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Having trouble understanding Shakespeare or 1984? CliffsNotes FREE study guides are written by teachers and professors for students as a supplement to their reading. Some of our popular LitNotes include Into the Wild, Catching Fire, Macbeth, Fahrenheit 451 and over 300 more titles!

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Absalom, Absalom!

William Faulkner

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Sherman Alexie

George Eliot

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The adventures of tom sawyer, agamemnon, the choephori, and the eumenides, the age of innocence.

Edith Wharton

The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll

All the King's Men

Robert Penn Warren

All the Light We Cannot See

Anthony Doerr

All the Pretty Horses

Cormac McCarthy

All Quiet on the Western Front

Erich Maria Remarque

All's Well That Ends Well

William Shakespeare

The Ambassadors

Henry James

The American

American poets of the 20th century, an american tragedy.

Theodore Dreiser

Jean Racine

Animal Farm

George Orwell

Anna Karenina

Leo Tolstoy

Antony and Cleopatra

Arms and the man.

George Bernard Shaw

Sinclair Lewis

As I Lay Dying

The assistant.

Bernard Malamud

As You Like It

Atlas shrugged, the autobiography of benjamin franklin.

Benjamin Franklin

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Malcolm X and Alex Haley

The Awakening

Kate Chopin

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literature summary notes

Words, words, words, and even more words! But what's the meaning behind them? Words can be used to describe what's invisible to the eye, to evoke feelings, create new worlds, and express ideas. English Literature is the subject of words and texts. 

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Words, words, words, and even more words! But what's the meaning behind them? Words can be used to describe what's invisible to the eye, to evoke feelings, create new worlds, and express ideas. English Literature is the subject of words and texts.

StudySmarter's English Literature Revision and Notes will show you how the stories we tell shape our culture and society. Reading literature expands our minds and our knowledge of the world and develops our imagination and emotional intelligence.

The poem 'Paradise Lost' (1667) by John Milton contains 8,000 different words. Can you imagine not only knowing that many words but also managing to include them in the same text?

English literature topics and learning objectives

From novels to literary devices, Study Smarter covers a variety of topics and learning objectives in English literature. Our high-quality content is accessible, making it easier for you to prepare for your English literature courses and exams.

English Literature: Novelists

Novelists are writers of novels. A novel is a book of long narrative fiction which usually centres around a main plot and follows characters as they develop. There are a variety of novel genres, such as gothic, dystopian, fantasy, and romance, that are enjoyed by readers with different preferences. Novels in English literature have continued to evolve through the ages, from the Renaissance to the present day.

Some of the novelists and works we cover include:

Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre (1847).

Charles Dickens – Hard Times (1854).

Aldous Huxley – A Brave New World (1932).

Daphne du Maurier – Rebecca (1938).

Toni Morrison – Beloved (1987).

English Literature: Poets

Poets are authors of poems. A poem is a literary text that uses meter or rhythm – like a song without music. There are different types of poems, ranging from lyrical to narrative. Poets have existed since prehistoric times when their poems would travel from mouth to mouth. Poetry in English literature has gone through many transformations throughout the different historical periods.

StudySmarter will help you learn about poets and poems, such as:

Geoffrey Chaucer – 'The Canterbury Tales' (1387 – 1400).

John Milton – ' Paradise Lost ' (1667).

Robert Burns – 'Ae Fond Kiss' (1791).

Elizabeth Barrett Browning – 'Grief' (1844).

Sylvia Plath – 'Ariel' (1965).

English Literature: Dramatists

Dramatists (or playwrights) are authors who write dramas. A drama, also referred to as a play, is a work of fiction that is written to be performed in front of an audience, usually in a theatre. Dramas fall into different genres, the main ones being tragedy and comedy. Western drama originated in Classical Greece and continues to flourish. Dramatists in English literature have greatly contributed to the advancement of playwriting.

Some of the dramatists and plays we cover include:

William Shakespeare – Macbeth (1605–6).

Aphra Behn – The Rover (1677).

Oscar Wilde – The Importance of Being Earnest (1895).

Arthur Miller – Death of a Salesman (1949).

Timberlake Wertenbaker – Our Country's Good (1988).

English Literature: Non-fiction Authors

Non-fiction authors are writers who create texts that convey fact rather than fiction. Non-fiction refers to any text that is based on real events and delivers information based on factual truth. Non-fiction is often more objective than fiction. There are different types of non-fiction, including biography, History , and travel.

