Lexico-Syntactical Stylistic Devices
Antithesis is a good example of them: syntactically, antithesis is just another case of parallel constructions. But unlike parallelism, which is indifferent to the semantics of its components, the two parts of an antithesis must be semantically opposite to each other, as in the sad maxim of O.Wilde: "Some people have much to live on, and little to live for", where "much" and "little" present a pair of antonyms, supported by the ' contextual opposition of postpositions "on" and "for". Another example: "If we don't know who gains by his death we do know who loses by it." (Ch.) Here, too, we have the leading antonymous pair "gain – lose" and the supporting one, made stronger by the emphatic form of the affirmative construction – "don't know / do know".
Antithesis as a semantic opposition emphasized by its realization in similar structures, is often observed on the morphemic level where two antonymous affixes create a powerful effect of contrast: "Their pre-money wives did not go together with their post-money daughters." (H.)
The main function of antithesis is to stress the heterogeneity of the described phenomenon, to show that the latter is a dialectical unity of two (or more) opposing features.
Exercise I. Discuss the semantic centres and structural peculiarities of antithesis:
1. Mrs. Nork had a large home and a small husband. (S.L.)
2. In marriage the upkeep of woman is often the downfall of man. (Ev.)
3. Don't use big words. They mean so little. (O.W.)
4. I like big parties. They're so intimate. At small parties there isn't any privacy. (Sc.F.)
5. There is Mr. Guppy, who was at first as open as the sun at noon, but who suddenly shut up as close as midnight. (D.)
6. Such a scene as there was when Kit came in! Such a confusion of tongues, before the circumstances were related and the proofs disclosed! Such a dead silence when all was told! (D.)
7. Rup wished he could be swift, accurate, compassionate and stern instead of clumsy and vague and sentimental. (I.M.)
8. His coat-sleeves being a great deal too long, and his trousers a great deal too short, he appeared ill at ease in his clothes. (D.)
9. There was something eery about the apartment house, an unearthly quiet that was a combination of overcarpeting and underoccupancy. (H.St.)
10. It is safer to be married to the man you can be happy with than to the man you cannot be happy without. (E.)
11. Then came running down stairs a gentleman with whiskers, out of breath. (D.)
Climax (Gradation, градация) and Anticlimax
Another type of semantically complicated parallelism is presented by climax,in which each next word combination (clause, sentence) is logically more important or emotionally stronger and more explicit: "Better to borrow, better to beg, better to die!" (D.) "I am firm, thou art obstinate, he is pig-headed." (B.Ch.) If to create antithesis we use antonyms (or their contextual equivalents), in climax we deal with strings of synonyms or at least semantically related words belonging to the same thematic group.
The opposite device is called anticlimax,in which case the final element is obviously weaker in degree, of lower in status than the previous; it usually creates a humorous effect:
Music makes one feel so romantic – at least it gets on one's nerves, which is the same thing nowadays. (O.W.)
People that have tried it tell me that a clean conscience makes you very happy and contented. But a full stomach does the thing just as well. (Jerome)
The autocrat of Russia possesses more power than any other man on earth, but he cannot stop a sneeze. (M. T.)
Exercise II. Pay attention to the structure and the semantics of climax components:
1. He saw clearly that the best thing was a cover story or camouflage. As he wondered and wondered what to do, he first rejected a stop as impossible, then as improbable, then as quite dreadful. (W.G.)
2. "Is it shark?" said Brody. The possibility that he at last was going to confront the fish – the beast, the monster, the nightmare – made Brody's heart pound. (P.B.)
3. If he had got into the gubernatorial primary on his own hook, he would have taken a realistic view. But this was different. He had been called. He had been touched. He had been summoned. (R.W.)
4. We were all in аll tо one another, it was the morning of life, it was bliss, it was frenzy, it was everything else of that sort in the highest degree. (D.)
5. Like a well, like a vault, like a tomb, the prison had no knowledge of the brightness outside. (D.)
6. "I shall be sorry, I shall be truly sorry to leave you, my friend." (D.)
7. "Of course it's important. Incredibly, urgently, desperately important." (D.S.)
8. "You have heard of Jefferson Brick, I see. Sir," quoth the Colonel with a smile. "England has heard of Jefferson Brick. Europe has heard of Jefferson Brick." (D.)
9. After so many kisses and promises – the lie given to her dreams, her words, the lie given to kisses, hours, days, weeks, months of unspeakable bliss. (Dr.)
