Chiasmus (Reversed Parallel Construction)

Chiasmus belongs to the group of stylistic "devices based on the regetitionof, a syntacrticaljjalifiEDU but it ll^_ЈJ^os^_OI^Ж-IiLжQI:ds and {ArSsSTTftF^ successive sentences or parts of a sentence may be described as reversed_garallЈl_ construction, thej\vordrorder_ of v IJ^ other,

"As high as we have mounted in delight In our dejection do we sink as low." (Wordsworth) -

"Down dropped the breeze,

The sails dropped down" (Coleridge)

Chiasmus is sometimes achieved by a sudden change from active voice to passive or vice versa, for example:

"The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. (Dickens)

as in:

This device is effective in that it helps to lay stress on the second part of the utterance, which is opposite in structure, as 'in our dejection'; 'Scrooge signed it*. This is due to the sudden change in the structure which by its very unexpectedness linguistically requires a slight pause before it.

As is seen from the examples above, chiasmus can appear only when there are two successive sentences or coordinate parts of a sentence. So distribution, here close succession, is the factor which predetermines the birth of the device.

There are different variants of the structural design of chiasmus. The first example given shows chiasmus appearing in a complex sentence where the second part has an opposite arrangement. The second example demonstrates chiasmus in a sentence expressing semantically the rela­tion of cause and effect. Structurally, however, the two parts are pre­sented as independent sentences, and it is the chiasmatic structure which supports the idea of subordination. The third example is composed of two independent sentences and the chiasmus serves to increase the effect of climax. Here is another example of chiasmus where two paral­lel constructions are followed by a reversed parallel construction linked to the former by the conjunction and:

!"The night winds sigh, the breakers roar, And shrieks the wild sea-mew." (Byron)

It must be remembered that chiasmus is a syntactical, not a lexi­cal device, i. e. it is only the arrangement of the parts of the utterance which constitutes this stylistic device. In the famous epigram by Byron:

"In the days of old men made the manners', Manners now make men,"

there is no inversion, but a lexical device. Both parts of the parallel construction Jjave the same, the^normal word-order. However, the witty arrangement of the words'has given the utterance an epigrammatic character. This device may be classed as lexical chiasmus or chiasmatic repetition. Byron particularly favoured it. Here are some other examples:

"His jokes were sermons, and his sermons jokes" "'Tis strange,—but true; for truth is always strange? "But Tom's no more^and so no more of Tom'' "True, 'tis a pity—pity 'tis, 4is true" "Men are the sport of circumstances, when The circumstances seem the 'sport of men." "'Tis a pity though, in this sublime world that Pleasure's a sin, and sometimes sin's a pleasure."

Note the difference in meaning of the repeated words on which the epigrammatic effect rests: 'strange—strange;' 'no more—no more', 'jokes—jokes.'

Syntactical chiasmus is sometimes used to break the monotony of parallel constructions. But whatever the purpose of chiasmus, it will

always bring in some new shade of meaning or additional emphasis on some portion of the second part.

The stylistic effect of this construction has been so far little inves­tigated. But even casual observation will show that chiasmus should be perceived as a complete unit. One cannot help noticing that the first part in chiasmus is somewhat incomplete, it calls for continuation, and the anticipation is rewarded by the second part of the construction, which is, as it were, the completion of the idea.

Like parallel construction, chiasmus contributes to the rhythmical quality of the utterance, and the pause caused by the change in the syn­tactical pattern may be likened to a caesura in prosody.

As can be seen from this short analysis of chiasmus, it has developed, like all stylistic devices, within the framework of the literary form of the language. However, its prototype may be found in the norms of expressions of the spoken language, as in the emphatic: 'He was a brave man, was John.'


It has already been pointed out that r ej^e ti t i о п is1 an expres­sive means of language used when the speaker is imder the stress of strong ""ей^зпг-Jt^^ as in the following "passajgeTfom Galsworthy:

"Stop!"—she cried, "Don't tell me! / don't want to hear, I don't want to hear what you've come for4/ don't want to hear."

