Literary and Rhetorical Terminology

This is a list of terms that come up during close reading of poetry and prose. They are akin to the latin fallacies in inductive logic, in that, once known, they suddenly seem to pop up everywhere. As you can see, not every one has a definition, or even an example; it's a work in progress, go with it. If you absolutely can't stand it and you have to know what Anacoluthon is, e-mail me or consult A Glossary of Rhetorical Terms, a less comprehensive but far more explanatory resource than my humble list.

	An iambic hexameter
	"For Lycidas your sorrow is not dead,"
	Race Matters
						Cornell West
	Worn Out West
						Clothing Manufacturer
	"Had ye been there--for what could that have done?" 
	"It came even from the heart of--O! she's dead."
	"No heretics burn'd, but wenches' suitors;"
	"But O the heavy chance, now thou art gone,
	 Now thou art gone, and never must return"
	"And now the sun had stretched out all the hills,
	 And now was dropped into the western bay;"
    This is an instance wherein a word changes its semantic role from one part
of speech to another, the newer tending to be unique and hitherto untried. For
example, in Volpone (III.ix.22) Voltore warns Mosca, "Put not your foists upon
me; I shall scent them." Scent is commonly a noun; although something can be
"scented," this is used only as an adjective, not as the past tense form of a
verb "to scent." However, Jonson is using the word as a synonym for "smell,"
thus creating a verb where once there was only a noun, hence anthimeria. "...would the reposal/.../Make my words faith'd?" Lr.II.i.68-70 ANTIMETABOLE (S) ANTITHESIS (S/T) "(The golden opes, the iron shuts amain)." Lycidas APOPHONY "[Fee] Fie, foh, and fum I smell the blood of an English man." Lr.III.iv.164-5 APOSIOPESIS (T) There appears to be some disunity of scholarly opinion regarding where the
line should be drawn between this and anacoluthon, A Way with Words and The
Oxford Companion to the English Language each attributing one of them
(aposiopesis the former, anacoluthon the latter) to the same line in King Lear
(II.iv.271-2). However, I tend to observe the convention that while both
figures involve a sudden break in a line, ending in a dash and followed by a
new sentence or fragment which tends to redirect the narrative flow, in
aposiopesis the reader understands what would have followed had the break not
occurred, while in anacoluthon the break and redirect are so radical and abrupt
that the result is ambiguity. A good example of aposiopesis occurs at V.x.4-5
when Voltore exclaims, "Once win upon your justice, to forgive--/I am
distracted--" Here we know that he meant to say "forgive me," the line is not
ambiguous and, therefore, aposiopesis. "I will have such revenges on you both That all the world shall--I will do such things," Lr.II.iv.271-2 APOSTROPHE (T) ARCHAISM VS. NEOLOGISM ASYNDETON (S) CATACHRESIS (S) "Blind mouths! that scarce themselves know how to hold A sheep-hook..." Lycidas "Look with thine ears:" CHARACTONYM CHIASMUS (S) "Tomorrow to fresh woods and pastures new." Lycidas "A credulous father and a brother noble" Lr.I.ii.148 DOGGEREL ELLIPSIS EPANALEPSIS (S) "Weep no more, woeful shepherds weep no more," Lycidas EPISTROPHE "You have begot me, bred me, lov'd