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What are some examples of literary motivation?

Definition of Motivation

❶Quatrain — four line stanza. What literary term is for Aurora's bed?

Literary Devices and Terms

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Examples of Motivation in Literature

Conflict — struggle against opposing forces that the main character s undergo [usually man v. Dialogue — verbal exchange between two characters. Epiphany — a sudden realization of a great or fundamental truth. Flashback — past events and conversations that are recalled. Figurative language — language that is used to describe one thing in terms of another; not to be taken literally. Hyperbole — exaggeration for emphasis or for poetic or dramatic effect.

Metaphor — indirect comparison. Allegory — an extended metaphor used in a literary work to reveal a deeper, more complex meaning. Metonymy — uses a characteristic to refer to a more complex idea or thing. Synecdoche — when a part stands for the whole. Onomatopoeia — words that sound like what they express. Oxymoron — two word paradox. Paradox — contradictory statement that makes sense. Foil — a contrasting personality.

Foreshadowing — the use of clues to hint at what may happen later in the story. Genre — the category in which a literary work fits based on a loose set of criteria. Image — words that appeal to the senses. Motivation — reason why characters do what they do. Extrinsic Motivation — motivation derived from some physical reward i. Intrinsic Motivation — motivation derived from an internal reward i. Personification — giving human characteristics to something that is not human.

Irony — difference between what appears to be and what really is. Dramatic Irony — when a character says or does something that they do not fully grasp but is understood by the audience [character s v. Situational Irony — implying, through plot or character, that the actual situation is quite different from that presented [character s v. Verbal Irony — the use of words in which the intended meaning is contrary to the literal meaning.

Plot — Sequence of incidents or actions in a story. Exposition - introductions of characters, setting, and conflict background information. Rising action — series of events that lead up to the climax.

Falling action — actions after climax leading to the resolution. Resolution — where all conflicts are resolved and plot concludes. Point of view — vantage point from which a story is told. Omniscient POV — all knowing narrator. Limited 3 rd person POV — narrated by someone outside the action. Satire — writing that attacks and ridicules some social evil or human weakness. Semantics — the meaning s of a word.

Connotation — feelings and associations that are attached to the literal meaning of a word. Denotation — the literal meaning of a word. Suspense — sense of uncertainty or anxiety of what will happen later in a story. Symbol — something that stands for itself as well as something broader or more abstract.

There are two types of motivation: Intrinsic motivation is linked to personal pleasure, enjoyment and interest, while extrinsic motivation is linked to numerous other possibilities. Extrinsic motivation comes from some physical reward such as money, power, or lust.

Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is inspired by some internal reward such as knowledge, pride, or spiritual or emotional peace or wellbeing, etc.

Characters have some motivation for every action, as do people in real life. Therefore, the implicit or explicit reference to a motivation of a character makes the piece of literature seem closer to life and reality.

All actions that Hamlet commits in the play are the result of his motivation, such as revenge, justification, and integrity of his character. Throughout the play, revenge remains a constant motivation for Hamlet. His sorrow and grief are aggravated when the Ghost of his father tells him that the murderer has not only taken the throne, but has taken his mother as his bride.

This motivation is further escalated when he sees his mother married to his uncle, the murderer. In fact, Hamlet finds an opportunity to kill his uncle, but he does not, as King Claudius was praying at the time. This motivation stops him from taking action. In his introductory soliloquy , Dr. Faustus reveals his motivation very clearly. The chorus already confirms whatever he states in the soliloquy.


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In literature, “motivation” is defined as a reason behind a character’s specific action or behavior. This type of behavior is characterized by the character’s own consent and willingness to do something. There are two types of motivation: one is intrinsic, while the other one is extrinsic.

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A literary term is what you can use to define the makeup of a story. Sample literary terms include characterization, plot, genre, foreshadowing, and more.

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What makes a character tick? In this lesson, we will examine the concept of character motivation and why it is so important in telling a believable. Visit the page called Literary Terminology—A Glossary Of Literary Terms for a description of how to use this table: click here. Glossary of Literary Terms: Advanced search: Print all displayed items motivation: literary term: The psychological grounds for a characters behavior.

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Literary Terms. Allusion – short reference supposedly familiar to the audience. Ambiguity – intentionally vague details. Intrinsic Motivation – motivation derived from an internal reward (i.e. knowledge, pride, spiritual or emotional peace/wellbeing). Start studying Literary terms motivation - protagonist. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools.