Literary Terms Analysis With Examples Essay, Research Paper
Literary Terms Analysis with Examples 1) Allusion: An allusion describes a famous literary figure or historical event. In an allusion, the author of a literary work refers to a well-known episode from a book or occasion. Thus, the two things most often alluded to in literature (the two greatest known literary works) deal with Shakespeare’s plays and the New Testament. Examples: In modern-day literature, George Orwell alludes to the “Evil Empire,” in his book, Animal Farm. Orwell was a visionary-only years later would the world come to see that the “Iron Curtain” Stalin had created formed an “Evil Empire” which spawned half of Europe, some of Asia, much of Latin America, and some parts of Africa. In Animal Farm, Orwell exposes the reasons why communism does not work-explaining that in a totalitarian state with a dictator and several puppets, or a group of dictators, “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And so, in his unpopular satirical allusion to the Soviet Union (which was the goal of his book) Orwell explained what would only be seen by the public a decade later. In The Unvanquished, Faulkner refers to “homemade Jordan,”-as the blacks believe that when they cross the river they will crossing the river Jordan and getting into the Promised Land, while all that they are crossing is a simple river and they will still be in the same state they are in. The allusion Faulkner makes is to the bible, where the people cross the River Jordan to get into the Promised Land. 2) Ambiguity explains a situation in which the effect produced by literary work makes the reader aware of different interpretations. It uses words or phrases with multiple meanings to achieve a state where the reader sees a vague idea-which he can take to mean different things. Example: In The Chocolate War, Cormier says that “for no reason at all, he [Jerry] thought of Gregory Bailey.” In this passage, Cormier does not explain what Jerry was thinking, and leaves it up to reader to try and understand why Jerry would think of person that Brother Leon was constantly picking on. Only later in the book does the reader realize that Jerry too would be in the same position that Gregory was in in Brother Leon’s classroom. 3) The antagonist is the “bad guy” who creates a conflict in a literary work with the “good guy.” However, the “bad guy,” does not have to be a person-it can be an event, such as war, or an idea, such as not having any self worth. The conflict created gives the story interest. Example: In Hamlet, King Claudius is the antagonist. At first, he kills King Hamlet through treachery, taking the King’s throne and wife. Throughout the rest of the book, he is a poor ruler, who does not have any remorse for his previous actions (not being able to watch a play that shows exactly what he had done), and tries to kill his stepson. In the process, Claudius destroys the Danish royal family and its rule over Denmark. Thus, Claudius, being the driving force which ruins a country and family is the antagonist in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. 4) Diction describes the word choice in a novel. Formal or informal language, general or specific words, abstract or concrete words all have an effect on how the writer sounds. Example: In The Unvanquished, at the beginning of the book, Philadelphy says to Loosh, her husband, “Hush your mouth, nigger!” after Loosh alluded to the fact that the Yankees were winning the Civil War to Bayard and Ringo. Here, a wife refers to her husband with derogatory language. In this instance, Faulkner chose to use this word to better establish the point that Philadelphy does not agree with Loosh’s militant ways. 5) Dramatic Irony refers to when the audience of a literary work knows or perceives something that the character in the work does not know. This is most often seen in plays and creates a scene of humor or tragedy that the audience knew was going to happen-although the character had no idea of the situation s/he was being led in to. Example: In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, nearing the end of the play, in the last scene, the Queen drinks the poisoned wine cup, not knowing that it was specifically poisoned for Hamlet to drink, while the audience is made well aware of this fact by Claudius’ dropping a pearl into the cup and his earlier discussion with Laertes. Thus, this is an instance of dramatic irony. 6) Foreshadowing is demonstrated in the use of hints or clues to suggest what will happen later in a literary work. These signs are generally hidden in the work and are not noticed until the even that was hinted at actually happens. Example: In The Chocolate War, Brother Leon, when asking for the Vigils help in the sale of chocolates, says that there has been a loss of revenue for many reasons-the last of which being that “the interest in boxing has fallen off.” This directly foreshadows what happens at the end of the book, when, to the amusement of a full capacity crowd at the boxing rink, Jerry gets pummeled by Emile Janza. 7) Hyperbole is the instance in which there is an extreme exaggeration or overstatement. It is often used to describe an event, object, or character, which has an extremely unusual characteristic. Example: “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood/ Clean from my hand? No. This my hand will rather/ The multitudinous seas incarnadine,/ Making the green one red.” If Shakespeare’s lines in Macbeth were to be taken literally, they would make no sense. The hyperbole works to illustrate the immense guilt that Macbeth feels for the brutal murder of his king and kinsman. 