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All About Parallelism
What is parallelism?
Parallelism is one of the most commonly used literary techniques. You have interacted with parallelism at one point or another either through a conversation, literature, or the other many forms of art. Consider the following examples:
“I came to win, to fight
To conquer, to thrive
I came to win, to survive
To prosper, to rise
(Rihanna’s verse in the song Fly)
The repetition of the words “to” and "I came" in the verse above shows the use of parallelism. What then is parallelism?
The definition of parallelism
Parallelism is a figure of speech that involves the repetition of grammatical elements in literature, art, and speech. Parallelism also involves the repetition of words or phrases. Some writers may confuse parallelism for repetition, but there is a significant difference between the two. Let’s take a look at their differences.
The difference between parallelism and repetition
It can be hard sometimes to tell apart repetition from parallelism. Both of them operate on the principle of repetition. The difference between parallelism and repetition is that, while they both involve the repetition of words or phrases, there must be the repetition of grammatical elements and the structure of the sentence in parallelism. For instance, our example above features both repetition and parallelism. The word “to” has been repeated. The structure of the sentences has also been repeated: the word “to” has been used to begin each of the next sentences (or phrases).
Types of parallelism
There are various types of parallelism. They include:
These examples can also fall under repetition. This is influenced by whether there is the repetition of grammatical elements and the sentence structure or not.
The importance of parallelism
There are various reasons why a writer should embrace the use of parallelism. They include:
To create remembrance or make their work memorable
Readers are more likely to remember parts of a literary work that had repetition than the parts that didn’t. Therefore the use of parallelism in a literary work will make it easy for a reader to remember the work.
To emphasize a subject or topic
The writer can use parallelism to emphasize the subject or topic they are addressing. This can be done through the repetition of keywords about the topic or subject being addressed.
To put a rhythm in a literary work
The repetition of words or phrases will create a rhythm in a literary work. This has the effect of appealing to an audience. The creation of a rhythm may bring about musicality, which also helps the reader to remember a work of literature.
Examples of sentences with the use of parallelism
The best example to elaborate the use of parallelism can be seen in Winston Churchill’s speech during World War II.
“… We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We fight shall on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender...”
Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Keith Mbuya