StudySmarter will help you discover non-fiction authors and works, including:

George Orwell – Down and Out in Paris and London (1933).

Anne Frank – The Diary of a Young Girl (1947).

Maya Angelou – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969).

Nelson Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom (1994).

Bill Bryson – Notes from a Small Island (1995) .

English Literature: Literary Devices

We use literary devices to determine the form and genre of literary works and to make sense of the different techniques that authors use. Which literary devices are used depend on the type of literature. Different literary devices are used in fiction, poetry, drama, or non-fiction texts.

Fictional devices include:

Narrative form (e.g., novel, novella, short fiction).

Genre fiction (e.g., bildungsroman, historical fiction, epistolary fiction).

Literary techniques (e.g., symbolism, irony, imagery).

Poetic devices include:

Poetic form (e.g., sonnet, ballad, free verse).

Poetic genre (e.g., lyric poetry, narrative poetry, epic poetry).

Poetic terms (verse, strophe, sibilance).

Types of meter.

Types of rhyme.

Dramatic devices include:

Genre drama (e.g., tragedy, comedy, tragicomedy).

Dramatic structure (e.g., English Renaissance theatre, Restoration comedy, morality plays).

Dramatic terms (e.g., soliloquy, chorus, dramatis personae).

English Literature: Literary Movements

Literary movements show us what literary genres and types of works were prevalent in specific time periods. We cover all the movements in English literature:

Old English (450–1066): poetry.

Middle English (1066–1500): poetry.

The Renaissance (1500–1660): poetry, drama.

The Elizabethan Age (1558–1603): drama.

The Jacobean Age (1603–25): prose (treatise), drama.

The Restoration Period (1660–1700): prose, drama.

The Romantic Period (1785–1832): poetry, prose, drama.

The Victorian Period (1832–1901): prose (novels), poetry, drama.

Modernism (1914–45): prose (novels), poetry.

Postmodernism (1945–present): prose, poetry, drama.

English Literature: Literary Elements

A literary text is made of different literary elements. StudySmarter can help you explore the diverse components that are used to construct a body of text, including:

English Literature: Literary Criticism and Theory

When reading a text, we think about its meaning. The ability to analyse literary works from different points of view is a vital skill. This is why literary criticism, or the practice of interpreting literature, is important. Literary theory is the study of literary works through different approaches.

Some of the literary theory approaches that we cover include:


Critical race theory.

Feminist literary criticism.




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English Literature Explanations

English Literature explanations provide overviews, analyses, and definitions of the wide range of topics in English Literature. Our explanations also introduce in-depth information and fun facts that you may not have known about before. For example, how much do you know about the Shakespeare Authorship Question? Did you know there's a theory that Shakespeare's works were written by a group of people and not by a single person? Learn more about Shakespeare and other authors with our English Literature explanations. You also have the handy option to upload your own notes.

English Literature Flashcards

English literature flashcards are the perfect revision tool! You can use the flashcards to answer questions that are directly related to the information covered in the English literature explanations. And don't worry if you can't think of the right answer – the flashcards will show it to you. You can also create your own personalised flashcards depending on what you need to revise for most.

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Final English Literature Quiz

English literature quiz - teste dein wissen.

Where was Monica Ali born?

Show answer

Monica Ali was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Show question

Why did Monica Ali leave Bangladesh?

Monica Ali left Bangladesh with her family because of the civil war that broke out.

What university did Monica Ali graduate from?

Oxford University

How many languages has Monica Ali’s works been translated into?

Monica Ali opposed the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006.

Brick Lane is Monica Ali’s debut novel.

Who is the central character in Brick Lane ?

How does Nazneen enter the UK?

She arrives in the UK after her arranged marriage to Chanu.

The Brick Lane community is predominantly Bengali.

What is the name of the anti-muslim hate group in the Brick Lane novel?

Lion Hearts

What year was Nazneen born?

How old is Hasina when she elopes?

Why does Hasina leave her first husband?

He physically abuses her.

Why does Chanu leave his civil service job?

He doesn't believe he will get promoted after he witnesses his white colleague’s progress before him.

What is the name of the political group that Karim is chairman of?

The Bengal Tigers

Why does Chanu borrow money from Mrs. Islam?

To pay for a sewing machine so Nazneen can work with it.

