Literary Terms

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Literary Terms
AUDREY ODOM
Imagery
 Visually descriptive or figurative language
 “paints a picture” of the scene in your head.
 Hamlet:
 O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
(Act I, Scene ii, Lines 129-130)
 Imagery in Music
 “Picture yourself in a boat on a river with tangerine trees and
marmalade skies”
-The Beatles “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”
Simile
 The comparison of two very different things using
“like” or “as”
 Hamlet:

Pale as his shirt
(Act II, Scene i, Line 81)
 Simile in music
 “Telephone wires above are sizzling like a snare”
-Lana Del Rey “Summertime Sadness”
Metaphor
 A word or phrase used to refer two things to show
that they are similar
 Hamlet:

To die, to sleep–
To sleep, perchance to dream
(Act III, Scene i, Lines 64-65)
 Metaphor in Movie Title
 “Gone with the Wind”
Personification
 Giving human characteristics/actions to something
nonhuman.
 Hamlet:

But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,
Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill.
(Act I, Scene i, Lines 166-167)
 Personification in Movies
 “Ted”
Apostrophe
 The addressing of a usually absent person or a
usually personified thing rhetorically
 Hamlet:

Let me not think on’t: frailty, thy name is women
(Act I, Scene ii, Line 146)
 Apostrophe in Poetry
 O Captain! My Captain!
-Walt Whitman
Symbol
 A thing/theme that represents something else with a
deeper meaning
 Hamlet: Poison


Poison is a symbol of disloyalty and corruption and death
Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole
With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial
And in the porches of my ears did pour
The leperous distilment
(Act I, Scene v, Lines 61-64)
 Symbols in Movies:
 Luke Skywalker wear black throughout the return of the Jedi
symbolizing the possibility of him turning to the dark side.
Allegory
 A story or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a
hidden meaning, an allusion to another meaning
 Hamlet:


O heart, lose not thy nature. Let not ever
The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom.
(Act III, Scene ii, Lines 376-377)
Hamlet is referring to Nero, who killed his mother, prior to
when Hamlet is going to visit Gertrude. He hopes not to kill
her.
 Allegory in Books:
 Animal Farm by George Orwell
 The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Paradox
 A statement that says two opposite things contradict
each other, but both are true
 Hamlet:

I must be cruel, only to be kind
(Act III, Scene iv, Line 178)
Hyperbole
 Exaggerated statements not to be taken literally
 Hamlet:
 With such deterity to incestuous sheets!
(Act I, Scene ii, Line 159)
 Hyperboles in Music
 “You Ain’t Nothin But a Hound Dog”
-Elvis Presley
Understatement
 The presentation of something being smaller or less
important than it actually is.
 Hamlet:

It is not nor it cannot come to good.
But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue.
(Act I, Scene ii, Lines 158-159)
 Understatement in Music
 “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”
-R.E.M.
Irony
 The use of words that mean the opposite of what you
really think. Can be used for humor and drama.
 Hamlet: (Dramatic Irony)

Get thee to a nunnery.
(Act III, Scene 1, Line 121)
 Irony in Movies
 “50 First Dates”
Adam Sandler doesn’t want a long lasting relationship until he
meets a girl with short term memory
Chiasmus
 An inverted relationship between the syntactic
elements of parallel phrases
 Hamlet:

King: Thanks, Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern.
Queen: Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz.
(Act II, Scene ii, Lines 33-34)
Metonymy
 Substitution of the name of an attribute for that of
the thing meant
 Hamlet

…To die, to sleep
No more, and by a sleep to say we end
(Act III, Scene I, Lines 60-61)
 Metonymy in Books
 “Her voice is filled with money”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald “The Great Gatsby”
Synecdoche
 A figure of speech in which a part is made to
represent the whole
 Hamlet:

O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
(Act I, Scene ii, Lines 129-130)
 Synecdoche in daily phrase:
 “All hands on deck!”
Repartee
 Conversation characterized by quick, witty
comments
 Hamlet:

