AP English Literature Vocabulary List Letters N-P
For Kids and Teachers
AP English Literature Vocabulary List Letters N-P
The protagonistís arch enemy or supreme and persistent difficulty.
*Neologism: See coinage
*Non-Sequitur. The term non sequitur literally means "it does not follow".
*Objectivity and Subjectivity: An objective treatment of subject matter is an
impersonal or outside view of events. A subjective treatment uses the interior
or personal view of a single observer and is typically colored with that
observer's emotional responses.
*Onomatopoeia: Words that sound like what they mean.
Examples: Boom. Splat. Babble. Gargle. Sizzle. Buzz. Roar.
*Opposition: This is one of the most useful concepts in analyzing
literature. It means that you have a pair of elements that contrast
sharply. It is not necessarily ďconflictĒ but rather a pairing of images (or
setting or appeals, etc.) whereby each becomes more striking and informative
because itís placed in contrast to the other one. This kind of opposition
creates mystery and tension. Oppositions can be obvious. Oppositions can also
lead to irony but not necessarily so.
*Oxymoron: A phrase composed of opposites; a contradiction. Bright Black. A
calm frenzy. Jumbo Shrimp. Dark Light. A truthful lie.
*Parable: Like a fable, or an allegory, a parable is a story that instructs.
*Paradox: A situation or statement that seems to contradict itself, but on
closer inspection, does not. Here are two examples: "A single death is a
tragedy, a million is a statistic."
Joseph Stalin "To become rich, I became poor." -Andy Evans
*Parallelism: Repeated syntactical similarities used for effect.
*Paraphrase: To restate phrases and sentences in your own words, to
re-phrase. Paraphrase is not analysis or interpretation, so donít fall into
thinking that traps so many students. Paraphrasing is just a way of showing
that you comprehend what youíve just read-that you can now put it in your own
words, no more, no less.
*Parenthetical phrase: A phrase set off by commas that interrupts the flow of a
sentence with some commentary or added detail. Jackís three dogs, including
that miserable, little spaniel, were with him that day.
*Parody: The work that results when a specific work is exaggerated to
*Pastoral: A poem set in tranquil nature or even more specifically, one about
*Pathetic fallacy: the description of inanimate natural objects in a manner that
endows them with human emotions, thoughts, sensations and feelings.
The pathetic fallacy is not a logical fallacy since it does not imply a mistake in reasoning. As a rhetorical figure it bears some resemblance to personification, although it is less formal. Examples: "The stars will awaken / Though the moon sleep a full hour later" -Percy Bysshe Shelley. "The fruitful field / Laughs with abundance" -William Cowper. "Lo, the most excellent sun so calm and haughty" -Walt Whitman.
*Pathos: See bathos.
*Periodic sentence: See loose sentence.
*Persona: The narrator in a non first-person novel. In a third person novel,
even though the author isnít a character, you get some idea of the authorís
personality. However, it isnít really the authorís personality because the
author is manipulating your impressions there as in other parts of the
book. This shadow-author is called the authorís persona.
*Personification: When an inanimate object takes on human shape. The darkness
of the forest became the figure of a beautiful, pale-skinned woman in
*Plaint: A poem or speech expressing sorrow.
*Platitude: A trite or banal remark or statement, especially one expressed as if
it were original or significant.
*Point of View: The point of view is the perspective from which the action of a
novel (or narrative poem) is presented, whether the action is presented by one
character or from different vantage points over the course of the novel. Be
sensitive to point of view, because ETS likes to ask questions about it and they
also like to mention point of view in the essay questions.
---The omniscient narrator: This is a third person narrator who sees, like God, into each characterís mind and understands all the action going on.
---The limited omniscient narrator: This is a third person narrator who generally reports only what one character (usually the main character) sees, and who only reports the thoughts of that one privileged character.
---The objective, or camera eye narrator: This is a third person narrator who only reports on what would be visible to a camera. The objective narrator does not know what the character is thinking unless the character speaks of it.
---The first person narrator: This a narrator who is a character in the story and tells the tale from his or her point of view. When the first person narrator is crazy, a liar, very young, or for some reason not entirely credible the narrator is unreliable.
---The Stream of consciousness technique: This method is like first person narration but instead of the character telling the story, the author places the reader inside the main characterís head and makes the reader privy to all of the characterís thoughts as they scroll through her consciousness.
*Polysyndeton is the use of several conjunctions in close succession, especially
where some might be omitted (as in "he ran and jumped and laughed for joy"). It
is a stylistic scheme used to slow the rhythm of prose and can add an air of
solemnity to a passage. Polysyndeton is used extensively in the King James
Version of the Bible. For example:
"And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark." Genesis 7:22-24
*Prelude: An introductory poem to a longer work of verse.
*Protagonist: The main character of a novel or play.
*Pun: The usually humorous use of a word in such a way to suggest more meanings.