What subject does Chanu hold a degree in?

English literature.

What are the names of Nazneen’ children?

 Raqib, Shahana and Bibi.

Why does Shahana run away from home?

She doesn't want to go to Bangladesh with Chanu.

What was Karim's motivation for being a part of the Bengal Tigers?

Karim was primarily interested in his personal goals and ambitions in relation to his involvement in the Bengal Tigers organization.

Why was Dr. Azad concerned about the youth in the Brick Lane community?

There was a growing drug problem among young people in the community.

How do Hasina and Nazneen communicate with each other?

Hasina and Nazneen often send each other letters discussing the major news in their lives.

Why does Hasina have to leave her factory job?

Rumours spread that Hasina is sleeping with the boss for financial benefit and the factory workers look down on her. 

Why does Razia start her own business?

After the death of her husband Razia has no source of income, so she uses her initiative and starts a sewing business.

How does Rubpan die?

She dies by committing suicide, which is revealed in a letter from Hasina to Nazneen.

Where and when was Charlotte Brontë born?

Charlotte Brontë was born on 21 April 1816 in a little village in West Yorkshire, known as Thornton.

What year was the most tragic in Brontë's life?

What year did the Brontë sisters release their joint poetry collection?

In 1845 she, Anne, and Emily wrote a joint collection of poems titled Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. 

What was Charlotte Brontë’s pen name and why did she need one?

In the 1800s it was not common for women to write literature, therefore she wrote under a male pseudonym, Currer Bell. Posing as a male author gave her a greater chance of her works being published. 

What does the bird imagery in the following quote from Jane Eyre (1847) tell us about Charlotte Brontë’s views on how women were treated in the 1800s? 

‘I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will’.

By using the imagery of a bird, she alludes to how women feel encaged by male patriarchs in their marriages and families, and she also draws on connotations of ownership. The notion of a bird being in a cage, aside from the obvious suggestion of restricted agency, suggests the bird is owned by someone. 

What is a Bildungsroman and which Brontë novel falls under this category? 

A Bildungsroman is a novel that follows a character from childhood to adulthood. Jane Eyre (1847) is a Bildungsroman.

What does the chestnut tree symbolize in Jane Eyre ?

When the chestnut tree splits in the thunderstorm, it foreshadows the divide of Rochester and Jane on their wedding day. When it is in full bloom with green leaves in a beautiful garden, it reflects Jane's ecstasy surrounding their union. 

How are Shirley and Caroline different?

Caroline and Shirley live contrasting lives. Caroline is reserved and poor, and Shirley is lively, independent, and rich. 

The success of the novel Shirley caused many people to name their children Caroline. 

Why does Brontë blend genres in her writing?

Brontë blends multiple genres in her work which is what makes it so interesting. They also allow her to touch on multiple themes, such as love and loss, religion and morals, and family. 

What does the following quote from Shirley (1849) reveal about the treatment of women in the 1800s?

‘At heart, he could not abide sense in women: he liked to see them as silly, as light-headed, as vain, as open to ridicule as possible; because they were then in reality what he held them to be, and wished them to be, - inferior: toys to play with, to amuse a vacant hour and to be thrown away’. 

The phrasing 'toys to play with' nods towards the objectification of women and highlights the way women were expected to live to serve men as their wives. She even goes as far a saying that men like women with little substance and independent will, as it allows them to use women in the way they desire without protest.

What are key themes central to Brontë's well-known works? 

The themes central to Brontë's well-known works are love and marriage, family, education, death, morality, and religion.

Villette is believed by some scholars to be influenced by Brontë's travels to Brussels and her experience with Constantin Héger.

Charlotte Brontë's personality was entirely different from her fictional characters. 

What do some critics argue Bertha is a representation of?

Many critics have argued that Bertha is a representation of Jane's inner feelings and frustrations towards the patriarchal system and the subordinate position of women in society. 

What does this quote from Charlotte's favorite poet Robert Southey say about society's attitudes to women (particularly female writers) in the 1800s?

Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life, and it ought not to be. 

This quote reveals that Men, and society generally, did not believe literature should be 'the business of a woman's life' no matter the quality of her work. 

What are the five main themes of Jane Eyre?

The five main themes of Jane Eyre are Love, religion, morals, social inequality, and home / a sense of belonging. They are large themes with subcategories within them.

