Romeo and Juliet Literary Terms – Definition

allusion a reference in one work of literature to a person, place, or event in another work of literature or in history, art, or music
analogy an extended comparison showing the similarities between two things
antagonist the character or force that works against the protagonist, introduces the conflict
aside words spoken by a character in a play, usually in an undertone and not intended
blank verse unrhymed iambic pentameter
characterization the personality a character displays; also, the means by which the author reveals that personality
climax the point of greatest emotional intensity, interest, or suspense in a narrative
conflict a struggle (between two opposing forces or characters)
couplet two consecutive lines of poetry that rhyme
diction a writer’s choice of words for clarity, effectiveness, and precision
dramatic irony a contrast between what the audience perceives and what a character does NOT know
dramatic structure the structure of a play
epithet a descriptive adjective or phrase used to characterize someone or something
figurative language language that is NOT intended to be interpreted in a literal sense
foil a character who sets off another character by contrast
foreshadowing the use of hints or clues in a narrative to suggest what action is to come
iambic meter unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable
iambic pentameter five verse feet with each foot an iamb (a total of ten syllables)
imagery language that appeals to any sense (sight, hearing, taste, touch, or smell) or any combination of the senses
irony literary technique that portrays differences between appearance and reality (dramatic irony; situational irony; verbal irony)
metaphor comparison between two unlike things with the intent of giving added meaning to one of them
motivation a reason that explains or partially explains why a character thinks, feels, acts, or behaves in a certain way (Motivation results from a combination of the characters personality and the situation to be dealt with.)
protagonist the main character in a play or story
pun the humorous use of a word or phrase to suggest two or more meanings at the same time
repetition the return of a word, phrase, stanza form, or effect in any form of literature (forms: alliteration, rhyme; refrain)
monologue a long, uninterrupted speech presented in front of other characters
oxymoron a figure of speech that combines apparently contradictory terms
personification a figure of speech in which an animal, object, natural force, or idea is given a personality and described as human
simile a comparison made between two dissimilar things through the use of a specific word of comparison such as LIKE or AS
situational irony a contrast between what is expected and what really happens
soliloquy a speech in which a character is ALONE on stage and expresses thoughts out loud
sonnet a fourteen-line lyric poem, usually written in iambic pentameter, that has one of several rhyme schemes. A sonnet form used by William Shakespeare is called the Shakesperean sonnet. It has three four-line unites (quatrains) followed by a concluding two-line unit (couplet). The most common rhyme scheme for the Shakespearean sonnet is abab cdcd efef gg.
suspense the quality of a literary work that makes the reader or audience uncertain or tense about the outcome of events
theme the central idea of a work of literature
verbal irony a contrast between what is said and what is meant