Anaphora definition: Anaphora is a rhetorical device that is the repetition of a word or phrase in successive clauses or phrases.
What is Anaphora? Anaphora as a Literary Term
What does anaphora mean? Anaphora is a rhetorical device that is the repetition of a word or phrase in successive clauses or phrases. Anaphora is typically found in writing at the beginning of successive sentences. Anaphora is an effective tool to help convey an argument.
The three previous sentences are an example of anaphora. The sentences begin with the phrase, “Anaphora is.”
A speaker or writer will use anaphora with purpose and intent.
Weak writers uses anaphora on accident—that is not anaphora; that is poor word choice.
Strong writers know exactly why they are using anaphora. The repetition that anaphora creates is emphatic and forceful. A good writer knows this and uses this device in order to help him communicate his argument.
Modern Examples of Anaphora
Anaphora examples: In his landmark “I Have a Dream” speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. purposefully and effectively employs anaphora.
Toward the end of the speech, Dr. King repeats “I have a dream” as the opening clause of eight successive statements.
Yes, this is how the speech was so named. However, Dr. King repeats these lines in order to communicate his argument. In each statement his dream builds. In each statement his dream becomes more pressing. In each statement his dream incites his audience to follow his cause.
This is how a speaker effectively utilizes anaphora.
The Function of Anaphora
Why use anaphora? Anaphora is a very effective rhetorical device. However, it is only effective when a speaker uses it mindfully.
As with all good writing, each word and sentence should be carefully crafted and constructed with the writer’s argument and audience in mind. Anaphora is a beneficial tool when a writer uses forethought.
Because anaphora is a rhetorical device, it is a method of persuasion. Often, anaphora is used in non-fiction writing, as in Dr. King’s speech. However, good writers—whether writing fiction or non-fiction—are always trying to convince you of something. Consequently, anaphora is evident in fiction, as well.
Examples of Anaphora in Literature
Anaphora example in literature: The opening lines of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities present a series of clauses implementing anaphora.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
First, Dickens incorporates the anaphora “it was the.” He does this to establish tone and setting.
Second, Dickens utilizes the anaphora “we,” introducing his narrator and voice.
Again, the repetition is not without purpose. With much intention Dickens used anaphora in these lines to communicate his text’s argument.
Summary: What is an Anaphora?
Define anaphora: the definition of anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or phrases. Anaphora is a rhetorical device that is used to effectively enhance and communicate an argument.