The repetition of 'I don't want to hear', is not a stylistic device; it is a means by which the excited state of mind of the speaker is shown. This state of mind always manifests itself through intonation, which is suggested here by the words 'she cried'. In the written language, before direct speech is introduced one can always find words indicating the in­tonation, as sobbed, shrieked, passionately, etc. J. Vandryes writes:

"Repetition is also one of the devices, having its-origin in the emotive language. Repetition when applied to the logical language becomes simply an 1п81г^еп^о!^^а1Щпа1:._И8 origin is to be seen in the excitem^r^accompanymg the expression of a feeling being brought to its highest tension."1

When used as a stylistic device, repetition acquires quite differen furtfflmTrlt" doe^fl^^ O thencontrary, the stylistic device of repetition aims at logical emphasis, an emphasis necessary to fix the "attention of the reader on the key-word of the utterance. For example:

"For that was it! Ignorant of the long and stealthy march of passion, and of the state to which it had reduced Fleur; igno­rant of how Soames had watched her, ignorant of Fleur's reckless

desperation... — ignorant of all this, everybody felt aggrieved." .> ,<3<~ “ч.З (Galsworthy)

Repetition is classified, „according to compositional patterns. If rq^'te^^^orS^Tor phrase) corrres at the beginning of two or more consecutive" sentences^ clauses or phrases,' ""weT Have ~<Гпа p 'ТГсПГа, "asTn the example above. If the repeated unit is placed at the end рГШп-secutive sentences, clauses or phrases, we have the^Jtype of repetition called ep ip H 6 f a, as in:

"I am exactly the man to be placed in a superior position in such a case as that. I am above the rest of mankind, in such a case as that. I can act with philosophy in such a case as that.


Here the repetition has a slightly different function: it becomes a ackground against which the statements preceding^jy^_j^e_at.eijffiit are'made to stand out more conspicuously. This may be called the ТПГ'с'К gr'o и n d f unct iohTir must be observed, however^ that "the logical function of the repetition, to give emphasis, does not fade when it assumes the background function. This is an additional function. С Repetition may also be arranged in the form of a frame: the initial parts of a syntactical unit, in most cases of a paragraph, are repeated at the end of it,

"Poor doWs dressmaker! How often so dragged down by hands that should have raised her up; how often so misdirected when losing her way on the eternal road and asking guidance. Poor, little doll's dressmaker". (Dickens)

This compositional pattern of repetition is called framing. The semantic nuances of different compositional structures of repeti­tion have been little looked into. But even a superficial examination will show that framing,ATor example, makes the whole utterance more compact aftd mo?e complete. Framing^is" most effective in singling out paragraphs.

Among other compositional models of repetition is / inJ^J^njS or r e djLfiJ,J',.^.^,.lIj2.^ (also known as -a n a d i p l о s i s). The sfruc-TGriToirfhis device is the following: the last word or phraseof^pnejgart of an utterance is repeated at the* begmnTng of the next part, thus hookingthe two partsback on his tracks arid pick up his last word.

^ instead of moving on. seems foUouble

"Freeman and slave... earned on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that' each time ended, either in a revolu­tionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes." (Marx, Engels)

Any repetition of a unit of language will inevitably cause some slight modification of meaning, a modification suggested by a noticeable change in the intonation with which the repeated word is pronounced.

Sometimes a writer may use the linking device several times in one utterance, for example:

"Л smile would come into Mr. Pickwick's face: the smile ex­tended into a laugh: the laugh into a roar, and the roar became general." (Dickens)


"For glances beget ogles, ogles sighs, sighs wihes, wishes words,

and words a letter." (Byron)

This compositional pattern of repetition is also called chain-/jjZjJLLU-XUL /. <Ј ,a В ,6* J •'-—•- . _ '''v/hat are the most obvious stylistic functions of repetition?

The first, the primary one,J^J^^jnJjSl^^ Intensi­fication is the direct outcome oTTH^"iisF*ofTneexpressive means em­ployed in ordinary intercourse; but when used in other compositional patterns, the immediate emotional charge is greatly suppressed and is replaced by a purely aesthetic aim, as in the following example:


A weary lot is thine, fair maid,

A weary tot is thine! To pull the thorn thy brow to braid,

And press the rue for wine. A lightsome eye, a soldier's mien

A feather of the blue, A doublet of the Lincoln green —*

No more of me you knew

My Love! No more of me you knew. (Walter Scott) ,„

Tjj^ejrepetition of the whole line in its full form requires intexpretati.on. <jЈ SupeFTmear ImStysis based on associations aroused by the sense of '* the whole poem suggests that this repetition expresses the regret of the Rover for his Love's unhappy lot. Compare also the repetition in the line of Thomas Moore's:

"Those evening bells! Those evening bells!"