What does Mrs Fairfax believe are some barriers to Jane and Rochester's marriage being successful?

Mrs Fairfax notes that Jane and Rochester are different in their 'equality of position' meaning they are from different classes, and they have differing financial situations. Lastly, Mrs Fairfax appears to disapprove of the age gap between the pair. 

How is marriage presented in Jane Eyre and how is it different to conventional literature at the time?

Rather than marriage being a necessity allowing women to fulfill their destiny, it is presented as something that enhances women's lives, rather than completes them. 

Which two characters particularly demonstrate that you do not need male companionship to be happy?

Diana and Mary, represent the ability for women to live fulfilled lives without husbands. Neither of them are married but they live and happy and content life in the woods, supporting each other and teaching children.

What does the quote 'Reader, I married him' tell us about Jane and Rochester's marriage / Brontë's perception of marriage?

The phrasing 'I married him', places Jane in a position of liberty and power, as an active presence in the marriage, as it was her decision to marry him. This contrasts the conventional representation of marriage in which women are passive objects passed from the possession of their father to their husband. 

How does Jane's early life at Gateshead affect her throughout the rest of the text?

The trauma she undergoes at Gateshead, such as being a victim of spite inflicted by her own family, foregrounds the novel in struggle and lays the foundations for Jane's consistent perseverance throughout the text.

What are the 5 conventions of the gothic genre mentioned in this article?

The main characteristics of the gothic genre are: Supernatural / inexplicable events, castle setting, gloomy weather, haunting past, and death. 

True or false: Jane Eyre is regarded as the first gothic novel.

False. Castle of Otranto (1764) by Horace Walpole, was declared the first-ever gothic text.

How does the past haunt Jane in the novel?

Rochester's past (in which he married Bertha) ruins he and Jane's first wedding and puts their relationship at risk. Jane's trauma as a child is carried with her through the text as she struggles to find a place she feels she truly belongs due to never having the safety net of a family.

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PhD in English Literature

Specializes in classic & contemporary prose fiction , particularly 19th & 20th-century American and British literature

Lily Beaumont

Lily Beaumont

7-years experience in curriculum and study guide development

Joint MA in English and Women's & Gender Studies

Specializes in Victorian literature and feminist theory

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These sites provide literary summaries and notes on novels and plays. Students who visit this site are reminded that mistakes sometimes creep into these notes; do not use them as a substitute for your own critical analysis. These sites are included as support materials, not as a substitute for reading and studying a text.

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Pink Monkey Pink Monkey, with its partner Barron's Notes, has notes for more than 350 titles, including an extensive collection of Shakespearean drama. Where copyright permits, some titles also have online texts, downloadable in PDF or RTF format. Teachers should note that this site links to a site that sells essays.

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The term literature has many definitions depending on the intention of the person defining it. Literature can be defined as a work of art which uses words or language creatively to express and reflect human realities. Literature can be defined as a mirror to social reality.


Literature cannot be isolated with the origin of man through labour process associated with the making and using tools.

Human beings had to use language to communicate different issues related to labour differentiation. Primarily, literature was in oral forms such as songs (labour songs) myths, fork tales aimed at warning, encouraging hardworking, criticising evil, and maintaining social value or ethics.

Relationship between language and literature:

•Literature and language are indistinguishable /inseparable because:

•Literature is created through language. It is called so when language is used creatively to reflect human realities. Language is the medium or tool of communication in literature, no language, no literature .It can also be argued that language develops through the four language skills which are listening, speaking, writing and reading.

•Therefore, literature as a work of art is different from other works of art such as pottery, sculpture, painting, carving, weaving, because it uses language creatively to describe or express human experiences and realities.

Generally, there are two types /genres of literature, namely:

1.Oral/old literature

2.Written/ modern literature

Oral/Old Literature

This is the type of literature which is presented through word of mouth from one generation to another. It is a primary source of literature because it started before written literature. It was practiced through verbal expressions from one generation to another. Oral literature originated with human being as human started to use it in a form of verbal songs, myths, folk tales, epics, etc. Therefore, oral literature is a foundation of literature even which we use today i.e. Written literature.

Written /modern literature

This is the type/genre of literature which is expressed in a form of writings. It started with the invention of writings. It is also called a Secondary source of literature because it started after oral literature and is a property of literate and semi-literates.

