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					Rhetorical Devices

The Scarlet Letter
Objectives
 To review the terminology of several
  rhetorical devices commonly used in
  writing about or discussing rhetoric.
 To apply these terms to passages in The
  Scarlet Letter.
Diction
 Over the entrance hovers an enormous specimen of the American
 eagle, with outspread wings, a shield before her breast, and, if I
 recollect aright, a bunch of intermingled thunderbolts and barbed
 arrows in each claw. With the customary infirmity of temper that
 characterizes this unhappy fowl, she appears, by the fierceness of her
 beak and eye, and the general truculency of her attitude, to threaten
 mischief to the inoffensive community; and especially to warn all
 citizens, careful of their safety, against intruding on the premises
 which she overshadows with her wings. Nevertheless, vixenly as she
 looks, many people are seeking, at this very moment, to shelter
 themselves under the wing of the federal eagle; imagining, I presume,
 that her bosom has all the softness and snugness of an eiderdown
 pillow. But she has no great tenderness, even in her best of moods,
 and, sooner or later,--oftener soon than late,--is apt to fling off her
 nestlings, with a scratch of her claw, a dab of her beak, or a rankling
 wound from her barbed arrows.
Denotation and Connotation
   hover                unhappy fowl
   outspread wings      fierceness
   shield               beak and eye
   barbed arrows        truculency
   claw                 threaten
   infirmity            mischief
   temper               warn
Denotation and Connotation
   intruding        beak
   overshadows      rankling
   vixenly          wound
   fling off        barbed arrows
   scratch
   claw
   dab
Denotation and Connotation
 Over the entrance hovers an enormous specimen of the American eagle, with
 outspread wings, a shield before her breast, and, if I recollect aright, a bunch of
 intermingled thunderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw. With the customary
 infirmity of temper that characterizes this unhappy fowl, she appears, by the
 fierceness of her beak and eye, and the general truculency of her attitude, to
 threaten mischief to the inoffensive community; and especially to warn all
 citizens, careful of their safety, against intruding on the premises which she
 overshadows with her wings. Nevertheless, vixenly as she looks, many people
 are seeking, at this very moment, to shelter themselves under the wing of the
 federal eagle; imagining, I presume, that her bosom has all the softness and
 snugness of an eiderdown pillow. But she has no great tenderness, even in her
 best of moods, and, sooner or later,--oftener soon than late,--is apt to fling off
 her nestlings, with a scratch of her claw, a dab of her beak, or a rankling wound
 from her barbed arrows.
Concrete Diction
 Over the entrance hovers an enormous specimen of the American eagle, with
 outspread wings, a shield before her breast, and, if I recollect aright, a bunch of
 intermingled thunderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw. With the customary
 infirmity of temper that characterizes this unhappy fowl, she appears, by the
 fierceness of her beak and eye, and the general truculency of her attitude, to
 threaten mischief to the inoffensive community; and especially to warn all
 citizens, careful of their safety, against intruding on the premises which she
 overshadows with her wings. Nevertheless, vixenly as she looks, many people
 are seeking, at this very moment, to shelter themselves under the wing of the
 federal eagle; imagining, I presume, that her bosom has all the softness and
 snugness of an eiderdown pillow. But she has no great tenderness, even in her
 best of moods, and, sooner or later,--oftener soon than late,--is apt to fling off
 her nestlings, with a scratch of her claw, a dab of her beak, or a rankling wound
 from her barbed arrows.
Cacophonous and
Euphonious Words
 Over the entrance hovers an enormous specimen of the American eagle, with
 outspread wings, a shield before her breast, and, if I recollect aright, a bunch of
 intermingled thunderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw. With the customary
 infirmity of temper that characterizes this unhappy fowl, she appears, by the
 fierceness of her beak and eye, and the general truculency of her attitude, to
 threaten mischief to the inoffensive community; and especially to warn all
 citizens, careful of their safety, against intruding on the premises which she
 overshadows with her wings. Nevertheless, vixenly as she looks, many people
 are seeking, at this very moment, to shelter themselves under the wing of the
 federal eagle; imagining, I presume, that her bosom has all the softness and
 snugness of an eiderdown pillow. But she has no great tenderness, even in her
 best of moods, and, sooner or later,--oftener soon than late,--is apt to fling off
 her nestlings, with a scratch of her claw, a dab of her beak, or a rankling wound
 from her barbed arrows.
Figurative Devices
   imagery—words or phrases that evoke sights, sounds, tastes, textures, and
    smells.
   motif—a recurrent idea, theme, or subject; an incident, situation, or ethical
    dilemma embodying a central idea that informs a work. A motif may include
    imagery.
   metaphor—describes an abstract idea by comparing it to something
    concrete.
   personification—human qualities given to something nonhuman.
   symbol—a person, place, event, or thing that has a meaning of its own, but
    also represents something else.
   metaphor—an extension of a word’s use beyond its primary meaning to
    refer to something else that bears some similarity to the word’s primary
    meaning such as the eye of the hurricane. It describes an abstract idea by
    comparing it to something concrete.
    Imagery—words or phrases that
    evoke sights, sounds, tastes,
    textures, and smells.

