LIT 2230-01: Introduction to Global Literature

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Literary Tropes

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Here are some of the more sophisticated literary tropes we may encounter in our stories.

Alliteration: repetition of the same sound beginning several words in sequence.

*Let us go forth to lead the land we love. J. F. Kennedy, Inaugural

*Viri validis cum viribus luctant. Ennius

*Veni, vidi, vici. Julius Caesar
Anaphora: the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses or lines.

*We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. 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 shall fight 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. Churchill.
Antithesis: opposition, or contrast of ideas or words in a balanced or parallel construction.

*Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. Barry Goldwater

*Brutus: Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

*The vases of the classical period are but the reflection of classical beauty; the vases of the archaic period are beauty itself." Sir John Beazley
Apostrophe: a sudden turn from the general audience to address a specific group or person or personified abstraction absent or present.

*For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel.
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar


Assonance: repetition of the same sound in words close to each other.

*Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.

*O fortunatam natam me consule Romam! Cicero, de consulatu
Catachresis: a harsh metaphor involving the use of a word beyond its strict sphere.

*I listen vainly, but with thirsty ear. MacArthur, Farewell Address

Euphemism: substitution of an agreeable or at least non-offensive expression for one whose plainer meaning might be harsh or unpleasant.



Hyperbole: exaggeration for emphasis or for rhetorical effect.

*My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow;
An hundred years should got to praise
Thine eyes and on thine forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest. Andrew Marvell, "To His Coy Mistress"
Irony: expression of something which is contrary to the intended meaning; the words say one thing but mean another.

*Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Dramatic irony: the audience or reader is aware of a situation that a character is not. For example, when Romeo finds Juliet in the family tomb, we know she still lives, but he thinks she's dead.

Metaphor: implied comparison achieved through a figurative use of words; the word is used not in its literal sense, but in one analogous to it.

*Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage. Shakespeare, Macbeth
Metonymy: substitution of one word for another which it suggests.

*He is a man of the cloth.

*The pen is mightier than the sword.

*By the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat thy bread.

Onomatopoeia: use of words to imitate natural sounds; accommodation of sound to sense.

"whoosh" "silvery sleet" "meow" "lullaby" "crack!"

Oxymoron: apparent paradox achieved by the juxtaposition of words which seem to contradict one another.
*I must be cruel only to be kind. Shakespeare, Hamlet

Paradox: an assertion seemingly opposed to common sense, but that may yet have some truth in it.

*What a pity that youth must be wasted on the young. George Bernard Shaw


Simile: an explicit comparison between two things using 'like' or 'as'.

*My love is as a fever, longing still
For that which longer nurseth the disease, Shakespeare, Sonnet CXLVII

*Reason is to faith as the eye to the telescope. D. Hume [?]

*Let us go then, you and I,
While the evening is spread out against the sky,
Like a patient etherized upon a table... T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Syllepsis: use of a word with two others, with each of which it is understood differently.

*We must all hang together or assuredly we will all hang separately. Benjamin Franklin

Synchysis: interlocked word order.

*aurea purpuream subnectit fibula vestem Vergil, Aeneid 4.139

Synecdoche: understanding one thing with another; the use of a part for the whole, or the whole for the part. (A form of metonymy.)

*Give us this day our daily bread. Matthew 6

*I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
T. S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

*The U.S. won three gold medals. (Instead of, The members of the U.S. boxing team won three gold medals.)
Tautology: repetition of an idea in a different word, phrase, or sentence.

*With malice toward none, with charity for all. Lincoln, Second Inaugural

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