Written literature has three genres, these are:

1.Novels and short stories


This is a long narrative prose in which characters and actions represents real life and are portrayed in a complex plot. Examples of novel books are such as ―Passed Like a Shadow‖ written by B. Mapalala, ―Spared‖ written by S.N Ndunguru, Weep Not Child written by Ngugi Wa Thiong‘o, ―House boy‖ written by Ferdinand Oyono, ―A Wreath for Father Mayer‖ written by S.N. Ndunguru.

Short Stories

This is a fiction prose narrative which is shorter than a normal novel and restricted in characterization and situation. It normally deals with a single major event. Examples of short stories are from the book titled ―Encounters from Africa‖ by Macmillan Ltd. The book contains two stories, which are; ‗ The Voter‟ and „The Smile of Fortune‟.


Drama is a literary work written to be performed /acted by actors on a stage before an audience. The word ―drama‖ means ‗to do‘ or ‗to act‘. It is a story which involves characters who acts before the audience which gets the message intended by the playwright. In order to be complete and effective drama needs actors or players, audience, language (diction), plot, setting, scenes, actions, etc.

Normally, plays belong to a different genre because they are border than other genre due to the economical use of words by the playwright. Examples of play;‗ This Time Tomorrow‘ written by Ngugi wa Thiong‘o ‗An Enemy of the People written by Henrik Ibsen ―The Black Hermit,‖ Kivuli Kinaishi and ‗The Lion and The Jewel‘ by Wole Soyinka

Elements of Literature

Literature has two important elements which includes form and content.

FORM: This refers to how a work or art is structured (how something is arranged or said). Form includes PLOT, STYLE/TECHNIQUES, SETTING, CHARACTERISATION, and LANGUAGE USE (DICTION)

• Plot: This refers to how events are arranged in a novel /play. It shows how events are arranged in an artistic way through conflict which can be moral or personal or physical conflict.

• Style/ technique: This refers to the way the work of art is made/composed. Style can be narrative where by an author accounts a story. It can also be part of the oral tradition which story is told in traditional styles such as a long a time ago……….., for many years ago……….. Style can also be straight forward where by events are narrated from what happened or takes place at the beginning to an end of the novel. We also have flashback techniques whereby an author may narrate events by moving back then forward through time. . Example of a book in which the author employed a flashback technique is ‗Betrayal in the City ‗by Frances Imbuga. Under technique style we also have a point of view, this refer to how events are observed. Depending on who sees the action and who tells the story. A story can be told from an omniscient point of view whereby the narrator is not known and has access to characters' thoughts feelings and all events. Third person point of view is used when the author describes his/her characters depending on what he sees, hears or thinks and the first person point of view uses 'I" and the author describes only what can be seen, heard or thought by a single character.

• SETTING: This refers to environment or the immediate world in which the events in a story takes place. It includes time, culture and place where events take place. Setting can be physical real or imagery setting.

For example setting of this play ‗‘ This Time Tomorrow‘‘ is Kenya after independence and the setting of a book 'Betrayal in the City' is the Kafira state in Africa hence imagery since we have no such state in Africa.

• Characterization: Is the description of characters in a story. Characterization refers to the creation of an imaginary person to exist as a lifelike human for the readers. A good writer always strives to create believable characters. We know a character by examining what she/he thinks, says/does and what other character say about him or her life in general. Character can be main/major /central character; that appears mostly in every page of the book or narrative and plays a big role to the portrayal of the intended message by the author. Character can also be minor. These appear few times or very scarcely in a work of art. They assist the main character in accomplishing some message to the reader(s).

• Language, diction: R efers to the choice and arrangement of words in a literary work .We examine whether the language used is simple , complex, mixed, grammatical, or ungrammatical , normal ,or figurative language.

A figure of speech is a word or phrase that has a meaning other than the literal meaning.

A figure of speech is a rhetorical device that achieves a special effect by using words in a distinctive way. Figures can help our readers understand and stay interested in what we have to say.

There are many different types of figures of speech in the English language. These are some of the most commonly used.


Personification is a figure of speech in which a thing – an idea or an animal – is given human attributes. The non-human objects are portrayed in such a way that we feel they have the ability to act like human beings. For example, when we say, ―The sky weeps,‖ we are giving the sky the ability to cry, which is a human quality. Thus, we can say that the sky has been personified in the given sentence.

