Socratic Method – a method of argumentation by which a person seeks to convince another by adopting the role of the humble inquirer, and through a series of questions leads the other person gradually to admit the truth of the questioner’s side.
Solecism – any blunder in grammar or usage (between you and I, he don’t, different than me, etc.) A person who makes one of these errors is said to have committed a solecism.
Soliloquy – an author’s method of disclosing the secret or inner thoughts of a character by having him speak his thoughts aloud to himself (Hamlet’s “To Be or Not to Be” speech, Macbeth’s “Tomorrow and tomorrow” speech).
Sonnet – Traditionally, a love poem of fourteen lines constructed in iambic pentameter, but in contemporary poetry, themes and form vary. (See Lyric.)
Spondee – a foot of two syllables, both accented equally (stone-deaf). Rarely, however, is a whole line spondaic.
Spoonerism – a ludicrous language slip formed either accidentally or purposely by transposing the first letters or sounds of two words in close succession (half-warmed fish for half formed wish, kissed my mystery lecture for missed my history lecture¸ Sheats and Kelley for Keats and Shelley. The Rev. W.A. Spooner, born in England in 1844, and later warden at New College, Oxford, became well known for committing these linguistic blunders when he grew excited.
Stanza – a recurring unit or a repeated brief division of a poem, separated by spaces to make for easier reading or to show change in thoughts or time.
Stock Character - a character who has been used so much in literature that he has become a conventional and recognizable type (the honest friend, the talkative old woman, the bragging soldier, the suave gambler, the simple country boy, the blundering drunkard, the super sleuth, the eccentric scientist, etc.).
Stream of Consciousness – the jumbled, frequently incoherent, half-formed ideas, images, memories, thoughts, desires, etc., that stream through a character’s consciousness. A form of subjective characterization, it enables the author to reveal rather completely the character’s psychological make-up (James Joyce’s Ulysses).
Strophe (stro’ fe) (rhymes with trophy) – Coming from the Greek word for turn, this meant the Greek choral dance the movement of the chorus in turning from one side to the other of the performance area. In poetry, it means the strain or the part of the choral ode sung during the strophe. The antistrophe was the part in answer to the strophe.
Structure – The particular way in which parts of a written work are combined.
The structure of a sonnet is 14 lines. The structure of a drama is a certain number
of acts and scenes. Plot structures a novel, and poems are organized by stanzas.
Other structural techniques include chronological, nonlinear, flashback, and
stream of consciousness.
Style- an author’s distinctive manner of expression. It comprises such factors as his use of words (diction), his sentence structure and phraseology, and his use of figures of speech and other rhetorical forms. Style is the writer’s “voice”.
Hemingway’s style is simple and straightforward. Fitzgerald’s style is poetic
and full of imagery. Virginia Woolf’s style varies but she is often abstract.
Subjective – a term applied to any piece of literature in which the author plainly reveals his personal thoughts, his feelings, or his interpretations of life.
Subjective Characterization – the kind in which an author tells the reader exactly what is going on in the minds of his characters.(Compare with Objective Characterization.)
Subplot – a plot of less importance than the main plot. It may begin or end at a different time from the main plot, cross and re-cross it several times, or merge eventually with it. (The grave-robbing activities and family life of Jerry Cruncher form a sub-plot in A Tale of Two Cities.)
Surprise – an unexpected turn of events often used by an author to introduce or remove obstacles, heighten interest, or add suspense (Robinson Crusoe’s discovery of the footprint in the sand).
Surprise Ending – a sudden ironic outcome of a prose narrative (See O. Henry Ending.)