English Literary Terminologies

Here are some important English literary terms that you need to know...

English Literary Terms


Here are some of the English Literary Terminologies:

  • Auto-Biography - is the history of one’s life written by one self.
  • Act - is the major division of a drama.
  • Antithesis - is contrast or polarity in meaning.
  • Allusion - is a reference to an idea, place, person or text existing outside the literary work.
  • Allegory - is a literary work that has an implied meaning.
  • Alliteration - the repetition of a consonant in two or more words.
  • Ballad - is a song which tells a story.
  • Biography - is the history of a person’s life by one else.
  • Blank Verse - Verses written in iambic pentameter without any rhyme pattern are called blank verse.
  • Comedy - is a play written to entertain its audience, ends happily.
  • Classical - means any writing that conforms to the rules and modes of old Greek and Latin writings.
  • Canto - is a sub-division of an epic or a narrative poem comparable to a chapter in a novel.
  • Chorus - is a group of singers who stand alongside the stage in a drama.
  • Catharsis - is emotional release of pity and fear that the tragic incidences in a tragedy arouse to an audience.
  • Comic relief - a humorous scene in a tragedy to eliminate the tragic effect from audience.
  • Couplet - Two lines of the same material length usually found in Shakespearean sonnets.
  • Catastrophe - Catastrophe is the downfall of the protagonist in a tragedy.
  • Didactic - is a literary work which aims at teaching and instructing its readers.
  • Dirge - is a short functional term.
  • Diction - is the selection of words in literary work.
  • Dialect - is the language of particular district; class or a group of people.
  • Drammatical Monologue - In a poem when a single person speaks along with or without an audience is called drammatical monologue. Example “My last Duchess” - Browning.
  • Difference between drama and novel - A drama is meant to be performed whereas a novel is meant to be read.
  • Difference between stanza and paragraph - A stanza contains verses whereas a paragraph contains prosaic lines.
  • Epic - is a long narrative poem composed on a grand scale and is exalted style. Example “Paradise Lost” - Miton.
  • Epilogue - is the concluding part of a longer poem or a novel or a drama.
  • Fable - is a brief story illustrating a moral.
  • Farce - A form of low comedy designed to provoke laughter.
  • Foot - A basic unit of meter.
  • Fiction - A fiction is an imaginative narrative in prose. Example: Lord of the fly - by Golding.
  • Elegy - is a poem mourning to the death of an individual or a lament for a tragic event.
  • Genre - means category or types of literature-epic, ode, ballad etc.
  • Hyperbole - An overstatement or exaggeration.
  • Image - is the mental picture connected with metaphor, smile and symbol.
  • Limerick - is a short poem of a five-line stanza rhyming aaba.
  • Lyric - A lyric is a short poem expressing a simple mood. It is usually personal and musical e.g. Keats’s odes.
  • Linguistic - is the scientific and systematic study of language.
  • Melodrama - A highly sensational drama with happy ending. Example ‘The Spanish Tragedy’ –Kyd.
  • Metaphysical Poetry - Meta means beyond and physical is related to body . . . . . . . . .
  • Mock-epic - It is a long satirical poem dealing with a trivial theme. Example: “The rape of the lock”-Alexander Pope.
  • Metaphor - A metaphor is an implicit comparison between two different things.
  • Metre - The recurrence of similar stress pattern in some lines of a poem.
  • Novel - is a long prose narrative fiction with plot, characters, etc.
  • Novelette - is longer than a short story and shorter than a novel.
  • Ode - is a long narrative poem of varying, line length dealing with serious subject matter.
  • Objectivity - We have objectivity in a literary piece when the author focuses on an object from broadened point of view.
  • Octave - is the firs part of Italian sonnet.
  • Oxymoron - is apparently a physical contrast which oddly makes sense on a deeper level.
  • Prologue - is the beginning part of a novel or a play or a novel.
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