Is Repetition a Figurative Language?

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Repetition is the literary device that uses the repeating of a word or phrase to add emphasis in writing or speech. It is often used in poetry, songs, novels, and other literary works. Literary devices are techniques that refer to the typical structures used by writers to express their ideas and enhance their writing. Repetition occurs in a variety of forms that some people start to ask, “Is repetition a figurative language?” Well, that’s a question we’ll answer in this article.

Examples of repetition

Here are some examples of repetition from some of the most famous literary works ever published:

1. “Oh, woeful, oh woeful, woeful, woeful day!”

                                 -Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

2.My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,

         And every tongue brings in a several tale,

         And every tale condemns me for a villain.”

                                 -Shakespeare, Richard III

3. “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 wing of despair,—”

                                 -Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities 

Repetition and the figurative language

Since repetition is a rhetorical device often used in literary pieces, it is commonly mistaken as figurative language. However, figurative language is a broad concept that uses figures of speech in language. These figures of speech are words or phrases that possess different meanings from their literal definition.

Rhetorical Patterns and Figures in Literature

Rhetoric refers to the art of effective speaking or writing using composition techniques and figures of speech. Its main purpose is to inform, persuade, or motivate audiences. A rhetorical pattern is a way of organizing information for different rhetorical situations. On the other hand, a rhetorical figure or device is a word or phrase that is employed to achieve a particular emphasis or effect. Its purpose is to deviate the original figurative language to produce a rhetorical effect. There are three rhetorical figures that belong to the family of repetitive figures: chiasmusepanaphora (anaphora), and epiphora.

Many figures of speech use repetition in their techniques. This creates confusion if repetition is indeed figurative language. But no, repetition is not figurative language. It is just an element that comprises the figures of speech.

The figures of speech that uses repetition

To show you how figures of speech use repetition, here’s a complete list showing how repetition is utilized in the techniques.

  • Alliteration – repeats the same initial sound.
  • Anadiplosis – repeats the last word in the next sentence.
  • Anaphora – repeats the initial words.
  • Antanaclasis – repeats the same word but with a change of meaning.
  • Antimetabole – repeats clauses and reverses word order.
  • Antistrophe – repeats the final word in successive phrases.
  • Assonance – repeats the same vowel sound.
  • Chiasmus – comprises two phrases with a reversal in the second.
  • Consonance – repeats the consonant sounds.
  • Espanados – repeats words in reverse order.
  • Epistrophe – repeats the same final word or phrase.
  • Epizeuxis – repeats a word with vehemence.
  • Homoioteleuton – uses similar endings in adjacent or parallel words.
  • Inclusio – brackets a passage using the same words.
  • Parachesis – repeats the same sound in successive words.
  • Parallelism – repeats a pattern in a sentence.
  • Paregmenon – repeats the words having the same root.
  • Parison – includes matching patterns across structures.
  • Paroemion – uses excessive alliteration in the passage.
  • Polyptoton – comprises repetition in various forms.
  • Polysyndeton – repeats the usage of conjunctions.
  • Repetitio – repeats a single word.
  • Synonymia – repeats synonyms to provide emphasis.
  • Tautology – repeats the meaning unnecessarily.
  • Tricolon – repeats three components to amplify power.

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Why is repetition important?

So why is repetition prevalent in most literary works? That is because it allows writers to emphasize things they want to be highlighted. Repetition makes it easier to point the audience to the aspect they want to give special attention to. It has been an essential technique for writers to remember details and lines that could have been difficult to repeat.

And that’s why repetition is a prominent literary device for most storytellers, writers, and speakers. It’s something that shouldn’t be mistaken with figurative language as it is just an element used in most of the latter.

And if you are looking to polish your creative writing abilities, here are some Skill Success to help you perfect the use of figurative language and other essential elements:

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