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English Stylistics Class 2014. Week 10


This week we discussed syntactical SDs and EMs. They are climax, anticlimax, antithesis, attachment, asyndeton, polysyndeton, break-in-the-narrative, chiasmus, detachment, ellipsis, enumeration, litotes, parallel constructions, question-in-the-narrative, represented speech, rhetorical question, suspense, inversion, repetition.

I want to describe three of them: climax, antithesis and suspense.

Climax/Gradation is the arrangement of sentences which secures a gradual increase in significance, importance or emotional tension in the utterance. The gradual increase in significance may be maintained in three ways: logical, emotional and quantitative.

Logical сIimax is based on the relative importance of the component parts looked at from the point of view of the concepts embodied in them.

Emotional climax is mainly found in sentences. For example: It was a lovely city, a beautiful city, a fair city, a veritable gem of a city.
Quantitative climax is an evident increase in the volume of the concepts. For example: They looked at hundreds of houses, they climbed thousands of stairs, they inspected innumerable kitchens. 
The function of this stylistic device is to show the relative importance of the things as seen by the author.


Antithesis is a stylistic opposition, setting thing one against the other. In order to characterize a thing or phenomenon from a specific point of view, it may be necessary to find points of sharp contrast.

Examples of antithesis:

1. A saint abroad, and a devil at home.
2. Youth is lovely, age is lonely, 
Youth is fiery, age is frosty.
3. Man proposes, God disposes.


Suspense is the deliberate slowing down of the thought, postponing its completion till the very end of the utterance.

Very often the stylistic device of suspense is formed by various kinds of parenthetical words and sentences.

For example: I have been accused of bad taste. This has disturbed me, not so much for my own sake as for the sake of criticism in general.



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