Author Armory -- 50 Rhetorical Devices
Terms in this set (50)
Repeating a word, phrase, or a sentence with purpose.
Example: "All you need is LOVE, all you need is LOVE, All you need is LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, is all you need." ~Beatles lyric
Repetition of a word or phrase that ends one clause at the beginning of the next.
"Men in great place are thrice SERVANTS: SERVANTS of the sovereign or state; SERVANTS of fame; and SERVANTS of business." ~Francis Bacon
"They call for you: The GENERAL who became a SLAVE; the SLAVE who became a GLADIATOR; the GLADIATOR who defied an Emperor. Striking story. Now the people want to know how the story ends." ~delivered by Joaquin Phoenix (from the movie Gladiator)
"When your cable company keeps you on hold, YOU GET ANGRY. When YOU GET ANGRY, YOU GO BLOW OFF STEAM. When YOU GO BLOW OFF STEAM, ACCIDENTS HAPPEN. When ACCIDENTS HAPPEN, YOU GET AN EYE PATCH. When YOU GET AN EYE PATCH, PEOPLE THINK YOU'RE TOUGH. When PEOPLE THINK YOU'RE TOUGH, PEOPLE WANT TO SEE HOW TOUGH. And when PEOPLE WANT TO SEE HOW TOUGH, YOU WAKE UP IN A ROADSIDE DITCH. Don't YOU WAKE UP IN A ROADSIDE DITCH: Get rid of cable and upgrade to DIRECTV." ~DIRECTV Ad, 2012
Repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or lines.
Example: "WE SHALL not flag or fail. WE SHALL go on to the end... 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." ~British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, WWII
Repetition of the same word or phrase at the end of successive clauses.
Example: "In 1931, ten years ago, Japan invaded Manchukuo -- WITHOUT WARNING. In 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia -- WITHOUT WARNING. In 1938, Hitler occupied Austria -- WITHOUT WARNING... And now Japan has attacked Malaya and Thailand -- and the United States -- WITHOUT WARNING." ~President Franklin D. Roosevelt attacking the ethos of Japan shortly after Pearl Harbor.
Repetition of conjunctions in a series of coordinate words, phrases, or clauses.
Example: "I said, "Who killed him?" AND he said, "I don't know who killed him but he's dead all right," AND it was dark and there was water standing in the street AND no lights and windows broke AND boats all up in the town AND trees blown down AND everything all blown AND I got a skiff AND went out AND found my boat where I had her inside Mango Bay AND she was all right only she was full of water." ~Ernest Hemingway, After the Storm
Repetition of an idea in a different word, phrase, or sentence.
Example: "With MALICE TOWARD NONE, with CHARITY FOR ALL." ~President Abraham Lincoln in his Second Inaugural Address focusing on bringing the North and South together after the Civil War
Recurring unifying element (e.g. image, symbol, character type, action, idea, object or phrase) in a composition.
Example: In Elizabeth Cady Stanton's "Solitude of Self" speech, she repeats the word "solitude."
Opposition to or contrast of ideas or words in a balanced or parallel construction.
Example: "EXTREMISM in defense of liberty IS NO VICE, MODERATION in the pursuit of justice IS NO VIRTUE." ~U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater
Example: "What [Hugh Auld] MOST LOVED, that I MOST HATED." ~Frederick Douglass in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Chapter 6, commenting on his master's love of authority.
Use of a word with two others, each use giving the word a different meaning.
Example: "We must ALL HANG TOGETHER or assuredly we will ALL HANG SEPARATELY." ~Benjamin Franklin in 1776
Creating a balanced sentence by re-using the same word structure, especially for compound or complex sentences.
Example: "But let JUDGMENT run down as WATERS, and RIGHTEOUSNESS as a MIGHTY STREAM." ~Amos
Something or someone that's not in its correct historical or chronological time.
Example: "The PEN is mightier than the SWORD." ~Sword isn't a modern weapon
Figure of speech or comparison (e.g. simile, metaphor, personification) for desired emphasis.
Example: "Huh, looks like HEAVEN IS EASIER to get into THAN ARIZONA STATE." ~Ned Flanders after Homer Simpson arrives in Heaven.
Explicit comparison between two things, using "like" or "as."
Example: "A WOMAN needs a MAN LIKE a FISH needs a BICYCLE." ~Gloria Steinem advocating women's rights in the 1960s.
Implied comparison through figurative use of words, often using the "to be" verb.
Example: "LIFE [IS] but a WALKING SHADOW; a POOR PLAYER, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage." ~ Macbeth from the Shakespeare play
Attribution of personality to an impersonal thing.
Example: "ENGLAND expects every man to do his duty." ~Lord Nelson as war breaks out
Substitution of one word for another that it suggests.
Example:"He is a man of the CLOTH." ~"Cloth" substituting for "priest."
Understanding one thing with another; the use of a part for the whole or the whole for the part (form of metonymy).
Example: "Give us this day our daily BREAD." ~Matthew 6
Object, act, and/or character that symbolizes something more than its literal meaning.
