Rhetorical Terms: Tools for Language Analysis Figurative Language, Rhetorical Tools Alliteration the repetition of initial consonant letters (or sounds) in two or more different words across successive sentences, clauses, or phrases "I think a need a bigger box." -- Taco Bell Commercial Example of Alliteration "...Well, sir, I'm Jordan Rivers. And these here are the Soggy Bottom Boys out of Cottonelia, Mississippi -songs of salvation to salve the soul. Uh, we hear that you pay good money to sing into a can." (from Oh Brother Where Art Thou) Examples of Alliteration "Isn't that what being an international man of mystery is all about?" -delivered by Mike Myers (from the movie Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery) "Have you forgotten you're facing the single finest fighting force ever assembled." (Dan Ackroyd from the movie Dragnet) Metaphor an implied comparison between two different things which share at least one attribute in common; an association between two unlike things (A vs. B) achieved by borrowing the language that refers to thing A and applying it to thing B. (not to be confused with simile) Examples of Metaphor "With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood." -- Martin Luther King, I Have a Dream "At the dawn of spring last year, a single act of terror brought forth the long, cold winter in our hearts. The people of Oklahoma City are mourning still." -- Al Gore, Oklahoma Bombing Memorial Address Personification Giving human qualities to ideas, objects, animals or forces of nature "Such acts are commonly stimulated by forces of hatred and malevolence such as today are eating their way into the bloodstream of American life." -- USSC Justice Earl Warren, Eulogy for John F. Kennedy "Today, we begin a new chapter in the history of Louisiana. I've said throughout the campaign that there are two entities that have the most to fear from us winning this election. One is corruption and the other is incompetence. If you happen to see either of them, let them know the party is over." -- Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Governor-Elect victory Speech Allusion a brief or casual reference to a famous person, historical event, place, or work of art. It is important to stress that the referent of an allusion be generally well-known. Sources include history, myth, and the Bible. Examples of Allusion "And finally you’re all familiar with Dr. Wilmut's cloned sheep. We actually missed the real story behind this. We’re so interested in talking about when this will happen with humans. (And, by the way, if we haven’t already done it somewhere, the cloning of a human being is likely anytime. It’s no longer a theoretical issue; it’s just a question of who’s going to do it.) The real story behind the sheep is that Dr. Wilmut created the prototype for bioindustrial design. He’s the Henry Ford of the Biotech Century. It is now possible to replicate in countless numbers exact copies of an original living creature with the same kind of quality controls and engineering standards we did using mass production and assembly line factory work with inert materials. That’s what’s so important about this animal. We moved from the industrial age to the bioindustrial age." -Jeremy Rifkin, The BioTech Century Allusion, Con’t "And I can pledge our nation to a goal: When we see that wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not pass to the other side." -George W. Bush, 2000 Inaugural Address Allusion, Con’t An allusion is a literary device that stimulates ideas, associations, and extra information in the reader's mind with only a word or two. Allusion means 'reference'. It relies on the reader being able to understand the allusion and being familiar with all of the meaning hidden behind the words. “As the cave's roof collapsed, he was swallowed up in the dust like Jonah, and only his frantic scrabbling behind a wall of rock indicated that there was anyone still alive". “Christy didn't like to spend money. She was no Scrooge, but she seldom purchased anything except the bare necessities.” Anesis when a concluding sentence, clause, or phrase is added to a statement which purposely diminishes the effect of what has been previously stated Examples of Anesis Violet Parr: Normal? What do you know about normal? What does anyone in this family know about normal? Helen Parr/Elastigirl: Now wait a minute, young lady. Violet Parr: We act normal, Mom. I wanna BE normal! The only normal one is Jack Jack, and he's not even toilet trained!! Jack Jack Parr: [unintelligible] -- delivered by Sarah Vowell and Holly Hunter (from the movie The Incredibles) Examples of Anesis "This year's space budget is three times what it was in January 1961, and it is greater than the space budget of the previous eight years combined. That budget now stands at 5 billion-400 million dollars a year -- a staggering sum, though somewhat less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars every year." -John F. Kennedy, Rice University Address on Space Exploration Anesis, Con’t Lt. Col Hal Moore: "When Crazy Horse was a baby, he nursed from the breasts of every woman in the tribe. The Sioux raise their children that way. Every warrior called every woman in the tribe, "Mother." Every older warrior, they called him "Grandfather." Now the point here is that they fought as a family. Take care of your men. Teach them to take care of each other. 'Cause when this starts [combat against the enemy], 'each other' is all we're gonna have." Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley: "Any of you s-n-of-b-tches calls me "grandpa" -- I'll kill ya.“ --delivered by Mel Gibson and Sam Elliot (from the movie We Were Soldiers) Oxymoron TWO words that are ordinarily contradictory; a TWO WORD paradox; two words with contrary or apparently contradictory meanings occurring next to each other, and, which, nonetheless, evoke some measure of truth open secret, larger half, clearly confused, act naturally, alone together, Hell's Angels, found missing, deafening silence, seriously funny, pretty ugly, almost exactly, unbiased opinion Simile A comparison using the words “like” or “as” "I've had some long nights in the stir. Alone in the dark with nothing but your thoughts, time can draw out like a blade. That was the longest night of my life." -- delivered by Morgan Freeman (from the movie The Shawshank Redemption) "It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. It's like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark and thinking that there's one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down through the air and there's a sickly moment of dark surprise." -- delivered by Jude Law (from the movie A Series of Unfortunate Events) Antimetabole the words in one phrase or clause are replicated, exactly or closely, in reverse grammatical order in the next phrase or clause "And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." -- John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address "I, too, was born in the slum. But just because you're born in the slum does not mean the slum is born in you, and you can rise above it if your mind is made up." -- Jesse Jackson, 1984 Democratic National Convention Address Hyperbole An extreme exaggeration for rhetorical effect "So first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address "Why you got scars and knots on your head from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. And every one of those scars is evidence against the American white man." -- Malcolm X Paradox an apparent contradiction which, nonetheless, evokes some measure of truth "There was a little boy who didn't know if he wanted to be born. His mommy didn't know if she wanted him to be born either. They lived in a cabin, in the woods, on an island, in a lake, and there was no one else around. And in the cabin -- there was a door in the floor." -- delivered by Jeff Bridges (from the movie The Door in the Floor) Analogy A kind of extended metaphor or long simile in which an explicit comparison is made between two things (events, ideas, people, etc) for the purpose of furthering a line of reasoning or drawing an inference Examples of Analogy "I don't think there's anything certainly more unseemly than the sight of a rock star in academic robes. It's a bit like when people put their King Charles spaniels in little tartan sweats and hats. It's not natural, and it doesn't make the dog any smarter." -- Bono, 2004 Commencement Address at The University of Pennsylvania Analogy, Con’t "Remember this, ladies and gentlemen. It's an old phrase, basically anonymous. Politicians are a lot like diapers: You should change them frequently and for the same reason. Keep that in mind next time you vote. Good night. -- delivered by Robin Williams (from the movie Man of the Year) Man of the Year Link Antithesis a contrasting or juxtaposition of opposing ideas in adjacent phrases, clauses, or sentences "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!" -- Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have a Dream Antithesis, Con’t "...although the surface appears to be...very, very fine-grained as you get close to it. It's almost like a powder...Okay, I'm going to step off the LEM now. That's one small step for [a] man; one giant leap for mankind." -- Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11 Moon Landing Speech Parallelism successive words, phrases, clauses with the same or very similar grammatical structure "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." -- John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address Parallelism, Con’t "...and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." -- Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address (here delivered by Jeff Daniels) Parallelism, Con’t “It is by logic we prove, but by intuition we discover." (Leonardo da Vinci) "When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative." (Martin Luther King, Jr.) "Today's students can put dope in their veins or hope in their brains. If they can conceive it and believe it, they can achieve it. They must know it is not their aptitude but their attitude that will determine their altitude." (Jesse Jackson) Synecdoche any part or portion or quality of a thing used to stand for the whole of the thing “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears.” Synecdoche, Con’t ("This is NBC Nightly News with John Chancellor and David Brinkley.") "Good evening. Elvis Presley died today. He was 42. Apparently, it was a heart attack. He was found in his home in Memphis not breathing. His road manager tried to revive him -- he failed. A hospital tried to revive him -- it failed. His doctor pronounced him dead at three o'clock this afternoon. -- NBC Nightly News with John Chancellor and David Brinkley Note: In this case, the whole (hospital) stands in for one of its parts (the attending physician and health care workers).