AP Lit: Poetic Devices and Figurative Language

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metaphor
figure of speech which makes a direct comparison of two unlike objects by identification or substitution

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simile
a direct comparison of two unlike objects, using like or as

conceit
an extended metaphor comparing two unlike objects with powerful effect

personification
figure of speech in which objects and animals have human qualitites

apostrophe
addressing a person or personified object not present

metonymy
the substitution of a word which relates to the object or person to be named, in place of the name itself

synecdoche
figure of speech in which a part represents the whole object or idea

hyperbole
gross exaggeration for effect; overstatement

litotes
understatement for effect

verbal irony
meaning one thing and saying another

dramatic irony
two levels of meaning: what the speaker says and what he means, and what the speaker says and the author means

situational irony
when the reality of a situation differs from the anticipated or intended effect; when something unexpected occurs

symbolism
the use of one object to suggest another, hidden object or idea

imagery
the use of words to represent things, actions, or ideas by sensory description

paradox
a statement which appears self-contradictory, but underlines a basis of truth

oxymoron
contradictory terms brought together to express a paradox for strong effect

allusion
a reference to an outside face, event, or other source

polysyndeton
the repetition of conjunctions in close succession for rhetorical effect, as in the phrase “here and there and everywhere”

asyndeton
a stylistic scheme where conjunctions are deliberately omitted to speed up the rhythm of the passage and emphasize a single point

point of view
who tells a story and method by which they tell the story; this limits the reader’s access to the events happening and can be first-person, third-person, omniscient, etc.

diction
the choice of a particular word as opposed to others, and can be divided into informal and formal

alliteration
Repeating a consonant several times at the beginning of words or a vowel sound

assonance
Repeating identical or similar vowels in nearby words

euphony
Grouping words together harmoniously so they sound pleasing to the ear

cacophony
Grouping words together that sound harsh, hissing, and unmelodious

onomatopoeia
Use of words that are similar to the noise they represent

caesura
a pause separating phrases within lines of poetry

enjambment
A line having no pause or punctuation but having uninterrupted grammatical meaning

sonnet
a lyric poem of fourteen lines: they can be either Petrarchan, Shakespearean, or Miltonic

stanza
An arrangement of lines of verse in a pattern repeated throughout the poem

syntax
the word order and sentence structure

parallelism
the writer establishes similar patterns of grammatical structure and length

genre
A type or category of literature or film marked by certain shared features or conventions

satire
An attack on or criticism of any stupidity or vice in the form of scathing humor, or a critique of what the author sees as dangerous religious, political, moral, or social standards

Juxtaposition
placing two elements side by side to present a comparison or contrast

tone
the quality of something (an act or a piece of writing) that reveals the attitudes and presuppositions of the author

motif
a unifying idea that is a recurrent element in a literary or artistic work