Common Examples

  • The wind whispered through dry grass.
  • The flowers danced in the gentle breeze.
  • The fire swallowed the entire forest.
  • The shadow of the moon danced on the lake.
  • The flowers were blooming, and the bees kissed them every now and then.
  • The skyscraper was so tall that it seemed to kiss the sky.
  • The ship danced over the undulating waves of the ocean.
  • When he sat the test, the words and the ideas fled from his mind.


Alliteration is derived from Latin‘s ― Latira ‖. It means ―letters of alphabet‖. It is a stylistic device in which a number of words, having the same first consonant sound, occur close together in a series.

Consider the following examples:

But a better butter makes a batter better. A big bully beats a baby boy.

Both sentences are alliterative because the same first letter of words (B) occurs close together and produces alliteration in the sentence.

An important point to remember here is that alliteration does not depend on letters but on sounds. So the phrase not knotty is alliterative, but cigarette chase is not.

―The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,

The furrow followed free;

We were the first that ever burst

Into that silent sea.‖

In the above lines we see alliteration (―b‖, ―f‖ and ―s‖) in the phrases ―breeze blew‖, ―foam flew‖, ―furrow followed‖, and ―silent sea‖.

Archaism is the derivative of a Greek word, archaïkós , which means beginning or ancient. It is a figure of speech in which a used phrase or word is considered very old fashioned and outdated.. It is the use of older versions of language and art. Such as in these lines, ―To thine own self be true‖ ( Hamlet by William Shakespeare). Sentences that may be considered as examples of archaism will most probably contain the words ―thine‖ and ―thou‖.

Evolution of Archaism

The English language which Shakespeare has written and spoken is very different from the English which is used today. The use of archaic language were found in the literary works of ancient medieval ages, as well as in the Victorian, Edwardian, 19th and 20th centuries.

Examples of Archaism from Literature

Archaism examples are found in the masterpieces of Shakespeare, S.T. Coleridge, Hemingway, and Keats.

It is an ancient Mariner,

And he stoppeth one of three.

‗By thy long grey beard and glittering eye, Now wherefore stopp‘st thou me?

He holds him with his skinny hand, ‗There was a ship,‘ quoth he.

‗Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!‘ Eftsoons his hand dropthe ‗I fear thy skinny hand!….

I fear thee and thy glittering eye,

And thy skinny hand, so brown.‘— Fear not, fear not, thou Wedding-Guest!

This body dropt not down…

Assonance takes place when two or more words, close to one another repeat the same vowel sound, but start with different consonant sounds.

For instance, in the following sentence:

―M e n s e ll the w e dding b e lls.‖

The same vowel sound of the short vowel ―-e-‖ repeats itself in almost all the words, excluding the definite article.

Common Assonance Examples

We l i ght f i re on the mountain. I feel depr e ssed and w r est le G o and m o w the lawn.

Johnny went here and th e re and everywh ere

The engin ee r held the st ee ring to st ee r the vehicle.

Consonance refers to repetitive sounds produced by consonants within a sentence or phrase.

For instance, the words chuckle, fickle, and kick are consonant with the same consonant „ck „

Hyperbole, derived from a Greek word meaning ―over-casting,‖ is a figure of speech that involves an exaggeration of ideas for the sake of emphasis.

Therefore, a hyperbole is an unreal exaggeration to emphasize the real situation.

Common Examples of Hyperbole

My grandmother is as old as the hills.

She is as heavy as an elephant!

I am trying to solve a million issues these days.

I will love you dear until China and Africa meet.

The blacksmith‘s hand was harder than the rock.

His classmates laughed at him, saying he had a pea-sized brain.

Metaphor is a figure of speech that makes comparison between two things that are unrelated, but which share some common characteristics without using conjunctions e.g. like, as etc

Examples of Metaphors

My brother was boiling mad . (This implies he was too angry.)

The assignment was a breeze . (This implies that the assignment was not difficult.)

Her voice is music to his ears . (This implies that her voice makes him feel happy)

Maria is an angel of Mwanza.

Melina‘s face is a map of Africa.

A simile is a figure of speech that makes comparison between two things that are unrelated, but which share some common characteristics by using conjunctions e.g. like, as etc

Common Examples of Simile

Our soldiers are as brave as lions.

He is as funny as a monkey.

The water well was as dry as a bone.

At exam time, the high school student was as busy as a bee.