Meditation, sadness, reminiscence and other psychological and emotional states of mind are suggested by the repetition of the phrase with the intensifier 'those'.

The distributional model of repetition, thЈ aim of which isjnten-sification, is simple: it is immediate succession of the parts repeated/ Repetition may also stress monotony of action, it may- suggest fa­tigue, or despair, or hopelessness, or doom, as in:

"What has my life been? Fag and grind, fag and grind. Turn the wheel, turn the wheel" (Dickens)

Here the rhythm of the repeated parts makes the monotony and hopelessness of the speaker's life still more keenly felt.

This function of repetition is to be observed in Thomas Hood's po­em "The Song of the Shirt" where different forms of repetition are em­ployed.


Till the brain begins to swim! Work—work—work

Till the eyes are heavy and dim! Seam, and gusset, and band,

Band, and gusset and seam,— Till over the buttons I fall asleep, And sew them on in a dream." Of course, the main idea, that of long and exhausting work, is ex­pressed by lexical means: work 'till the brain begins to swim' and 4he eyes are heavy and dim7, till, finally, 'I fall asleep.' But the repetition here strongly enforces this idea and, moreover, brings in additional nu­ances of meaning.

In grammars it is pointed out that the repetition of words connected by the conjunct ion and will express reiteration or frequentative action. For example:

"Fledgeby knocked and rang, and Fledgeby rang and knocked, but no one came."

There are phrases containing repetition which have become lexical units of the English language, as on and on, ^^^.^i^Qver^jagqtn and again and others. They all express repetition or continuity of the action, as in:

"He played the tune over and over again."

Sometimes this shade of meaning is backed up by meaningful words, as in:

I sat desperately, working and working.

They talked and talked all night.

The telephone fang and rang but no one answered.

The idea oLcontinuity is expressed here not only by the repetition but also by modifiers such as 'all night'.

Background repetition, which we have already pointed out, is some­times used to stress the ordinarily unstressed elements of the utterance. Here is a good example:

"I am attached to you. But / can't consent and won't consent and I never did consent and / never will consent to be lost in you." (Dickens)

The emphatic element in this utterance is not the repeated word 'consent' but the modal words 'can't', 'won't', 'will', and also the em­phatic 'did'. Thus the repetition here loses its main function and only serves as a means by which other elements are made to stand out clear-fylIt is worthy of note that in this sentence very strong stress falls-on the modal verbs and 'did' but not on the repeated 'consent* as is usually the case with the stylistic device.

Like many stylistic devices, repetition is polyfunctional. The func­tions enumerated do not cover all its varieties. One of those already 214

mentioned, the rhythmical function, must not be under-estimated when studying the effects produced by repetition. Most of the examples given above give rhythm to the utterance. In fact, any repetition enhances the rhythmical aspect of the utterance.

There is a variety of repetition which we shall call "root-repetition",

as in:

"To live again in the youth of the young." (Galsworthy)


"He loves a dodge for its own sake; being...—the dodgerest of all the

dodgers" (Dickens)


"Schemmer, Karl Schemmer, was a brute, a brutish brute." (London)

In root-repetition it is not the same words that are repeated but the "same root. Consequently we are faced with different words having different meanings (youth:young', brutish: brute), but the shades of mean­ing are "perfectly clear.

Another variefy of repetition may be called s у п о пут i с a I rep­etition. This is the repetition of the same idea by using synonymous words and jphfases which by adding a slightly different nuance of mean­ing intensify the impact of the utterance, as in.

"...are there not capital punishments sufficient in your statutes'? Is there not blood enough upon your penal code!" (Byron)

Here the meaning of the words 'capital punishments' and 'statutes* is repeated in the next sentence by the contextual synonyms 'blood' and 'penal code'.

Here is another example from Keats' sonnet "The Grasshopper and

the Cricket."

