Elements Of Literature

Submitted By annamusial10
Words: 2276
Pages: 10

With thanks to K. Bathje, BASIS Peoria

Throughout this year …
Know and understand the elements of literature.
 Several reasons:
 To decipher what you read (stories flow easier and reading becomes more manageable/less scary.)
 To help with discussions and homework. The more you know, the more points you can earn.

Author’s Purpose
This is the ultimate goal of the author’s poem/story/novel.
 Essentially, you are deciding
WHY he/she wrote this story.
 When you ask me why we are reading something, you are really asking me what the author’s purpose was.

Author’s Purpose, Cont’d

EX: In Shakespeare’s Romeo &
Juliet, why did Shakespeare choose to foreshadow their deaths?

If we didn’t know they would die at the end, we would never conceptualize that this was a tragedy. He set the stage for us.


When we read in class, your task is to decipher the author’s intent while remembering that he/she did not write the text with 21st century students in mind.
This concept requires academic maturity – you are never allowed to say you don’t like something and then leave it at that.
Consider the target audience first.

Plot describes the structure of a story. It shows the arrangement of events and actions within a story.
 There are five components to plot.
They do not necessarily need to follow the same order, but it all depends on the genre.

Plot: Structure

the turning point, the most intense moment—either mentally or in the action

Rising Action: the series of conflicts and crisis in the story that lead to the climax

Falling Action: all of the action that follows the climax

Exposition: the start of the story,

Resolution: the

the situation before the action starts

conclusion; the tying together of all the threads (aka –
2 Types: Open and Closed

The importance of plot…

If one of the aforementioned elements is weak, the reader may not want to continue. The most important elements that contribute to the working of a strong plot are: 


The people or animals or things that are presented in a literary work.
 Characters can be human, they can be beasts, they can be inanimate
 As long as they have a role (big or small) within the story, it/he/she can be classified as a character.

Character: Good and the

Protagonist: Major character at the center of the story, often the hero.
 Typically the main character, and most often has a natural goodness as a quality of their character.

Antagonist: The force that works against the protagonist.
 Can be the main character, but is most often another major character who acts as the villain who opposes the protagonist.

Character Types
Round Character
 Convincing, true to life.
 They have many different and sometimes even contradictory personality traits.
 Flat Character
 Stereotyped, shallow, and often symbolic.
 They have only one or two personality traits. 

Character Types

Dynamic Character
 A character that changes by the end of the story, learning something that changes him or her in a permanent way.
 They have something done to them or a revelation that causes them to change what they think or believe.
Static Character
 Does not change in the course of the story.
 Can be a major character, but easiest to identify is the characters with smaller roles. Character Types

 A person who contrasts with another character (usually the protagonist) in order to highlight various features of the main character's personality:
 Purpose: to throw the character of the protagonist into sharper focus.
Tragic Hero
 A character who makes errors in judgment in his/her own actions that inevitably leads to his/her own undoing or death.


Conflict is the dramatic struggle between two forces in a story.
Without a conflict there is no plot.

There usually is