

meter a generally regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry
foot a unit used to measure the meter, or rhythmic pattern, of a line of poetry. it is made up of one stressed syllable and, usually, one or more unstressed syllables
iambic pentameter a poetic foot consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable ( – ‘ ); a single poetic foot; in describing or measuring (scanning) the meter of a poetic line, the student first identifies the type of meter; the term used to identify five feet in a line of poetry
blank verse unrhymed lines of iambic pentameter; shakespeares plays are written in this
trochaic inversion **Note: a trochee is a foot consisting of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable : the process of inverting the stress in the first foot of a line of blank verse
enjambment the continuation of the sense and grammatical construction of a line of poetry or couplet on to the next line of poetry or couplet (it jams together); occurs in run-on lines (contrast to end-stopped lines)
end-stopped lines lines of poetry in which both the grammatical structure and the sense reach completion at the end of a line
caesura a pause or break in the metrical or rhythmical progress of a line of poetry ; usually placed near the middle of a line
alliteration the repetition of consonant sounds in words that are close to one another
rhyming couplets two lines of poetry with similar end rhymes (rhyme that occurs at the end of a line)
anaphora a device of repetition in which the same expression (word or words) is repeated at the beginning of two or more lines, clauses, or sentences
deus ex machina any artificial or contrived device used at the end of a plot to resolve or untangle the complications; the employment of some unexpected and improbable incident in a story or play in order to make things turn out right
stichomythia a form of verbal repartee developed in classical drama and often employed by Elizabethan dramatists. line-for-line fencing match in which the principles of the dialogue retort sharply to each other in lines which echo the opponents words and figures of speech
aside private words that a character in a play speaks to the audience or to another character which are not supposed to be overheard by other on-stage; a character’s dialogue is spoken but not heard by the other actors on the stage
foil a character who is used as a contrast to another character
verbal irony words express something contrary to truth or someone says the opposite of what they really feel or mean; it is often sarcastic
situational irony it occurs when incongruity appears between expectations of something to happen, and what actually happens instead; actions have an effect that is opposite from what was intended, so that the outcome is contrary to what was expected.
dramatic irony the audience or the reader knows something important that a character in a play or story does not know
paradox an apparent contradiction that is actually true
parallelism the repetition of words, phrases, or sentences that have the same grammatical structure, or that restate a similar idea
parody the imitation of a work of literature, art, or music for amusement or instruction
pastoral a type of poem that depicts rustic life in idyllic, idealized terms
pun a play on the multiple meanings of a word, or on two words that sound alike but have different meanings
soliloquy a long speech in which a character who is usually alone onstage expresses his or her private thoughts and feelings; literary device often used in drama to reveal the innermost thoughts of a character.
reflexive reference a playwright makes a reference to a play or uses terminology associated with a play within the fictive world of the play itself
blocker those in control of old society; they frustrate (block) the attempts of the young to unite in love and the formation of a new, freer society
new society triumphant state; harmonious; a result of the marriage of idealistic couplings – power of love; end of comedy
old society society controlled by tyrants, usurpers, and wicked fathers; corrupt; beginning of comedy
allusion a reference to a statement, person, place, event, or thing that is known from literature, history, religion, myth, politics, sports, science, or pop culture
apostrophe a figure of speech in which a speaker directly addresses an absent or dead person, an abstract quality, or some nonhuman thing as if it were present and capable of responding
hyperbole a figure of speech that uses exaggeration to express strong emotion or create a comic effect; a wild exaggeration that is not necessarily true
metaphor a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two seemingly dissimilar things without using “like, as, then, or resembles”
metonymy a figure of speech that replaces the name of a thing with the name of something else with which it is closely associated. (the substitution of the name of an attribute or adjunct for that of the thing meant)
oxymoron a figure of speech that combines apparently contradictory or incongruous ideas
personification a type of metaphor in which a nonhuman thing or quality is talked about as if it were human
simile a comparison using “like or as”
synecdoche a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versa
understatement a figure of speech that consists of saying less than what is really meant, or saying something with less force than appropriate