Litherary theory

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S preFigures of Speech
*Personification: The use of human characteristics to describe animals, things, or ideas. Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago” describes the city as “Stormy, husky, brawling, / City of the Big Shoulders.”
*Metaphor: The comparison of one thing to another that does not use the terms “like” or “as.” Shakespeare is famous for his metaphors, as in Macbeth: “Life is but a walkingshadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage.”
* Mixed metaphor: A combination of metaphors that produces a confused or contradictory image, such as “The company’s collapse left mountains of debt in its wake.”
*Simile: A comparison of two things through the use of “like” or “as.” The title of Robert Burns’s poem “My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose” is a simile.Apostrophe: A direct address to an absent or dead person, or to an object, quality, or idea. Walt Whitman’s poem “O Captain, My Captain,” written upon the death of Abraham Lincoln, is an example of apostrophe.
Synecdoche: A form of metonymy in which a part of an entity is used to refer to the whole, for example, “my wheels” for “my car.”
Metonymy: The substitution of one term for another that generally isassociated with it. For example, “suits” instead of “businessmen.”
Allegory: A narrative in which literal meaning corresponds clearly and directly to symbolic meaning. For example, the literal story in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress—Christian’s journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City—is an allegory for the spiritual journey from sin to holiness.
Paradox: A statementthat seems absurd or even contradictory on its face but often expresses a deeper truth. For example, a line in Oscar Wilde’s “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”: “And all men kill the thing they love.”
*Hyperbole: An excessive overstatement or conscious exaggeration of fact: “I’ve told you about it a million times already.”
Satire: A work that exposes to ridicule the shortcomings of individuals,institutions, or society, often to make a political point. Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is one of the most well known satires in English.
Sarcasm: A simple form of verbal irony (see Literary Techniques, below) in which it is obvious from context and tone that the speaker means the opposite of what he or she says. Sarcasm usually, but not always, expresses scorn. Commenting “That was graceful” whensomeone trips and falls is an example.
Parody: A humorous and often satirical imitation of the style or particular work of another author. Henry Fielding’s Shamela is a parody of Samuel Richardson’s Pamela.
Elements of Poetry
Poetry is a literary form characterized by a strong sense of rhythm and meter and an emphasis on the interaction between sound and sense. The study of the elements ofpoetry is called prosody. For an in-depth explanation of poetry and poetic forms, see the Poetry Spark Chart.
Rhythm and Meter
Rhythm and meter are the building blocks of poetry. Rhythm is the pattern of sound created by the varying length and emphasis given to different syllables. The rise and fall of spoken language is called its cadence.
Meter is the rhythmic pattern created in a lineof verse. There are four basic kinds of meter:
The Foot
The foot is the basic rhythmic unit into which a line of verse can be divided. When reciting verse, there usually is a slight pause between feet. When this pause is especially pronounced, it is called a caesura. The process of analyzing the number and type of feet in a line is called scansion.
*These are the most common types of feet inEnglish poetry.
* Iamb: An unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable: “to day ”
* Trochee: A stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable: “ car ry”
* Dactyl: A stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables: “ diff icult”
* Anapest: Two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable: “it is time ”
* Spondee: Two successive syllables with...
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