The beggar on the road looked as blind as a bat.

The diplomat said the friendship of the two countries was as deep as an ocean.

The listened to his spellbinding speech as quietly as mice. The history paper was as tricky as a labyrinth.

The boys in the playing field were feeling as happy as dogs with two tails.

The term euphemism refers to polite, indirect expressions which replace words and phrases considered harsh and impolite or which suggest something unpleasant.

For example, ―kick the bucket‖ is a euphemism that describes the death of a person.

Examples in Everyday Life

You are becoming a little thin on top (bald).

Our teacher is in the family way (pregnant).

He is always economical in truth (liar).

We do not hire mentally challenged (stupid) people. He is a special child (disabled or retarded).

Sarcasm is derived from French word sarcasmor and also from a Greek word sarkazein that means ―tear flesh‖ or ―grind the teeth‖. Somehow, in simple words it means to speak bitterly.

Sarcasm is a literary and rhetorical device that is meant to mock with often satirical or ironic remarks with a purpose to amuse and hurt someone. It gives the meaning which is different from what the speaker intends to say.

For instance:

―I didn‘t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.‖ (Mark Twain)

―Friends, countrymen, lend me your ears.‖

(Julius Caesar by Shakespeare)

Satire is a technique employed by writers to expose and criticize foolishness and corruption of an individual or a society by using humor, irony, exaggeration or ridicule. It intends to improve their characters by overcoming their weaknesses.

Examples of Satire in Everyday Life

Most political cartoons which we witness every day in newspapers and magazines are examples of satire. These cartoons criticize some recent actions of political figures in a comical way.

Some shows on television are satire examples like The Daily Show , The Colbert Report , and The Larry Sanders Show . These shows to target what they think are stupid political and social viewpoints.

Let us see a sample of Stephen Colbert‘s social satire:

―If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn‘t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we‘ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don‘t want to do it.‖

Irony is a in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words.. In simple words, it is a difference between appearance and reality.

Types of Irony

On the grounds of the above definition, we distinguish two basic types of irony: (1) and (2)

Verbal irony involves what one does not mean. For example, when in response to a foolish idea, we say, ―What a great idea!‖ This is verbal irony.

Situational irony occurs when, for instance, a man is chuckling at the misfortune of another, even when the same misfortune is, unbeknownst to him, befalling him.

Common Examples of Irony

Let us analyze some interesting examples of irony from our daily life:

You laugh at a person who slipped stepping on a banana peel, and the next thing you know, you‘ve slipped too.

―Oh great! Now you have broken my new camera.‖

Short Examples of Verbal Irony

The doctor is as kind hearted as a wolf.

His friend‘s hand was as soft as a rock.

The student was given ‗excellent‘ on getting zero in the exam.

He enjoyed his job about as much as a root canal.

A vehicle was parked right in front of the no-parking sign.

The CEO of a big tobacco company said he did not smoke.

is when a part represents the whole or the whole is represented by a part. Examples are:

Wheels - a car

The police - one policeman

Coke - any cola drink

Army - a soldier

Content: Refers to the main subject of a literary work presented in a written or spoken form. It also refers to what is being conveyed in a speech, an article or a certain program. Content includes the following elements: Themes, message, conflicts, climax, crisis and philosophy.

• Theme: This refers to the major idea or subject contained in a work of art. It is represented through persons, actions, or concepts in a literary work. It may also refer to the major topic obscured and reflected or describe in the book. In Africa literature the main themes are such as corruption, position and role of women, irresponsibility, betrayal and African traditional, belief, poverty. Other minor themes can be alienation, protest, oppression, and humiliation, sacrifice, class struggle.

• Message: This refers to the lesson we get after reading a work of art. . Example; is the play ‗This Time Tomorrow‘ we learn that, unity and solidarity is important for the liberation of the oppressed and humiliated society.

• Conflict: This refers to the clash or opposition between one idea, thought or feeling and another, one person and another or conflict within an individual person. Conflict can be because of economic conflict, social conflict, political, personal or philosophical conflict between one idea and feelings and another.

• Climax: This is a stage in which conflict reaches the higher point where resolution is inevitable or necessary.

• Crisis: This is a point where conflict rises and causes some problems to the person or people involved and therefore, resolution is necessary. There may be different crisis each proceed the climax.

• Philosophy: Refers to the belief or outlook of the author which he/she expresses in the book/story.

