What is an Anecdote? Definition, Examples of Anecdotes in Literature

Anecdote definition: An anecdote can be defined as a short story that can be described as entertaining or amusing.

What is an Anecdote in Literature?

Anecdote meaning: Anecdotes are short stories that are entertaining or amusing. The event described in these tales is often told with a purpose in mind.

In life, we often tell anecdotes to people in order to entertain or teach others. A common example of this is when elders tell their grandchildren stories about when I was your age in order to reinforce the privilege or recklessness of younger generations.

Anecdote Example

The anecdote of George Washington and his cherry tree is told to reinforce Washington’s honest character. In this anecdote, Washington admits to having cut his father’s cherry tree with a hatchet. While the anecdote is a myth, it stands as a popular tale of this famous president’s character.

The Function of Anecdote in Literature

Anecdotes entertain the audience as well as enable the characters to have more depth. Through these stories, the reader is able to better understand the personalities of the people in the piece of literature.

Modern Examples of Anecdote

In the beginning of each episode of Seinfeld, the protagonist, Jerry Seinfeld, is shown doing stand-up comedy and tells various humorous anecdotes. These add to the humorous mood of the show.

In the movie Father of the Bride, the father, played by Steve Martin, is having a hard time with his daughter’s newly announced engagement. The film includes anecdotal moments when he reminisces about moments when his grown daughter was a young child. By including these moments, it adds to the sentimental feeling of the film.

Examples of Anecdote in Literature

In Harper Lee’s novel Go Set a Watchmen, Scout narrates the story as a young woman. While the majority of the novel takes place in the present, there are times when Scout tells anecdotes of when she was a child. Many of these anecdotes tell stories of her adventures with her brother, Jem, and childhood friend, Dill. By including the anecdotes, the readers are better able to understand Scout as a woman and how her childhood impacted her present. They also allow for brief moments of lightheartedness in an otherwise emotionally heavy novel.

In the novel Hollow City by Ransom Rigg’s, there are brief anecdotes included in order to help Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children solve a mystery. These anecdotes are told in the form of stories from a book called Tales of the Peculiar. At first, the children believe these tales to be fictional story, but they soon find out there is truth to them and find assistance on their adventure to save their caretaker.

Summary: What are Anecdotes?

Define anecdotes in literature: Anecdotes are short stories that are entertaining or humorous for the reader. These stories are told with a purpose in mind and add depth to a text.

Final Example:

In the popular television show Family Guy, anecdotes are often added to enhance the humorous aspect of the cartoon. Oftentimes, these stories are told in flashback form through the perspective of the patriarch of the family, Peter Griffin.