Alliteration: the repetition of the same sound at the beginning of a word. A common use for alliteration is emphasis. Some literary critics call the repetition of any sounds alliteration. However, there are specialized terms for other sound-repetitions. Consonance repeats consonants, but not the vowels, as in horror-hearer.
Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds, please-niece-ski-tree.
An allusion: a brief reference to a person, event, place, or phrase. The writer assumes will recognize the reference. Bible, Mythology, History
Anthropomorphism: Where animals or inanimate objects are portrayed in a story as people, such as by walking, talking, or being given arms, legs and/or facial features. (This technique is often incorrectly called personification.) The King and Queen of Hearts in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
Ballad: An ancient form of storytelling. In the (very) old days, common people didn’t get their stories from books – they were sung as musical poems. Because they are meant to convey information, ballads usually have a simple rhythm and a consistent rhyme scheme. They often tell the story of everyday heroes, and some poets, like Bob Dylan, continue to set them to music.
Blank verse: Non-rhyming poetry, usually written in iambic pentameter. Most of Shakespeare’s dialogue is written in blank verse, though it does occasionally rhyme.
Dramatic Monologue: It’s a poem written in the voice of a fictional character and delivered to a fictional listener, instead of in the voice of a poet to his or her readers. The British poet Robert Browning is one of the most famous writers of dramatic monologues. They are “dramatic” because they can be acted out, just like a play, and they are monologues because they consist of just one person speaking to another person,
Figurative language: Any use of language where the intended meaning differs from the actual literal meaning of the words themselves. There are many techniques which can rightly be called figurative language, including metaphor, simile, hyperbole, personification, onomatopoeia, verbal irony, and oxymoron. (Related: figure of speech)
Hyperbole: A description which exaggerates. The author uses hyperbole to describe Mr. Smith, calling him “the greatest human being ever to walk the earth.”
Iambic pentameter: Poetry written with each line containing ten syllables, in five repetitions of a two-syllable pattern wherein the pronunciation emphasis is on the second syllable. Shakespeare wrote most of his dialogue in iambic pentameter, often having to adjust the order and nature of words to fit the syllable pattern, thus endowing the language with even greater meaning.
Imagery: Language which describes something in detail, using words to substitute for and create sensory stimulation, including visual imagery and sound imagery. Also refers to specific and recurring types of images, such as food imagery and nature imagery.
Metaphor: A direct relationship where one thing or idea substitutes for another. Shakespeare often uses light as a metaphor for Juliet; Romeo refers to her as the sun.
Extended metaphor: A central metaphor that acts like an “umbrella” to connect other metaphors or comparisons within it. It can span several lines or an entire poem. When one of Shakespeare’s characters delivers an entire speech about how all the world is a stage and people are just actors, that’s extended metaphor, with the idea of “theater” being the umbrella connecting everything.
Mood: The atmosphere or emotional condition created by the piece, within the setting. The mood of Macbeth is dark, murky and mysterious, creating a sense of fear and uncertainty.
Motif: A recurring important idea or image. A motif differs from a theme in that it can be expressed as a single word or fragmentary phrase, while a theme usually must be expressed as a complete sentence. Blood is an important motif in A Tale…