Professor Rebecca Benas
Friday, September 20, 2012
Anaphora in Modern Literature
Repetition in literature is often used as more than just a meaningless echo in the writer’s words. With its many different forms (some more subtle than others), the author can quite often sway the tone and mood of their work dramatically without the average reader noticing the effect while using this literary device. Some of these forms stress the repetition of initial or internal consonants and vowel sounds. Anaphora, however, is a much more noticeable pattern of repetition, as the device focuses on the use of the same words or phrases at the beginning of sentences or clauses to emphasize a point the author finds critical to the overall piece of their work. Without the use of this literary device, many key elements can be lost in the text such as foreshadowing and character depth. Anaphora is a form of repetition that can be very powerful in all genres including poetry, short fiction, and dramas.
In poetry, one can find a clear example of anaphora in William Blake’s “London.” The poem itself describes a man wandering through the streets of the city in a time of great oppression and struggle. On his walk, the poet observes this oppression and struggle in each person he passes, as described in lines five through eight, “In every cry of every Man, / In every Infant’s cry of fear, / In every voice, in every ban.” (Pike 175) The pattern found with the use of the phrase “In every” in these lines does more than just emphasize the pain and torment of the denizens of London. The use of anaphora here allows insight to the reader of London’s toils as a whole; the misery of the people is not unique to each individual due to personal affairs. The government itself is applying such terrible conditions on its people that even infants are aware of the hopelessness. Anaphora in this specific work of William Blake’s allows his audience to take a rare and...
Cited: Pike, David L., and Ana Acosta. Literature: A World of Writing. New York: Longman, 2009.
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