« PreviousContinue »
sioned speech, and may be classed as a figure of Energy. By it tone and vigor may be given to otherwise clear but feeble expression.
Expand the following from Carlyle, who uses this figure freely and with good effect, into the full grammatical form, and note the loss:
* It is well said, in every sense, that a man's religion is the chief fact with regard to him. A man's or a nation of men's. By religion I do not mean here the church creed which he professes, the articles of faith which he will sign, and in words or otherwise assert; not this wholly, in many cases not this at all."
Ellipsis is more common in poetry than in prose. Note the omission of a subject and two verbs in this, from Whittier:“ Christ's love rebukes no home love, breaks no ties of kin apart; Better heresy in doctrine, than heresy of heart.”
One special form of the Ellipsis, the omission of connectives, is called Asyndeton; as in these :
1. “Must I relinquish it all, the joy, the hope, the illusion ? " 2. “Urging the suit of his friend, explaining, persuading, expanding." 3. “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
2. The repetition of parts not necessary to the grammatical structure gives rise to the figure called Pleonasm.
Pleonasm is a figure formed by the use of more words than the grammatical expression of the thought would require. Some part already expressed is reexpressed for the sake of giving it greater prominence.
It differs from Tautology in that there is purpose in : the repetition. It contributes to Clearness through
emphasis. The following will illustrate both its nature and its use:
“ The Lord he is God.” “ Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
“The blood of our fathers, let it not have been shed in vain; the great hope of posterity, let it not be blasted.”
The following paragraph from Gilmore's “Outlines of Rhetoric ” contains further illustrations with a valuable suggestion:
“For example, in the sentence, · Marshal your arguments as a skillful general does his forces, so that they may mutually support each other,' I should regard the introduction of the word 'mutually’ as a case of justifiable pleonasm, since it serves to clarify and enforce the author's meaning. Again: in the sentence, · His anticipations of the future were as gloomy as his recollections of the past,' I should not strike out the italicized words, since they serve to make more clear and impressive the contrast intended. I should, however, strike out the italicized words from the sentence: • His anticipations of the future were of the gloomiest nature, since in the sentence they serve no useful purpose.”
The special form of Pleonasm in which a part is repeated after intervening matter is called Epanalepsis, meaning to take up again; as in these:
“ He came to the city, at last, after long and tedious wanderings — to the city which had, for years, been the shrine of his devotions."
“ Health, virtue, industry -- these are the elements of happiness.”
“ But the thing a man does practically believe; the thing a man does practically lay to heart, and know for certain; concerning his vital relations to this mysterious universe, and his duty and destiny there, that in all cases is the primary thing for him, and creatively determines all the rest."
Another form of the general figure of Pleonasm consists in the emphatic repetition of a word just uttered, for the purpose of amplifying or emphasizing the idea expressed. This variety is called Epizeuxis, meaning to fasten to or upon; thus: —
“Shall I attempt to describe Rome — Rome, the birthplace of all that is beautiful and grand ?”
“ Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Polysyndeton, the excessive use of connectives, is the last pleonastic figure to be noted. This is the opposite of Asyndeton. Both of these are found abundant in all literature. The following Polysyndetons from “The Courtship of Miles Standish ” are neat illustrations of this figure:
“ Was it for this I have loved, and waited, and worshipped in silence ?"
“ Breathing their silent farewells, as they fade and wither and perish.”
“Sacred and safe and unseen, in the dark of the narrow chamber.”
“ Sunless and silent and deep, like subterranean rivers.”
Both Asyndeton and Polysyndeton are beautifully illustrated in the following from Milton:
“ So eagerly the fiend,
3. The figure of syntax formed by the third method is called Enallage. It consists of the use of one part of speech for another, or of one grammatical property for another. The following examples will illustrate its nature:· Adverb for noun:
“ Full of all the tender pathos
Of the Here and the Hereafter. Noun for verb:
“I'll queen it no inch farther,
But herd my ewes and weep." “To out herod Herod.”
Proper noun for adjective:“A Nebuchadnezzar curse that sends us to grass like oxen.”
Adjective for verb: —
FIGURES OF THOUGHT. A. figure of thought is the expression of one thing in the form of another. What is conveyed by the language directly is itself a means of expressing something else. When Longfellow wished to express the truth that the hopes of youth are destroyed by the trials and adversities of life, he brings before the mind the image of leaves falling in the blast of cold wind and rain, and then adds: “ The hopes of youth fall thick in the blast.” He wishes us to see in the leaves falling in the blasts of cold wind and rain the hopes of youth falling in the adversities of life.
Figures of thought are not always easily distinguished from literal expression. We have seen that much of our literal language has grown out of figurative language, and the process is still going on. When an expression is in the phase of transition it is not clear whether it is a real or a faded figure. But the test is always the same: Is one thing seen in the form of another? An expression ceases to be figurative the moment it fails to call up the image through which the thought to be expressed was at first figuratively seen. For instance, in the expression “ The truth is obvious,” we no longer bring up the image of an obstacle, as a tree across the road (ob, against, or in front; and via, a road or way). That is, the truth need not be sought, but lies so directly in the path that one cannot help running against it. In every figure of thought an idea is contemplated through its image, - an image which presents the idea under consideration more effectively, more clearly, elegantly, or energetically than is possible through direct language. With a figurative writer an idea springs forth with its image, which wings the idea for its destination.
Let the following be tested as to whether they are figurative or literal:
1. His fortune is dilapidated. 2. The objection is insuperable. 3. The king obliterated the memory of the wrong. 4. The student