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ELEMENTS OF PROSE - Literature Notes
(i) Plot. The sequence of events in a story or play. This sequence of events usually involves a problem, complication and resolution to the problem. A subplot is a supporting story that connects to the main story.
(ii) Character. Characters are the people that populate a story. Depending on the genre, these 'people' can be animals and even objects. The protagonist is the character that is the center of the story. The protagonist does not have to be 'good', (s)he just has to be who the story is about. The antagonist is the person who opposes the ideas of the protagonist, or literally physically opposes the protagonist. This person does not have to be bad, (s)he just has to oppose the protagonist.
(iii) Characterization. An author, or poet's, use of description, dialogue and dialect to create an emotional and intellectual response in the reader. This is to make the character more vivid and realistic.
(iv) Conflict. The opposition between two characters, between two large groups of people, or between the protagonist and a large problem, such as forces of nature, ideas and public mores. Conflict can be both external and internal, and it drives the plot of a story. Multiple conflicts can occur simultaneously in complex works of literature. Examples of conflict are man vs man, man vs himself, man vs society and man vs nature.
(v) Complication. The difficult circumstances that come about through the characters attempt to find solutions to his/ her problems.
(vi) Theme. It is the central topic or idea explored in a text. The theme is not generally stated in the text and can be encapsulated in a word or phrase, for example friendship or love and family relationship.
(vii) Setting. This is the place, time or atmosphere of a novel or short story. Place and time particularly affect genre, for example, if a story is set in eighteenth century London, then the novel is a historical novel, if it is set in Jamaica in the the 28th century, then the novel is classified as speculative fiction.
(viii) Point of view. This is the view from which the story is told. If the narrator is in the story, then it is the first person perspective. It is characterized by the use of the 'I' and the story is told only from the perspective of that character. The third person limited narrator is outside of the story and that voice is characterized by pronouns such as he or she. This type of narration usually focuses on one character. The third person omniscient narrator is also outside of the story, but this narrator sees all and knows all. The focus is also on multiple characters.
Contributor: Leisa Samuels-Thomas
Abrahams, M.H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. (Orlando: FL). Haracourt Brace College Publisher, 1999.