AP English Literature Vocabulary You Must Know!!! Letter A

*Abstract: An abstract style (in writing) is typically complex, discusses intangible qualities like good and evil, and seldom uses examples to support its points. 

*Absurd Her  The outlook of the absurd hero is this: determined to continue living with passion even though life appears to be meaningless.  Sisyphus is the absurd hero. He is sentenced to ceaselessly roll a rock to the top of a mountain and then must watch its descent.  He will never reach the top. Other examples of the absurd her  Meursault in The StrangerRosencrantz and Guildenstern in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot

*Academic: As an adjective describing style, this word means dry and theoretical writing. When a piece of writing seems to be sucking all the life out of its subject with analysis, the writing is academic. 

*Accent: In poetry accent refers to the stressed portion of a word. In “To be, or not to be,” accents fall on the first “be” and “not.” It sounds silly any other way. But accent in poetry is also often a matter of opinion. Consider the rest of the first line of Hamlet’s famous soliloquy, “That is the question.” The stresses in that portion of the line are open to a variety of interpretations. 

*Ad hoc argument:  Giving an after-the-fact explanation which doesn't apply to other situations. 
I was healed from cancer by God! 
Really? Does that mean that God will heal all others with cancer? 
Well... God works in mysterious ways.  

*Aesthetic: an adjective meaning “appealing to the senses.” Aesthetic judgment is a phrase synonymous with artistic judgment. As a noun, an aesthetic is a coherent sense of taste. The kid whose room is painted black, who sleeps in a coffin, and listens to only funeral music has an aesthetic. The kid whose room is filled with pictures of kittens and daisies but who sleeps in a coffin and listens to polka music has confused aesthetic. The plural noun, aesthetics, is the study of beauty. Questions like what is beauty? Or, is the beautiful always good? Fall into the category of aesthetics. 

*Allegory: An allegory is a story in which each aspect of the story has a symbolic meaning outside the tale itself. Many fables have an allegorical quality. For example, Aesop’s “Ant and the Grasshopper” isn’t merely a story of a hard working ant and a carefree grasshopper, but is also a story about different approaches to living- the thrifty and the devil-may-care. It can also be read as a story about the seasons of summer and winter, which represent a time of prosperity and a time of hardship, or even as representing youth and age. True allegories are even more hard and fast. Bunyan’s epic poem, Pilgrim’s Progress, is an allegory of the soul, in which each and every part of the tale represents some feature of the spiritual world and the struggles of an individual to lead a Christian life. 

*Alliteration: The repetition of initial consonant sounds is called alliteration. In other words, consonant clusters coming closely cramped and compressed-no coincidence. 

*Allusion: A reference to another work or famous figure is an allusion. A classical allusion is a reference to Greek and Roman Mythology such as, The Iliad. Allusions can be topical or popular as well. A topical allusion refers to a current event. A popular allusion refers to something from popular culture, such as a reference to a television show or a hit movie. 

*Anachronism: The word anachronism is derived from Greek, It means, “misplaced in time.” If the actor playing Brutus in a production of Julius Caesar forgets to take off his wrist-watch, the effect will be anachronistic (and probably comic). 

*Analogy: An analogy is a comparison. Usually analogies involve two or more symbolic parts, and are employed to clarify an action or a relationship. Just as the mother eagle shelters her young from the storm by spreading her great wing above their heads, so does the Acme Insurers of America spread an umbrella of coverage to protect its policy-holders from the storms of life. 

*Anaphora: The deliberate repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of several successive verses, clauses, or paragraphs; for example, “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills” (Winston S. Churchill). 

*Anecdote: An anecdote is a short narrative, story. 

*Antecedent: The word, phrase, or clause that determines what a pronoun refers to. As the children in The principle asked the children where they were going. 

*Anthropomorphism: In literature, when inanimate objects are given human characteristics, anthropomorphism is at work. For example, In the forest, the darkness waited for me, I could hear its patient breathing…Anthropomorphism is often confused with personification. But personification required that the non-human quality or thing take on human shape. 

*Anticlimax: An anticlimax occurs when an action produces far smaller results than one had been led to expect. Anticlimax is frequently comic. Sir, your snide manner and despicable arrogance have long been a source of disgust to me, but I’ve overlooked it until now. However, it has come to my attention that you have fallen so disgracefully deep into that mire of filth, which is your mind as to attempt to besmirch my wife’s honor and my good name. Sir, I challenge you to a game of badminton! 

*Antiher A protagonist who is markedly unheroic: morally weak, cowardly, dishonest, or any number of unsavory qualities. The character lacks the qualities of the her skill, grace, honesty, courage, truth. 

*Aphorism: A short and usually witty saying, such as: “A classic? That’s a book that people praise and don’t read.”- Mark Twain. 

*Apostrophe: A figure of speech wherein the speaker talks directly to something that is nonhuman, or absent.  For example, one might talk to a friend who has passed away. 

*Apothegm: A terse, witty, instructive saying; a maxim.  Examples: "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."  "All is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds." "May the Force be with you." 

*Archaism: The use of deliberately old-fashioned language. Authors sometimes use archaisms to create a feeling of antiquity. Tourist traps use archaisms with a vengeance, as in “Ye Olde Candle Shoppe”-Yeech! 

*Aside: A speech (usually just a short comment) made by an actor to the audience, as though momentarily stepping outside of the action on stage. (See soliloquy.) 

*Aspect: A trait or characteristic, as in “an aspect of the dew drop.” 

*Assonance: The repeated use of vowel sounds, as in, “Old king Cole was a merry old soul.” 

*Atmosphere: The emotional tone or background that surrounds a scene. 

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