.. ading of a poem, examining the work for meter. Meter is a regular pattern of unstressed and stressed syllables in a line or lines of poetry. BLANK VERSE A Blank Verse is a poem written in unrhymed iambic pentameter. Consider the following from The Ball Poem by John Berryman: What is the boy now, who has lost his ball, What, what is he to do? I saw it go Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then Merrily over-there it is in the water! COUPLET A Couplet is a stanza of two lines, usually rhyming. The following by Andrew Marvell is an example of a rhymed couplet: Had we but world enough and time, This coyness, lady, were no crime. QUATRAIN Quatrain is a four-line stanza which may be rhymed or unrhymed.
A heroic quatrain is a four line stanza rhymed abab. John Donne’s A Valediction Forbidding Mourning is a poem of nine heroic quatrains: The following is the first stanza of the poem: As virtuous men pass mildly away And whisper to their souls, to go, Whilst some of their sad friends do say, The breath goes now, and some say, no: OCTET Octet is an eight-line stanza. An octet is also the first eight lines of a sonnet. SESTET Sestet is a six-line stanza or the last six lines of a sonnet. A 14-line poem usually divided between the octave, using two rhymes arranges abbaabba, and the sestet, using any arrangement of either two or three rhymes: cdcdcd and cdecde are common patterns. Usually the division between the octave and the sestet corresponds to a division in thought, perhaps between situation and comment, idea and example, or question and answer.
TERCET Tercet is a unit or group of three lines of verse which are rhymed together or have a rhyme scheme that interlaces with an adjoining tercet. STANZA Stanzas are to poetry what paragraphs are to prose. They are groups of lines that have been separated from other groups of lines in the poem. Often the stanzas within a specific poem have consistent patterns of rhyme and meter, but poems may also be divided into completely irregular stanzas. PLOT The plot is the organization of character and action in a work of narrative or drama in order to achieve particular effects. Plot is distinguished from story, which is the summary of the plot’s incidents without considering how they are interrelated.
A plot can create suspense by arousing sympathy for a character whose fortunes are uncertain, leaving the audience or reader anxious for the sake of the protagonist. On the other hand, the plot can also generate suspense when the reader is allowed to know the final outcome and is then shown the protagonist’s step by step approach to an end he or she does not expect. For some of the plot patterns used to achieve particular overall effects of tragedy, see the entries on comedy, romance, or satire. CHARACTERS Characters are the persons presented in works of narrative or drama who convey their personal qualities through dialogue and action by which the reader or audience understands their thoughts, feelings, intentions and motives. .Characters either remain stable in their attitudes throughout a work (static characters) or undergo personal development and change, whether through a gradual process or a crisis (dynamic characters); but in any case they usually remain consistent in their basic nature. An example of a character is Iago or Cassio from the play Othello. SETTING Setting is the time and place in which a story unfolds. A drama may contain a single setting, Or the setting may change from scene to scene The setting in Act 1, scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, for example, is a public square in Verona, Italy.
THEME Although theme is sometimes used in the same sense as motif to signify recurring concepts in literature, the term mainly refers to the argument or general idea expressed by a literary work, whether implied or explicitly stated. The following are themes from Othello: Deceit and Appearance vs. Reality Jealousy Betrayal Issues of Race and Gender Reputation MOOD Mood is the atmosphere or feeling created by a literary work, partly by a description of the objects or by the style of the descriptions. A work may contain a mood of horror, mystery, holiness, or childlike simplicity, to name a few, depending on the author’s treatment of the work. ATMOSPHERE Atmosphere is the mood that is established in a literary work.
Atmosphere is often created through the setting and through foreshadowing. An example is Macbeth: The first act creates a dark and dismal mood with the three witches, forming the atmosphere of the play. NARRATOR The narrator is the character who is telling the story, or is assumed to be speaking in a poem or novel. The narrator is to be distinguished from the author of the work — even if it is assumed to be autobiographical. Thus it is possible for the author to create an ironical distance from the narrator, who may be naive or fallible. CONFLICT In the plot of a drama, conflict occurs when the protagonist is opposed by some person or force in the play.
