Rhetorical Devices And Techniques

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Rhetorical Devices And Techniques - Quiz

Choose the correct technique or device after each example. Note that this is not a quiz; it is intended as a tool to acquire and identify rhetorical terms, so take notes.


Questions and Answers
  • 1. 

    These devices were calculated to stir his audience into a rational hysteria.

    • A.

      Apostrophe

    • B.

      Oxymoron

    • C.

      Parallelism

    • D.

      Asyndeton

    • E.

      Synecdoche

    Correct Answer
    B. Oxymoron
    Explanation
    "rational hysteria" combines words with opposing denotations.

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  • 2. 

    Come over Saturday night, and we'll break bread together.

    • A.

      Simile

    • B.

      Personification

    • C.

      Pun

    • D.

      Synecdoche

    • E.

      Prepositional phrase

    Correct Answer
    D. Synecdoche
    Explanation
    You aren't literally eating nothing but bread: "bread" is a substitute for food and synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part stands for the whole.

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  • 3. 

    We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing-grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills.  Winston Churchill

    • A.

      Synecdoche

    • B.

      Epistrophe

    • C.

      Anaphora

    • D.

      Ellipses

    • E.

      Polysyndeton

    Correct Answer
    C. Anaphora
    Explanation
    Churchill repeats "we shall fight" at the beginning of successive clauses.

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  • 4. 

    There is even, and it is the achievement of this book, a curious sense of happiness running through its paragraphs.  Norman Mailer

    • A.

      Parenthesis

    • B.

      Ellipsis

    • C.

      Apostrophe

    • D.

      Antithesis

    • E.

      Chiasmus

    Correct Answer
    A. Parenthesis
    Explanation
    Parenthesis is the insertion of some verbal unit in a position that interrupts the normal syntactical flow of the sentence. In this case, the parenthetical insertion occurs after "There is even"; the sudden insertion adding the idea that "it is the achievement of this book" is cut off from the rest of the sentence. This abrupt and brief insertion gives an emotional or intellectual charge.

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  • 5. 

    Rape is the sexual sin of the mob, adultery of the bourgeoisie, and incest of the aristocracy.  John Updike

    • A.

      Anaphora

    • B.

      Climax

    • C.

      Antithesis

    • D.

      Hyperbole

    • E.

      Ellipsis

    Correct Answer
    E. Ellipsis
    Explanation
    Ellipsis is the deliberate omission of a word or words which are readily implied by the context. In this case, Updike omits "sexual sin" from the two phrases following the first clause, but we know to what he refers. Ellipsis provides and artful and arresting means of securing cogent expression.

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  • 6. 

    . . .government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.  Abraham Lincoln

    • A.

      Parenthesis

    • B.

      Asyndeton

    • C.

      Antithesis

    • D.

      Chiasmus

    • E.

      Anaphora

    Correct Answer
    B. Asyndeton
    Explanation
    Asyndeton is a deliberate omission of conjunctions between a series of related clauses or words. Clearly, Lincoln has not added the conjunction "and" here to add rhythm, which can stir the emotions, and a sense of hurry or certainty.

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  • 7. 

    Our knowledge separates as well as it unites; our orders disintegrate as well as bind; our art brings us together and sets us apart.  J. Robert Oppenheimer

    • A.

      Asyndeton

    • B.

      Climax

    • C.

      Antithesis

    • D.

      Ellipsis

    • E.

      Synecdoche

    Correct Answer
    C. Antithesis
    Explanation
    Antithesis is the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas, often in parallel structure. Here Oppenheimer develops the idea that opposing consequences result from all endeavors.

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  • 8. 

    It is hard to make money, but to spend it is easy.

    • A.

      Chiasmus

    • B.

      Anaphora

    • C.

      Climax

    • D.

      Ellipsis

    • E.

      Litotes

    Correct Answer
    A. Chiasmus
    Explanation
    Chiasmus is the reversal of grammatical structures in successive phrases/clauses. Here the "hard" emphasizes making money, while the "easy" emphasizes spending it. Chiasmus creates a "neatly turned phrase," the kind that creates aphorisms or helps you win arguments.

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  • 9. 

    It shreds the nerves, it vivisects the psyche--and it may even scare the living daylights out of more than a few playgoers.  A review in Time, 1966

    • A.

      Ellipsis

    • B.

      Parenthesis

    • C.

      Apostrophe

    • D.

      Climax

    • E.

      Chiasmus

    Correct Answer
    D. Climax
    Explanation
    Climax is an arrangement of words, phrases, or clauses in an order of increasing importance. Notice that this scheme arranges the commentary by increasing the horrifying effects of the movie on the viewer.

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  • 10. 

    Entertainer Frank Sinatra isn't the slow-burn type.  Article in Newsweek, 1965

    • A.

      Hyperbole

    • B.

      Anaphora

    • C.

      Ellipsis

    • D.

      Irony

    • E.

      Litotes

    Correct Answer
    E. Litotes
    Explanation
    Litotes deliberately uses understatement to enhance the impressiveness of what we say. Frequently, litotes is an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its contrary, e.g., "you won't be sorry" means "you'll be glad."

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  • 11. 