Simile (сравнение) Litotes
A structure of three components is presented in a stylistic device simile.This is a comparison creating a vivid image due to the fact that the object with which we compare is well-known as an example of the quality in question. The characteristic itself may be named in the simile, e.g. when the conjunction "as" is used: (as) beautiful as a rose; stupid as an ass; stubborn as a mule; fresh as a rose; fat as a pig; white as snow; proud as a peacock; drunk as a lord. Similes, often repeated, becomes trite andoftenturn into clichés.Insome idiomatic similes the image is already impossible to distinguish: as dead as a doornail, as thick as thieves.
The characteristic on the basis of which the comparison is made, may only be implied, not named, as when the preposition "like" is used: to drink like a fish(= very much);
Oh, my love is like a red, redrose
That's newly sprung in June. (R.B.);
Similes may contain no special connector expressing comparison, as in: She climbed with the quickness of a cat; He reminded me of a hungry cat.
Comparative constructions are not regarded as simile if no image is created, viz., when the object with which something is compared, is not accepted as a generally known example of the quality: John skates as beautifully as Kate does; She is not so clever as her brother; John is very much like his brother.
Note that, unlike a simile, a metaphor contains a covert (not expressed openly) comparison, which is already included in the figurative meaning of a word: cf. a metaphor in What an ass he is! with the simile He is stupid as an ass. Metaphors are usually more expressive and more emotionally coloured than similes just because they do not express the comparison openly.
Similes in which the link is expressed by notional verbs such as "to resemble", "to seem", "to recollect", "to remember", "to look like", "to appear", etc. are called disguised.
Litotesis a two-component structure in which two negations are joined to give a positive evaluation. Thus "not unkindly" actually means "kindly", though the positive effect is weakened and some lack of the speaker's confidence in his statement is implied. The first component of a litotes is always the negative particle "not", while the second, always negative in semantics, varies in form from a negatively affixed word (as above) to a negative phrase.
The function of litotes has much in common with that of understatement – both weaken the effect of the utterance. The uniqueness of litotes lies in its specific "double negative" structure and in its weakening only the positive evaluation. The Russian term "литота" corresponds only to the English "understatement" as it has no structural or semantic limitations.
Exercise III. Discuss the following cases of simile and litotes. Indicate the foundation of the simile, both explicit and implicit. Find examples of disguised similes, do not miss the link word joining the two parts of the structure: Analyse the structure, the semantics and the functions of litotes:
1. I was quiet, but not uncommunicative; reserved, but not reclusive; energetic at times, but seldom enthusiastic. (Jn.B.)
2. The topic of the Younger Generation spread through the company like a yawn. (E.W.)
3. H.G.Wells reminded her of the rice paddies in her native California. Acres and acres of shiny water but never more than two inches deep. (A.H.)
4. The idea was not totally erroneous. The thought did not displease me. (I.M.)
5. She has always been as live as a bird. (R.Ch.)
6. He had all the confidence in the world, and not without reason. (J.O'H.)
7. Kirsten said not without dignity: "Too much talking is unwise." (Ch.)
8. Six o'clock still found him in indecision. He had had no appetite for lunch and the muscles of his stomach fluttered as though a flock of sparrows was beating their wings against his insides. (Wr.)
9. On the wall hung an amateur oil painting of what appeared to be a blind man's conception of fourteen whistling swan landing simultaneously in the Atlantic during a half-gale. (Jn.B.)
10. "Yeah, what the hell," Anne said and looking at me, gave that not unsour smile. (R.W.)
11. Children! Breakfast is just as good as any other meal and I won't have you gobbling like wolves. (Th.W.)
Periphrasis (перифраз, перифраза)
This is a device by which a longer phrase is used instead of a shorter and plainer one; it is a case of circumlocution (a roundabout way of description), which is used in literary descriptions for greater expressiveness:
The little boy has been deprived of what can never be replaced (D.) (= deprived of his mother);
An addition to the little party now made its appearance (= another person came in).
The notion of king may be poetically represented as the protector of earls; the victor lord; the giver of lands; a battle may be called a play of swords; a saddle = a battle-seat; a soldier = a shield-bearer; God = Our Lord, Almighty, Goodness, Heavens, the Skies.
Periphrasis may have a poetic colouring: a pensive warbler of the ruddy breast (– a bullfinch, снегирь; A. P.); The sightless couriers of the air (= the winds; W.Sh.), or a humorous colouring: a disturber of the piano keys (= a pianist; O. H.).
Depending on the mechanism of this substitution, periphrases are classified into figurative (metonymic and metaphoric), and logical. The first group is made, in fact, of phrase-metonymies and phrase-metaphors, as you may well see from the following example: "The hospital was crowded with the surgically interesting products of the fighting in Africa" (I.Sh.) where the extended metonymy stands for "the wounded".
