Introduction to Literary Studies
Introduction to Literary Studies ENGL 3000
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Date Created: 09/23/15
Literary Terms QEA type of briefpoem that expresses the personal emotions and thoughts ofa single speaker It is important to realize however that although the lyric is uttered in the first person the speaker is not necessarily the poet There are many varieties of lyric poetry including the dramatic monologue elegy haiku ode and sonnet forms Ballad Traditionallya ballad is a song transmitted orally from generation to generation that tells a story and that eventually is written down As such ballads usually cannot be traced to a particular author or group ofauthors Typically ballads are dramatic condensed and impersonal narratives such as quotBonny Barbara Allanquot A literary ballad is a narrative poem that is written in deliberate imitation of the language form and spirit of the traditional ballad such as Keats39 quotLa Belle Dame sans Merciquot Stanza In poetry stanza refers to a grouping of lines set off by a space that usually has a set pattern of meter and rhyme Ballad stanza A fourline stanza known as a quatrain consisting ofalternating eight and sixsyllable lines Usually only the second and fourth lines rhyme an abcbpattern Coleridge adopted the ballad stanza in quotThe Rime of the Ancient Marinerquot All in a hot and copper sky The bloody Sun at noon Right up above the mast did stand No bigger than the Moon Line A sequence of words printed as a separate entity on the page In poetry lines are usually measured by the number of feet they contain The names for various line lengths are as follows pentameter five feet monometer one foot hexameter SIX feet dimeter two feet trimeter three feet octameter eight feet tetrameter four feet The number of feet in a line coupled with the name of the foot describes the metrical qualities of that line Endstopped line Apoetic line that has a pause at the end Endstopped lines reflect normal speech patterns and are often marked by punctuation The first line of Keats39 quotEndymionquot is an example ofan endstopped line the natural pause coincides with the end of the line and is marked by a period A thing of beauty is a joy forever Eniambment In poetry when one line ends without a pause and continues into the next line for its meaning This is also called a runon line The transition between the first two lines of Wordsworth39s poem quotMy Heart Leaps Upquot demonstrates eniambment My heart leaps up when I behold A rainbow in the sky Caesura A pause within a line of poetry that contributes to the rhythm of the line A caesura can occur anywhere within a line and need not be indicated by punctuation n scanning a line caesuras are indicated by a double vertical line H Tone The author39s implicit attitude toward the reader or the people places and events in a work as revealed by the elements of the author39s style Tone may be characterized as serious or ironic sad or happy private or public angry or affectionate bitter or nostalgic or any other attitudes and feelings that human beings experience Syntax The ordering of words into meaningful verbal patterns such as phrases clauses and sentences Poets often manipulate syntax changing conventional word order to place certain emphasis on particular words Emily Dickinson for instance writes about being surprised by a snake in her poem quotA narrow Fellow in the Grassquot and includes this line quotHis notice sudden isquot In addition to the alliterative hissing ssounds here Dickinson also effectively manipulates the line39s syntax so that the verb is appears unexpectedly at the end making the snake39s hissing presence all the more sudden Diction A writer39s choice of words phrases sentence structures and figurative language which combine to help create meaning Formal diction consists ofa dignified impersonal and elevated use of language it follows the rules of syntax exactly and is often characterized by complex words and lofty tone Middle diction maintains correct language usage but is less elevated than formal diction it reflects the way most educated people speak Informal diction represents the plain language of everyday use and often includes idiomatic expressions slang contractions and many simple common words Poetic diction refers to the way poets sometimes employ an elevated diction that deviates significantly from the common speech and writing of their time choosing words for their supposedly inherent poetic qualities Since the eighteenth century however poets have been incorporating all kinds of diction in their work and so there is no longer an automatic distinction between the language ofa poet and the language of everyday speech Denotation The dictionary meaning of a word Connotation Associations and implications that go beyond the literal meaning ofa word which derive from how the word has been commonly used and the associations people make with it For example the word eagle connotes ideas of liberty and freedom that have little to do with the word39s literal meaning Alliteration The repetition of the same consonant sounds in a sequence of words usually at the beginning of a word or stressed syllable quotdescending dew dropsquot quotluscious lemonsquot Alliteration is based on the sounds of letters rather than the spelling of words for example quotkeenquot and quotcarquot alliterate but quotcarquot and quotcitequot do not Used sparingly alliteration can intensify ideas by emphasizing key words but when used too selfconsciously it can be distracting even ridiculous rather than effective Assonance The repetition ofinternal vowel sounds in nearby words that do not end the same for examplequotasleep undera treequot or quoteach eveningquot Similar endings result in rhyme as in quotasleep in the deepquot Assonance is a strong means of emphasizing important words in a line Onomatopoeia Aterm referring to the use ofa word that resembles the sound it denotes Buzz