Anecdote is a concise and captivating story or amusing event often used to illustrate a point or entertain. These brief narratives cover a wide range of topics and can make readers both laugh and ponder the subject matter presented.
Types of Anecdote
There are various types of anecdotes employed in different contexts. They can be amusing anecdotes shared at family gatherings, weddings, or other social events. Teachers use anecdotes to educate students about notable figures and celebrities, while writers and poets incorporate them into their literary works.
Examples of Anecdote in Literature
Example #1: The Crucible (By Arthur Miller)
Parris: “(It is very hard to say): Aye, a dress. And I thought – someone naked running through the trees!”
Abigail: (In terror) “No one was naked! You mistake yourself, uncle!”
In Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," Reverend Parris questions his niece Abigail Williams about a mysterious incident in the woods. Abigail responds with fanciful stories, attempting to justify her actions. Her tales, such as accusing Goody Proctor of being a liar, serve as illustrative anecdotes.
Example #2: Death in the Arctic (By Robert W. Service)
What is that? Bells, dogs again!
Is it a dream? I sob and cry.
See! The door opens, fur-clad men
Rush to my rescue; frail am I;
Feeble and dying, dazed and glad.
There is the pistol where it dropped.
“Boys, it was hard – but I’m not mad …
Look at the clock – it stopped, it stopped.
Carry me out. The heavens smile.
See! There’s an arch of gold above.
Now, let me rest a little while –
Looking to God and Love … and Love…”
In Robert W. Service's poem "Death in the Arctic," the speaker, facing death in the cold wilderness, reflects on his life in fragmented anecdotes and memories. These anecdotes offer insight into his past experiences.
Function of Anecdote
Anecdotes and humorous narratives serve as more than just jokes; they are valuable literary devices. Their main purpose is to evoke laughter, reveal truths in a general manner, or provide humorous character insights. Anecdotes can both entertain and deepen our understanding of characters.
Anecdotes also have a cautionary function. Writers use them to warn readers about potential future events if specific processes or methods are not followed. They can offer insights and guidance through storytelling.