Anadiplosis Definition

The term anadiplosis is a Greek word which means “to reduplicate”. It refers to the repetition of a word or words in successive clauses in such a way that the second clause starts with the same word which marks the end of the previous clause.

Anadiplosis exhibits a typical pattern of repeating a word. For example, the repetition of the word “give” in the sentence “When I give, I give myself.” is termed anadiplosis as it occurs at the end of the first clause and marks the beginning of the following clause.

Similarly, notice how the use of anadiplosis repeats in its typical fashion the word “reliability” to highlight the main point of the sentence “This public school has a record of extraordinary reliability, a reliability that every other school is jealous of in the city.”

Anadiplosis and Chiasmus

It is important to note that anadiplosis is part of another figure of speech chiasmus. However, every anadiplosis does not necessarily reverse its structure like it is done in chiasmus. For instance, “Forget what you want to remember, and remember what you want to forget,” is an example of chiasmus (as it involves a reversal of structure in the second clause) and anadiplosis as word “remember” marks the end of one clause and the start of the subsequent clause.

Anadiplosis does not always employ a reversal of structure as in the sentence “The land of my fathers and my fathers can have it.” It is an example of anadiplosis involving a typical repetition of the word “my father” but, unlike chiasmus, the structure of the final clause is not reversed.

Anadiplosis Examples in Literature

Writers employ anadiplosis in their literary texts to produce special stylistic effects such as decorating texts by means of its typical repetitive pattern and laying emphasis on an important point. Let us have a look at a few examples of this stylistic device from literature:

Example #1

From The Bible,

“……… 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 Bible, II Peter 1:5 – 7)

In this verse, one is able to see how all the mentioned qualities are connected to each other with the use of anadiplosis.

Example #2

From John Milton’s Lycidas,

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

Here the word “dead” has been repeated to put emphasis on the death of Lycidas. Milton often used anadiplosis in his other works to convince or persuade his readers. The word “dead” serves the same purpose in these lines of Lycidas.

Example #3

From Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita,

“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).”

Just observe the beautiful use of a phrase “what I remember of the letter” as an anadiplosis. The writer clearly wants his readers to focus on what he is saying and repeating in these words. The message is further enhanced by the use of the word “verbatim”.

Example #4

Francis Bacon wrote,

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

He has used “misfortune” twice to bring home to his readers the main idea he is discussing which is that misfortune is always unpredictable.

Example #5

From The Isles of Greece by Lord Byron,

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

This is a good use of anadiplosis by Lord Byron in his poem The Isles of Greece. Here, he has stressed Marathon and repeated it to make it significant in the poem.

Example #6

From the movie Gladiator,

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

This is the dialogue from the famous movie Gladiator (2000) in which a general is sold as a slave who then had to work as a gladiator to make himself known in the arena and then defy the emperor. Look at the effects produced by the anadiplosis.

Function of Anadiplosis

It repeats a word in quick succession in successive clauses in order to add emphasis to the main idea, as readers tend to focus more on the repetition of words and thereby on the idea emphasized upon. Anadiplosis also serves to decorate a piece of writing or a speech. Often, CEOs and modern executives are fond of using it to make their suggestions and commands effective.

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