rattle bang and sizzle all reflect onomatopoeia Onomatopoeia can also consist of more than one word writers sometimes create lines or whole passages in which the sound of the words helps to convey their meanings Cacophony Language that is discordant and difficult to pronounce such as this line from John Updike39s quotPlayer Pianoquot quotnever my numb plunker fumblesquot Cacophony quotbad soundquot may be unintentional in the writer39s sense ofmusic or it may be used consciously for deliberate dramatic effect Euphony Euphony quotgood soundquot refers to language that is smooth and musically pleasant to the ear Rhyme The repetition of identical or similar concluding syllables in different words most often at the ends of lines Rhyme is predominantly a function ofsound rather than spelling thus words that end with the same vowel sounds rhyme for instance day prey bouquet weigh and words with the same consonant ending rhyme forinstance vain feign rein lane Words do not have to be spelled the same way or lookalike to rhyme In fact words may look alike but not rhyme at all This is called eye rhyme as with bough and cough or brow and blow Meter When a rhythmic pattern of stresses recurs in a poem it is called meter Metrical patterns are determined by the type and number of feet in a line of verse combining the name ofa line length with the name ofa foot concisely describes the meter of the line Rising meter refers to metrical feet which move from unstressed to stressed sounds such as the iambic foot and the anapestic foot Falling meter refers to metrical feet which move from stressed to unstressed sounds such as the trochaic foot and the dactylic foot Rhythm Aterm used to refer to the recurrence of stressed and unstressed sounds in poetry Depending on how sounds are arranged the rhythm ofa poem may be fast or slow choppy or smooth Poets use rhythm to create pleasurable sound patterns and to reinforce meanings Rhythm in prose arises from pattern repetitions ofsounds and pauses that create looser rhythmic effects Image Aword phrase or figure of speech especially a simile ora metaphor that addresses the senses suggesting mental pictures of sights sounds smells tastes feelings or actions Images offer sensory impressions to the reader and also convey emotions and moods through their verbal pictures Simile A common figure of speech that makes an explicit comparison between two things by using words such as like as than appears and seems quotA sip of Mrs Cook39s coffee is like a punch in the stomachquot The effectiveness of this simile is created by the differences between the two things compared There would be no simile if the comparison were stated this way quotMrs Cook39s coffee is as strong as the cafeteria39s coffeequot This is a literal translation because Mrs Cook39s coffee is compared with something like it another kind of coffee Metaphor Ametaphoris a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things without using the word quotlikequot or quotasquot Metaphors assert the identity of dissimilar things as when Macbeth asserts that life is a quotbrief candlequot Metaphors can be subtle and powerful and can transform people places objects and ideas into whatever the writer imagines them to be An implied metaphoris a more subtle comparison the terms being compared are not so specifically explained For example to describe a stubborn man unwilling to leave one could say that he was quota mule standing his groundquot This is a fairly explicit metaphor the man is being compared to a mule But to say that the man quotbrayed his refusal to leavequot is to create an implied metaphor because the subject the man is never overtly identified as a mule Braying is associated with the mule a notoriously stubborn creature and so the comparison between the stubborn man and the mule is sustained Implied metaphors can slip by inattentive readers who are not sensitive to such carefully chosen highly concentrated language An extended metaphor is a sustained comparison in which part or all ofa poem consists ofa series of related metaphors Robert Francis39 poem quotCatchquot relies on an extended metaphor that compares poetry to playing catch A controlling metaphor runs through an entire work and determines the form or nature of that work The controlling metaphor in Anne Bradstreet39s poem quotThe Author to Her Bookquot likens her book to a child Synecdoche is a kind ofmetaphor in which a part of something is used to signify the whole as when a gossip is called a quotwagging tonguequot or when ten ships are called quotten sailsquot Sometimes synecdoche refers to the whole being used to signify the part as in the phrase quotBoston won the baseball gamequot Clearly the entire city of Boston did not participate in the game the whole of Boston is being used to signify the individuals who played and won the game Metonymy is a type ofmetaphor in which something closely associated with a subject is substituted forit In this way we speak of the quotsilver screenquot to mean motion pictures quotthe crownquot to stand for the king quotthe White Housequot to stand for the activities of the president Synecdoche Metonymy Ambiguity Allows for two or more simultaneous interpretations of a word phrase action or situation all of which can be supported by the context ofa work Deliberate ambiguity can contribute to the effectiveness and richness ofa work for example in the openended conclusion to Hawthorne39s quotYoung Goodman Brownquot However unintentional ambiguity obscures meaning and can confuse readers Symbol Aperson obiect image word or event that evokes a range ofadditional meaning beyond and usually more abstract than its literal significance Symbols are educational devices for evoking complex ideas without having to resort to painstaking explanations that would make a story more like an essay than an experience Conventional symbols have meanings that are widely recognized by a society or culture Some conventional symbols are