Aside Words spoken by an actor directly to the audience, which are not “heard” by other characters on stage during a play. In Shakespeare’s Othello, lago voices his inner thoughts a number of times as “asides” for the play’s audience.
Comic Relief The use of a comic scene to interrupt a succession of intensely tragic dramatic moments. The comedy of scenes offering comic relief typically parallels the tragic action that Shakespeare’s tragedies. One example is the opening scene of Act V of Hamlet, in which a gravedigger banters with Hamlet.
Conflict The struggle in a work of literature. This struggle may be between one person and another person or between a person and an animal, an idea or a thing. It may also be between a person and himself or herself. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the conflict is manifold. Hamlet struggles against the villain Claudius, against the unbecoming conduct of his mother, and against his conscience and indecision.
Denouncement The portion of the plot that reveals the final outcome of its conflicts or the solution of its mysteries (tying up loose ends).
Foil A character who contrasts and parallels the main character in a play or story. Laertes, in Hamlet, is a foil for the main character; in Othello, Emilia and Bianca are foils for Desdemona.
Foreshadowing Device a writer uses to hint at a future course of action. the words of heart trouble in the first line of “The Story of an Hour,” by Kate Chopin, foreshadow the ironic ending helping make it believable. Shirley Jackson also uses foreshadowing in the second paragraph of her outstanding short story “The Lottery” in the following sentence: Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones… This sentence foreshadows the stoning scene at the end of the story.
Hamartia tragic flaw: a defect in the character of the protagonist of a tragedy that brings about his or her downfall.
Hubris or Hybris Great pride that brings about the downfall of a character in a Greek drama or in other works of literature.
Monologue A speech by a single character without another character’s response.
Soliloquy Recitation in a play in which a character reveals his thoughts to the audience but not to the other characters in the play.
Tragedy A type of drama in which the characters experience reversals of fortune, usually for the worse. In tragedy, catastrophe and suffering await many of the characters, especially the hero. Examples include Shakespeare’s Othello and Hamlet; Sophocles’ Antigone and Oedipus the King, and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.
Tragic Flaw A weakness or limitation of character, resulting in the fall of the tragic hero. Othello’s jealously and too trusting nature is one example.
Tragic Hero A privileged hero, exalted character of high repute, who, by virtue of a tragic flaw and fate, suffers a fall from glory into suffering.
Imagery The representation through language of sense experience. The pattern of related comparative aspects of language, particularly of images, in literary work.

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