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8: Figurative Language and Narration

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    Review These Terms.

    These are definitions you should know when performing literary analysis at the introductory level.

    Writing without rhyme or meter (as you may find in poetry). Prose writing is usually grouped into paragraphs. Most of the text you encounter when reading is written in prose form.
    The literal meaning of a word; the dictionary definition.
    The meanings a reader associates with a word based on the reader’s own background and experiences. Connotations may be positive, negative, or neutral.
    Language comparing two unlike things by implying they are similar in some way. Usually metaphors use forms of the verb "be," such as "is," "was," "am," "are," etc.
    Language comparing two unlike things using the words “like” or “as.” The difference between a simile and a metaphor is that similes MUST contain "like" or "as" in the comparison.
    The reoccurrence of words or phrases throughout a text to achieve a particular effect.
    A type of metaphorical language where something non-human is given human attributes or actions:  Ex—The leaves danced across the parking lot.
    Using language that appeals to the senses to create a descriptive picture for readers.  Look for language that describes what something looks like, tastes like, smells like, feels like, sounds like in vivid detail.
    Situational Irony
    When we expect one thing, but get the exact opposite.  For example, an airplane pilot afraid of heights.
    Verbal Irony
    Saying one thing but meaning another.  Ex—Telling your roommate, “Nice job, genius!” if they failed a test.
    Dramatic Irony
    When the irony--that which is unexpected--occurs in the structure of a text, such as a play.  In this type of irony, it is common for the audience/readers to realize information before a character does.  For example, in the famous Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex, King Oedipus is looking for a murderer and making a big deal about finding and punishing the murderer.  Little does he know, he IS the murderer he is looking for (fascinating story, look it up if you've never heard of it).  Because the audience and multiple other characters realize that Oedipus is the killer that he seeks before good 'ole Oedipus figures it out, this is a classic example of dramatic irony.
    An extreme exaggeration. For example, “I’m so hungry, I could eat a whole elephant!”
    Saying much less than what is true. For example, an athlete who won Most Valuable Player after an absolutely amazing season might say something like, "I did alright."

    Narration--the following terms relate to how a story is told.

    The character telling the story.
    Unreliable narrator
    A narrator who the reader cannot trust to tell the facts of the story accurately.
    First-person narration
    Narration told through the viewpoint of a single character who uses “I,” “you,” and “we.” This character may or may not be involved in the events of the story.
    Third-person limited narration
    Narration told by a character outside of the story who does not refer to him- or herself as “I,” “you,” or “we.” Yet, you do have access to this character's thoughts and feelings.
    Third-person omniscient narration
    Narration written by a character outside of the story who has access to all information in the story. This mode of narration does not use “I,” “you,” or “we,” but you have access to multiple characters' inner thoughts and feelings.

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