the Christian cross the Star of David a swastika or a nation39s flag Writers use conventional symbols to reinforce meanings Kate Chopin for example emphasizes the spring setting in quotThe Story ofan Hourquot as a way of suggesting the renewed sense of life that Mrs Mallard feels when she thinks herselffree from her husband A literary or contextual symbol can be a setting character action obiect name or anything else in a work that maintains its literal significance while suggesting other meanings Such symbols go beyond conventional symbols they gain their symbolic meaning within the context ofa specific story For example the white whale in Melville39s MobyDick takes on multiple symbolic meanings in the work but these meanings do not automatically carry overinto other stories about whales The meanings suggested by Melville39s whale are specific to that text therefore it becomes a contextual symbol Allusion A brief reference to a person place thing event or idea in history or literature Allusions conjure up biblical authority scenes from Shakespeare39s plays historic figures wars great love stories and anything else that might enrich an author39s work Allusions imply reading and cultural experiences shared by the writer and reader functioning as a kind of shorthand whereby the recalling of something outside the work supplies an emotional or intellectual context such as a poem about current racial struggles calling up the memory of Abraham Lincoln 0 Apostrophe An address either to someone who is absent and therefore cannot hearthe speaker or to something nonhuman that cannot comprehend Apostrophe often provides a speaker the opportunity to think aloud Poetry Terms AllegoLyAn allegory is a whole world of symbols Within a narrative form which can be eitherin prose or verse an allegory tells a story that can be read symbolically You may have encountered The Faerie Queen by Edmund Spenser or a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne such as Rappacini s Daughter or maybe you ve heard that The Wizard of 02 was originally an allegory Interpreting an allegory is complicated because you need to be aware of what each symbol in the narrative refers to Allegories thus reinforce symbolic meaning but can also be appreciated as good stories regardless of their allegorical meaning AlliterationAlliteration occurs when the initial sounds ofa word beginning either with a consonant or a vowel are repeated in close succession Examples Athena and Apollo Nate never knows People who pen poetry Note that the words only have to be close to one another Alliteration that repeats and attempts to connect a number of words is little more than a tonguetwister The function ofalliteration like rhyme might be to accentuate the beauty of language in a given context or to unite words or concepts through a kind of repetition Alliteration like rhyme can follow specific patterns Sometimes the consonants aren39t always the initial ones but they are generally the stressed syllables Alliteration is less common than rhyme but because it is less common it can call our attention to a word or line in a poem that might not have the same emphasis otherwise Assonancefalliteration occurs at the beginning ofa word and rhyme at the end assonance takes the middle territory Assonance occurs when the vowel sound within a word matches the same sound in a nearby word but the surrounding consonant sounds are different quotTunequot and quotJunequot are rhymes quottunequot and quotfoodquot are assonant The function ofassonance is frequently the same as end rhyme or alliteration All serve to give a sense of continuity or fluidity to the verse Assonance might be especially effective when rhyme is absent It gives the poet more flexibility and it is not typically used as part ofa predetermined pattern Like alliteration it does not so much determine the structure or form ofa poem rather it is more ornamental DenotationConnotation Denotationis when you mean what you say literally Connotation is created when you mean something else something that might be initially hidden The connotative meaning ofa word is based on implication or shared emotional association with a word Greasyis a completely innocent word Some things like car engines need to be greasy But greasy contains negative associations for most people whether they are talking about food or about people Often there are many words that denote approximately the same thing but their connotations are very different innocent and genuine both denote an absence of corruption but the connotations of the two words are different innocent is often associated with a lack of experience whereas genuine is not Connotations are important in poetry because poets use them to further develop or complicate a poem39s meaning Diction Diction refers to both the choice and the order of words It has typically been split into vocabulary and syntax The basic question to ask about vocabulary is quotIs it simple or complexquot The basic question to ask about syntax is quotIs it ordinary or unusualquot Taken together these two elements make up diction When we speak ofa quotlevel of dictionquot we might be misleading because it39s certainly possible to use quotplainquot language in a complicated way especially in poetry and it39s equally possible to use complicated language in a simple way It might help to think of diction as a web rather than a level There39s typically something deeper than a surface meaning to consider so poetic diction is by definition complex mageThink ofan image as a picture ora sculpture something concrete and representational within a work ofart Literal images appeal to our sense of realistic perception like a nineteenthcentury landscape painting that looks quotjust like a photographquot There are also figurative images that appeal to ourimagination like a twentiethcentury modernist portrait that looks only vaguely like a person but that implies a certain mood Literal images saturate Samuel