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Prosody (pros’ o di) – the science or art of versification (See Versification). The systematic study of metrical structure including all forms of rhymes, meters and stanzas. It can also mean a particular system or theory of versification or of metrical composition, such as T.S. Eliot’s or Robert Frost’s prosody.

Protagonist – the chief person in a narrative or play who receives most of the author’s attention. If he has brave and noble qualities, he may also be called the hero (or if a woman, heroine). Sometimes a number of persons or whole social group may be the protagonist.

Proverb – an old and often repeated saying expressing some practical wisdom.

A rolling stone gathers no moss.

A soldier fights upon his stomach.

Provincialism – a word or expression peculiar to a province or a district some distance from a cultural center; a dialectical or local word, phrase or idiom. Examples of two Maine provincialisms are “to come afluking” (to come in a hurry) and “to gaffle aholt” (to grab hold ).

Psychological Novel, Story, or Play – one emphasizing the inward or mental qualities of the characters, and in which the plot unfolds or develops as a result of these mental traits. Hence the author’s stress is on mental interplay rather than external happenings.

Pun – a verbal humor evoked by playing on different meanings of the same word or of different words of the same sound. “A mender of bad soles”(souls) – Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

Puppet – a wooden and lifeless character having no individualized traits, used by the author for some momentary necessity of the plot, or as a kind of ventriloquist’s dummy for expressing the author’s thoughts or feelings.

Purple Patch – usually used in a uncomplimentary sentence, it means a sudden heightening of rhetorical style by shifting to a passage of highly colored poetic prose.

Purpose – the author’s literary or artistic intention, the specific type of interest or effect that the author aims to produce by the story as a whole. It does not mean the author’s desire to make money, gain fame, express his personality, etc. “Entertainment” is too broad a word, by itself, to state the author’s purpose adequately.


Quatrain – a four-line stanza of poetry.

“I never saw a moor,                         I never saw the sea;        Yet know I how the heather looks,                             And what a wave must be.” – Emily Dickenson’s Chartless


Realistic –a general term used to describe any literature marked by lifelikeness and a faithful adherence to the ordinary probability of human nature, even when such details are trivial or unpleasant. Hence realistic is the opposite of romantic.

Redundancy – the use of more words than are needed to express one’s meaning, especially the use of extra words meaning about the same thing as some of those already used.

John felt full of life; keenly alert, and far from sluggish.

Tautology, pleonism, and periphrasis all mean about the same as redundancy.

Refrain – a recurring phrase or passage in a poem.

“Quote the Raven, “Nevermore.” - Poe

Repartee – humor based on a clever, quick, and witty reply, for example, the conversation between Hamlet and the gravediggers.

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