The problems and complications in a story present the central conflict. The conflict can be internal or external. An internal conflict is a problem within a character. An external conflict is a problem caused by outside forces. In the plot of a drama, conflict occurs when the protagonist is opposed by some person or force in the play.
I In Henry Ibsen’s drama An Enemy of the People, Dr. Thomas Stockmann’s life is complicated by his finding that the public baths, a major source of income for the community, are polluted. In trying to close the baths, the doctor comes into conflict with those who profit from them, significantly, his own brother, the mayor of the town. Another example occurs in the film “Star Wars.” Having learned that Princess Lea is being held prisoner by the evil Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker sets out to rescue her. In doing so, he becomes involved in the conflict between the empire and the rebels which Lea spoke of in her holograph message in the drama’s exposition.
Since Luke is the protagonist of Star Wars, the conflict in the drama crystallizes to that between Luke and Darth Vader. PROTAGONIST The main character in a literary work is the protagonist, and her or his adversary (if there is one) is the antagonist. A work of narrative or drama may have more than one protagonist. An example is Othello in the play Othello ANTAGONIST Antagonist is a person or force which opposes the protagonist in a literary work.An antagonist may be another person, an aspect of the physical or social environment, or a destructive element in the protagonist’s own nature In Stephen Vincent Benet’s The Devil and Daniel Webster, Mr. Scratch is Daniel Webster’s antagonist at the trial of Jabez Stone. In Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago is the antagonist. TRAGIC HERO Tragic Hero- Pity and fear are inspired in the audience by the suffering of someone who is morally typical: he or she is not overwhelmingly good or evil, but susceptible to error (as when acting unjustly through ignorance or passion).
The protagonist’s misfortune therefore inspires pity because it is worse than he or she deserves, and fear because the audience sees in it their own potential errors and suffering. The tragic hero is usually of high estate and neither entirely virtuous nor bad. He evokes our pity because, not being an evil person, his misfortune is a greater tragedy than he deserves. We are also moved to fear, as we recognize the possibilities of similar errors or defects in ourselves. An example of a tragic hero in Othello is the character Othello.
TRAGEDY Tragedy depicts serious incidents in which protagonists undergo a change from happiness to suffering, often involving the death of others as well as the main characters, and resulting from both the protagonists’ actions and the inescapable limits of the human condition. COMEDY Comedy depicts humorous incidents in which protagonists are faced with moderate difficulties but overcome them and the play ends happily. Traditional comedy often culminates in marriage. Some of the major types of comedy are: -Satirical comedy, which generally ridicules human folly and associated political, social or moral problems -The comedy of manners, depicting the romantic intrigues of a sophisticated upper class, including witty repartee and humorous social blundering -Romantic comedy,involving idealized romantic love, as in romance -Black comedy,which induces laughter as a kind of defense mechanism when a situation, dispassionately considered, would be simply horrifying; and farce,which depends upon ridiculous situations, exaggerated character types, coarse humour, and horseplay for its comic effects. An example of comedy is Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream .
TRAGIC FLAW (HAMARTIA) The tragic hero must fall through his or her own error, or hamartia. This term is also interpreted as “tragic flaw” and usually applied to overweening pride, or hubris, which causes fatal error. Hamartia more properly means any disproportion in the character’s makeup that leads to downfall; thus an excess of a valuable or virtuous quality can in some circumstances be seen as hamartia. In literature, the tragic hero’s error of judgement or inherent defect of character, usually less literally translated as a “fatal flaw.” This, combined with essential elements of chance and other external forces, brings about a catastrophe. Often the error or flaw results from nothing more than personal traits like probity, pride, and overconfidence, but can arise from any failure of the protagonist’s action or knowledge ranging from a simple unwittingness to a moral deficiency.
