Literary Glossary: C–D

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Character

A person who appears, or is referred to, in a work of literature. A character described in detail and/or who changes over the course of the work is usually referred to as "round." A "flat" character is generally one-dimensional, and changes little over time. Character can also refer to an individual's moral, social, or ethical qualities (e.g., good/bad).

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Characterization

A literary device that authors use to deliver details about a character’s personality in a story. It serves to create an emotional or intellectual reaction to a character or to make the character more vivid and realistic.

Writers use two basic types of characterization to serve varying purposes: direct or indirect. Direct characterizations are direct statements an author makes about a character’s personality and intentions. Indirect characterizations are details that enable readers to infer what is not directly stated.

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Comedy

A story, often light in tone, that ends with a happy resolution of the central conflict. In classic Greek drama, a comedy is the opposite of a tragedy.

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Connotation

Ideas or qualities associated with or implied by a word or expression beyond that word or expression’s explicit or primary meaning (See Denotation) 

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Consonance

The repetition of consonant sounds in a sequence of words, as in the following example from Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est" (note the hard "c" sound). Unlike alliteration, the consonant sounds need not be in the initial syllable of each word.

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,

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Decadent

A term describing a movement in literature that has its beginnings in 19th- century Symbolist-Romantic poets in France, such as Charles Baudelaire. This literature and poetry is characterized by a fascination with the morbid and macabre and emanates from the belief that life is meaningless.

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Denotation

An actual or direct meaning for a word or expression as distinguished from the ideas or meanings associated with it or implied by it. (See Connotation)

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Dialect

A regional or local variation of a language, complete with unique idioms and pronunciations.

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Dialogue

A Conversation between two or more characters as a feature of a book, play, or film. It reveals character and advances the action.

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Drama

A literary genre in which actors adopt roles of characters and perform, usually on a stage.

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Dramatic Monologue

A poetic form in which a speaker addresses an implied listener, and in which the reader perceives a gap between what the speaker says speaker says and what the speaker actually reveals. Robert Browning’s "My Last Duchess" is a superb example of the form.

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Dystopia

A society real or imagined in a repressive and controlled state, often depicted under the guise of being utopian

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