AP Lit Macbeth Vocab

Allegory a narration or description usually restricted to a single meaning because its events, actions, characters, settings, and objects represent specific abstractions or ideas. Characters may be given names such as hope, pride, youth, and charity; they have few if any personal qualities beyond their abstract meanings. These personifications are not symbols because, for instance, the meaning of a character named Charity is precisely that virtue. Ex: The Prodigal Son story in the New Testament of the Bible in which father’s generous joy as an allegory to convey the theological point that God showers us with infinite mercy.
Allusion a reference to a person, place, thing, event, or idea in history or literature (and more!) that enriches an author’s work. Allusions simply imply reading and cultural experiences shared by the writer and reader, functioning as a kind of shorthand whereby the recalling of something outside the work supplies an emotional or intellectual context
Apollonian and Dionysian The two impulses believed to guide authors of dramatic tragedy. The Apollonian impulse is named after Apollo, Greek god of light and beauty and the symbol of intellectual order. The Dionysian impulse is named after Dionysus, Greek god of wine and the symbol of the unrestrained forces of nature. The Apollonian impulse is to create a rational, harmonious world, while the Dionysian is to express the irrational forces of personality.
Aside In drama, a speech directed to the audience that supposedly is not audible to the other characters onstage at the time. When Hamlet first appears onstage, his aside “A little more than kin, and less than kind!” gives the audience a sense of his alienation from King Claudius.
Blank verse Unrhymed iambic pentameter. Blank verse is closet to the natural rhythms of English speech and therefore is the most common pattern found in traditional English narrative and dramatic poetry. Shakespeare’s plays use blank verse extensively.
Catharsis meaning “purgation”, catharsis describes the release of the emotions of pity and fear by the audience at the end of the tragedy. In his Poetics, Aristotle discusses the importance of catharsis. The audience faces the misfortunes of the protagonist, which elicit pity and compassion. Simultaneously, the audience also confronts the failure of the protagonist, thus receiving a frightening reminder of human limitations and frailties. Ultimately, however, both these negative emotions are purged, because the tragic protagonist’s suffering is an affirmation of human values rather than a despairing denial of them. Ex: The audience and readers of Macbeth usually pity the tragic central figure of the play because he was blinded by his destructive preoccupation with ambition.
Classical refers to works of ancient Greek or Roman literature; or literary works that exhibit author restraint, unity of design and purpose, clarity, logical organization, and respect for tradition. Also, the term may be used to describe a literary work of recognized importance. Ex: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Comic Relief a humorous scene or incident that alleviates tension in an otherwise serious work. In many instances these moments enhance the thematic significance of the story in addition to providing laughter. When Hamlet jokes with the gravediggers we laugh, but something hauntingly serious about the humor also intensifies our more serious emotions.
Electra complex The female version of the Oedipus complex. Electra complex is a term used to describe the psychological conflict of a daughter’s unconscious rivalry with her mother for her father’s attention. The name comes from the Greek legend of Electra, who avenged the death of her father, Agamemnon, by plotting the death of her mother.
Foil character in a work whose behavior and values contrast with those of another character in order to highlight the distinctive temperament of that character (usually the protagonist). COMMUNICATES TWICE. Ex: Julia in 1984 is a foil of Winston’s ex-wife Katherine.
Hamartia term coined by Aristotle to describe “some error or frailty” that brings about misfortune for a tragic hero. The concept of hamartia is closely related to that of the tragic flaw: both lead to the downfall of the protagonist in a tragedy. Hamartia may be interpretd as an internal weakness in a character (like greed or passion or hubris); however it may also refer to a mistake that a character makes that is based not on a personal failure, but on circumstances outside the protagonist’s personality and control.
Hubris or Hybris Excessive pride or self-confidence that leads a protagonist to disregard a divine warning or to violate a moral law. In tragedies, hubris is a common form of hamartia. Ex: when Macbeth disregards the witch’s prophecy because he feels it means he is invincible.
Irony A literary device that uses contradictory statements or situations to reveal a reality different from what appears to be true. Ex: When a tiny dog is named Giant.
Verbal Irony A figure of speech that occurs when a person says one thing but means the opposite. Sarcasm is a strong form of verbal irony that is calculated to hurt someone through, for example, false praise. Ex: In Pride and Prejudice, when Mr. Bennett replies to Mrs. Bennet, “You mistake me my dear, I have high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least.”
Dramatic Irony Creats a discrepancy between what a character believes or says and what the reader or audience member knows to be true. Ex: Toy Story, when Buzz Lightyear thinks he is a real space ranger
Tragic Irony A form of dramatic irony found in tragedies such as Oedipus the King, in which Oedipus searches for the person responsible for the plague that ravishes his city and ironically ends up hunting himself. Ex: Paulo Coehlo’s novel The Alchemist in which Santiago finds his treasure next to the tree where his journey began.
Situational Irony Exists when there is an incongruity between what is expected to happen and what actually happens due to forces beyond human comprehension or control. The suicide of the seemingly successful main character in Edwin Arlington Robinson’s poem “Richard Cory” is an example of situational irony. Ex: a Perfect Day for Bananafish by J.D. Salinger.
Oedipus Complex A Freudian term deprived from Sophocles’ tragedy Oedipus the King. It describes a psychological complex that is predicated on a boy’s unconscious rivalry with his father for his mother’s love and his desire to eliminate his father in order to take his father’s place with his mother. The female equivalent of this complex is called the Electra complex.
Soliloquy A dramatic convention by means of which a character, alone onstage, utters his or her thoughts aloud. Playwrights use soliloquies as a convenient way to inform the audience about a character’s motivations and state of mind. Ex: Hamlet’s soliloquy where he contemplates suicide: “To be or not to be, that is the question…”
Tragedy A story that presents courageous individuals who confront powerful forces within or outside themselves with a dignity that reveals the breadth and depth of the human spirit in the face of failure, defeat, and even death. Tragedies recount an individual’s downfall; they usually begin high and end low. The revenge tragedy is a well-established type of drama that can be traced back to Greek and Roman plays. Revenge tragedies basically consist of a murder that has revenge, and invariably madness of some sort is worked into subsequent events, which ultimately end in the deaths of the murderer, the avenger, and a number of other characters. Shakespeare’s Hamlet subscribes to the basic ingredients of revenge tragedy, but it also transcends these conventions because Hamlet contemplates not merely revenge but suicide and the meaning of life itself. A tragic flaw is an error or defect in the tragic hero that leads to his downfall, such as greed, pride, or ambition. This flaw may be a result of bad character, bad judgment, an inherited weakness, or any other defect of character. Tragic irony is a form of dramatic irony found in tragedies such as Oedipus the King, in which Oedipus ironically ends up hunting himself.
Unities strict rules of dramatic structure based loosely on the principles of drama discussed by Aristotle in his Poetics. 1) construct a single plot with a beginning, middle, and end that details the casual relationship of action and character. 2) restrict the action to the events of a single day and 3) limit the scene to a single place or city. Modern dramatists are typically more concerned with a unity of impression or emotional effect than with classical unities.

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