Logical periphrases are phrases synonymic with the words which were substituted by periphrases: "Mr. Du Pont was dressed in the conventional disguise with which Brooks Brothers cover the shame of American millionaires." (M.St.) "The conventional disguise" stands here for "the suit" and "the shame of American millionaires" – for "the paunch (the belly)". Because the direct nomination of the not too elegant feature of appearance was substituted by a roundabout description this periphrasis may be also considered euphemistic, as it offers a more polite qualification instead of a coarser one.
The often repeated periphrases become trite and serve as universally accepted periphrastic synonyms: "the gentle / soft / weak sex" (women); "my better half" (my spouse); "minions of Law" (police), etc.
Exercise IV. Analyse the given periphrases from the viewpoint of their semantic type, structure, function and originality:
1. Gargantuan soldier named Dahoud picked Ploy by the head and scrutinized this convulsion of dungarees and despair whose feet thrashed a yard above the deck. (M.St.)
2. His face was red, the back of his neck overflowed his collar and there had recently been published a second edition of his chin. (P.G.W.)
3. His huge leather chairs were kind to the femurs. (R.W.)
4. "But Pickwick, gentlemen, Pickwick, this ruthless destroyer of this domestic oasis in the desert of Goswell street!" (D.)
5. He would make some money and then he would come back and marry his dream from Blackwood. (Dr.)
6. The villages were full of women who did nothing but fight against dirt and hunger and repair the effects of friction on clothes. (A.B.)
7. The habit of saluting the dawn with a bend of the elbow was a hangover from college fraternity days. (Jn.B.)
8. I took my obedient feet away from him. (W.G.)
9. I got away on my hot adolescent feet as quickly as I could. (W.G.)
10. I am thinking an unmentionable thing about your mother. (I.Sh.)
Exercise V. Now, after you have been acquainted with the semantics, structures and functions of major syntactical stylistic devices, you may proceed, in the summarizing form, to cases of their convergence, paying attention to each SD contributing to the general effect and of course specifying those which bear the main responsibility for the creation of additional information and the intensification of the basic one:
1. In Paris there must have been a lot of women not unlike Mrs. Jesmond, beautiful women, clever women, cultured women, exquisite, long-necked, sweet smelling, downy rats. (P.)
2. The stables – I believe they have been replaced by television studios – were on West Sixty-sixth street. Holly selected for me an old sway-back black-and-white mare: "Don't worry, she's safer than a cradle." Which, in my case, was a necessary guarantee, for ten-cent pony rides at childhood carnivals were the limit of my equestrian experience. (T.C.)
3. However, there was no time to think more about the matter, for the fiddles and harp began in real earnest. Away went Mr. Pickwick – hands across, down the middle to the very end of the room, and halfway up the chimney, back again to the door – poussette everywhere – loud stamp on the ground – ready for the next couple – off again – all the figure over once more – another stamp to beat out the time – next couple, and the next, and the next again – never was such going! (D.)
4. Think of the connotations of "murder", that awful word: the loss of emotional control, the hate, the spite, the selfishness, the broken glass, the blood, the cry in the throat, the trembling blindness that results in the irrevocable act, the helpless blow. Murder is the most limited of gestures. (J.H.)
5. There is an immensity of promenading on crutches and off, with sticks and without; and a great deal of conversation, and liveliness and pleasantry. (D.)
6. We sat down at the table. The jaws got to work around the table. (R.W.)
7. I'm interested in any number of things, enthusiastic about nothing. Everything is significant and nothing is finally important. (Jn.B.)
8. The cigarette tastes rough, a noseful of straw. He puts it out. Never again. (U.)
9. The certain mercenary young person felt that she must not sell her sense of what was right and what was wrong, and what was true and what was false, and what was just and what was unjust, for any price that could be paid to her by any one alive. (J.F.)
10. A girl on a hilltop, credulous, plastic, young: drinking the air she longed to drink life. The eternal aching comedy of expectant youth. (S.L.)
11. I have made him my executor. Nominated, constituted and appointed him. In my will. (D.)
12. In November a cold unseen stranger whom the doctors called Pneumonia, stalked about the colony touching one here and one there with icy fingers. Mr. Pneumonia was not what you would call a chivalric old gentleman. (O'N.)
13. He came to us, you see, about three months ago. A skilled and experienced waiter. Has given complete satisfaction. He has been in England about five years. (Ch.)