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It can be a special repetition, arrangement or omission of words with literal meaning, or a phrase with a specialized meaning not based on the literal meaning of the words in it, as in idiom, metaphor, simile, hyperbole, personification, or synecdoche. Figures of speech often provide emphasis, freshness of expression, or clarity. However, clarity may also suffer from their use, as any figure of speech introduces an ambiguity between literal and figurative interpretation. A figure of speech is sometimes called a rhetorical figure or a locution. In literature and writing, a figure of speech (also called stylistic device or rhetorical device) is the use of any of a variety of techniques to give an auxiliary meaning, idea, or feeling.
1. Roles of Figures of Speech a. Ornamentation Who has ornaments around their house? What would your home be like without them? It is the same with your writing. You have the power to ornament it - or not. Figures give beauty and variety to what we wish to say and lift it from a commonplace / monotonous level. Without Figures of Speech our writing would be plodding and boring.
b. Clearness A complex subject can best be conveyed by an analogy.
2. Four Major Figures of Speech a. Similarity Simile / Metaphor / Allegory / Fable / Parable / Personification
b. Contrast Antithesis / Oxymoron / Epigram / Irony / Sarcasm / Innuendo / Hyperbole / Litotes / Euphemism / Pun
c. Association Metonymy / Synecdoche
d. Arrangement Interrogation / Apostrophe / Repetition / Pleonasm / Bathos [Anticlimax] / Climax
SIMILARITY An effective way of communicating a complex abstract idea / notion is to emphasize how it resembles something else - preferably something which is familiar and concrete. In everyday life, we often use Similarity to get our point across. A. Simile Simile is an explicit, open, overt comparison. It brings out the 'likeness' between two things. Similes are clearly indicated by the words ‘like’ or ‘as’ (as if, as though).
Examples: Like: My love is LIKE a red, red rose. Your teeth are LIKE stars (they come out at night!) He is LIKE a mad dog. She was shaking LIKE a leaf. The Assyrians came down LIKE a wolf on the fold. A face LIKE a frightened sheep As: AS brave AS a lion I wandered lonely AS a cloud When Shakespeare wanted to convey the abstract 'quality of mercy', he used a simile: The quality of mercy is not strained, / It droppeth AS the gentle rain from Heaven upon the earth beneath.
b. METAPHOR Metaphor is an implied, hidden, covert comparison. In some ways it is a CONDENSED SIMILIE. The words 'like' and 'as' are not especially used.
Instead of making the comparison side-by-side (like against like) a metaphor is stated together in combination e.g., 'silver moon' means that 'the moon is as bright as silver' not that it is made of silver. Metaphorical language takes many forms: Examples: Frankie is a tower of strength. You’re the CREAM in my coffee. The EVENING of her life. Christ is the BREAD of Life. Thy word is a LAMP unto my feet and a LIGHT unto my path.
c. Allegory Allegory is a metaphor (or series of linked metaphors) EXPANDED into a tale. Its purpose is to teach by illustrating some ABSTRACT TRUTH (e.g., moral or religious). Therefore, once a writer gets into a metaphorical mode, the imagination can stretch it into a full story or allegory. Examples: John Bunyan (1628-86) preacher and writer Pilgrim's Progress (1678) the hero's journey is comparable with that of an ordinary Christian's life. William Langland (1332-1400?) English poet Piers the Ploughman a religious poem about the state of the clergy?
Spencer's Faerie Queen - based upon the reign of Elizabeth I.
d. Fable Fable is a SHORT moral story which is SIMILAR to an allegory. in which animals (or objects) speak and act as people in order to highlight human failings. The MORAL is often stated at the end of the piece. The best known are AESOPS FABLES (translated into many languages). Aesop was a deformed Phrygian slave (? 620-564 BC), but some of his tales have been traced back to Egyptian documents 1,000 years earlier. Some of his fables are: the Tortoise and the Hare; the Boy who cried Wolf; the Fox and the Grapes; the Ant and the Grasshopper.
e. Parable Parable is a simple story from ordinary human (not animal) life, intended to imply some deep moral or spiritual TRUTH. Examples: Jotham's Parable of the Bramble or Christ often spoke in parables such as: The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) The Sower whose seeds fall on rocky ground (Mark 4:3-9) The buried Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) Talent - Greek unit of money, but then applied to human abilities)
The Ten Wise Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13)
f. Personification Personification is a figure of speech which ascribes the animate qualities (life, thoughts, speech, feelings, etc.) to things or abstract notions (love is blind or a ship as 'she'). PERSONIFICATION, therefore, is similar to Metaphor and Allegory but slightly different with the personal or human element). Examples: Necessity knows no law. Hope springs eternal. Let the floods clap their hands. I kissed the hand of death.
CONTRAST We now move from Figures of Speech which highlight SIMILARITY to ones which stress DIFFERENCE in order to communicate our meaning to others. a. Antithesis Antithesis conveys a clear idea of what a thing is by stating what IT IS NOT. Examples: He wept for joy
Speech is silver; Silence is golden To err is human, to forgive is divine The evil that men do lives after them The good is often interred with their bones.
b. Oxymoron Oxymoron is a statement which, on the surface, seems to contradict itself - a kind of concise paradox. Examples: Bitter sweet True lies Masterly inactivity There is method in his madness Condemned to a living death Faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.
c. Epigram Epigram is a pointed saying; a short poem with a witty ending; a thing written upon. An epigram was originally an inscription to some hero. If this was inscribed in stone,
it obviously had to be a brief, pointed expression of the person's qualities showing a contrast. Examples: More haste, less speed. Conspicuous by its absence Epigram written to Charles II during his lifetime: "Here lies a man whose word no man relies on; Who never said a foolish thing, and never did a wise one". He replied in like vein: "True; my words are my own; My actions, my ministers".
d. Irony With irony the words used suggest the OPPOSITE of their literal meaning. The effect of irony, however, can depend upon the tone of voice and the context. Examples: Mark Anthony: "Brutus is an honourable man" When it is raining, to declare "what a nice day"
e. Sarcasm Sarcasm is irony, but with a bitter and offensive tone / intent (a parallel between Humour and Satire). A sarcastic remark suggests a cruel and taunting ridicule; a bitter, wounding comment; a taunt.
Examples: See how these Christians love one another. He is a perfect Solomon. Expression: 'Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit'.
f. Innuendo Innuendo is a figure by which a certain meaning - usually unpleasant - is conveyed by insinuation. Innuendo is also an oblique remark or hint; a remark with double
meaning - usually suggestive / disparaging. Examples: The bank's resources are like the snakes in Ireland (none existent). His idea of the truth is peculiar (he lies).
g. Hyperbole Hyperbole, or Overstatement, is an exaggeration for effect (rather than deceiving anyone). No one imagines that a hyperbolic statement be taken seriously. Examples: The burglar ran as fast as lightning The face that launched a thousand ships
The professor's ideas are as old as the hills The troops were swifter than eagles and stronger than lions.
h. Litotes Litotes, or Understatement, is the opposite of hyperbole, ironical understatement and expressing of a positive by a negative statement. The writer purposely under-rates a thing and achieves an effect by denying the contrary. Examples: I sharn't be sorry = I shall be glad The nurse is not a fool (is clever) Marlborough was a general of no mean reputation (he was great) The executive is not a millionaire (is poor).
i. Euphemism Euphemism, literally 'speaking well', contrasts something terrible with something pleasant in order to soften the effect of the bad news. The words used do not bear their literal meaning. Euphemism resembles irony and innuendo, but while the effects of the latter can be offensive or irritating, those of euphemism are meant to be soothing. A mild or vague expression instead of one thought to be too harsh or direct.
Examples: Last night, my granddad passed away (died) or kicked the bucket What, must our mouths be cold? (must we die?). j. Pun Pun is a play on words - either their different meanings or upon two different words sounding the same. Pun is the humorous use of a word to suggest different meanings; or of words of the same sound and different meanings. Examples: Is life worth living? That depends on the liver! That lie shall lie so heavy upon thy sword Not on thy sole but on thy soul, harsh fool.
ASSOCIATION Two elements of comparison are FUSED into one word. a. Metonymy Metonymy is when an item is replaced by something closely associated with it. Examples: The CROWN is used in the place of THE MONARCHY Turf for Horse-racing
The Law for the Police
b. Synecdoche Synecdoche is when an item under discussion is replaced by something referring to one of its PARTS or something that it is part of. Examples: A fleet of 80 sail where the word SAIL stands in for SAILING SHIP England won by six wickets New faces at the meeting Newcastle might stand in for NEWCASTLE UNITED FOOTBALL TEAM.
ARRANGEMENT (of WORDS) a. Interrogation Interrogation is a rhetorical question. It is asked not in the hope of getting an answer, but for effect. When this device / stratagem is used it is a Figure of Speech. Examples: Can a leopard change its spots? To be or not to be? What kind of fool am I?
How long is a piece of string?
b. Apostrophe Apostrophe is a figure of speech by which a person - generally ABSENT or dead - or personified abstract idea is addressed. Examples: Our Father, which art in Heaven...Hallowed be thy name... Good-bye Norma Jean, though I never knew you at all - England's Rose tribute to Princess Diana (Elton John) England, with all thy faults I love thee still, My Country!
c. Repitition Repitition as a figure of speech, is a mode of EMPHASIZING a point by saying it more than once. Examples: Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink (published 1798 by Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772-1834). Half a league, half a league, half a league onward (published 1854 by Lord Alfred Tennyson 1809-1892). Education, education, education (Tony Blair 1997 Election).
She loves you, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! (The Beatles 1963).
d. Parallelism Parallelism - At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down (Bible. Judges 5.27)
e. Pleonasm Pleonasm, superfluous words, is a form of REPETITION in which the SAME IDEA is expressed again in a DIFFERENT GRAMMATICAL CONSTRUCTION. A VERB may be repeated by an ADVERBIAL PHRASE; or a NOUN may be mirrored by an ADJECTIVE. Examples: I saw it with my own eyes. Most falsely doth he lie. Essex had a sole monopoly of the sweet wines.
f. Tautology Tautology is a faulty style when the same thing is said twice in different words. Examples: They arrived one after the other in succession
free gift forward planning short summary new innovation. g. Bathos Bathos, or Anticlimax, are statements gradually DESCEND in order of importance. It is used humorously with success; but otherwise, when unintentional, it can produce a ludicrous effect. Examples: He is a great philosopher, a member of parliament and plays golf well. She lost her husband, her children - and her purse. Montague had a great love for Agnes, such as words could never express. When he first set eyes upon her, she was cutting her toe-nails.
h. Climax Climax is the arrangement of a series of statements in order of ASCENDANCY, so that the last is the STRONGEST of all - the most positive, and uplifting. Examples: I came, I saw, I conquered.
Hamlet: What piece of work is Man? How infinite in faculties! In form and motion how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god!
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