    By Spring, if God was good, all the proud privileges of trench lice, mustard gas, spattered brains, punctured lungs, ripped guts, asphyxiation, mud, and gangrene, might be his.  Thomas Wolfe

    • A.

      Antithesis

    • B.

      Anaphora

    • C.

      Irony

    • D.

      Hyperbole

    • E.

      Apostrophe

    Correct Answer
    C. Irony
    Explanation
    You know irony: the use of a word(s) in such a way as to convey a meaning opposite to the literal meaning. Hence, "proud privileges" here is ironic since all these "privileges" are hellish consequences of war.

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  • 12. 

    O, eloquent, just, and mighty Death! whom none could advise, thou hast persuaded. . . .Thou hast drawn together all the far-stretched greatness, all the pride, cruelty, and ambition of a man, and covered it all with these two narrow words, Hic jacet.  Sir Walter Raleigh

    • A.

      Asyndeton

    • B.

      Ellipsis

    • C.

      Anaphora

    • D.

      Personification

    • E.

      Apostrophe

    Correct Answer
    E. Apostrophe
    Explanation
    This is APOSTROPHE because the speaker is talking to Death. Personification would give Death human characteristics, while apostrophe addresses an absent person or abstraction.

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  • 13. 

    Mother Tongue is a self-reliant female.  Charlton Laird

    • A.

      Simile

    • B.

      Personification

    • C.

      Apostrophe

    • D.

      Metaphor

    • E.

      Synecdoche

    Correct Answer
    B. Personification
    Explanation
    Personification invests abstractions or inanimate objects with human qualities or abilities. Here "Mother Tongue" is personified as "self-reliant" and "female," both human characteristics. It isn't apostrophe because the speaker is not addressing Mother Tongue.

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  • 14. 

    We walked along a road in Cumberland and stooped, because the sky hung so low.  Thomas Wolfe

    • A.

      Metaphor

    • B.

      Personification

    • C.

      Synecdoche

    • D.

      Hyperbole

    • E.

      Ellipsis

    Correct Answer
    D. Hyperbole
    Explanation
    Hyperbole is the use of exaggerated terms for the purpose of emphasis or heightened effect. We are so accustomed to using superlatives these days, that hyperbole is easy to miss. In this example, the sky clearly cannot hang so low that humans must stoop, but the hyperbole reinforces how stormy and dark the sky looks.

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  • 15. 

    So let the class invent its own assignments. If it wants more sophistication, fine.  Peter Elbow

    • A.

      Ellipsis

    • B.

      Antithesis

    • C.

      Metaphor

    • D.

      Apostrophe

    • E.

      Zeugma

    Correct Answer
    A. Ellipsis
    Explanation
    Again, this is an ellipsis. Notice that the words left out come after "sophistication IN ITS ASSIGNMENTS," which Elbow does not repeat because it is understood.

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  • 16. 

    He maintained a flourishing business and racehorse.

    • A.

      Metaphor

    • B.

      Zeugma

    • C.

      Synecdoche

    • D.

      Ellipsis

    • E.

      Hyperbole

    Correct Answer
    B. Zeugma
    Explanation
    Zeugma occurs when one word, here "flourishing," governs two unlike words, "business" and "racehorse" being unalike ideas.

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  • 17. 

    Any theory of post-historical society--our sense of being "in history" is largely determined by the pressure of political and social conflicts--will have to consider the dilemma of human motivations in the just city.  George Steiner

    • A.

      Zeugma

    • B.

      Apostrophe

    • C.

      Anaphora

    • D.

      Parenthesis

    • E.

      Polysyndeton

    Correct Answer
    D. Parenthesis
    Explanation
    Parenthesis--insertion of some verbal unit in a position that interrupts the normal syntactical flow of the sentence, remember? So here the interruption is between the dashes. Notice how the sentence makes perfect sense without it because the interruption isn't related to the basic meaning of the sentence.

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  • 18. 

    Are there no roofs in this town where I can rest?

    • A.

      Simile

    • B.

      Metaphor

    • C.

      Synecdoche

    • D.

      Chiasmus

    • E.

      Zeugma

    Correct Answer
    C. Synecdoche
    Explanation
    "Roofs" here is a part of the whole because it stands in for houses. This poor fellow cannot find accommodations for the night.

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  • 19. 

    Though studious, he was popular; though argumentative, he was modest; though inflexible, he was candid; and though metaphysical, yet orthodox.  Samuel Johnson

    • A.

      Ellipsis

    • B.

      Polysyndeton

    • C.

      Antithesis

    • D.

      Chiasmus

    • E.

      Synecdoche

    Correct Answer
    C. Antithesis
    Explanation
    Note the series of contrasts? This is classic antithesis at work.

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  • 20. 

    This semester I am taking English and history and biology and mathematics and sociology and physical education.

    • A.

      Irony

    • B.

      Polysyndeton

    • C.

      Asyndeton

    • D.

      Metaphor

    • E.

      Climax

    Correct Answer
    B. Polysyndeton
    Explanation
    Polysyndeton is the deliberate use of many conjunctions, giving the effect of solemnity or burden. In this case, the poor student sounds overwhelmed even though he is only taking 6 classes.

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