LITERARY TERMS FOR BEOWULF Flashcards

Terms Definitions
loathsome
disgusting
Danes
People from Denmark
reparation
compensation for a wrong
Mead Hall
Gathering place for warriors
Alliteration
Repetition of initial sounds.
e.g. window, wiper or mighty man
assonance
repeated vowel sounds in unrhymed, stressed syllables
scop
an Old English bard or poet.
Comitatus
The bond of loyalty between warriors.
Motif
a recurring object, concept, or structure in a work of literature. A ____ may also be two contrasting elements in a work, such as good and evil. In the Book of Genesis, we see the motif of separation again and again throughout the story. In the very first chapter, God separates the light from the darkness. Abraham and his descendants are separated from the rest of the nation as God's chosen people. Joseph is separated from his brothers in order that life might be preserved. Another _____ is water, seen in Genesis as a means of destroying the wicked and in Matthew as a means of remitting sins by the employment of baptism. A _____ is important because it allows one to see the main points and themes that the author is trying to express, in order that one might be able to interpret the work more accurately.
Elegy
A poem lamenting a dead person.
Allusion
An indirect or passing reference to some event, person, place, or artistic work, the nature and relevance of which is not explained by the writer but relies on the reader's familiarity with what is thus mentioned.
valorous deeds
actions that demonstrate the hero's courage, strength, or virtue and make up most of the action in the narrative.
vernacular
in literature, the language of the common people.
metonymy
a metaphor that substitutes one word for another closely associated with it.
Foil
A character who sets off another character by strong contrast.
Kenning
a form of compounding in Anglo-Saxon Poetry. In this poetic device, the poet creates a new compound word or phrase to describe an object or activity. Specifically, this compound uses mixed imagery to describe the properties of the object in indirect, imaginative, or enigmatic ways. The resulting word is somewhat like a riddle since the reader must stop and think for a minute to determine what the object is. ____ may involve conjoining two types of dissimilar imagery: extended metaphor, or mixed metaphor. ____ were particularly common in Old English literature and Viking poetry. The most famous example is hron-rade ("whale road") as a poetic reference to the sea. Other examples include "Thor-Weapon" as a reference to a smith's hammer, "battle-flame" as a reference to the way light shines on swords, "gore-bed" for a battlefield filled with motionless bodies, and "word-hoard" for a man's eloquence or vocabulary.
________ are less common in Modern English than in earlier centuries, but a common modern example would be "surfing the web" (which mixes the imagery of a skillful motion through large amounts of liquid, amorphous material with the imagery of an interconnected net linked by strands or cables).
Epic
a long narrative poem that celebrates the deeds of an heroic figure; generally written in an elevated style with an episodic structure; often opens in media res, or in the middle of things. ____ heroes often share five similar qualities.
Can be classified as primary or secondary.
The term applies most accurately to classical Greek texts like the Iliad and the Odyssey. However, some critics have applied the term more loosely. The Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf has also been called an ____of Ango-Saxon culture, Milton's Paradise Lost has been seen as an ___ of Christian culture, and Shakespeare's various History Plays have been collectively called an ____of Renaissance Britain. Other examples include Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered and the anonymous Epic of Gilgamesh, which is the oldest example known.
secondary epic
literary epics; versions that are actually written down rather than chanted or sung
epic hero
the central character of an epic, larger than life figure, noble or semidivine birth, who pits his courage, skill and veirtue against opposing, evil forces.
theme
a unifying idea that is a recurrent element in a literary or artistic work
Litotes
a type of meiosis in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of the contrary or, in other words, a thing is affirmed by stating the negative of its opposite. For example, someone is "not unhappy" or Shakespeare is a poet of "no small stature" or Einstein is "not a bad mathematician."
Christian Allusion
A reference to Biblical figures or stories.
Pagan Allusion
A reference to something within the Pagan religion.
Caesura
A pause or break within a line of poetry, usually indicated by the natural ryhthm of the language. A midline, or medial, caesura is a characteristic of Angl-Saxon poetry; it divides the four-beat line in half.
foreshadowing
the use of hints and clues to suggest what will happen later in a plot
Primary Epic
folk epics, i.e., versions of an epic narrative that were transmitted orally in pre-literate cultures
black humor
the use of morbid and the absurd for darkly comic purposes; refers as much to the tone of anger and bitterness as it does to the grotesque and morbid situations, which often deal with suffering, anxiety, and death
kennings
two-word poetic renamings
moored
to secure a ship
Epitaph
An inscription on a tomb.
Anglo-Saxons
Members of Germanic tribes: Angles, Saxons, and Jutes
Paradox
a statement that while seemingly contradictory or absurd may actually be well-founded or true. It employs contradiction in a manner that oddly makes sense. Common _______es seem to reveal a deeper truth through their contradictions, such as noting that "without laws, we can have no freedom." Shakespeare's Julius Caesar also makes use of a famous _______: "Cowards die many times before their deaths" (2.2.32).
Personification
To represent something with human qualities.
e.g. The stars danced playfully in the moonlit sky.
folk epic
ancient stories about heroes recited or sung as entertainment and passed down orally from one generation to the next.
situational irony
An event occurs that directly contradicts the expectations of the characters, the reader, or the audience
consonance
the repetition of a consonant sound anywhere in neighboring words.
Wergild
As punishment for killing someone, the guilty party had to give a man-payment or money to the victim's family.
Rhythm
a term designating the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in verse or prose. Different lines of verse can have the same meter but a different rhythm. Thus two lines of alliterative verse in Middle English poetry might have the same metrical pattern of four stressed syllables, but their rhythm might differ by having a greater or lesser number of unstressed syllables intervening between the stressed syllables.
Epic Boast
To speak with exaggeration and excessive pride esp. about oneself.
e.g. I am God like!
solace
the comfort you feel when consoled in times of disappointment
caesuras
pauses for breath in the middle of liness
epic poetry
a long narrative poem that depicts heroic persons and culturally significant events.
Historical epithet
a descriptive phrase attached to a ruler's name. For instance, King Alfred the Great, Duke Lorenzo the Magnificent, Robert the Devil, Richard the Lionheart, and so on
epithet
short, poetic nickname in the form of an adjective or adjectival phrase attatched to the normal name
Tone
the mood or "feel" developed by the author in a narrative dialog.
Canon
A Greek word that implies rule or law, and is used in literature as the source which regulates which selection of authors or works, would be considered important pieces of literature
Heroic Code
The hero's moral rules of right and wrong
oral poetry
poetry that is recited from memory but is not written down.
verbal irony
A figure of speech in which what is said is the opposite of what is meant
In Medias Res
Latin phrase for "in the middle(s) of things." The classical tradition of opening an epic is not in the chronological point at which the sequence of events would start, but rather at the midway point of the story. Later on in the narrative, the hero will recount verbally to others what events took place earlier. Usually, ___ ______ ___ is a technique used to heighten dramatic tension or to create a sense of mystery. This term is the opposite of the phrase ab ovo, when a story begins in the beginning and then proceeds in a strictly chronological manner without using the characters' dialogue, flashbacks, or memories. Remember to contrast __ _____ ___ with flashback and anastrophe.
/ 50
Term:
Definition:
Definition:

Leave a Comment ({[ getComments().length ]})

Comments ({[ getComments().length ]})

{[comment.username]}

{[ comment.comment ]}

View All {[ getComments().length ]} Comments
Ask a homework question - tutors are online