General Themes of Literature

Literature is not written in a vacuum, it emanates from a society to reflect its social, political, economic, as well as cultural aspects. Therefore, literature has a direct connection to human life and thus, it cannot be separated from human beings. The following are some of the important roles and functions of literature:

• Literature criticizes societies. Authors of a literary work criticize society by revealing corruption, oppression, and humiliation, and inequality.

• Literature expresses people‘s culture. This includes norms, values, traditional, and, practices so that people can follow them. It can also makes people abandon some bad cultural practiced such as female genital mutilation (FGM) for positive changes.

• Literature educates people: it educates people about day to day happenings or events in their society. It widens their mind and thinking capacity.

• Literature entertains people; people enjoy by watching and reading different works which appeal to their state of mind.

• Literature is a tool of liberation. It makes people know the presence of exploitation, irresponsibility, it direct people to struggle for mental and physical liberation against these problems.

•Literature develops language because language is a tool or medium of communication in literature.

POETRY: is a genre of literature which expresses the feelings, ideas, and emotions of the reader(s) or hearer(s). The language used in poetry is characterized by imagery and rhythmical sounds.

Terms related to poetry

• Poem: This is a piece of writing in a verse form which expresses the deep feelings using artistic language.

• Persona: This refers to a character in a poem.

• Poet/poetess: This refers to a man or woman who composes an oral or written poem.

• Verse: This is a simple line in a poem.

• Stanza: Is a combination or collection of verses to make a complete idea of a poem.

How poetry differs from other genres of literature?

The genre of poetry differs from other genres of literature like prose in the following aspects:

1.Poetry uses much imagery which appeals to the sense of touch, hearing, small and taste in a more concentrated way than prose.

2.Poetry is arranged in verse which forms stanzas to make a poem as whole while prose is written in sentences and paragraphs.

3.Poetry employs the use of much musical features such as rhyme and rhythm unlike to novels and Short stories which words are intended to be read silently not loud or sung or recited.

4.Poetry employs language economy. Few words convey such information. This is because even single word in poetry may hear a number of messages.

5.Poetry uses many figures of speech such as simile metaphor personification etc. than other Prose.

6.The character in a poem is called persona but in novel and play a character does not possess a name.


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English Summary

Best Websites for English Literature Notes

When it comes to studying English literature, having access to reliable and comprehensive study resources can greatly enhance your understanding and appreciation of literary works. Fortunately, the internet offers a plethora of websites that provide valuable English literature notes. In this article, we will explore five of the best websites for English literature notes, each offering unique features and resources to assist students and enthusiasts in their literary journeys.

  • : is a top-notch resource for English literature notes, essays, and summaries. This website covers a wide range of literary works, including classic novels, poems, and plays. provides concise and well-structured notes that break down complex themes, characters, and literary techniques. With its user-friendly interface and in-depth analysis, this website is an excellent choice for students seeking a comprehensive understanding of English literature.
  • : is another excellent website dedicated to English literature notes. It offers a vast collection of study materials, including chapter-wise summaries, character analysis, and thematic insights. The website focuses on both classic and contemporary works, ensuring that students can find notes for a variety of texts. stands out for its well-researched and comprehensive approach, making it an indispensable resource for anyone studying English literature.
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  • : is a well-established website that has been helping students for years with its comprehensive study guides and literature notes. This website offers concise summaries, character analysis, and key themes for a wide range of literary works. Additionally, provides study tools such as quizzes and practice exams to test your understanding. With its reliable and easy-to-navigate interface, remains a go-to resource for English literature enthusiasts.
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In conclusion, these five websites –,,,, and – offer valuable English literature notes and study resources for students and enthusiasts alike. Whether you’re looking for comprehensive summaries, character analyses, or thematic insights, these websites provide reliable and well-structured materials to enhance your understanding of English literature. So, dive into the world of literature with the help of these websites and unlock a deeper appreciation for the power of words.


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    Study Guides · Bookwolf Book notes and study guides. · Classic Notes at Grade Saver This site includes notes on a variety of titles. · Pink Monkey Pink Monkey


    1. Skillful and creative use of language. · 2. Skillful creation of the setting. · 3. Artistic choice and presentation of the plot (incidents). · 4


    This is a long narrative prose in which characters and actions represents real life and are portrayed in a complex plot. Examples of novel books are such as ―

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