Hamlet: Well, God-a-mercy
Polonius: Do you know me, my lord?
Hamlet: Excellent well. You are a fishmonger.
Polonius: Not I, my lord.
Hamlet: Then I would you were so honest a man.
Polonius: Honest, my lord!
(Act II, Scene ii, Lines 171-176)
Stichomythia
 Dialogue in which two characters speak alternate
lines of verse
 Hamlet:

Laertes: Where is my father?
Claudius: Dead
Gertrude: But not by him
(Act IV, Scene 5, Line 28)
Stock Characters
 Character who is normally one-dimensional but
sometimes stock personalities are deeply conflicted,
rounded characters.
 Hamlet: Polonius

Polonius is a stock character because he has former wisdom
but still provides comic relief.
 Stock Characters in TV:
 Normally a guest star that appears for one episode is
considered a stock character
Alliteration
 The occurrence of the same letter or sound at the
beginning of adjacent or closely connected words
 Hamlet:

With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts
(Act I, Scene v, Line 43)
 Alliteration in Real Life:
 Dunkin Donuts
Assonance
 Repetition of the sound of a vowel in non-rhyming
stressed syllables near enough to each other for the
echo to be noticeable
 Hamlet:

Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
(Act II, Scene ii, Lines 115-116)
 Assonance in Music
 “I’m a mess in a dress”
-Orianthi “According to You”
Consonance
 Recurrence or repetition of consonants especially at
the end of stressed syllables
 Hamlet:

No more, and by a sleep to say we end
(Act III, Scene I, Line 61)
 Consonance in Music
 “Whisper word of wisdom, let it be”
-The Beatles “Let it Be”
Rhyme
 Correspondence of sound between words
 Hamlet:
 …The plays the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.
(Act II, Scene ii, Lines 591-592)
 Rhyme in Music
 “Hope that you fall in love and it hurts so bad,
the only way you can know is give it all that you have”
-One Republic “I Lived”
Rhythm
 A strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or
sound
 Hamlet:

The rhythm in Hamlet corresponds to iambic pentameter
 Rhythm in Music
 All music has some sort of rhythm in it, the drums or the bass
guitar usually provides the rhythm
Meter
 Arranged and measured rhythm in verse
 Hamlet:
 When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
End-Stopped Line
 A line that ends with a definite punctuation mark
(period/colon).
 Hamlet:

Admit no messengers, receive no tokens.
(Act II, Scene ii, Line 143)
Run-On Line
 When the natural pause in reading does not coincide
with the end of a line, the speaker continues without
pause
 Hamlet

O God, your only jig-maker. What should a man do
but be merry? For look you how cheerfully my mother
looks, and my father died within’s two hours.
(Act III, Scene ii, Lines 118-120)
Caesura
 A break between words within a metrical foot.
 Hamlet:
 To be, or not to be, that is the question
 (Act III, Scene i, Line 56)
Free Verse
 Poetry that does not rhyme or have a regular meter
 Hamlet:
 The common people in this era would speak in free verse as
opposed to the higher class, who would speak in prose
 Example of Free Verse in Poetry
 “Winter Poem” by Nikki Giovanni
Iambic Pentameter
 A line that has ten syllables in each line, but the
alternate syllable is stressed
 Hamlet:

To be, or not to be: that is the question.
(Act III, Scene I, Line 56)
 Iambic Pentameter in Other Literature:
 Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
-Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Grammatical/Rhetorical Pauses
 Grammatical- A pause introduced by a mark of
punctuation
 Rhetorical- A natural pause not marked by
punctuation
 Hamlet:

But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
(Act II, Scene ii, Line 535)
 Grammatical Pause in Music:
 “It takes two, two sides to every story”
-Katy Perry “It Takes Two”
Concluding Couplet
 Two successive lines that are rhymed and have the
same meter
 Hamlet:

Till then sit still, my soul. Foul deeds will rise,
Though all the earth o’erwhelm them, to men’s eyes.
(Act I, Scene 2, Lines 257-258)
 Concluding Couplet in Poetry
 “If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.”
-Shakespeare Sonnet 116

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