me: I Return those duties back as are right fit, Obey you, love you, and most honour you." Lr.I.i.91-3 EPITHET FIXED HEROIC TRANSFERRED=HYPALLAGE EPIZEUXIS "For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime." Lycidas "Then kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!" EUPHEMISM VS. DYSPHEMISM EUPHUISM FOUR CARDINAL VIRTUES, THE JUSTICE PRUDENCE TEMPERANCE COURAGE (Leader)/FORTITUDE (Follower) FOUR DAUGHTERS OF GOD, THE JUSTICE TRUTH PEACE MERCY GOLDEN MEAN, THE FAITH (-Atheism, Scepticism; +Superstitious credulity) HOPE (-Despair; +Presumption) CHARITY (-Miserliness; +Prodigality) HENIADYS HYPALLAGE/TRANSFERED EPITHET "What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn," Lycidas "We came to visit you [...] threading dark-ey'd night:" Lr.II.i.118-9 HYPERBOLE VS. MEIOSIS HYPOCORISMA This figure involves the use of pet names or nicknames. At V.iii.102,
Volpone calls Mosca "My witty mischief," a term of endearment which fits the
description of this figure. "Cry to it Nuncle, as the Cockney did to the eels" Lr.II.iv.114 IMAGERY ANTHROPOMORPHIC/ANIMISTIC ELEMENTAL SENSORY PRIMARY (TACTILE, VISUAL, OLEFACTORY, AURAL, GUSTATORY) SECONDARY IRONY/SARCASM The specimen I chose for this entry is actually a combination of irony and
hyperbole, a combination which was used in the King Lear exercise. The
corollary to "A dog's obeyed in office" (Lr in Volpone appears at
III.vii.50-1: "...and this fellow,/Whose lips are in my pocket?" To state that
someone's lips are in your pocket is hyperbolic, that is, overstated. The
contrast between the silence of a human being and the casual act of placing
something in one's pocket is ironic. Also, this line runs to synecdoche, the
lips representing speech. "A dog's obeyed in office" KENNING (HIETI) LITOTES "Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute." "Not in this land shall he ramain uncaught;" Lr.II.i.57 MACARONICISM MALAPROPISM METAPHOR "Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise." "...thou art a boil, A plague sore, or embossed carbuncle," Lr.II.iv.215-6 METONYMY "He shook his mitred locks, and stern bespake." MUSES, THE NINE CALLIOPE (Epic Poetry) CLIO (History) ERATO (Love Poetry) EUTERPE (Lyric Poetry) MELPOMENE (Tragedy) POLYHYMNIA (Songs of Praise to the Gods) TERPSICHORE (Dance) THALIA (Comedy) URANIA (Astronomy) MOTHER OF- MNEMOSYNE (Memory) NEOLOGISM Camcorder, Grammy, Necklacing, Pooperscooper, Infomercial NONCEWORD NYMPHS, THE FIVE NAIADS (Rivers, Springs, & Lakes) OCEANIDS/NEREIDS (Sea) OREADS (Mountains & Hills) DRYADS (Forrests) HAMADRYADS (Trees specifically) ONOMATOPOEIA "Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw;" Lycidas OXYMORON The equation of opposites is the essence of oxymoron. This is seen at
I.iv.130: "Your worship is a precious ass!" "On whose fresh lap the swart star sparely looks." Lycidas "Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor; most choice, forsaken; and most lov'd, despis'd!" Lr.I.i.247-8 PARDOX "So Lycidas, sunk low, but mounted high," Lycidas PERIPHARSIS PLOCE/POLYPTOTON This figure, a trope, involves the repetition of a word, particularly in
its various grammatical permutations. Jonson provides an example at II.i.24
with "Does he gull me, trow? or is gulled?" To gull is to fool or deceive.
Therefore, Peregrine is wondering if Sir Politic Would-Be is trying to fool him
or if he (Sir Politic) is himself deceived. My explication avoids the figure,
however, by using two different words for the same meaning. "I am a man/More sinned against than sinning." Lr.III.ii.53-4 POLYSYNDETON Here is a scheme that utilizes the repetition of a conjunction where a more
minimalistic writer would simply use punctuation. This is done, of course, for
emphasis and is exemplified in V.iii.74 when Mosca advises Corbaccio to "Go
home, and die, and stink;" The use of "and" in this line serves to space out
the concepts of departure and death and decay (I did it myself!). " we'll live, And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues/Talk..." Lr. V.iii.11-4 PORTMANTEAU WORD (CONFLATIO) POUND'S THREESOME MELOPOIEA (MELLIFLUOUSNESS) PHANOPOEIA (IMAGERY) LOGOPOIEA (CONCEITS) PUN/PARANOMASIA Dr. Johnson called them "quibbles" and disliked them in works of
literature, citing their use as the chief flaw in Shakespeare. However we all
love them, as did Jonson, as is apparent at III.vii.147-50: Volpone tells
Celia of her power over him, her charm "that hath, not now alone,/But sundry
times raised me, in several shapes,/And, but this morning, like a
mountebank,/To see thee at thy window." The key word here is "raised," meant
not only as "inspired" but also "stimulated" as in to tumescence. The woman, in
other words, gives him an erection. The "several shapes" refer not only to
various disguises but to the various stages between flaccidity and rigidity. RHETORICAL QUESTION "Who would not sing for Lycidas?" Lycidas RHYME FALSE R. EYE R. MASCULINE FEMENINE SLANT/OFF-/PARTIAL R. SEVEN DEADLY SINS, THE SLOTH (Grasshopper, Bear, Doormouse) LUST (Goats, Rabbits) GLUTTONY (Swine, Cormorants) ANGER (Bull, Mad Dog) GREED (Wolf) ENVY (Snakes, Monkeys) PRIDE (Lion, Peacock) SEVEN FINE ARTS, THE PAINTING DANCE MUSIC ARCHITECTURE DRAMA POETRY SCULPTURE SEVEN LIBERAL ARTS, THE TRIVIUM: GRAMMAR RHETORIC LOGIC QUADRIVIUM: MATHEMATICS MUSIC ASTRONOMY GEOMETRY SEVEN VIRTUES, THE INDUSTRIOUSNESS (Ant, Bee) CHASTITY (Unicorn, Bees) TEMPERANCE (Birds) PATIENCE (Oxen) GENEROSITY (Pelican) BENEVOLENCE (Dove) HUMILITY (Lamb, Asse) SCHEME SIMILE EXTENDED HEROIC "As killing as the canker to the rose...Such, Lycidas thy loss..." Lycidas "As flies to wanton boys are we to th'gods; They kill us for their sport." Lr.IV.i.37-8 SYLLEPSIS Indicates that and or another form of coordination marks the
figure by its presence or in ASYNDETON, its absence. SYMBOLISM A wonderfully concise instance of symbolic imagery appears at III.vii.61
where we find Corvino imagining a young Frenchman or Tuscan who "Knew every
quirk within lust's labyrinth." The equation of lust with a labyrinth is
brilliant enough, but the addition of a working knowledge of every "quirk,"
i.e. nook and cranny, carries the symbol that much further, implying that such
a man has not only found himself in a maze, but not only has he not despaired,
he has mastered it. SYNECDOCHE "But now my oat proceeds..." Lycidas THREE FACES OF EVIL (TEMPTATION) CONCUPISCENTIA CARNIS CONCUPISCENTIA OCULORUM SUPERBIA VITAE TMESIS The insertion of a word (or words) within another word. "Absa-fucking-lutely." TROCHAIC METER This meter places the stress on the first syllable of a disyllabic foot.
While Volpone's song to Celia (III.vii.165-83) is a perfectly good example of
this variety of meter, I wanted to challenge myself; I wanted to find a line
within the dialogue that (perhaps accidentally, if we disregard the intentional
fallacy) scanned this way. I found it at III.vii.116, where Corvino says of
Celia, "She has watched her time. God's precious, this is scurvy," Also, the
line contains twelve syllables, a hexameter, which would make it an
alexandrine, were it not for the fact that it is trochaic, and alexandrines can
only be iambic. TROPE Rhetorical figure utilizing semantics for its chief effect. ZEUGMA "And slits the thin-spun life. 'But not the praise,'" Lycidas "What safe and nicely I might well delay/... I disdain and spurn;" Lr.V.iii.144-5

©1996 Patrick Galloway

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