8) Imagery describes language that evokes one, several or all of the five senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and/or feeling. It is used to give the reader a mental image of what is happening in a literary work Example: “My father’s presence was the only thing that stopped me. . . . He was running at my side, out of breath, at the end of his strength, at his wit’s end. I had no right to let myself die. What would he do without me? I was his only support,” (Elie Wiesel, Night, p.82). This passage, although it does not adhere to the standard way of describing things that would draw the five senses, evokes most of them. The reader can sense the feeling the son has, running in snow with barely any clothes (known from earlier reading), nearby his father-not able to stop, thinking of his only reason for continuing to live in a time of desperation. 9) Irony renders demonstration of an implied difference between what happens and what is expected. Irony gives a situation a paradoxical meaning. Example: At the end of Lord of the Flies, a ship rescues the children from the burning island. But that ship, an army cruiser, will probably be hunting its enemy the same way that Jack was hunting Ralph. It is ironic that the very ship that saves children from their own evil is engaging in the same evil itself. 10) A metaphor is a kind of comparison. It is actually a condensed simile, for it omits “as” or “like.” A metaphor establishes a relationship at once. It is a shortcut to the meaning; it sets two unlike things side by side and makes us see the likeness between them. Example: In Emily Dickinson’s poem, A Book, she compares literature to various things. The first two lines compare poetry to a ship; the next two to a horse. However, instead of using ship and horse, Dickinson uses “frigate,” a beautiful full-sailed vessel, and “courser,” a swift-spirited steed, “prancing”-like a page of inspired poetry. Thus, metaphors are established. 11) A motif portrays a concept, a characteristic situation often used throughout a literary work. A common example of a motif is poetic justice-getting what you deserve. Example: In Elie Wiesel’s Night, there is a motif of father-son relationship. In one case Eliezer’s father is often referred to as his only reason for living, while in another, Rabbi Eliahou’s son tries to get away from his father when the son saw his father beginning to be weak and having a hard time keeping up with the rest of the group. 12) An oxymoron is the case in which an assertion opposed to common sense achieved by combining two words or phrases, which seem to contradict one another. Example: “I must be cruel only to be kind.” In this line, Hamlet seemingly contradicts himself-cruel and kind are opposites, making the line an oxymoron. Yet the line makes sense, as in some cases the best way to be generous to a person is to be cruel in your dealings with them. 13) A paradox is the instance in which a statement is made that, while seemingly contradictory, may actually be well founded. Example: “Q. …How did you happen to meet Burr? A. Well, I happened to be at his funeral one day, and he asked me to make less noise, and…” This line, in Mark Twain’s An Encounter with an Interviewer, exhibits a paradox-a person cannot speak at their funeral. 14) Parallelism is a case where two events mirror each other in terms of the fact that they have similarities. It is used to further the plot in a literary work. Example: In Hamlet, the situations of Hamlet and Fortinbras mirror one another, although they have different outcomes. Both Hamlet and Fortinbras are princes who will inherit the thrones of their countries when the kings of their countries die. Both want to avenge their fathers, Hamlet wants to get revenge on Claudius for killing his father, and Fortinbras wants to get country which his father lost in war, Denmark, back. Since their situations mirror one another, this is an example of parallelism. 15) Personification is giving human aspects to animals or objects. Example: “True, I talk of dreams,/ Which are the children of an idle brain.” In this passage in Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare personifies dreams, stating that they are children of a lazy mind. 16) Plot is what happens in a literary work; the literal chain of events that occur. Example: In The Pearl, Kino finds an expensive pearl, but is not willing to sell it for the low price that the local pearl buyer is willing to pay. Thus, he goes out and tries to get to where he can sell it for a higher price. After infuriating the buyer, his house is destroyed, and his canoe wrecked. Near the end of the book, his son dies in his mother’s arms. Trying to break the cycle of poverty, Kino, in the end, finds himself in a position lower than where he was in the beginning of the novel. 17) Poetic Justice is the concept that all stories must end with the rewarding of good and the punishment of evil. Although some or even the majority of popular literary works do not follow this principle, it is based on the stories of the Old Testament and is often used in love stories and “feel good” type of stories. Example: In the classic novel The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantes is sent to prison on the day of his wedding, an arrest provoked by his enemies. In the notorious Chateau d’If, Edmond is supposed to spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement. His only companion in the prison is the priest Faria, who shares with Edmond a secret plan of escape and a map to the hidden riches on the island of Monte Cristo. When Faria dies, Edmond escapes and becomes the second richest man in Europe after fourteen years of unjust imprisonment. He returns to Parisian society as the refined nobleman-the Count of Monte Cristo. Over several years, Edmond gains revenge over enemies (Danglars, Mondego, Villefort, and Caderhousse) who had long forgotten him, and greatly helps the son of M. Morrel, the owner of the ship Dantes had been a sailor on, who had tried his best to explain that Dantes was innocent. All evil is punished, and the protagonist and the good are rewarded, thus making this an example of poetic justice. 