A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Literary Terms

soliloquy A long speech that reveals the innermost thoughts and feelings of the character who speaks it.Ex. Helena’s soliloquy at the end of scene I, she tells of her love for Demetrius and outlines a plan to win him
repetition Shakespeare often uses repetition to stress a character’s emotions or traits or lend urgency to a theme or idea.Ex. In Act I, Scene I, Lysander would like to remove Demetrius, a rival suitor, from competition for his Hermia’s hand. He claims that a different woman, Helena, loves Demetrius and exaggerates her love for him by repeating the word “dotes”: “and she, sweet lady, dotes / Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry.”
oxymoron Combination of contradictory words. Ex. Nick Bottom promises to “roar gently” when he plays the part of a lion
exposition Information that is directly conveyed or explained; it gives facts necessary to understanding the play.Ex. In Act I, in her soliloquy, Helena explains that she is going to tell Demetrius about the secret plan to meet in the woods
mood Overall atmosphere or feeling of a piece of writing. Ex. The mood in Act I, Scene II, when the workmen are rehearsing, is silly and playful
irony The difference between what is expected and what actually happens.Ex. It is ironic that Theseus wooed Hippolyta with his sword and won her love by injuring her. Usually such acts would result in hate, not love
comedy Entertains its audience with a lighthearted or satirical tone, and by convention the plot often ends with a marriage ceremony.
alliteration Repetition of initial consonant sounds
imagery Description that appeals to the senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste)
double entendre A word or phrase with double meaning.Ex. “O wherefore, Nature, didst thou lions frame? Since lion vile hath here deflower’d my dear”
resolution End of the story where loose ends are tied up
paradox A statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.Ex. “The most lamentable comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe”

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