"The poetry of earth is never dead... -The poetry of earth is ceasing never..."

'There are two terms frequently used to show the negative attitude of the critic to all kinds of synonymical repetitions. These are p I e о-"*" /ГаТШ and ta и to I o g y. The Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines pleonasm as "the use of more words in a sentence than are necessary to express the meaning; redundancy of expression." Tautology is defined &" as "the repetition of the same statement; the repetition (especially in < the immediate context) of the same word or phrase or of the same idea or statement in other words; usually as a fault of style." Here are two examples generally given as illustrations:

"It was a clear starry night, and not a cloud was to be seen"

"He was the only survivor; no one else was saved"

It is not necessary to distinguish between these two terms, the distinc­tion being very fine. Any repetition may be found faulty if it is not motivated by the aesthetic purport of the writer. On the other hand, any seemingly unnecessary repetition of words or of ideas expressed in different words may be justified by the aim of the communication

For example, "The daylight is fading, the sun is setting, and night is coming on" as given in a textbook of English composition is regarded as tautological, whereas the same sentence may serve as an artistic exam­ple depicting the approach of night.

A certain Russian literary critic has wiittily called pleonasm "stylis­tic elephantiasis/' a disease in which the expression d'f'TiTieTSea'^wells

up* arid loses its force. Pleonasm may also_be called "the art of wordy

—• ~ --••••• ••“ — - - .-~~M4~...^.№.~~v~.~ —.., _..

"Both pleonasm and, tautology may be acceptable in oratory inasmuch as they help the au.di.ence.,to.Јraspjhe meaning of the utterance. 1ц this case, however, the repetition of ide^jfsli^^ although it may have no aesthetic function! '~'" —"-—•”**•——~,,-..,


E n и т е г a tion is a stylistic device by which separate things, objects, phenomena, properties, actions are named one by one so that they produce a chain, the links of which, being syntactically in the same position (homogeneous parts of speech), are forced to display some kind of semantic homogeneity, remote though it may seem.

Most of our notions are associated with other notions due to some kind of relation between them: dependence, cause and result, likeness, dissimilarity, sequence, experience (personal and/or social), proximity, etc.

In fact, it is the associations plus social experience that have result­ed in the formation of what is known as "semantic fields." Enumeration, as an SD, may be conventionally called a sporadic semantic field, inas­much as many cases of enumeration have no continuous existence in their manifestation as semantic fields do. The grouping of sometimes absolutely heterogeneous notions occurs only in isolated instances to meet some peculiar purport of the writer.

Let us examine the following cases of enumeration:

"There Harold gazes on a work divine,

A blending of all beauties; streams and dells,

Fruit, foliage, crag, wood, cornfield, mountain, vine

And chiefless castles breathing stern farewells

From grey but leafy walls, where Ruin greenly dwells." (Byron)

There is hardly anything in this enumeration that could be regarded as making some extra impact on the reader. Each word is closely associ­ated semantically with the following and preceding words in the enumer­ation, and the effect is what the reader associates with natural scenery. The utterance is perfectly coherent and there is no halt in the natural flow of the communication. In other words, there is nothing specially to arrest the reader's attention; no effort is required to decipher the mes­sage: it yields itself easily to immediate perception.

That is not the case in the following passage:

"Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole 216

assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend and his sole mourner." (Dickens)

The enumeration here is heterogeneous; the legal terms placed in a string with such words as 'friend' and 'mourner' result in a kind of clash, a thing typical of any stylistic device. Here there is a clash between terminological vocabulary and common neutral words. In addi­tion there is a clash of concepts: 'friend' and 'mourner' by force of enu­meration are equal in significance to the business office of 'executor', 4administrator', etc. and also to that of 'legatee'.

Enumeration is frequently used as a device to depict scenery through a tourist's eyes, as in Galsworthy's "To Let":

"Fleur's wisdom in refusing to write to him was profound, for he reached each new place entirely without hope or fever, and could concentrate immediate attention on the donkeys and tumbling bells, the priests, patios, beggars, children, crowing cocks, sombreros, cactus-hedges, old high white villages, goats, olive-trees, greening plains, singing birds in tiny cages, watersellers, sunsets, melons, mules, great churches, pictures, and swimming grey-brown mountains of a fascinating land."

