Stylistic Devices / Stilmittel / Rhetorische Mittel
Autor und weiteres Material:
an explicit comparison between two things which are
basically quite different using words such as like or as.
She walks like an angel. / I
wandered lonely as a cloud. (Wordsworth)
a comparison between two things which are basically quite
different without using like or as. While a simile only says
that one thing is like another, a metaphor says that one thing is
another. (adj. metaphorical)
All the world’s a stage / And all
the men and women merely players ... (Shakespeare)
a kind of metaphor in which animals, plants,
inanimate (leblos) objects or abstract ideas are represented as if
they were human beings and possessed human qualities.
Justice is blind. Necessity is the
mother of invention (Not macht erfinderisch).
(lat. pars pro toto):
a kind of metaphor in which a part of something
is used to signify the whole.
Lend me your ears (= give me your
something concrete (like a person, object, image, word or
event) that stands for something abstract or invisible.
The Cross is the symbol of
Christianity. The dove (Taube) symbolizes peace/is symbolic of peace.
the repetition of the same consonant sound in neighbouring words, usually at
the beginning of words.
Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
the repetition of internal vowel sounds in neighbouring
words that do not end the same.
sweet dreams / fertile
the repetition of consonant sounds at the end of
neighbouring words which have different vowel sounds.
strength - earth – birth
/ home - same
a regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables
within a line of a poem.
an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one (–
The way a crow (Krähe)
/ Shook down on me / The dust of snow / From a
hemlock tree (Frost)
a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one ('– –):
Tiger, burning bright / In the forest
of the night. (William Blake)
two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed
(– – '–): Oh he flies through the
air / With the greatest of ease.
a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed ones
('– – –):
for a handful of silver he left us / Just for a
riband (Band) to stick in his coat.
the use of
words which imitate the sound they refer to. (adj. onomatopoeic
the stuttering (stottern)
rifles’ rapid rattle / The cuckoo whizzed past the buzzing bees.
the use of words which end with the same
sounds, usually at the end of lines.
Tiger! Tiger! burning bright / In
the forests of the night.
rhyme within a line.
letters of joy from girl and boy
inaccurate (ungenau) repetition of sounds.
hill - full; man - mean; sky - fine;
seem - weak
rhyme that does not depend on sound but on spelling.
flow - how, beat - great, over -
In older poems one has to consider
that words were (maybe) pronounced differently from today.
deliberate (absichtlich) repetition of similar or identical
words, phrases or constructions in neighbouring lines, sentences or
a form of parallelism where a word or several words are
repeated at the beginning of successive (aufeinander folgend) lines,
sentences or paragraphs.
In every cry of every man / In every
infant’s cry of fear / In every voice, in every ban. (Blake London)
a change of the ususal word order (subject-verb-object).
A lady with a dulcimer (Hackbrett)
/ In a vision once I saw.
a reversal in the order of words so that
the second half of a sentence balances the first half in inverted (umgekehrt)
Love’s fire heats water, water cools
not love. (Shakespeare)
(Steigerung, Höhepunkt, Klimax):
a figure of speech in which a
series of words or expressions rises step by step, beginning with the least
important and ending with the most important (= climactic order). The term
may also be used to refer only to the last item in the series.
Some books are to be tasted, others
to be swallowed (schlucken), and some few to be chewed (kauen)
and digested (verdauen).
the sudden fall from an idea of importance or dignity
(Würde) to something unimportant or ridiculous in
comparison, especially at the end of a series.
The bomb completely destroyed the
cathedral, several dozen houses and my dustbin.
the listing of words or phrases. It can stress a
certain aspect e.g. by giving a number of similar or synonymous adjectives
to describe something.
Today many workers find their labor
mechanical, boring, imprisoning, stultifying (lähmend), repetitive,
dreary and heartbreaking.
a brief reference to a person, place, thing,
event or idea in history or literature. Allusions require common reading and
cultural experiences shared by the writer and the reader. (v. to allude to
sth., n. an allusion to sth.)
The old man and the computer
(allusion to The Old man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway)
deliberate use of a word or phrase that has two or more relevant meanings.
Ambiguity is the basis for a lot of wordplay. (adj. ambiguous
In poetry, when one line ends without a pause and
continues into the next line for its meaning.
hiding the real nature of something unpleasant by
using a mild or indirect term for it. (adj. euphemistic
“He has passed away.” instead of “He
“the underprivileged” instead of
(Hyperbel) also: overstatement: deliberate (absichtlich)
exaggeration. Its purpose is to emphasize something
or to produce a humorous effect.
I'm so hungry I could eat a horse.
(Untertreibung): the opposite of hyperbole; the deliberate
presentation of something as being much less important, valuable etc. than
it really is.
“These figures are a bit
disappointing” instead of “… are disastrous (katastrophal).”
"He was quite upset” instead of “He
went into a terrible rage”.
(Ironie): saying the opposite of what you actually mean. Do not
use “ironic” in the vague sense of “funny/humorous”.
(Sarkasmus) is a strong form of verbal irony used to hurt
someone through mockery (Spott, Hohn) or disapproval (Ablehnung).
Teacher: “You are absolutely the
best class I’ve ever had.” Actual meaning: “the worst class”
a kind of text which criticizes certain conditions,
events or people by making them appear ridiculous. Satirical
texts often make use of exaggeration, irony and sarcasm. (n. satirist, adj.
satirical, v. to satirize satirisch darstellen)
bitter and aggressive humour used to express
mockery (Spott, Hohn) or disapproval (Ablehnung). (adj.
a statement that seems to be self-contradictory (widersprüchlich)
or opposed to common sense. On closer examination it mostly reveals
some truth. (adj. paradoxical
The child is father of the man.
It is awfully hard work doing
nothing. (Oscar Wilde)
a condensed (komprimiert) form of paradox in which
two contradictory words
(mostly adjective and noun) are used
sweet sorrow / wise fool /
“O hateful love! O loving hate!” (Romeo
a play on words that have the same (or a similar) sound
but different meanings. There are a lot of puns in English because of its
many homophones, i.e. words with the same sound as another.
Homophones lose their ambiguity as soon as they are written
At the drunkard’s funeral, four of
his friends carried the bier. (bier Totenbahre vs. beer Bier)
A word with the same form as another
but with a different meaning is called homonym:
“Is life worth living?” – “It
depends on the liver” (liver = sb. who lives vs. liver Leber)
a question to which the answer is obvious and
therefore not expected.
In reality rhetorical questions are a kind of
Don’t we all love peace and hate
Shouldn’t we try to be friendlier
towards each other?
a name that conveys certain character traits.
Darth Vader (dark + death, invader)
/ Lord Voldemort (“flight of death”) / Willy Loman (low man)
Stylistic Devices – Functions
– arouse the reader’s interest / catch the r.’s
“The Right to Be Beautiful”, “Die
– make the reader think: paradox (Don’t overuse!)
“Vorwärts in die Fünfziger Jahre”
– create vivid/graphic mental images: metaphors,
“first step on a slippery slope”
– emphasize certain aspects: repetition, parallelism,
“they were worse fed, worse clothed, worse washed”
– amuse/entertain the reader: euphemism, similes,
“whose impact on appearance is, um, unproven”
– criticize/satirize: hyperbole
“a bit of lipstick can keep you out of jail”
– evoke (funny) associations
“graduation present of breast enlargement”
Autor und weiteres Material: