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doc. dr. Vanja Poli


1. Allegory
An allegory is a narrative, whether in prose or verse, in which the agents and actions, are
contrived by the author to make a sense of the primary level of signification, and at the
same time to signify a second order of signification.
We can distinguish two main types:
(1) Historical and political allegory, in which the characters and actions represent
historical personages and events.
(2) The allegory of ideas, in which the characters represent concepts and the plot an
abstract doctrine or thesis.
Works which are primarily nonallegorical may introduce allegorical imagery (the
personification of abstract entities who perform a brief allegorical
Sustained allegory was a favorite form in the Middle Ages, especially in the mode of the
dream vision, in which the narrator falls asleep and experiences an allegoric dream; this
mode includes, in the fourteenth century, Dante's Divine Comedy, Chaucer's House of Fame,
nineteenth-century Goethe's Faust, Shelley's Prometheus Unbound.
A fable (also called an apologue) is a short narrative, in prose or verse,
that exemplifies an abstract moral thesis or principle of human behaviour. Most common is
the beast fable, in which animals talk and act like the human types they represent. In
Western cultures they derive mainly from the stories attributed to Aesop.
A parable is a very short narrative about human beings presented so as to stress the tacit
analogy with the lesson that the narrator is trying to bring to his audience.
Many proverbs (short statements of widely accepted truths about everyday life) are
allegorical: "a stitch in time saves nine.
2. Alliteration
Alliteration is the repetition of a consonants in a sequence of nearby
In Old English alliterative meter, alliteration is the principal organizing device of the verse:
the verse is unrhymed; each line is divided into two half-lines by caesura; and at least one,
and usually both, of the two stressed syllables in the first half-line alliterate with the first
stressed syllable of the second half-line.
3. Ambiguity
In ordinary usage "ambiguity" is applied to the use of a vague expressiona when what is
wanted is precision of reference. Since William Empson published Seven Types of Ambiguity
(1930), the term has been widely used in criticism to identify a deliberate poetic device: the
use of a single word or expression to signify two or more distinct references.

Multiple meaning and plurisignation are alternative terms for this use of language; they
have the advantage of avoiding the pejorative association with the word "ambiguity."
A special type of multiple meaning is conveyed by the portmanteau word. The term was
introduced into literary criticism by Humpty Dumpty, the expert on semantics in Lewis
Carroll's Through the Looking Glass (1871). James Joyce exploited this devicethe fusion of
two or more existing wordsin order to sustain the multiple levels of meaning.
4. Ballad
A popular ballad (folk ballad or traditional ballad) is a song, transmitted orally, which
tells a story. Ballads are the narrative species of folk songs, which originate among illiterate
or partly literate people. The initial version of a ballad was composed by a single, unknown
author. The ballad is dramatic, condensed, and impersonal: the narrator begins with the
climactic episode, tells the story by means of action and dialogue and tells it without of
personal attitudes or feelings.
The most common stanza formthe ballad stanzais a quatrain in alternate four- and
three-stress lines; usually only the second and fourth lines rhyme.

A broadside ballad is a ballad that was printed on one side of a single sheet (called a
"broadside"), dealt with a current event or person or issue, and was sung to a well-known
tune. Beginning with the sixteenth century, these
broadsides were hawked in the streets or at country fairs in Great Britain.
It has also engendered the literary ballad, which is a narrative poem written in imitation of
the form of the traditional ballad.

5. Blank verse
It consists of lines of iambic pentameter (five-stress iambic verse) which are unrhymed
hence the term "blank." It is closest to the natural rhythms of English speech, and at the
same time flexible, thus it has been more frequently used than any other type of
versification. It became the standard meter for Elizabethan and later poetic.
Divisions in blank verse poems, used to set off a sustained passage, are
called verse paragraphs.
6. Character /characterization
(1) Literary genre; short, and witty, a sketch in prose of a distinctive type of person. It was
inaugurated by Theophrastus, a Greek author who wrote a book titled Characters.
(2) Characters are the persons represented in a work, interpreted by the reader as being of
particular moral qualities from what they say and their ways of saying itthe dialogue
and from what they dothe action. The grounds in the characters' temperament, desires,
and moral nature for their actions are called their motivation. A character may remain
unchanged from the beginning to the end, or may undergo a change, either through a
gradual process of development or as the result of a crisis
A flat character (also called a type, or "two-dimensional"), is built around "a single quality"
and is presented without much individualizing detail.
A round character is complex in temperament and motivation, a character difficult to
describe and like real persons, is capable of surprising us.

Characterizing - establishing the distinctive characters of the persons in a narrative:

showing and telling. In showing, the author simply presents the characters talking and
acting and leaves the reader to think about what lies behind what they say and do.
A critical tendency has been to consider "telling" a violation of artistry and to recommend
only the technique of "showing"; authors, it is said, should totally efface themselves in order
to write "objectively," "impersonally.


The term for figures of speech which establish a striking parallel between two very dissimilar
things or situations. From the Italian "concetto."
(1) The Petrarchan conceit: used in love poems, the figure consists of detailed and
exaggerated comparisons applied to the disdainful mistress, as cold and cruel as she is
beautiful, and to the distresses despair of her lover.
(2) The metaphysical conceit is a characteristic figure in John Donne and other metaphysical
poets of the seventeenth century. It was described by Samuel Johnson as "wit" which is a kind of
discordia Concors; a combination of dissimilar images. The metaphysical poets exploited all
knowledge for the vehicles of these. John Donne's "The Flea," a poem that uses a
flea who has bitten both lovers as the basic reference for its argument against the lady's
resistance to a male. The most famous sustained conceit is Donne's parallel (in "A Valediction:
Forbidding Mourning") between the continuing relationship of his and his lady's soul during their
physical parting, and the coordinated movements of the two feet of a draftsman's compass.




Overall term for studies concerned with defining, interpreting, and evaluating works of
literature. Theoretical criticism proposes an explicit theory of literature, together with a
set of terms and categories to be applied to works of literature, as well as the criteria by
which these are to be evaluated. The earliest was Aristotle's Poetics. Among the most
influential theoretical critics in the following centuries were Longinus in Greece; Horace in
Rome; Boileau and Sainte-Beuve in France; Goethe in Germany; Samuel Johnson, Coleridge
in England, Poe in America.
Practical criticism, or applied criticism, concerns itself with the discussion of particular
works and writers. Among the more influential works of applied criticism in England and
America are the literary essays of; Dr. Johnson's Lives of the English Poets, Coleridge's
chapters on the poetry of Wordsworth in Biographia Literaria and the many critical essays by
Virginia Woolf.
Impressionistic criticism attempts to represent in words the felt qualities of a particular
passage or work, and to express the responses (the "impression") that the work directly
evokes from the critic.
Judicial criticism, on the other hand, attempts not merely to communicate, but to analyze
and explain the effects of a work by reference to its subject, organization, techniques, and
style, and to base the critic's individual judgments on specified criteria of literary excellence.
(1) Mimetic criticism views the literary work as an imitation, or reflection of the world and
human life, and the primary criterion applied to a work is the "truth" of its representation to
the subject matter that it represents. It first appeared in Plato and Aristotle.

(2) Pragmatic criticism views the work as something which is constructed in order to
achieve certain effects on the audience, and it tends to judge the value of the work
according to its success in achieving that aim. This approach, dominated from Horace, has
been revived in recent rhetorical criticism.
(3) Expressive criticism treats a literary work primarily in relation to its author. It defines
poetry as the product of the poet's imagination operating on his or her thoughts; it tends to
judge the work by its sincerity.
(4) Objective criticism deals with a work of literature as something which stands free from
relations to the poet or the audience. Instead it describes the literary product as a selfsufficient which is to be contemplated as its own end. The general viewpoint was proposed in
Kant's Critique of Aesthetic Judgment, and has been elaborated by a number of
important critics, including the New Critics, the Chicago School.

A term in literary criticism, designates the view that there should be propriety, or fitness, in the
way that a literary genre, its subject matter, its characters and actions, and the style of its
narration and dialogue are matched to one another. The doctrine had its roots in the essay Art of
Poetry by the Horace It achieved a form in the criticism and composition of literature in the
Renaissance and the Neoclassic age, when decorum became "the grand masterpiece to
observe." In the most rigid application of this standard, literary forms, characters, and style were
ordered in hierarchies, or "levels," from high through middle to low. Thus comedy must not be
mixed with tragedy, and the highest and most serious genres (epic and tragedy) must represent
characters of the highest social classes (kings and nobility) acting in a way appropriate to their
status and speaking in the high style.




Epiphany means "a manifestation," or "showing forth," and by Christian thinkers was used to
signify a manifestation of God's presence within the created world. James Joyce adapted the
term to signify a sudden sense of radiance and revelation that one may feel while perceiving a
commonplace object.


Figurative language
Figurative Language is a departure from what users of a language apprehend as the standard
meaning of words, or else the standard order of words, in order to achieve some special
meaning or effect. Figurative language has often been divided into two classes:
(1) Figures of thought, or tropes in which words or phrases are used in a way that
effects a conspicuous change in what we take to be their standard meaning.
(2) Figures of speech, or rhetorical figures, or schemes (from the Greek word for "form"), in
which the departure from standard usage is not primarily in the meaning of the words, but in the
order or syntactical pattern of the words.
In a widely adopted usage, I. A. Richards introduced the name tenor for the subject, and the
name vehicle for the metaphorical term itself.
A dead metaphor is one which, like "the leg of a table" or "the heart of the matter," has been
used so long and become so common that its users have ceased to be aware of the difference
between vehicle and tenor.


Free verse

Printed in short lines, its rhythmic pattern is not organized into a regular metrical formthat is,
into feet, has irregular line lengths, and either lacks rhyme or else uses it only sporadically.

Gothic novel
The Gothic novel is a type of prose fiction which was inaugurated by Horace Walpole's The
Castle of Otranto: A Gothic. Some writers followed Walpole's example by setting their stories in
the medieval period; others set them in a Catholic country, especially Italy or Spain. The locale
was often a gloomy castle furnished with dungeons, subterranean passages, and sliding panels;
the typical story focused on the sufferings imposed on an innocent heroine by a cruel and lustful
villain, and made use of ghosts, mysterious disappearances, and other sensational and
supernatural occurrences.The principal aim of such novels was to evoke chilling terror by
exploiting mystery and a variety of horrors.
Heroic Couplet: Lines of iambic pentameter which rhyme in pairs: aa, bb, cc, and so on. The
adjective "heroic" was applied in the later seventeenth century because of the frequent use of
such couplets in heroic (epic) poems. This verse form was introduced into English poetry by
Geoffrey Chaucer (in The Legend of Good Women and most of The Canterbury Tales).


Graveyard poets
A term applied to eighteenth-century poets who wrote meditative poems, usually set in a
graveyard, on the theme of human mortality, in moods which range from elegiac pensiveness to
profound gloom. Most widely known English poems, Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in
a Country Churchyard".


(1) "Imagery" is used to signify all the objects and qualities of sense perception referred to in a
poem or other work of literature, whether by literal description, by allusion, or in the vehicles
(the secondary references) of its similes and metaphors.
(2) Imagery is used, more narrowly, to signify only specific descriptions of visible objects and
scenes, especially if the description is vivid and particularized.
(3) Commonly in recent usage, imagery signifies figurative language, especially the vehicles of


Irony. In Greek comedy the character called the eiron was a dissembler, who characteristically
spoke in understatement and deliberately pretended to be less intelligent than he was, yet
triumphed over the alazonthe self-deceiving and stupid braggart. In most of the modern
critical uses of the term "irony/' there remains the root sense of dissembling or hiding what is
actually the case; not, however, in order to deceive, but to achieve special rhetorical or artistic


Meter is the recurrence, in regular units, of a prominent feature in the sequence of speech
sounds of a language. There are four main types of meter in European languages:
(1) quantitative; consisted of a recurrent pattern of long and short syllables.
(2) In Romance languages, the meter is syllabic, depending on the number of syllables within a
line of verse, without regard to the fall of the stresses.

(3) In the older Germanic languages, including Old English, the meter is accentual, depending
on the number of stressed syllables within a line, without regard to the number of intervening
unstressed syllables.
(4) Accentual-syllabic, in which the metric units consist of a recurrent pattern of stresses on a
recurrent number of syllables.
A metric line is named according to the number of feet composing it:
monometer: one foot
dimeter: two feet


Novel - writings that have in common only the attribute of being extended works of fiction
written in prose. Its magnitude permits a greater variety of characters, greater complication of
plot (or plots), exploration of character and motives. The term for the novel in most European
languages is roman, which is derived from the medieval term, the romance. The English name
for the form, on the other hand, is derived from the Italian novella (literally, "a little new
thing"), which was a short tale in prose.


Onomatopoeia, sometimes called echoism, is used both in a narrow and in a broad sense.
(1) In the narrow and most common use, onomatopoeia designates a word, or a combination of
words, whose sound seems to resemble closely the sound it denotes: "hiss," "buzz," "rattle,"
(2) In the broad sense, "onomatopoeia" is applied to words or passages which seem to
correspond to, or to strongly suggest, what they denote in any way whateverin size,
movement, tactile feel, or force, as well as sound .


Point of view
Point of View signifies the way a story gets toldthe mode (or modes) established by an
author by means of which the reader is presented with the characters, dialogue, actions, setting,
and events which constitute the narative in a work of fiction.


In English versification, standard rhyme consists of the repetition, in the rhyming words, of the
last stressed vowel and of all the speech sounds following that vowel: lte-fte; follow hllow.
End rhymes, by far the most frequent type, occur at the end of a verse line.
Internal rhymes occur within a verse-line.


Satire can be described as the literary art of diminishing or derogating a subject by making it
ridiculous and evoking toward it attitudes of amusement, contempt, scorn, or indignation. It
differs from the comic in that comedy evokes laughter mainly as an end in itself, while satire
derides; that is, it uses laughter as a weapon, and against a butt that exists outside the work
itself. That butt may be an individual (in "personal satire"), or a type of person, a class, an
institution, a nation, or even the entire human race. The distinction between the comic and the
satiric, however, is sharp only at its extremes.



A lyric poem consisting of a single stanza of fourteen iambic pentameter lines linked by an
intricate rhyme scheme. There are two major patterns of rhyme in sonnets written in the English
(1) The Italian or Petrarchan sonnet: an octave (eight lines) rhyming abbaabba followed by a
sestet (six lines) rhyming cdecde
(2) The Earl of Surrey and other English experimenters in the sixteenth century also developed a
stanza form called the English sonnet, or else the Shakespearean sonnet, after its greatest
practitioner. This sonnet falls into three quatrains and a concluding couplet: abab cdcd efef gg.
There was one notable variant, the Spenserian sonnet, in which Spenser linked each quatrain
to the next by a continuing rhyme: abab bebe cdcd ee.


Speech act theory

Speech-Act Theory, developed by the philosopher John Austin, was described most fully in his
posthumous book How to Do Things with Words. Austin's theory is directed against traditional
tendencies of philosophers
(1) to analyze the meaning of isolated sentences, abstracted from the context of a discourse
and from the attendant circumstances in which a sentence is uttered; and (2) to assume, in
what Austin describes as a logical obsession, that the standard sentenceof which other types
are merely variantsis a statement that describes a situation or asserts a fact and can be
judged to be either true or false.
S peech acts:
(1) We utter a sentence; Austin called this act a "locution."
(2) We refer to an object, and predicate something about that object.
(3) We perform an illocutionary act.
(4) Often, we also perform a perlocutionary act.


Stanza. A stanza (Italian for "stopping place") is a grouping of the verselines in a poem, often
set off by a space in the printed text. Usually the stanzas of a given poem are marked by a
recurrent pattern of rhyme and are also uniform in the number and lengths of the component
lines. Some unrhymed poems, however, are divided into stanzaic units, and some rhymed
poems are composed of stanzas that vary in their component lines (for example, the inegular
Of the great diversity of English stanza forms, many have no special names and must be
described by specifying the number of lines, the type and number of metric feet in each line,
and the pattern of the rhyme. Certain stanzas, however, occur so often that they have been
given the convenience of a name. Some literary scholars apply the term "stanza" only to
divisions of four or more lines.
A couplet is a pair of rhymed lines that are equal in length.
The tercet, or triplet, is a stanza of three lines, usually with a single rhyme.
Terza rima is composed of tercets which are interlinked, in that each is joined to the one
following by a common rhyme: aba, beb, ede, and so on. Dante composed his Divine Comedy
(early fourteenth century) in terza rima.
The quatrain, or four-line stanza, is the most common in English versification, and is employed
with various meters and rhyme schemes. The ballad stanza (in alternating four- and three-foot
lines rhyming abeb, or less frequently abab) is one common quatrain.

Spenserian stanza is a still longer form devised by Edmund Spenser for The Faerie Queene
(1590-96)nine lines, in which the first eight lines are iambic pentameter and the last iambic
hexameter (an Alexandrine), rhyming
ababbcbcc. Symbol
In the broadest sense a symbol is anything which signifies something; in this sense all words are
symbols. In discussing literature, however, the term "symbol" is applied only to a word or phrase
that signifies an object or event which in its turn signifies something, or has a range of
reference, beyond itself. Some symbols are "conventional" or "public": thus "the Cross," "the
Red, White, and Blue," and "the Good Shepherd" are terms that refer to symbolic objects of
which the further significance is determined within a particular culture.


Text and writing

Text and Writing (criture). Traditional critics have conceived the object of their critical
concern to be a literary "work," whose form is achieved by its author's design and its meanings
by the author's intentional uses of the verbal medium. French structuralist critics, on the other
hand, depersonalized a literary product by conceiving it to be not a "work," but an impersonal
text, a manifestation of the social institution called criture (writing). The author is regarded as
an intermediary in whom the action of writing precipitates the elements and codes of the preexisting linguistic and literary system into a particular text. The interpretation of this writing is
effected by a "lecture" (French: process of reading) which, by bringing to bear expectations
formed by earlier exposure to the functioning of the linguistic system, invests the marks on the
page with what merely seem to be their inherent meanings and references to an outer world.
The system of linguistic and literary conventions that constitute a literary text are said by
structuralist and poststructuralist critics to be "naturalized" in the activity of reading, in that the
artifices of a nonreferential "textuality" are made to seem vraisemblable (credible)that is,
made to give the illusion of referring to reality
The term intertextuality, popularized especially by Julia Kristeva, is used to signify the multiple
ways in which any one literary text is made up of other texts, by means of its open or covert
citations and allusions, its repetitions and transformations of the formal and substantive features
of earlier texts, or simply its unavoidable participation in the common stock of linguistic and
literary conventions and procedures that are "always already" in place and constitute the
discourses into which we are born.


Understatement /hyperbole
Hyperbole and Understatement. The figure of speech, or trope, called hyperbole (Greek for
"overshooting") is bold overstatement, or the extravagant exaggeration of fact or of possibility.
It may be used either for serious or ironic or comic effect.
The contrary figure is understatement (the Greek term is meiosis, "lessening"), which
deliberately represents something as very much less in magnitude or importance than it really
is, or is ordinarily considered to be.

a) Periods of English Literature

b) Periods of American Literature
c) Modernism and Postmodernism