The enumeration here is worth analysing. The various elements of this enumeration can be approximately grouped in semantic fields:

1) donkeys, mules, crowing cocks, goats, singing birds;

2) priests, beggars, children, watersellers;

3) villages, patios, cactus-hedges, churches, tumbling bells, sombre­ros, pictures;

4) sunsets, swimming grey-brown mountains, greening plains, olive-trees, melons.

Galsworthy found it necessary to%arrange them not according to logical semantic centres, but in some other order; in one which, apparently, would suggest the rapidly changing impressions of a tourist. Enumera­tion of this kind assumes a stylistic function and may.therefore be regard­ed as a stylistic device, inasmuch as the objects in the enumeration are not distributed in logical order and therefore become striking.

This heterogeneous enumeration gives one an insight into the mind of the observer, into his love of the exotic, into the great variety of miscella­neous objects which caught his eye, it gives an idea of the progress of his travels and the most striking features of the land of Spain as seen by one who is in love with the country. The parts of the enumeration may be likened to the strokes of a painter's brush who by an inimitable choice of colours presents to our eyes an unforgettable image of the life and scenery of Spain. The passage itself can be likened to a picture drawn for you while you wait.

Here is another example of heterogeneous enumeration:

"The principal production of these towns... appear to be soldiers, sailors, Jews, chalk, shrimps, officers and dock-yard men"(Dickens, "Pickwick Papers")


S usp eji se i s a comppsitionjl device which consists in arranging the fffaFEe? of a commjuhTcation in such a way that the less important, "descriptive, subordinate parts are amassed af the beginning, the main idea being withheld till the end of the sentence. THus the reader's atten­tion is held and his interest kept up, for example:

"Mankind, says a Chinese manuscript, which my friend M. was obliging enough to read and explain to me, for the first seventy thousand ages ate their meat raw'' (Charles Lamb)

Sentences of this type are called p.er.iodi c.sen ten с е s, or periods. Their function is to create „suspense, to keep the reader ma state of uncertainty and expectation.

Here is a good example of the piling up of details so as to create a state of suspense in the listeners:

"But suppose it * passed; suppose one of these men, as I have seen them,— meagre with famine, sullen with despair, careless of a life which your Lordships are perhaps about to value at some­thing less than the price of a stocking-frame: — suppose this man surrounded by the children for whom he is unable to procure bread at the hazard of his existence, about to be torn for ever from a fam­ily which he lately supported in peaceful industry, and which it is not his fault that he can no longer so support; — suppose this man, and there are ten thousand such from whom you may select your victims, dragged into court, to be tried for this new offence, by this new law; still there are two things wanting to convict and condemn him; and these are, in my opinion,— twelve butchers for a jury, and a Jeffreys for a judge!" (Byron)

Here the subject of-the subordinate clause of concession ('one of these men')is**repeated twice, ('tlfis man', 'this man'), each time followed by a number of subordinate parts, before the predicate ('dragged') is reached. All this is drawn together in the principal clause ('there are two things wanting...'), which was expected and prepared for by the logically incomplete preceding statements. But the suspense is not yet broken: what these two things are, is still withheld until the orator comes to the words 'arid these are, in my opinion.'

Suspense and climax s4ometimes go together. In this case all the information contained in the series of statement-clauses preceding the solution-statement are arranged in the order of gradation, as in the example above from Byron's maiden speech in the House of Lords.

The device of suspense is especially favoured by orators. This is appar­ently due to the strong influence of intonation „which helps to create the desired atmosphere^бТ ^expectation and emotional tension which goes with It. ^^^

1 A proposed law permitting the death penalty for breaking machines (at the time of the Luddite movement).

Suspense always requires long stretches of speech or .writing- Some-tiiriesTthe whole of a poem is built"on this stylistic device, as is the case with Kipling's poem "If" where all the eight stanzas consist of //-clauses and only the last two lines constitute the principal clause.

"/f you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

// you can trust yourself when all men doubt you

And make allowance for their doubting too,

// you can dream and not make dreams your master, // you can think and not make thoughts your aim,

Yours is the earth and everything that's in it,... And which is more, you'll be a Man, my son."