 eagle
 predator
 hostility
 threat
    Motif—a recurrent idea, theme, or
    subject; an incident, situation, or
    ethical dilemma embodying a central
    idea that informs a work. A motif may
    include imagery.
   The foreboding threat of authority that
    would abuse the “inoffensive community”
    is a recurrent theme throughout the novel
Symbol—a person, place, event,
or thing that has a meaning of its
own, but also represents something
else.
 eagle
 shield
 thunderbolt
 barbed arrows
Metaphor—describes an abstract
idea by comparing it to something
concrete.

   The eagle is a metaphor for the hostile
    federal government that treated
    Hawthorne so harshly.
Personification—human qualities
given to something nonhuman.
   shield before her breast
   thunderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw
   truculency of her attitude
   threaten mischief
   warn all citizens
   people are seeking…to shelter themselves under the
    wing of the federal eagle
   no great tenderness
   her moods
   rankling wound from her barbed arrows
Other Rhetorical Devices
 Irony
 Antithesis
 Understatement
 Tone
 Syntax
 Style
Irony—the statement or idea on its
face appears true, but, in fact, the
opposite is true.


   people seeking shelter from the federal
    eagle when, in fact, the eagle is the threat
Antithesis—opposite or contrasting
ideas placed side by side in
sentences or clauses for emphasis.
 Over the entrance hovers an enormous specimen of the American eagle, with
 outspread wings, a shield before her breast, and, if I recollect aright, a bunch of
 intermingled thunderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw. With the customary
 infirmity of temper that characterizes this unhappy fowl, she appears, by the
 fierceness of her beak and eye, and the general truculency of her attitude, to
 threaten mischief to the inoffensive community; and especially to warn all
 citizens, careful of their safety, against intruding on the premises which she
 overshadows with her wings. Nevertheless, vixenly as she looks, many people
 are seeking, at this very moment, to shelter themselves under the wing of the
 federal eagle; imagining, I presume, that her bosom has all the softness and
 snugness of an eiderdown pillow. But she has no great tenderness, even in her
 best of moods, and, sooner or later,--oftener soon than late,--is apt to fling off
 her nestlings, with a scratch of her claw, a dab of her beak, or a rankling wound
 from her barbed arrows.
Understatement—minimizing the
qualities of a subject
   “The moment when a man’s head drops
    off is seldom or never, I am inclined to
    think, precisely the most agreeable of his
    life.” “The Custom House”
Tone—the writer’s attitude toward
his or her subject, characters, or
audience.
 warning
 hostile
 sardonic (scornfully mocking)
 bitter
Syntax—the structure of sentences
   Periodic Sentence—makes sense only when
    reaching the end of the sentence; the most important
    word of phrase comes last for emphasis.
   “But the point that drew all eyes, and, as it were,
    transfigured the wearer,--so that both men and women,
    who had been familiarly acquainted with Hester Prynne,
    were now impressed as if they beheld her for the first
    time,--was that SCARLET LETTER, so fantasically
    embroidered and illuminated on her bosom.” (Chapter 2,
    par. 10)
Syntax
   Parallel Structure—two or more related ideas
    are given identical grammatical structure.
   “It was my folly, and thy weakness. I,--a man of
    thought,--the bookworm of great libraries,--a
    man already in decay, having given my best
    years to feed the hungry dream of knowledge,--
    what had I to do with youth and beauty like thine
    own.” (Chapter 4, par. 16)
Syntax

   Apostrophe--a figure of speech by which a speaker or
    writer suddenly stops in his or her discourse and turns to
    address pointedly some person or thing.
   “I, the present writer, as their representative,
    hereby take upon myself for their sakes, and
    pray that any curse incurred by them—as I have
    heard, and as the dreary and unprosperous
    condition of the race, for many a long year back,
    would argue to exist—may be now and
    henceforth removed.” “The Custom House”
Elements of Style
 Diction
 Figurative Devices
 Irony
 Antithesis
 Tone
 Syntax

				
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posted:11/30/2011
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