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Transcript of Rhetorical Devices
The repetition of a consonant sound at the beginning of two or more words (in the same line or sentence).
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Alliteration helps to add a feeling of levity and playfulness and to lighten a darker mood in a piece. It can also be used to add emphasis.
An allusion is a passing reference to a historical or literary figure.
"I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-el, to save the Planet Earth."
(Senator Barack Obama, speech at a fund-raiser for Catholic charities, October 16, 2008)
Allusion can be used to appeal to pathos and/or ethos as well as to simply gain the reader's attention. As other devices, it is useful for emphasis as well.
An anecdote is a short story or scenario.
About seven years ago, I lost a good friend to a motorcycle accident. Now I never take one moment for granted and always tell people that I care about them when I have the chance.
An anecdote is useful for appealing to both ethos and pathos, as well as establishing voice for the writer.
A cliche is a statement or phrase that has become commonplace through overuse.
"It's not you, it's me."
"It's just a matter of time."
Cliche can be used to add emphasis, or to develop a tone of boredom, disdain, or sarcasm.
Diction is the author's word choice.
He was a beefy man with a splotchy red face.
He was a robust man with bright rosy cheeks.
Diction is often used to help develop tone, but can also be used quite effectively to appeal to pathos.
Emphasis is a rhetorical device that utilizes syntactical structure (like repetition) or diction to give greater importance to one idea or concept over another.
He's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! He's expired and gone to meet his maker! He's a stiff! Bereft of life, he rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed him to the perch he'd be pushing up the daisies! His metabolic processes are now history! He's off the twig! He's kicked the bucket, he's shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!
Again, emphasis strives to show the importance of a particular concept or idea.
Foreshadowing gives the reader clues about what is to come later in the story or passage.
In the opening of The Wizard of Oz, set in Kansas, the transformation of Miss Gulch into a witch on a broomstick foreshadows her reappearance as Dorothy's enemy in Oz.
This is often used to create suspense for the reader or to create interest in the topic or story.
Hyperbole is an extreme exaggeration.
I was so hungry I could eat a horse!
It seemed as if the weight of the world was on his back.
Hyperbole is useful for assisting with emphasis or creating emotional appeals.
Imagery is using diction, details, and figurative language to paint a mental picture for the reader.
The pond is popping with life. Midges are swarming over the center, and the edges are clotted with the jellied egg masses of snails. One spring I saw a snapping turtle lumber from the pond to lay her eggs. Now a green heron picks around in the pond weed and bladderwort; two muskrats at the shallow end are stockpiling cattails.
Imagery helps to establish voice and style for the writer and may also be useful in appealing to pathos.
Irony is when something happens, is said, or simply exists that is unexpected.
One type of irony is situational. One example is when we learn that the lion in the Wizard of Oz is cowardly. It is ironic because Lions are supposed to be brave and scary.
Another type of irony is verbal. An example of this would be if the class was really loud and I said "Thanks for being so quiet today guys!" It is ironic because I have said the opposite of what is expected.
Dramatic Irony is the third type. One example of this is in Romeo and Juliet when we, as the audience, know that Romeo and Juliet are married, but few other characters do.
A metaphor compares two things by saying that one is the other.
Irony is most useful for creating emphasis.
"My head is a disorganized file cabinet."
"I looked out to see a crisp white blanket covering the earth."
The use of metaphor helps establish tone and voice and may be used to add emphasis.
Mood is the emotional tone or attitude of a piece of writing. Figure out mood by how it makes you feel.
She huddled in the corner, clutching her tattered blanket and shaking convulsively, as she feverishly searched the room for the unknown dangers that awaited her.
Mood is most useful to a writer in appealing to pathos.
Onomatopoeic words are those whose sound is imitative of the sound of the noise or action designated
Onomatopoeia is useful for helping to create imagery as well as establishing mood, tone, and voice for the writer.
Oxymoron is when two seemingly contradictory words are used together for effect.
"She's just a poor little rich girl."
Oxymoron is helpful to a writer for establishing emphasis as well as developing tone.
Personification is when human characteristics and/or abilities are given to a non-human object.
"The sun smiled down upon me" is personification because smiling is a human characteristic and the sun, obviously, is not human.
"The ice cream sandwich called my name" is an example of personification because calling someone's name is a human ability.
Personification helps establish the writer's voice and create interest for the reader. It can also be used to add emphasis.
Propaganda consists of communications to the public that are designed to influence opinion. The information may be true or false, but it is always carefully selected for its (often political) effect.
