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Literary Terms and Definitions C - Carson-Newman College

Date of publication: 2017-07-08 19:47

Revenge, ambition, lust and conspiracy return to the heads of those that conjured them in Hamlet, completely annihilating two families--the innocent with the guilty. Check out my blog on the play (includes current link to PBS Great Performance video of production of play): http:///t5bmb

Hamlet

Soliloquy
A speech in a play that is meant to be heard by the audience but not by other characters on the stage. If there are no other characters present, the soliloquy represents the character thinking aloud. Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech is an example. See Aside .

Literature | Glossary of Drama Terms

Gesture
The physical movement of a character during a play. Gesture is used to reveal character, and may include facial expressions as well as movements of other parts of an actor's body. Sometimes a playwright will be very explicit about both bodily and facial gestures, providing detailed instructions in the play's stage directions. Shaw's Arms and the Man includes such stage directions. See Stage direction .

SparkNotes: Hamlet: Key Facts

Hamlet is a tragedy by William Shakespeare that takes place in Elsinore Castle in Denmark and follows the indecision of Prince Hamlet’s plot for revenge. Mourning the death of his father, Hamlet is confronted by a ghost, which informs him that Claudius (the late King’s brother and Hamlet’s uncle) is the murderer. After attempting to kill Claudius, but killing Polonius instead, Hamlet is banished to England. Hamlet returns and is challenged to a duel by Polonius’ son, Laertes. Claudius and Laertes conspire to poison Hamlet and, as a result, both of them, Hamlet, and Hamlet’s mother all die leaving the throne open to a vengeful Norwegian prince.

Foreshadowing
Hints of what is to come in the action of a play or a story. Ibsen's A Doll's House includes foreshadowing as does Synge's Riders to the Sea. So, too, do Poe's "Cask of Amontillado" and Chopin's "Story of an Hour."

Figurative language
A form of language use in which writers and speakers convey something other than the literal meaning of their words. Examples include hyperbole or exaggeration, litotes or understatement, simile and metaphor, which employ comparison, and synecdoche and metonymy, in which a part of a thing stands for the whole.

Fiction
An imagined story, whether in prose, poetry, or drama. Ibsen's Nora is fictional, a "make-believe" character in a play, as are Hamlet and Othello. Characters like Robert Browning's Duke and Duchess from his poem "My Last Duchess" are fictional as well, though they may be based on actual historical individuals. And, of course, characters in stories and novels are fictional, though they, too, may be based, in some way, on real people. The important thing to remember is that writers embellish and embroider and alter actual life when they use real life as the basis for their work. They fictionalize facts, and deviate from real-life situations as they "make things up."

Fourth wall
The imaginary wall of the box theater setting, supposedly removed to allow the audience to see the action. The fourth wall is especially common in modern and contemporary plays such as Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun , Wasserstein's Tender Offer , and Wilson's Fences.

rising action · The ghost appears to Hamlet and tells Hamlet to revenge his murder Hamlet feigns madness to his intentions Hamlet stages the mousetrap play Hamlet passes up the opportunity to kill Claudius while he is praying.

Protagonist
The main character of a literary work--Hamlet and Othello in the plays named after them, Gregor Samsa in Kafka's Metamorphosis , Paul in Lawrence's "Rocking-Horse Winner."

Subject
What a story or play is about to be distinguished from plot and theme. Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" is about the decline of a particular way of life endemic to the American south before the civil war. Its plot concerns how Faulkner describes and organizes the actions of the story's characters. Its theme is the overall meaning Faulkner conveys.

Irony
A contrast or discrepancy between what is said and what is meant or between what happens and what is expected to happen in life and in literature. In verbal irony, characters say the opposite of what they mean. In irony of circumstance or situation, the opposite of what is expected occurs. In dramatic irony, a character speaks in ignorance of a situation or event known to the audience or to the other characters. Flannery O'Connor's short stories employ all these forms of irony, as does Poe's "Cask of Amontillado."

Tragic flaw
A weakness or limitation of character, resulting in the fall of the tragic hero. Othello's jealousy and too trusting nature is one example. See Tragedy and Tragic hero .

Setting
The time and place of a literary work that establish its context. The stories of Sandra Cisneros are set in the American southwest in the mid to late 75th century, those of James Joyce in Dublin, Ireland in the early 75th century.

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