Category Archives: Rhetorical Devices

Antanagoge Rhetorical Device

AntanagogeAntanagoge is a rhetorical device that means: putting a positive point on something negative. (2) answering the charge of an adversary, by a counter charge.

Example: She always forgets my birthday, but she gives me gifts during the year.

He lost his job, but he’s looking forward to spending more time with his family.

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What is Anacoluthon?

rhetoricAnacoluthon is beginning a sentence in one syntax, but ending it in another, usually with an unexpected shift in subject.  For example: “I told you not to play by the river–where did you get those coins?” Or, “Drive carefully. There’s a bump in the–I’ve said enough.”

Anacoluthon is not a non-sequitur (Latin for “it does not follow”). Anacoluthon is a stylistic error or a deliberate rhetorical statement. Anacoluthon is an interruption in sentence structure, with disjointed thought process.

A non-sequitur is jumbled thoughts with faulty logic. A non sequitur doesn’t follow a sequence of events and usually doesn’t make sense logically. For example:  “I’m intuitive like a statue.”  “The murder took place on the marina. Vivien sits at a park bench there every day. She must be the murderer.”

Fiction writers can use both anacoluthon and non-sequitur. If two characters are talking, one tries to change the subject because of a secret that could be revealed if they continue. That character would use anacoluthon, “Then I went to the flower shop–is that a new hair style you have?”

A non-sequitur could be used when a detective questions a witness who might say, “I saw a man’s shadow pass my apartment window. Jake looked in the window of Eve’s shop last week.That man must have been Jack.”

Have fun using anacoluthon or non-sequitur.

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Motif

Magnifying class held by puff figureWhat is the difference between motif and theme?  A motif in narrative is a recurring element throughout a literary work. A motif can be an image, words, an object, a sound, color, or ideas. A motif is not a symbol. A symbol represents something, for example, a light bulb means “new idea”. Often symbols occur once or twice in a story whereas a motif repeats and is noticeable. A motif is not a theme, it helps to develop or explain a theme, which is a central idea or message. Theme is the deeper layer of meaning beneath the story’s surface.

Motif is more concrete than theme. A good example of motif is the ring in Lord of the Rings. It is present throughout the story and helps to develop the theme of power corrupts. In the Hunger Games trilogy, the mocking jay image is a motif that recurs to promote the idea of rebellion. More than one motif can be used. In Macbeth, blood is one motif as well as light and dark, and  blindness.

One of the motifs I use in Norman in the Painting is a pink running suit that Jill, the protagonist, wears. It helps to develop the theme of fear. Jill keeps in shape so she can run away from anything she doesn’t want to face. Foo Dogs are another motif. She buys several sets instead of the usual one and places them at every doorway of her house rather than the typical placement at the front door. Traditionally, Chinese Foo Dogs are imperial guardian lion statues. One male that guards the structure of the building and one female  that guards the family inside. Jill appears to be capable. She works as a CPA, lives by herself, and resents her older sister telling her what to do,  but underneath Jill doesn’t feel safe.

What are your motifs in your story?

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Rhetorical Device Epanalepsis

epanalepsis

President John Kennedy said, “Mankind must put an end to war — or war will put an end to mankind.”

Our ears heard it, but we could not believe our ears.

The theory sounds all wrong; but if the experiment is a success, I cant worry about theory.

Next time there won’t be a next time.”   (Phil Leotardo in The Sopranos)

To report that a raise in wages is still under discussion is to tell us that there is nothing to report.

Nothing is worse than doing nothing.

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Rhetorical Devices Anastrophe and Antanaclasis

primal forestAnastrophe is the deliberate changing of normal word order for emphasis. For example:

“Enter the forest primeval.”

“On a black cloak sparkle the stars.”

“Bright he was not.”

Antanaclasis is when the same word is repeated but with a different sense each time.  Antanaclasis creates comic effect when used in the form of irony and pun. Political leaders make use of this technique in order to persuade and draw the attention of audience.