In Shakespeare’s Othello, Othello is so proud that he commits suicide because of the situation that he was in. CATHARSIS Catharsis is the release of the emotions of pity and fear by the audience at the end of a tragedy. NEMESIS An act of retributive justice, that is the impetus to distribute merited reward or punishment. The term originated from Greek methology relating to the greek goddess of justice and vengeance. In Othello, Iago is Othello’s nemesis.
RISING ACTION (COMPLICATION) Rising Action is the part of a drama which begins with the exposition and sets the stage for the climax. In a five-act play, the exposition provides information about the characters and the events which occurred before the action of the play began. A conflict often develops between the protagonist and an antagonist. The action reaches a high point and results in a climax, the turning point in the play. We discover in the exposition of Shakespeare’s Othello that the Moor, Othello, has married the Venetian maid, Desdemona.
Her father objects strenuously to the marriage. However, during those objections, a messenger informs the Venetian council that the Turks are on their way to invade the island of Cypress. Othello, who is sent with troops to defend the island, brings Desdamona with him, planning a honeymoon to coincide with his military mission. One of Othello’s officers, Iago, plants a seed of doubt about Desdemona’s faithfulness in Othello’s ear. This seed grows to the point where Othello becomes convinced that his wife is having an affair with his lieutenant, Michael Cassio. The latter is the rising action. The play climaxes with the murder of Desdemona by Othello in a jealous rage. FALLING ACTION (DENOUEMENT, RESOLUTION) The catastrophe, or denouement (“unknotting”), is when the action is resolved unsuccessfully or successfully for the main character.
The resolution is the part of a story or drama which occurs after the climax and which establishes a new norm, a new state of affairs-the way things are going to be from then on. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet climaxes with the death of the two lovers. Their deaths resolve the feud between the two families. In the play’s resolution, Lords Capulet and Montague swear to end their feud and build golden monuments to each other’s dead child. In the resolution of the film Star Wars, Luke Skywalke, Han Solo, and Chewbacca are given medals by Princess Lea for destroying the death star and defeating the empire. CRISIS (TURNING POINT) The crisis or turning point is when the tragic hero is at the height of fortune. They are moments or events which cause tension that lead to the play’s climax.
CLIMAX Climax is the decisive moment in a drama. The climax is the turning point of the play to which the rising action leads. This is the crucial part of the drama, the part which determines the outcome of the conflict. In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the climax occurs at the end of Marc Antony’s speech to the Roman public. In the climax to the film Star Wars, the empire’s death star is ready to destroy the rebel base.
Luke Skywalker and rebel pilots attack the base, and after the deaths of some rebel pilots, Skywalker successfully fires his missile into the death star’s vulnerable spot and destroys the death star, saving the rebel forces. COMIC RELIEF Comic relief is a humorous scene or incident that alleviates tension in an otherwise serious work. In many instances these moments enhance the thematic significance of the story in addition to providing laughter. In the comic mode, there are often comic episodes in an otherwise tragic work. Famous examples include the Gravedigger scene in Hamlet and the Porter scene in Macbeth.
The term comic relief is often applied to these episodes, but “relief” is seldom the actual effect of the passages–more often such passages are suspenseful or ironical, its humour is black. ASIDE Similar to the soliloquy is the aside, a convention for expressing characters’ minds. It is a short remark made in the presence of others but which only the audience is privy to. The aside is often used to show duplicity or hypocrisy in great detail, as when Iago comments on his deception of Othello In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the Chamberlain, Polonius, confronts Hamlet. In a dialogue concerning Polonius’ daughter, Ophelia, Polonius speaks this aside: How say you by that? Still harping on my daughter. Yet he knew me not at first; ‘a said I was a fishmonger.
‘A is far gone. And truly in my youth I suffered much extremity for love, very near this. I’ll speak to him again.- SOLILOQUY In a soliloquy, one speaks to oneself. In drama, soliloquy is the convention whereby characters speak their thoughts aloud while alone, thus communicating to the audience their mental state, intentions,.