Literary Terms: Romeo and Juliet

tradgedy a drama that ends in catastrophe – most often death – for the main character and often for several other important characters.
tragic hero a main character – someone who is nobly born and may have great influence in his or her society.
comic relief a humorous scene, incident, or speech that relieves the overall emotional intensity.
allusion a brief reference, within a work, to something outside the work that the reader or audience is expected to know.
foil a character whose personality or attitudes are in sharp contrast to those of another character in the same work.
dramatic conventions – devices that theatre audiences accept as realistic even though they do not necessarily reflect the way real-life people behave.
soliloguy a speech that a character gives when he or she is alone on stage. Its purpose is to let the audience know what the character is thinking.
aside a character’s remark, either to the audience or to another character, that others on stage are not supposed to hear. Its purpose is to reveal the character’s private thoughts.
blank verse a form of poetry that uses unrhymed lines.
iambic pentameter lines that ideally have five unstressed syllables, each followed by a stressed syllable.
sonnet a lyric poem of 14 lines, commonly written in iambic pentameter.
pun a joke that comes from a play on words. (when Mercutio is fatally wounded, he says, “Ask me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man”, with a pun on the word grave, meaning both “solemn” and a “tomb”.
oxymoron a combination of contradictory words
hubris excessive pride
prologue a preview explaining the content of a work

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