Propaganda is useful in creating appeals to pathos and developing tone.
A proverb is a wise saying, usually didactic in nature.
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away."
"Look before you leap."
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”
Proverbs are helpful in establishing voice as well as for appealing to ethos.
A rhetorical question is a question that is asked when an answer is not expected.
One example might be if your mom says "How many times do I have to tell you not to drink the milk straight from the carton?" She often does not expect an answer, especially a sarcastic one, she just wants you to quit doing it.
Another example might be if you are reading an essay and the writer asks the question "How many times has this happened to you?" Clearly you cannot answer that question as the author is rarely sitting right there.
These types of questions are meant to get the reader to think about the topic and form answers and opinions before they are told what the writer's opinion is or what he or she believes the answer to be.
Sarcasm is mocking, contemptuous, or ironic language intended to convey scorn or insult.
An example of sarcasm would be if I said "Oh, sure, snakes are ABSOLUTELY my favorite animal."
Another example might be if I said to my freshmen "Yep, you did absolutely fantastic on that last essay and I cannot WAIT to read the next one."
Sarcasm is most helpful in developing tone and voice.
Simile is a metaphor that uses like or as to compare two unlike things.
Her hair was as smooth as silk.
His hands were like vice grips.
He was faster than a speeding bullet.
"My love is like a red, red rose . . ."
Simile is most useful for creating imagery and developing the writer's voice.
Syntax is the arrangement or patterns of words in sentences.
"In California grow the oranges." That is an example of a short, simple, periodic sentence with inverted order.
"He stole both her car and her heart on that fateful night.
This is an example of the advanced syntax technique of zuegma.
Knowing and being able to identify different types of syntax will help writers create interest in their work as well as helping to create desired effects such as emphasis, tone, style, etc.
Theme is a statement (a complete sentence) that tells the author's message about life. Similar to a main idea, but found most often in fiction.
"Love conquers all" is an example of a thematic statement.
Pride often causes us to hurt those we love.
Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're going to get.
While we will not write about, analyze, or disucss theme too in-depth in this class, it is helpful to be able to identify theme in fictional works. Knowing the theme can help you to identify the author's argument.
Tone is the speaker's attitude toward the topic.
"That is the ugliest, most idiotic dog I have ever seen and he smells even worse than he looks."
"We do not have buffalo in the United States. Our version of a buffalo may be called a North American Buffalo, but it is really a bison. In fact, its scientific name is bison bison and its skeletal structure is not very similar to true buffalo at all."
Tone is quite possibly the most important aspect of an essay that you will have to analyze. Most every other rhetorical device may be used to develop tone, so you need to be able to describe it without using words like sad, happy, and angry.
An understatement is where the author purposefully makes light of a situation by stating it in a very matter of fact way.
We've lost some American troops in the war on terror.
The moon is a little ways away.
"It's just a flesh wound."
Understatement is most helpful in developing tone an showing an author's style and voice.
Also known as "appealing to ethics" or "ethical appeals".
This is how an author develops credibility with his or her audience. He or she causes the reader to believe in his or her reliability as a source by citing facts, statistics, etc.
This is the term for appeals to the emotions, or emotional appeals.
A writer uses emotional appeals, or they appeal to pathos in order to connect with the reader, or sometimes to manipulate how a reader feels about the topic. This is often done through very pointedly selected diction and syntax.
Also called appeals to logic or "logical appeals".
When writers appeal to logos, or our sense of logic, they try to make their argument seem like it makes more sense than any other argument.
A symbolic narrative
One example is "Pilgrim's Progress". This story is about a character who goes on a journey whose name is Pilgrim. Along the way he meets a nice people with names like Goodman and Kindheart. He also meets not so nice people with names like Stoneman and Snakeheart.
An author might use allegory to tell a story that makes a point without using real people. This type of story might appeal to pathos.
Two ideas are placed close together for comparison or contrast.
An example is "Her extended claws could feel every vibration throughout that delicate structure".
Authors use this to create imagery, but also to create a feeling of tension and anticipation within the reader.
A short allegorical story designed to teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson.
One example is the Biblical story of the good Samaritan.
While writers do not often use parable in a non-fiction prose piece, they might allude to a well-known parable to make a point. When writers or speakers DO use parable, it is always to teach a lesson.
A humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing.
One example might be Scary Movie. Also, any Weird Al songs.
An author most often uses parody to ridicule a person or an issue. Their goal is to show their disapproval of that person or idea OR, sometimes, just to be funny.
A combination of the author's syntax, tone, and diction.