Literary Terms BA English Literature RTMNU University -Bulbul Study

Literary Terms  English BA Sem 2 RTMNU Nagpur University

Introduction to Literary Terms -English Literature

The writers/ poets/authors style, technique, way of convincing the readers are called Literary Terms. It is tool in the hands of writers or speaker to speak and convince their audience/readers. The style of every author varies depending upon the writing style of the author. Thus we understand that Literary terms are nothing but a style or technique used by writers to convince readers. Using literary terms in writing or speaking is an art and requires great skill to create a satire, wit, pun, humour, comedy etc. So we understand that literary term as is an important tool/technique in the hands of literary writers. 


Th Literature - Literary terms (as per syllabus 2023 -2024) 
Literary terms are part of  syllabus RTMN University BA English Literature Semester 2. The students of RTMNU BA English Literature need to know and understand the meaning of literary term. In this article efforts are taken to explain the literary terms in a simple and highly easy manner understanding the difficulties of the students. According to the syllabus of RTMNU BA English Literature The following Literary terms are prescribed to study:

1. Iambic Pentameter
2. Conceit 
3. Allegory
4. Blank Verse 
5. Heroic Couplet
6. Comedy of Manners
7. Paradox 

Literary Terms are important for English Literature RTMNU Nagpur University. It has 10 marks questions. So here in this post  English Literature literary terms are explained in easy and simple language.

Literary Terms RTMNU -Bulbul Study

Click here for Syllabus 


1. Iambic Pentameter

What is an iamb - It is a literary device and in simple words means a foot containing unstressed and short syllable followed by a long stressed syllable.

Example - Destroy  - De  - is unstressed short  weak syllable

                                  story- is stressed long strong syllable

The combination of weak and strong syllable( Unstressed - Stressed)  is imab.

Pentameter - Penta means Five.

Meter -  rhythm of sentence

So Imabic Pentameter means - a line with 5 iambs ( 5 times unstressed - stressed syllable  in a line)is called imabic pentameter.

2. Conceit - is a comparison of  two different things. In Conceit two different things, ideas are linked together with simile or metaphor. Two dissimilar things/when are compared in sentence it's a conceit.

Example -  John Donne -A Valediction Forbidden

"Mourning compares two lovers with legs of the compass"

 Comparison - Lover compared to compass

Always remember a conceit is an extended metaphor which is used for the purpose of comparing two different things. A conceit always has a surprise item/element because the author wants to create parallel meanings between two things whose unlikeness the readers already know. The objective to use conceit is to draw or bring the readers attention to the matter of fact that the two things are dissimilar and thus enhance or enlarge the understanding of the readers. Conceit as a literary device was very common during the Renaissance and is usually attached with metaphysical poets because metaphysical poets used conceit in their work/writings.

Example -John Donne's poem 'The Flea"

'Oh! stay three lives in one flea spare

Where we almost, yea more than married are.

This flea is you and I and his,

Our meeting-bed and marriage temple is......'

3.Allegory - is a simple story/poem in which a writer wants to tell a hidden/deep meaning through the use of  images, figures, actions, symbols or events to convey a moral, spiritual meaning. It is story with two meanings, one is surface meaning other is deeper meaning. Writer is concerned with deeper meaning.

The word 'allegoria' means 'speaking otherwise'. Allegory is  not much similar to a fable or a short story because Allegory has layers of meaning in the story. The superficial meaning on the surface is different on the deep meaning which the writer wants to convey. Writers use allegory to explain difficult, complex and unfamiliar thoughts by creating parallel ideas which the readers already know. 

John Bunyan's ' Pilgrims Progress' published in 1678 tells the story of a man who travels from his home town called the city of destruction to search and reach the 'Celestial City' . The journey is long and difficult and he meets people who help him in his journey also who hinder his journey. Some people are helpful and some are hinderance in his journey. The religious allegory in Joh Bunyan's story is easy to read, the main character Mr. Christian is an common man and his journey represent a journey of soul of human from physical world to heavenly spiritual world. In his journey he is helped by characters names Goodwill, Charity, Piety and so on .

George Orwells novel 'Animal Farm' published in 1945 is a political allegory. On the superficial level it is a story of some farm animals who drive away the humans who run and install their own government, which over the time gets corrupt. On the deeper level it is the story of Russian Revolution.

4. Blank Verse - It is literary term. It is a poetry written in which there is no rhyme but lines are  metered. Most blank verse are written in  iambic pentameter ( unstressed -stressed syllable pattern  which appears five times in a line). 

No rhyming words can be found in  blank verse poem but the poem has metered lines.

Blank Verse is a poetry written in an unrhymed iambic pentameter lines. It sounds very much like an ordinary spoken English. Some of the great poets have used blank verse are William Wordsworth, Robert Browning, and W. H Auden.

5. Heroic Couplet -  A couplet is nothing but a stanza of two lines. Herioc Couplet means two  rhyming lines of iambic pentameter  which contains complete thought. In simple words it means two  successive lines which rhyme together written in iambic pentameter style and conveys a complete meaning to the readers. Last letter of first line rhymes with last letter of second line.

What is couplet - it means two successive lines that usually rhyme and written one after another.

Example -  William Blake 

Tiger, Tiger burning bright,

In the forest of the night.( Rhyme)

Example from Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock

The fair ones feels such Maladies as these

When each new Night-Dress gives a new Disease.

6. Comedy of Manners - It is a type of  comedy  a  genre  of satirical & realistic comedy This kind of comedy of manner was dominant genre of drama during restoration period. It is a play with satirizes the manners , affections, of  the modern people and society. 

7. Paradox - It is a literary term. Paradox is  logical self contradictory statement that contradicts itself . In simple words the paradox is  a proposition or statement  that  looks or seems  self contradictory  or absurd  or untrue but  actually  expresses a  possible truth.

Example -

It was the beginning of the end.



So literary terms are ways/style/ techniques of writing used by the writers to convince or persuade the readers. are  7  literary terms are in BA English Literature Semester 2 RTMNU University 2023 and carry 10 marks in RTMNU BA English Literature Exam. 

FAQs on Literary Terms:

1. What do you mean by Literary Term?

   Literary term is a tool/technique which a author uses while writing and convincing the           readers.

2. What is a blank Verse?

    Blank Verse is a poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter lines.

3. Heroic Couplet consist of how many lines?
    Heroic couplet  is a stanza which consist of 2 lines.


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