Different figures of speech(Important for XAT)
METAPHOR: A figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one object or idea is applied to another, thereby suggesting a likeness or analogy between them, as
(1)”The Leaves of Life keep falling one by one.” (2)”I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!”
PERSONIFICATION : A type of metaphor in which distinctive human characteristics, e.g., honesty, emotion, volition, etc., are attributed to an animal, object or idea, as
(1)”The haughty lion surveyed his realm” or (2)”My car was happy to be washed” or (3)”‘Fate frowned on his endeavors.” Personification is commonly used in allegory.
HYPERBOLE: A bold, deliberate overstatement, e.g., (1)”I’d give my right arm for a piece of pizza.” Not intended to be taken literally, it is used as a means of emphasizing the truth of a statement.
N.B: A type of hyperbole in which the exaggeration magnified so greatly that it refers to an impossibility is called an adynaton.
Oxymoron:An oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines normally contradictory terms. They appear in a range of contexts, from inadvertent errors such as extremely average, to deliberate puns like same difference, to literary oxymoron that have been carefully crafted to reveal a paradox (1)The most common form of oxymoron involves an adjective-noun combination. For example,
(a)”And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.” (b)Some more examples of the more commonly seen “adjective-noun” oxymoron are shown below: Dark Sunshine, Happy Depression, Amazing Dullness, Dynamic Equilibrium.
(2)Less often seen is noun-verb combination such as the line”The silence whistles”
Non Sequitur:It is an argument in which its conclusion does not follow from its premises.In a non sequitur, the conclusion can be either true or false, but the argument is fallacious because there is a disconnection between the premise and the conclusion. All formal fallacies are special cases of non sequitur. The term has special applicability in law, having a formal legal definition. Many types of known non sequitur argument forms have been classified into many different types of logical fallacies. such as
(a)”If you buy this car, your family will be safer.” (While some cars are safer than others, it is possible to decrease instead of increase your family’s overall safety.
(b)”If you do not buy this type of pet food you are neglecting your dog.” (Premise and conclusion are once again unrelated)
(c)”I hear the rain falling outside my window; therefore, the sun is not shining.” (The conclusion is a non-sequitur because the sun can shine while it’s raining.)
Euphemism: Euphemism is a figure of speech which is used to pacify the harsh,offensive, blatant comment. As in
(1)passed away for die (2)washroom for toilet (3)lady of the evening for prostitute.
CAESURA: A rhythmic break or pause in the flow of sound which is commonly introduced in about the middle of a line of verse, but may be varied for different effects. Usually placed between syllables rhythmically connected in order to aid the recital as well as to convey the meaning more clearly, it is a pause dictated by the sense of the content or by natural speech patterns, rather than by metrics. It may coincide with conventional punctuation marks, but not necessarily.
A caesura within a line is indicated in scanning by the symbol (||), as in the first line of Emily Dickinson’s, I’m Nobody! Who Are You I’m no | body! || Who are | you?
N.B: As a grammatical, rhythmic, and dramatic device, as well as an effective means of avoiding monotony, the caesura is a powerful weapon in the skilled poet’s arsenal.
ONOMATOPOEIA: Strictly speaking, the formation or use of words which imitate sounds, like whispering, clang and sizzle, but the term is generally expanded to refer to any word whose sound is suggestive of its meaning.As in Keats’ “The murmurous haunt of flies on summer.”
LITOTES:A figure of speech consisting of an understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite.e.g:
(1)”for life’s not a paragraph And death I think is no parenthesis” (2)We made a difference. We made the city stronger, we made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.”
ALLITERATION: Also called head rhyme or initial rhyme, the repetition of the initial sounds (usually consonants) of stressed syllables in neighboring words or at short intervals within a line or passage, usually at word beginnings, as in “wild and woolly” or the line from Shelley’s The Cloud.
ASSONANCE : The relatively close juxtaposition of the same or similar vowel sounds, but with different end consonants in a line or passage, thus a vowel rhyme, as in the words, date and fade.
SYMBOL: An image transferred by something that stands for or represents something else, like (1)flag for country, or (2)autumn for maturity.
Symbols can transfer the ideas embodied in the image without stating them, as in Robert Frost’s Acquainted With the Night, in which night is symbolic of death or depression, or Sara Teasdale’s The Long Hill, in which the climb up the hill symbolizes life and the brambles are symbolic of life’s adversities.
Irony:The use of words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning. A statement or situation where the meaning is contradicted by the appearance or presentation of the idea. The most common form of irony is when the spoken words do not convey the underlying meaning.
For example, it would be ironical for you to sa He is as smart as a soap dish because if your audience did not know what a soap dish was, or how smart it was (not), they might interpret the statement as a compliment, whereas the underlying meaning you intended to convey is an insult. This example is not a very skillful use of irony, because everyone knows what a soap dish is. Irony is much more successful when subtly applied.
Antithesis:The juxtaposition of contrasting ideas in balanced phrases.
e.g: (1)”Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing.” (2)”Hillary has soldiered on, damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t, like most powerful women, expected to be tough as nails and warm as toast at the same time.”