18) Poetic License is the situation in which the rules of conventional writing are bent to establish a certain style for artistic purposes. It gives the author a sort of “artistic reputation” describing the way s/he writes. Example: In Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger forms a specific writing styles that have since not been match. Salinger gets inside the mind on Holden Caufield, writing some sentences that are short and to the point-basically simple writing and including swear words in his sentences, not accepted by the authors of the time. However, with distinct and universal themes, and remarkable descriptions, Catcher in the Rye has proved to be one of the best books for adolescents of all times. Salinger established a poetic license by bending the rules of literature to his advantage and forcing the reader to remember (or compare) their adolescence while looking at Holden. 19) Point of View is the prospective from which a book was written. It gives a literary work a direction and shows the reader what she can expect as the work progresses. Example: In Willa Cather’s My Antonia, the main narrator, Jim Burden, arrived in Nebraska as a child and found the new landscape and its people different from those in his native Virginia. Since Jim’s marriage is falling apart and he doesn’t like his life, his view of his childhood is a romantic one. 20) The protagonist is the “good guy” in a literary work-who is in a constant struggle with the antagonist. The protagonist gives a work a course-s/he is the main character whose path the reader follows throughout a literary work. Example: In Alexander Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantes is the protagonist, an honest sailor, who is unjustly thrown into prison by spiteful enemies on his wedding day. He later gets out of prison and gets revenge on the antagonists-the enemies who threw him into prison. 21) Setting describes the Time and Place in which a literary work is said to have taken place in. It provides a backbone for the events which occur in the novel. Example: Night begins in the town of Sighet in Transylvania (modern-day Romania), in the 1930s. As the book progresses it goes into the concentration camps in Poland in WWII and ends with the liberation of Buchenwald in 1945. 22) A simile is using the words “like” or “as” to compare two separate objects. A simile shows the reader a comparison and gives the reader a better sense of the object being described. Example: In the first book of Virgil’s Aeneid, Aeneas compares Tyrian workers in Carthage to bees. “Just as their work wearies bees in the sunlight/ of young summer on blossoming farms where the old ones/ lead out the hive’s young or pack syrupy honey/ in cells, filling the hives with nectar-like sweetness:/ they either take on loads from arrivals or form up/ ranks to keep the lazy group of drones from storage:/ the work teems amid fragrant, thyme-scented honey.” Since two different things are being compared using the word “as”, the passage is a simile. 23) Subtlety is a quality of being hard to understand. Something that is subtle is hard to detect; it is not obvious. Example: In The Unvanquished, Drusilla is subtle when she speaks with anger, cynicism, and bitterness within for the loss of her husband-to-be. Although she does not lose control in the novel, she subtly reproaches the war-blaming it for the loss of her pre-programmed life. 24) A symbol depicts an image that has more than a simple literal meaning to a literary work. It describes something that is important in the novel. Examples: Underground movements in Night and the pearl in The Pearl are symbols of the hope that there is a better life ahead for the characters in the books. Going forward against what is told for them to do, the characters in the novels expect to better their lives by not following orders and what is “preset” for them by the setting they are in. 25) Syntax is a demonstration of how the author of a literary work strings words together. Example: “Somebody slipped into the seat beside him.” In this line, Cormier uses ambiguity (somebody) and a verb often attributed to slyness (slipped) to make the effect of a line that uses syntax which makes it sound as if it were happening. 26) Theme is the general idea expressed by a literary work. The theme of the work is the unifying idea for that work. Examples: In The Human Comedy, The Unvanquished, and Night, the primary theme is that growing up takes place quickly in a time of war. In The Human Comedy, Homer had to fend for himself after his brother, the man of the house, went off to war. The reader experiences Homer’s having to take care of his family and his transition from boyhood into manhood. In The Unvanquished, the reader sees Bayard’s growing up in the time of the Civil War. Lastly, in Night, the reader experiences a stunning reversal of roles-from a son growing up in a normal family, with a father mother and sibling, to where the son has to take care of his father in the concentration camps of WWII Europe. 27) Tone is the author’s attitude toward the reader. It makes the reader form an opinion of the author outside the bounds of the literary work she is reading. Example: In Lord of the Flies, the tone is gloomy, depressed, melancholy and most of the time-forcing the reader to see that as the author’s general state of being. 28) The vernacular used in a literary work is the characteristic of colloquial (everyday) speech that is used in the work. The vernacular is established by using the setting of the literary work. Example: In The Unvanquished the vernacular is the speech used by most of the characters in the novel-stereotypical modern-day Southern speech for the whites, and stereotypical modern-day ebonics for the blacks.