Example: "Involuntarily I glanced seaward — and distinguished nothing except a single GREEN LIGHT, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock." ~in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby, the green light symbolizes the TITLE CHARACTER'S AMERICAN DREAM.
Outcome of event or situation is opposite of expectations.
Example: "Two firefighters accidentally burned down the house they were trying to save." ~Firefighters aren't supposed to burn down the house.
Expression of something which is contrary to the intended meaning; the words say one thing but really means another.
Example: Example: "Yet Brutus says he was ambitious; And Brutus is an HONOURABLE man." ~In Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," Marc Antony's calling Brutus a liar through sarcasm.
Surprise or unexpected ending of a phrase or series.
Example: "He was at his best when the going was GOOD." ~We'd expect Alistair Cooke to use the word "tough" instead of "good." He's trash-talking the Duke of Windsor
Audience knows something that characters do not.
Example: "I've gotta get AWAAAAAY!!" (as the girl trying to escape the monster runs upstairs in the horror flick) ~Audience knows she's making a mistake which adds to horror, comedy, etc.
Repetition of initial sounds in neighboring words
Example: "Let us go forth to LEAD the LAND we LOVE." ~President John F. Kennedy, 1961
Repetition of vowel sounds in words that end with different consonant sounds
Example: "Thy kingdom COME, thy will be DONE."
Words at the end of lines or sentences that rhyme.
Example: "Came here for school, graduated to the HIGH LIFE.
Ball players, rap stars, addicted to the LIMELIGHT." ~From Jay Z's "Empire State of Mind"
Words within lines of poetry or sentences that rhyme.
Example: "... 'Cause the VANDALS took the HANDLES." ~From Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues."
Harsh joining of sounds intended for pathos appeal effect.
Example: "We want no parlay with you and your GRISLY gang who work your WICKED will." ~British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Word use to imitate natural sounds.
Example: "There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their CLANKING may be heard on the plains of Boston!" ~Patrick Henry from Speech in the Virginia Convention
A play on words, usually for comedic effect.
Example: The dying Mercutio: "Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a GRAVE man." ~The dying Mercutio in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet"
Narrative voice is in the composition, and sharing his or her thoughts and feelings; uses "I, me, my, our, us, we, myself, ourselves." Example: "This is my opinion."
Stream of Consciousness
Narrative voice that gives continuous, unedited flow of the character thoughts, feelings, and impressions. Example: "The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn..." ~From Jack Kerouac's "On the Road"
Author voice is outside the writing; uses (or implies) "you." Example: "You talkin' to me?" ~Robert Deniro from "Taxi Driver"
Narrator is outside the story; uses "he, she, them, they, him, her, his, her, and their."
3rd Person Limited
Narrator is outside the story and shares the thoughts and feeling of one character
3rd Person Omniscient
Narrator is outside the story and shares all thoughts and feelings of all characters.
3rd Person Objective
Narrator is outside the story, usually using "he, she, him, and her," and shares only the actions and dialogue of the characters.
Author's implied attitude about a subject.
Intentional derision through cutting humor; often involves obvious, exaggerated verbal irony
Sudden turn from the general audience to address a specific group or person or personified abstraction absent or present. Note that this uses 2nd person P-O-V.
Example: "For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel." ~Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
Substitution of an agreeable or at least non-offensive expression for one whose plainer meaning might be harsh or unpleasant.
Exaggeration for rhetorical effect.
Example: "I've told you a MILLION TIMES to study your grammar."
Understatement, for intensification, by denying the contrary of the thing being affirmed.
Example: "A few unannounced quizzes are NOT INCONCEIVABLE." ~teacher
Separation of words which belong together, often to emphasize the first of the separated words or to create a certain image.
Example: "BLOODY thou ART; bloody will be thy end," William Shakespeare in Richard III
Word choice to influence their reader perception or to establish author's voice or tone.
Example: Authors like Mark Twain or Charles Dickens would write "wuz," "iz" "wer" and "sez" instead of writing "was," "is" "were," and "says." This vernacular writing is much truer to the way that these words are actually pronounced.
Attacking the Opposition
Identifying a logical fallacy and using the source material's faulty reasoning and/or words against an opposing argument.
Example: "But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love?" Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail
Question used for rhetorical effect, not needing to be answered.
Example: "Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir." ~Patrick Henry, Speech to the Virginia Convention
Expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference.
Example: "Five score years ago a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation." ~Martin Luther King, Jr., referencing President Abraham Lincoln
Arrangement of words, phrases, or clauses in order of ascending power. Often the last climactic word in one phrase or clause is repeated as the first emphatic word of the next.
Example: "I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me DEATH!" ~Patrick Henry from Speech to the Virginia Convention
Juxtaposition of words which seem to contradict one another.
Example: "Junior! Where'd you leave your keys today? You're the DUMBEST SMART person I know."
Claim seemingly opposed to common sense that may yet have truth to it.
Example: "What a pity that youth must be wasted on the young." ~George Bernard Shaw
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