December 20, 2008

A Glossary of Literary Criticism

A deceiving or self-deceived character in fiction, normally an object of ridicule in comedy or satire, but often the hero of a tragedy. In comedy he most frequently takes the form of a miles gloriosus or a pedant.
Relating to literature as a total order of words.
A form of prose fiction, traditionally known as the Menippean or Varronian satire and represented by Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, characterized by a great variety of subject-matter and a strong interest in ideas. In shorter forms it often has a cena or symposium setting and verse interludes.
The thematic term corresponding to "myth" in fictional literature: metaphor as pure and potentially total identification, without regard to plausibility or ordinary experience.
A symbol, usually an image, which recurs often enough in literature to be recognizable as an element of one's literary experience as a whole.
A form of drama in which the main subject is sacred or sacrosanct legend, such as miracle plays, solemn and processional in form but not strictly tragic. Name taken from Calderon's Autos sacramentales..
Autobiography regarded as a form of prose fiction, or prose fiction cast in the form of autobiography.
The meaning of a work of literature, which may be the total pattern of its symbols (literal meaning), its correlation with an external body of propositions or facts (descriptive meaning), its theme, or relation as a form of imagery to a potential commentary (formal meaning), its significance as a literary convention or genre (archetypal meaning), or its relation to total literary experience (anagogic meaning).
The adaptation of myth and metaphor to canons of morality or plausibility.
A self-deprecating or unobtrusively treated character in fiction, usually an agent of the happy ending in comedy and of the catastrophe in tragedy.
Encyclopaedic Form:
A genre presenting an anagogic form of symbolism, such as a sacred scripture, or its analogues in other modes. The term includes the Bible, Dante's Commedia, the great epics, and the works of Joyce and Proust.

The literary genre in which the radical of presentation is the author or minstrel as oral reciter, with a listening audience in front of him.
The internal social context of a work of literature, comprising the characterization and setting of fictional literature and the relation of the author to his reader or audience in thematic literature.
Literature in which the radical of presentation is the printed or written word, such as novels and essays.
Relating to literature in which there are internal characters, apart from the author and his audience; opposed to thematic. (N.B. The use of this term is regrettably inconsistent with the preceding one, as noted on p. 248.)
High Mimetic:
A mode of literature in which, as in most epics and tragedies, the central characters are above our own level of power and authority, though within the order of nature and subject to social criticism.
A symbol in its aspect as a formal unit of art with a natural content.
A primary consideration governing the process of composition, such as the metre selected for a poem; taken from Coleridge.
A mode of literature in which the characters exhibit a power of action inferior to the one assumed to be normal in the reader or audience, or in which the poet's attitude is one of detached objectivity.
The mythos (sense 2) of the literature concerned primarily with a "realistic" level of experience, usually taking the form of a parody or contrasting analogue to romance. Such irony may be tragic or comic in its main emphasis; when comic it is normally identical with the usual meaning of satire.
The verbal "texture" or rhetorical aspect of a work of literature, including the usual meanings of the terms "diction" and "imagery."
Low Mimetic:
A mode of literature in which the characters exhibit a power of action which is roughly on our own level, as in most comedy and realistic fiction.
A literary genre characterized by the assumed concealment of the audience from the poet and by the predominance of an associational rhythm distinguishable both from recurrent metre and from semantic or prose rhythm.
A species of drama in which music and spectacle play an important role and in which the characters tend to be or become aspects of human personality rather than independent characters.
The rhythm, movement, and sound of words; the aspect of literature which is analogous to music, and often shows some actual relation to it. From Aristotle's melopoiia.
A relation between two symbols, which may be simple juxtaposition (literal metaphor), a rhetorical statement of likeness or similarity (descriptive metaphor), an analogy of proportion among four terms (formal metaphor), an identity of an individual with its class (concrete universal or archetypal metaphor), or statement of hypothetical identity (anagogic metaphor).
A conventional power of action assumed about the chief characters in fictional literature, or the corresponding attitude assumed by the poet toward his audience in thematic literature. Such modes tend to succeed one another in a historical sequence.
A symbol in its aspect as a center of one's total literary experience; related to Hopkins's term "inscape" and to Joyce's term "epiphany."
A symbol in its aspect as a verbal unit in a work of literary art.
A narrative in which some characters are superhuman beings who do things that "happen only in stories"; hence, a conventionalized or stylized narrative not fully adapted to plausibility or "realism."
The narrative of a work of literature, considered as the grammar or order of words (literal narrative), plot or "argument" (descriptive narrative), secondary imitation of action (formal narrative), imitation of generic and recurrent action or ritual (archetypal narrative), or imitation of the total conceivable action of an omnipotent god or human society (anagogic narrative).
One of the four archetypal narratives, classified as comic, romantic, tragic, and ironic.
Primitive or popular, in the sense given those terms of an ability to communicate in time and space more readily than other types of literature.
The spectacular or visible aspect of drama; the ideally visible or pictorial aspect of other literature.
The character in an ironic fiction who has the role of a scapegoat or arbitrarily chosen victim.
One of the five contexts in which the narrative and meaning of a work of literature may be considered, classified as literal, descriptive, formal, archetypal, and anagogic.
One of six distinguishable stages of a mythos (sense 2).
Point of Epiphany:
An archetype presenting simultaneously an apocalyptic world and a cyclical order of nature, or sometimes the latter alone. Its usual symbols are ladders, mountains, lighthouses, islands, and towers.
The mythos of literature concerned primarily with an idealized world.
A form of prose fiction practised by Scott, Hawthorne, William Morris, etc., distinguishable from the novel.
A fictional mode in which the chief characters live in a I world of marvels (naive romance), or in which the mood is elegiac or idyllic and hence less subject to social criticism than in the mimetic modes.
The general tendency to present myth and metaphor in an idealized human form, midway between undisplaced myth and "realism."
A symbol in its aspect as a verbal representative of a natural object or concept.
Any unit of any work of literature which can be isolated for critical attention. In general usage restricted to the smaller units, such as words, phrases, images, etc.
Relating to works of literature in which no characters are involved except the author and his audience, as in most lyrics and essays, or to works of literature in which internal characters are subordinated to an argument maintained by the author, as in allegories and parables; opposed to fictional.

