English Terminology – Part 4

This is Part 4 of the English Terminology series!

1. Antithesis

Refers to something that is the direct opposite.

For example, love/hate are antithetical opposites.

Keating’s speech juxtaposes antithetical opposites of war and peace, soldiers and civilians, and loss and gain.

2. Film Noir

Refers to the film genre in the 1940s and 1950s, including crime movies such as The Big Sleep. It is characterised by cynical characters, dark and mysterious city settings, and themes of crime and corruption. Visually, it is typified by a sharp contrast of light and shadows as well as a smoky atmosphere to create a dark, gritty and suspenseful mood.

In Blade Runner, film noir elements are used setting of the smoky cityscape and the characterisation of Deckard as a typically hardboiled detective.

3. Humanism

Refers to the philosophy that values humanity as opposed to abstract ideas, supernatural beings and religion. It values the idea of self-determination (not fate), free will and that humans derive their morality from their own rationality (rather than religion).

The film, A Simple Plan, reflects contemporary humanist values in that it is the character’s own conscience and sense of guilt that leads to their psychological “hell”, rather than any supernatural or religious consequence.

4. Gothic Fiction

Refers to the genre that is characterised by dark and misty settings, castles, the supernatural, and magic. Gothic characters may include vampires, werewolves, maniacs, monsters, demons, angels, Byronic heroes and ghosts.

For example, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is an example of Gothic fiction.

Shelley’s figure of the monster and its creation, set against the thunderstorm, is typical of the Gothic fiction genre.

5. Diction

Refers to the choice of words of the composer. This is particularly useful in essays and analysis, where, though there isn’t a specific technique e.g. metaphor, the particular words that the composer chose has significance on the text’s meaning.

The diction of “literature” suggests that the texts are worthy of academic study.

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