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Five Unusual Literary Devices

Literary devices are the embellishments of the English language. These are the words or sentences with meanings different from their literal ones. They are often used in both spoken and written language. Today, we are going to talk about five unusual literary devices: Anaphora, Antithesis, Synecdoche, Assonance, and Litotes.

Anaphora(uh-naf-er-uh): Anaphora, in simpler words, is the repetition of words or phrases. It is added at the beginning of a clause. In a sentence, Anaphora is used to emphasize the clause. It moves people with emotions, inspires them, and makes an impression on them.

●   Example: The best example of Anaphora is the iconic opening lines of Charles Dickens's novel Tale Of Two Cities: 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

The powerful repetition in the above lines makes it much more memorable. 

● Another example can be the speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream.” In the speech, repeated use of the phrase, ‘I have a dream' was very impactful. 

Anaphora is often used in speeches, as it grabs the crowd's attention and moves them.

2. Antithesis(an-tith-uh-sis): Antithesis is a figure of speech in which two contradictory ideas are placed together. In simple words, two opposites present a contrasting idea. They are used to make a line more memorable and impactful.

●    Example: 

The line from Dickens’ novel, "It was the best of times and it was the worst of times." The best and worst are both used together to make the line unforgettable. 

● Antitheses are often used in everyday conversations. For example, ‘no pain, no gain’.

3. Synecdoche(sih-nek-duh-kee): In synecdoche, a part is used to represent the whole or vice versa. 

●    Example: ‘we need more hands.’ 

‘He is in good hands.’ 

 In the above sentences, the word 'hand' is not to be taken literally. It means people.

● Another example can be the scene from Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, in which Marc Anthony addresses the people by saying, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.”       

Here he is not talking about literal ears; he is asking for their attention. 

4. Assonance(ass-uh-nuhnce):  In assonance, vowel sounds are repeated two or more times. Often, they are the internal vowel sounds that are repeated. They create a proper rhythm and lyric in a written piece. 

●     Example: O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?” We all must’ve heard this iconic line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Julliette. The repeated use of the letter e throughout the sentence provides a rhythm to the dialogue.

● We can also find assonance in poetry, for example, from the poem Raven by Edger Allen Poe.

         “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

          Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore —

         While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

         As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.”    

We can see the repetition of vowel ea in the first line, in second, and in third and fourth. We can see a subtle rhythm within the poem.

5. Litotes (lie-tuh-teez): Litotes is a literary device in which the positive is expressed by the negative. It is a form of understatement. 

●   Example: You will not regret this trip. 

This sentence is trying to tell that the person will love the trip. Here, a negative is used to imply a positive. 

● In the poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, the poet expresses his insignificance through litotes.

 “I am no prophet- and here’s no great matter.

Literary devices are the ornaments that decorate the language. Hope this article helped you understand these five unusual literary devices: Anaphora, Antithesis, Synecdoche, Assonance, and Litotes.                    





Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Manik Chaturmutha