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December 12, 2008

Rhyme,Theme, and Imagery Poetry


Rhyme, likeness of the terminal sounds of words, frequently used in versification either at the end of a line of verse or within the line. Rhyme appeared only occasionally in classical Greek and Latin poetry; it was used more extensively later, in songs of the medieval Roman Catholic church. Rhyme was not established as a technique in English poetry until the 14th century. Since then not all styles of poetry have employed rhyme, but it has never fallen entirely into disuse. Rhyme functions as an element of rhythm, emphasizing poetic beat. There are three types of true rhymes: masculine rhymes, in which the final syllable of the word or line is stressed ("spring," "bring"); feminine rhymes, in which two consecutive syllables, the first of which is accented, are alike in sound ("certain," "curtain"); and triple rhymes, in which all three syllables of a word are identical ("flowery," "showery"). Words in which the vowel and the following consonants in a stressed syllable are identical in sound, even if spelled differently, are called perfect rhymes ("two" and "too," or "spring" and "bring"). In eye, or sight, rhyme the words look as if they rhyme, but do not: "move," "love." Slant, or oblique, rhyme uses words with an imperfect match of sounds. Within this category, consonance relies on the similarity of consonant sounds: "shift," "shaft"; assonance relies on the similarity of vowel sounds: "grow," "home." A pair of rhyming lines is called a couplet; three lines that rhyme are called a triplet. Traditional poetic forms have prescribed rhyming patterns; for example, sonnets usually follow the Italian rhyme scheme, abba abba cde cde, or the English rhyme scheme, abab cdcd efef gg. Blank verse is regular in meter but does not rhyme; free verse is irregular in meter and also does not rhyme.


Controlling Idea: The theme of a literary work. The controlling idea of a poem is the idea continuously developed throughout the poem by sets of key words that identify the poet's subject and his attitude or feeling about it. It may also be suggested by the title of a poem or by segment of the poem. It is rarely stated explicitly by the poet, but it can be stated by the reader and it can be stated in different ways. The controlling idea is an idea, not a moral; it is a major idea, not a minor supporting idea or detail; and it controls or dominates the poem as a whole.