“If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired, with enthusiasm.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said:

antanaclasis by Martin Luther King Jr.

Groucho Marx in 1933 said:

Antanaclasis Groucho Marx

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Rhetorical Devices Euphony and Cacophony

Euphony with written words in backgroundThe Rhetorical devices euphony and cacophony are opposites. Euphony is the use of words having pleasant and harmonious effects by using long vowels and the consonants l, m. n, r, f, v, y,  th, and wh.

An example of euphony is from ‘The Lotos-Eaters’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson: “The Mild-eyed melancholy lotos-eaters came.” John Keats in ‘To Autumn’ uses euphony with “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.”

Cacophony in daily life refers to sounds such as music that is too loud, people talking, babies crying, dogs barking, etc.Cacophony in literature consists of a mixture of harsh and inharmonious sounds, usually words with the use of consonants, p, b, d, g, k, ch-, sh-, etc.  Writers use those words when writing distasteful situations with disorder and confusion.

Cacophony loud“With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,

Agape they heard me call.”

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is an example of cacophony in literature.

Do you tend to use cacophony or euphony?

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Rhetorical Device Chiasmus

Chiasmus signThe Rhetorical Device, Chiasmus means repetition of ideas in inverted order.

For example: “It is boring to eat; to sleep fulfilling.”

Chiasmus frequently uses the pattern above which is present participle-infinitive; infinitive-present participle.

Other examples:

“The instinct of a man is
to pursue everything that flies from him, and
to fly from all that pursues him.”  (Voltaire)

“Bad men live that they may eat and drink,
whereas good men eat and drink that they may live.” – Socrates (5th Century B.C.)

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair” (Macbeth, I, i)

“Judge not, lest ye be judged”

John F. Kennedy’s famous “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”

Information from Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric and Literary Devices

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Antiphrasis Rhetorical Device

chihuahuaAntiphrasis is a figure of speech in which a phrase or word is opposite to its literal meaning in order to create an ironic or comic effect.  Examples:

“The Chihuahua’s name is Goliath.”

“The actress was a mere babe of forty years.”

“Get in, little man,” he told his six foot tall friend.

Antiphrasis surprises people, making them stop and think what is really meant. It can be used in sarcasm, reversing something to show the intended meaning.

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Rhetorical Devices Epitasis and Anesis

Epitasis is the addition of a concluding sentence that merely emphasizes what has already been stated. A kind of amplification.

Example:

Eat your sandwich. All of it.girls study rhetorical devices

Anesis is the opposite of epitasis. It adds a concluding sentence that diminishes the effect of what was said previously.

Examples:

The little dog is cute and obedient. That said, he smells like a polluted mud flat at low tide on a hot afternoon.

The employee was smart, efficient, and generous. However, his temper was off the charts.

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Rhetorical Device Polysyndeton

Rhetorical cartoonThe rhetorical device, polysyndeton, is the opposite of asyndeton, the term I explained in my last post.

Asyndeton omits conjunctions between words, phrases, or clauses. Polysyndeton adds several conjunctions in close succession between each word, phrase, or clause without commas. It makes the sentence slower and the items more emphatic than in asyndeton. The repetition of the conjunctions creates a rhythm and a feeling of endless continuity.

Examples: “…here and there and everywhere”

“They asked for cake and candy and ice cream and chocolate.”

“The student read and studied and wrote notes in the hope of passing the exam.”

“When she heard the news report, Jill grabbed her keys and her purse and her umbrella and her flashlight.” The use of polysyndeton slows her action which implies she was careful to take what she needed.

“When she heard the news report, Jill grabbed her keys, her purse, her umbrella, and her flashlight.” The use of asyndeton speeds up her action implying she’s in a hurry.

Write a sentence with a series of words and try one way with asyndeton, without conjunctions, and write it again with polysyndeton, with conjunctions (but no commas).

Which way worked better?

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