Anadiplosis: Definition and Examples

An anadiplosis is a rhetorical device derived from the Greek word "anakolouthos," meaning "lacking sequence." It involves the deliberate repetition of a word or words at the end of one clause or sentence, which then begins the following clause or sentence. Anadiplosis serves to emphasize key ideas, create rhetorical impact, and enhance the overall flow of a composition.

Characteristics of Anadiplosis

  • Intentional or Unintentional Use: Anadiplosis can be employed intentionally or occur naturally in speech or writing. It often arises when thoughts or expressions become disjointed, leading to a repetitive pattern of words.
  • Rhetorical Device: In rhetoric, anadiplosis is considered a figure of speech that disrupts the expected grammatical flow of a sentence. This deliberate deviation from typical sentence structure can serve rhetorical purposes, capturing the audience's attention and reinforcing key points.
  • Distinct from Hyperbaton: Anadiplosis should not be confused with hyperbaton, another figure involving alterations in word, phrase, or sentence order. Hyperbaton focuses on changing word positions, while anadiplosis pertains to repetition at the boundary of clauses or sentences.
  • Change in Tense: Anadiplosis may also involve a shift in verb tense, introducing temporal inconsistencies or lack of agreement within the sentence, further emphasizing the repeated word.

Examples of Anadiplosis in Literature

Example #1: The Holy Bible, II Peter, 1:5-7 (By the Apostle Peter)

“… you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love.”

The repetition of qualities in this biblical verse demonstrates the use of anadiplosis to interconnect virtues and emphasize their importance.

Example #2: Lycidas (By John Milton)

“For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,
Young Lycidas and hath not left his peer.”

John Milton employs anadiplosis to emphasize the tragic death of Lycidas, repeating the word "dead" for heightened impact.

Example #3: Lolita (By Vladimir Nabokov)

“What I present here is what I remember of the letter, and what I remember of the letter I remember verbatim (including that awful French).”

Vladimir Nabokov's use of anadiplosis highlights the precise recollection of the letter, reinforcing the authenticity of the narrator's memory.

Example #4: Untitled (By Francis Bacon)

“He retained his virtues amidst all his – misfortunes – misfortunes which no prudence could foresee or prevent.”

In this passage, Francis Bacon employs anadiplosis to underscore the impact of unforeseeable misfortunes.

Example #5: The Isles of Greece (By Lord Byron)

“The mountains look on Marathon – And Marathon looks on the sea …”

Lord Byron uses anadiplosis to emphasize the significance of Marathon within the poem, creating a rhythmic and impactful effect.

Example #6: Gladiator movie (By David Franzoni)

“The general who became a slave. The slave who became a gladiator. The gladiator who defied an emperor. Striking story!”

This excerpt from the movie Gladiator illustrates anadiplosis to build suspense and highlight the remarkable transformation of the protagonist.

Function of Anadiplosis

  • Emphasizing Thought or Speech: Anadiplosis is commonly used to replicate thought patterns or speech, allowing writers to imitate the flow of informal, ungrammatical, or disjointed conversations or thoughts. This enhances authenticity in dialogue or narrative.
  • Creating Artistic Effects: Writers intentionally employ anadiplosis to achieve specific artistic effects within their works. This deviation from expected grammar can draw attention to crucial moments, evoke emotional responses, or emphasize thematic elements. Anadiplosis serves as a deliberate tool for storytelling, challenging conventional notions of sentence structure and narrative coherence.
  • Stream of Consciousness: Anadiplosis seamlessly fits within the stream of consciousness writing style, portraying thoughts as they occur without strict adherence to grammar or structure. It effectively conveys the authenticity of inner monologues, which can be erratic and disorganized.
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