This device is effective in more than one way, but the main purpose is to prepare the reader for the only logical conclusion"bf the иЦегддсеГ* It is a psychological effect that is aimed at in particular.

A series of рагШёГ question-sentences containing subordinate parts is another structural pattern based on the principle of suspense, for the answer is withheld for a time, as in Byron's "The Bride of Abydos": "Know ye the land where the cypress and myrtle... Know ye the land of the cedar and vine...

'Tis the clime of the East— 'tis the land of the Sun."

The end of an utterance is a specially emphatic part of it. Therefore if we keep the secret of a communication until we reach the end, it will lead to concentration of the reader's or listener's attention, and this is the effect .sought.

One more example to show how suspense can be maintained:

"Proud of his "Hear him!" proud, too, of his vote, And lost virginity of oratory, Proud of his learning (just enough to quote) He revell'd in his Ciceronian glory." (Byron)

It must be noted that suspense, due to its partly psychological nature (it arouses a feeling of3.xpectation), is framed in оце sentence, for there ^musl ^ the infpnatipn pattern, /Separate sentences would violate the principle of constant emotional tension which is char­acteristic of this device.

Climax (Gradation)

Climax is an arrangement of sentences (or of the homogeneous parts of one sentence) which secures a gradual increase in significance, importance, or emotional tension in the utterance, as in:

"It was a lovely city, a beautiful city, a fair city, a veritable gem of a city"

or in: bj! "Ne barrier wall, ne river deep and wide, l\ Ne horrid crags, nor mountains dark and tall Rise like the rocks that part Hispania's land from Gaul." (Byron)

Gradual increase in emotional evaluation in the first illustration and in significance in the second is realized by the distribution of the corresponding lexical items. Each successive unit is perceived as stronger than the preceding one. Of course, there are no objective linguistic criteria to estimate the degree of importance or significance of each constituent. It is only the formal homogeneity of these component parts and the test of synonymy in the words 'lovely', 'beautiful', 'fair,' 'veritable gem' in the first example and the relative inaccessibility of the barriers 'wall', 'river', 'crags', 'mountains' together with the epithets 'deep and wide', 'horrid', 'dark and tall' that make us feel the increase in importance of each.

A gradual increase in significance may be maintained in three ways: logical, emotional and quantitative.

Logical с I i т а х is based on the relative importance of the component parts looked at from the point of view of the concepts em­bodied in them. This relative importance may be evaluated both objec­tively and subjectively, the author's attitude towards the objects or phenomena in question being disclosed. Thus, the following paragraph from Dickens's "Christmas Carol" shows the relative importance in the author's mind of the things and phenomena described:

"Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, 'My dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me?' No beggars imgjored him to bestow a trifle, no chil­dren asked Jiim what it -was o'clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blind men's dogs appeared to know him, and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails, as though they said, 'No eye at all is better than #n evil eye, dark master!'"

The order of the statements shows what the author considers the cul­mination of the climax. The passage by Dickens should be considered "subjective", because there is no general recognition of the relative signif­icance of the statements in the paragraph. The climax in the lines from Byron's "Ne barrier..." may be considered "objective" because such things as 'wall', 'river', 'crags', 'mountains' are objectively ranked according to their accessibility.

Emotional с I i т а х is based on the relative emotional ten­sion produced by words with emotive meaning, as in the first example with the words 'lovely', 'beautiful', 'fair'.

Of course, emotional climax based on synonymous strings of words with emotive meaning will inevitably cause certain semantic differences

in these words — such is the linguistic nature of stylistic synonyms—, but emotive meaning will be the prevailing one.