Coleridge39s poem quotKubla Khan or AVision in a Dreamquot So twice five miles of fertile ground With walls and towers were girdled round And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills Where blossomed many an incensebearing tree And there were forests ancient as the hills Enfolding sunny spots of greenery lines 611 A figurative image begins T S Eliot39s famous poem quotThe Love Song ofJ Alfred Prufrockquot Let us go then you and When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherized upon a table To see the evening in the way Prufrock describes it requires an imaginative leap He39s doing much more than setting the scene and telling us that it39s nighttime We are encouraged to see stars to feel the unconscious and infinite presence of the universe but these things are only implied In either case poetic imagery alters or shapes the way we see what the poem is describing Irony As a figure of speech irony refers to a difference between the way something appears and what is actually true Part of what makes poetry interesting is its indirectness its refusal to state something simply as quotthe way it isquot rony allows us to say something but to mean something else whether we are being sarcastic exaggerating or understating A woman might say to her husband ironically quotI never know what you39re going to sayquot when in fact she always knows what he will say This is sarcasm which is one way to achieve irony rony is generally more restrained than sarcasm even though the effect might be the same The woman of our example above might simply say quotInterestingquot when her husband says something that really isn39t interesting She might not be using sarcasm in this case and she might not even be aware that she is being ironic A listener who finds the husband dull would probably understand the irony though The key to irony is often the tone which is sometimes harder to detect in poetry than in speech MetaphorClosely related to similes metaphors immediately identify one object oridea with another in one or more aspects The meaning ofa poem frequently depends on the success ofa metaphor Like a simile a metaphor expands the sense and clarifies the meaning of something quotHe39s such a pigquot you might say and the listener wouldn39t immediately think quotMy friend has a porcine boyfriendquot but rather quotMy friend has a human boyfriend who is a a slob b a voracious eater c someone with crude attitudes or tastes or d a chauvinistquot In any case it would be clear that the speaker wasn39t paying her boyfriend a compliment but unless she clarifies the metaphor you might have to ask quotIn what sensequot English Renaissance poetry is characterized by metaphors that turn into elaborate conceits or extended metaphors Poets like John Donne and William Shakespeare extended their comparisons brilliantly with the effect that the reader was dazzled Contemporary poets tend to be more economical with their metaphors but they still use them as one of the chief elements that distinguishes poetry from less lofty forms of communication MetenMeteris the rhythm established by a poem and it is usually dependent not only on the number of syllables in a line but also on the way those syllables are accented This rhythm is often described as a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables The rhythmic unit is often described as a foot patterns of feet can be identified and labeled A foot may be iambic which follows a pattern of unstressedstressed syllables For example read aloud quotThe DOC wentWALKing DOWN the ROAD and BARKEDquot Because there are five iambs or feet this line follows the conventions ofiambic pentameter pent five the common form in Shakespeare39s time Stressed syllables are conventionally labeled with a quotquot mark and unstressed syllables with a quotUquot mark RhymeThe basic definition ofrhyme is two words that sound alike The vowel sound of two words is the same but the initial consonant sound is different Rhyme is perhaps the most recognizable convention ofpoetry but its function is often overlooked Rhyme helps to unify a poem it also repeats a sound that links one concept to another thus helping to determine the structure ofa poem When two subsequent lines rhyme it is likely that they are thematically linked or that the next set of rhymed lines signifies a slight departure Especially in modern poetry for which conventions aren39t as rigidly determined as they were during the English Renaissance or in the eighteenth century rhyme can indicate a poetic theme or the willingness to structure a subject that seems otherwise chaotic Rhyme works closely with meter in this regard There are varieties of rhyme internal rhyme functions within a line of poetry for example while the more common end rhyme occurs at the end of the line and at the end of some other line usually within the same stanza ifnot in subsequent lines There are true rhymes bear care and slant rhymes lying mine There are also a number of predetermined rhyme schemes associated with different forms ofpoetry Once you have identified a rhyme scheme examine it closely to determine 1 how rigid it is 2 how closely it conforms to a predetermined rhyme scheme such as a sestina and especially 3 what function it serves SimileHave you ever noticed how many times your friends say quotIt39s like quot or quotI39m like quot They aren39t always creating similes but they are attempting to simulate something often a conversation The word like signifies a direct comparison between two things that are alike in a certain way Usually one of the elements ofa simile is concrete and the other abstract quotMy love is like a red red rosequot writes Robert Burns He39s talking about the rose39s beauty when it39s in full bloom he tells us that it39s May in the next line quotLove is like a rosequot is a simpler version of the simile but it39s a more dangerous version A black rose A dead rose in 8
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