The word theme is here used to name the particular subject matter of the poem in relationship to the reader's previous observation of the life about him and within him. Theme, then, here refers to those broad generalizations and high-order abstractions which each person develops in dealing with the common experiences of life. Each of us was born, and each of us will die. And, then no one of us can report his own birth of his own dearth, everyone had had some personal observation at first of second hand of the elemental and universal facts of life, Birth and Death. So, too, every mature person has had some experience of what we shall call of Heart of and Mind, of Friendship and of Love, of Youth and Of Nature and of Art, of Work and of Play, of War and of Justice, of Doubt and of Terror…; and most persons will add that they have had some experience of Faith and of God and is not complete list of universal experiences, but it will do to suggest the possible range of poetic themes.


Most figures of speech cast up a picture in your mind. These pictures created or suggested by the poet are called 'images'. To participate fully in the world of poem, we must understand how the poet uses image to convey more than what is actually said or literally meant.

We speak of the pictures evoked in a poem as 'imagery'. Imagery refers to the "pictures" which we perceive with our mind's eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin, and through which we experience the "duplicate world" created by poetic language. Imagery evokes the meaning and truth of human experiences not in abstract terms, as in philosophy, but in more perceptible and tangible forms. This is a device by which the poet makes his meaning strong, clear and sure. The poet uses sound words and words of color and touch in addition to figures of speech. As well, concrete details that appeal to the reader's senses are used to build up images.

Although most of the image-making words in any language appeal to sight (visual images), there are also images of touch (tactile), sound (auditory), taste (gustatory), and smell (olfactory). The last two terms in parentheses are mainly used by lovers of jargon. An image may also appeal to the reader's sense of motion: a verb like Pope's spring does so.

A good poet does not use imagery -- that is, images in general -- merely to decorate a poem. He does not ask Himself, "How can I dress up my subject so that it will seem fancier than it is?" Rather, he asks himself, "How can I make my subject appear to the reader exactly as it appears to me?" Imagery helps him solve his problem, for it enables him to present his subject as it is: as it looks, smells, tastes, feels and sounds. To the reader imagery is equally important: it provides his imagination with something palpable to seize upon.

TYPES OF IMAGES (according to the source of visual images)

1. SIMPLE DESCRIPTION - a large number of images which arise in a poem come from simple description of visible objects or actions.

2.1 DRAMATIC MONOLOGUE - as soon as the reader becomes aware that the poem is a dramatic monologue, he visualizes a speaker with the result that the particularity of the situation is evident.
2.2 DIALOGUE - has the same effect as Dramatic Monologue.

3. STORY - like description, narration causes the reader or hearer to form images. When the reader realizes that he is being told a tale he visualizes from habit; he does not wish to miss the point of the story.

4. METONYMY - when a poet uses metonymy, he names one thing when he really
means another thing with which the first is closely connected. e.g. Seven little foreheads stared up at me from the first row. (where "foreheads" is used for "eyes" ).

5. SYNECDOCHE - when a poet uses synecdoche, he names a part of a thing when he means whole thing (or vice versa) or the genius for the species.

6. ONOMATOPOEIA - although imagery usually refers to visual images, there are also aural images. The use of words which sound like their meaning is called onomatopoeia. e.g. buzz, hiss, clang , splash, murmur, chatter, etc.

Philip Sidney said, "Imaging is itself the very height and life of poetry." It must be so, form the very nature of poetic vision, which always embodies itself in the form of symbols. The personality of the poet, which is the well-spring of his poetry will be a world created from all that he has known and felt and seen and heard and thought. His image-making poetic faculty and his imagination will blend together his memories and his immediate perceptions into a thousand of varieties of shapes and associations of living loveliness and power. However apparently direct and unadorned the poet makes his verses, he will employ images. However simple his statement he cannot make it abstract.

How imagery comes to the poet, how it is carried alive into the heart by passion is too mysterious a process to analyze. It brings us back at once to the problem of creation in general. Under the influence of the creative ferment, the consciousness of the poet seizes association and poetry is the union of the mental and emotional excitement of the experience with imagery which leaps to meet it, and which must be already in the memory of the poet.

"Poetry," Microsoft® Encarta® 98 Encyclopedia. © 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Clare, M. T., S.C. (1960) A Book of Poetry. New York: Macmillan Co.
Del Tufo, J. P. (1965) What is Poetry?. Publication Office:Ateneo de Manila University.
Drew, E. H. (1933) Discovering Poetry. New York:W.W. Norton & Co., Inc.
Bautista, Cirilo F. (1985) DLSU Research Center: De La Salle University Manila
Seng, P.J. and Main, C.F. (1996) Poems: Wadsworth Handbook and Anthology. California: Wadsworth Publishing Company Inc.

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