LITWEB: An Online Companion to The Norton Introduction to Literature
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acting
the last of the four steps in characterization in a performed play.

action
an imagined event or series of events; an event may be verbal as well as physical, so that saying something or telling a story within the story may be an event.

allegory
as in metaphor, one thing (usually nonrational, abstract, religious) is implicitly spoken of in terms of something concrete, usually sensuous, but in an allegory the comparison is extended to include an entire work or large portion of a work.

alliteration
the repetition of initial consonant sounds through a sequence of words—for example, "While I nodded, nearly napping, . . ." from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven."

allusion
a reference—whether explicit or implied, to history, the Bible, myth, literature, painting, music, and so on--that suggests the meaning or generalized implication of details in the story, poem, or play.

ambiguity
the use of a word or expression to mean more than one thing.

amphitheater
the design of classical Greek theaters, consisting of a stage area surrounded by a semicircle of tiered seats.

analogy
a comparison based on certain resemblances between things that are otherwise unlike.

anapestic
a metrical form in which each foot consists of two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed one.

antagonist
a neutral term for a character who opposes the leading male or female character. See hero/heroine and protagonist.

antihero
a leading character who is not, like a hero, perfect or even outstanding, but is rather ordinary and representative of the more or less average person.

archetype
a plot or character element that recurs in cultural or cross-cultural myths such as "the quest" or "descent into the underworld" or "scapegoat."

arena stage
a stage design in which the audience is seated all the way around the acting area; actors make their entrances and exits through the auditorium.

assonance
the repetition of vowel sounds in a sequence of words with different endings—for example, "The death of the poet was kept from his poems," from W. H. Auden's "In Memory of W. B. Yeats."

aubade
a morning song in which the coming of dawn is either celebrated or denounced as a nuisance.

auditor
someone other than the reader—a character within the fiction—to whom the story or "speech" is addressed.

authorial time
distinct from plot time and reader time, authorial time denotes the influence that the time in which the author was writing had upon the conception and style of the text.

 

Credits Copyright 2001 W. W. Norton & Company Copyright 2001 W. W. Norton & Company