Emotional climax is mainly found in sentences, more rarely in longer syntactical units. This is natural. Emotional charge cannot hold long. As becomes obvious from the analysis of the above examples of cli­matic order, the arrangement of the component parts calls for parallel construction which, being a kind of syntactical repetition, is frequently accompanied by lexical repetition. Here is another example of emotional climax built on this pattern: p "He was pleased when the child began to adventure across $ floors on hand and knees; he was gratified, when she managed the trick of balancing herself on two legs; he was delighted when she first said 'ta-ta'; and he was rejoiced when she recognized him and smiled at him." (Alan Paton)

Finally, we come to quantitative climax. This is an evi­dent increase in the volume of the corresponding concepts, as in:

"They looked at hundreds of houses; they climbed thousands of stairs; they inspected innumerable kitchens." (Maugham)

Here the climax is achieved by simple numerical increase. In the following example climax is materialized by setting side by side concepts of measure and time:

"Little by little, bit by bit, and day by day, and 'year by year the baron got the worst of some disputed question." (Dickens)

What then are the indispensable constituents of climax? They are:

a) the distributional constituent: close proximity of the component parts arranged in increasing order of importance or significance;

b) the syntactical pattern: parallel constructions with possible lexical


c) the connotative constituent: the explanatory context which helps the reader to grasp the gradation, as no... ever once in all his life*, nobody ever, nobody, No beggars (Dickens); deep and wide, horrid, dark and tall (Byron); veritable (gem of a city).

Climax, like many other stylistic devices, is a means by which the author discloses his world, outlook, his evaluation of objective facts and phenomena. The concrete stylistic function of this device is to show the relative importance of things as seen by the author (especially in emotional climax), or to impress upon the reader the significance of the things described by suggested comparison, or to depict phenomena dy­namically.1

1 Note: There is a device which is called anticlimax. The ideas expressed may be arranged in ascending order of significance, or they may be poetical or elevated, but the final one, which the reader expects to be the culminating one, as in climax, is trifling or farcical. There is a sudden drop from the lofty or serious to the ridiculous. A typical example is Aesop's fable "The Mountain in Labour."

"In days of yore, a mighty rumbling was heard in a Mountain. It was said to be in labour, and multitudes flocked together, from far and near, to see what


In order to characterize a thing or phenomenon from a specific point of view, it may be necessary not to find points of resemblance or associa­tion between it and some other thing or phenomenon, but to find points of sharp contrast, that is, to set one against the other, for example: "A saint abroad, and a devil at home" (Bunyan) "Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven." (Milton)

A line of demarcation must be drawn between logical opposition and stylistic opposition. Any opposition will be based on the contrast­ing features of two objects. These contrasting features are represented in pairs of words which we call antonyms, provided that all the prop­erties of the two objects in question may be set one against another, as 'saint' —'devil', 'reign'—'serve', 'hell'—'heaven'.

Many word-combinations are built up by means of contrasting pairs, as up and down, inside and out, from top to bottom and the like.

Stylistic opposition, which is given a special name, the term a n-t i t h e s i s, is of a different linguistic nature: it is based on relative opposition which arises out of the context through the expansion of objectively contrasting pairs, as in:

"Youth is lovely, age is lonely,

Youth is fiery, age is frosty;" (Longfellow)

Here the objectively contrasted pair is 'youth' and 'age'. 'Lovely' and 'lonely' cannot be regarded as objectively opposite concepts, but being drawn into the scheme contrasting 'youth' and 'age', they display certain features which may be counted as antonymical. This is strength­ened also by the next line where not only 'youth' and 'age' but also 'fiery' and 'frosty' are objective antonyms.

It is not only the semantic aspect which explains the linguistic nature of antithesis, the structural pattern also plays an important role. Antith­esis is generally moulded in parallel construction. The antagonistic features of the two objects or phenomena are more easily perceived when they stand out in similar structures. This is particularly advantageous when the antagonistic features are not inherent in the objects in question but imposed on them. The structural design of antithesis is so important

it would produce. Aftervlong expectation and many wise conjectures from the by­standers—out popped, a Mouse!"

Here we have deliberate anticlimax, which is a recognized form of humour. Anti­climax is frequently used by humorists Hke Mark Twain and Jerome K- Jerome.

In "Three Men in a Boat", for example, a poetical passage is invariably followed by ludicrous scene. For example, the author expands on the beauties of the sunset on the river and concludes:

"But we didnt sail into the world of golden sunset: we went slap into that old punt where the gentlemen were fishing"

Another example is:

"This war-like speech, received with many a cheer, Had filled them with desire of fame, and beer" (Byron)

that unless it is conspicuously marked in the utterance, the effect might

be lost.

It must be remembered, however, that so strong is the impact of the various stylistic devices, that they draw into their orbit stylistic ele­ments not specified as integral parts of the device. As we have pointed out, this is often the case with the epithet. The same concerns antith­esis. Sometimes it is difficult to single out the elements which distin­guish it from logical opposition.

Thus in Dickens's "A Tale of Two Cities" the first paragraph is prac­tically built on opposing pairs.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, if was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, We had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we are all going direct the other way..." (Dickens)

The structural pattern of the utterance, the pairs of objective anto­nyms as well as of those on which antonymical meanings are imposed by the force of analogy makes the whole paragraph stylistically signifi­cant, and the general device which makes it so is antithesis.

This device is often signalled by the introductory connective but, as in:

"The cold in clime are cold in blood

Their love can scarce deserve the name;

But mine was like a lava flood.

That boils in Etna's breast of flame." (Byron)

When but is used as a signal of antithesis, the other structural sig­nal, the parallel arrangement, may not be evident. It may be unneces­sary, as in the example above.

Antithesis is a device bordering between stylistics and logic. The extremes are easily discernible but most of the cases are intermediate. However, it is essential to distinguish between antithesis arid what is termed contrast. Contrast is a literary (not a linguistic) device based on logical opposition between the phenomena set one against an­other. Here is a good example of contrast.


"The river—with the sunlight flashing from its dancing wave­lets, gilding gold the grey-green beech-trunks, glinting through the dark, cool wood paths, chasing shadows o'er the shallows, fling­ing diamonds from the mill-wheels, throwing kisses to the lilies, wantoning with the weir's white waters, silvering moss-grown walls and bridges, brightening every tiny townlet, making sweet each lane and meadow, lying tangled in the rushes, peeping, laughing, from each inlet, gleaming gay on many a far sail, making soft the air with glory—is a golden fairy stream.

But the river—chill and weary, with the ceaseless rain drops falling on its brown and sluggish waters, with the sound as of a woman, weeping low in some dark chamber, while the woods all dark and silent, shrouded in their mists of vapour, stand like ghosts upon the margin, silent ghosts with eyes reproachful like the ghosts of evil actions, like the ghosts of friends neglected— is a spirit-haunted water through the land of vain regrets." (Jerome K. Jerome)

The two paragraphs are made into one long span of thought by the signal But and the repetition of the word river after which in both cases a pause is indicated by a dash which suggests a different intonation pattern of the word river. The opposing members of the contrast are the 'sunlight flashing'—'ceaseless rain drops falling'; 'gilding gold the grey-green beech-trunks, glinting through the dark, cool wood paths'— 'the woods, all dark and silent, shrouded in their mists of vapour, stand like ghosts...'; 'golden fairy stream'—'spirit-haunted water'.

Still there are several things lacking to show a clear case of a stylistic device, viz. the words involved in the opposition do not display any addi­tional nuance of meaning caused by being opposed one to another; there are no true parallel constructions except, perhaps, the general pattern of the two paragraphs, with all the descriptive parts placed between the grammatical subject and predicate, the two predicates serving as a kind of summing up, thus completing the contrast.

'The river... is a golden fairy stream.'—'But the river ... is a spirit-haunted water through the land of vain regrets.' The contrast embodied in these two paragraphs is, however, akin to the stylistic device of antithesis.

Antithesis has the following basic functions: rhythm-forming (be­cause of the parallel arrangement on which it is founded); copulative; dissevering; comparative. These functions often go together and inter­mingle in their own peculiar manner. But as a rule antithesis displays one of the functions more clearly than the others. This particular func­tion will then be the leading one in the given utterance. An interesting example of antithesis where the comparative function is predominant is the madrigal ascribed to Shakespeare:


"Crabbed age and youth Cannot live together:

Youth is full of pleasance, Age is full of care;

Youth like summer morn, Age like winter weather,

Youth like summer brave, Age like winter bare:

Youth is full of sport, Age's breath is short,

Youth is nimble, Age is lame:

Youth is hot and bold,

Age is weak and cold, Youth is wild, and Age is tame:—

Age, I do abhore thee,

Youth, I do adore thee; О my Love, my Love is young!

Age, I do defy thee—

О sweet shepherd, hie thee.

For methinks thou stay'st too long.

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