Aposiopesis is derived from a Greek phrase that means “becoming silent.” It is a rhetorical tool that can be described as a figure of speech wherein the speaker or author breaks off abruptly, and leaves the announcement incomplete. It is as if the speaker isn't always inclined to state what is present in his mind, because of being overcome with the aid of passion, excitement, or fear. In a piece of literature, it means to leave a sentence unfinished, so that the reader can decide his personal meanings.
Types of Aposiopesis
Aposiopesis examples can be classified in accordance to the subsequent types:
Emotive aposiopesis – This form of aposiopesis is used in situations of warfare between emotional outbursts of a speaker, and an environment that doesn't react. Usually, the author or speaker pauses inside the middle of a sentence.
Calculated aposiopesis – This type of aposiopesis is based totally on the warfare of missing notion and its opposing pressure that rejects the substance of that idea. Hence, the concept is removed that is explicitly expressed afterwards.
Audience-respecting aposiopesis – It is based totally on the removal of thoughts which are unpleasant to the readers, or offensive to the audience.
Transitio-aposiopesis – It removes the ideas from the give up part of a speech in order to without delay get the audience inquisitive about the subsequent section.
Emphatic aposiopesis – It avoids the usage of complete utterance, to provide the concept as greater and absolutely inexpressible.
Some Forms of Aposiopesis
Sometimes a phrase is used to signify something absolutely specific from its literal meaning. Such as in this example, “Tis deepest winter in Lord Timon’s purse; this is, one may attain deep sufficient, and discover little” (Timon of Athens, by way of William Shakespeare).
Sometimes a word is used to suggest something whose actual name isn't used like, “A chair’s arm.”
Sometimes a paradoxical declaration is used to create illogical strained metaphors. Such as, “Take arms against a sea of troubles.”
Abusio is a subtype of Aposiopesis, which ends from the combination of two metaphors.
Examples of Aposiopesis in Literature
Example #1: King Lear (By William Shakespeare)
“I may have revenges on you both
That all the international shall – I will do such things –
What they're yet, I know now not; however they shall be
The terrors of the earth!”
Shakespeare has used this method wonderfully to reveal moods of his characters. Here, it's far hired while King Lear receives furious against his wicked daughters. He cannot claim punishment, however he breaks down and burst into tears.
Example #2: Ulysses (By James Joyce)
“All quiet on Howth now. The distant hills seem. Where we. The rhododendrons. I am a fool perhaps, He gets the plums, and I the plumstones. Where I come in.”
In this passage, Joyce intentionally paused twice on the way to create dramatic effect. The concept is left unfinished. This ruin also gives an impression of reluctance to continue. The unfinished thoughts are shown in bold.
Example #3: Henry IV (By William Shakespeare)
“O, I ought to prophesy,
But that the earthy and cold hand of death
Lies on my tongue. No, Percy, thou art dust,
And food for —
“For worms, brave Percy: fare thee well, superb heart!”
Shakespeare has been well-known for the use of emotional pauses, or moments of sudden silence in soliloquies. The unfinished notion in this extract is proven with an extended dash (—). This is a pivotal moment in the play wherein a individual pauses abruptly.
Example #4: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (By Mark Twain)
“She looked confused for a moment, and then said, now not fiercely, but still loud enough for the fixtures to hear:
‘Well, I lay if I get keep of you I’ll –’
She did not finish, for via this time she turned into bending down and punching under the mattress with the broom, and so she wished breath to punctuate the punches with. She resurrected nothing however the cat …”
There are two examples of aposiopesis on this excerpt. First, the writer pauses at “hold of you I’ll –,” and then at the end of the excerpt, “nothing but the cat.” Both sentences are left incomplete.
Example #5: Julius Caesar (By William Shakespeare)
“O judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have misplaced their reason. Bear with me,
My heart is inside the coffin there with Caesar,
And I should pause till it come again to me…”
Again, Shakespeare makes use of aposiopesis inside the soliloquy spoken by using Antony at Caesar’s funeral ceremony. Anthony is making an emotional speech; hence, he's unable to finish his thought. This gives an ideal dramatic impact.
Function of Aposiopesis
The reason of using aposiopesis is to create dramatic or comedian effect. The writers or speakers use it every time they need to express ideas which are too overwhelming to complete. Several playwrights use this technique to make dialogues seem honest and realistic. But the most effective use of aposiopesis is seen whilst readers efficiently parent out the missing thoughts that the writer has left unfinished.
Popular Literary Devices
- Ad Hominem
- Deus Ex Machina
- Double Entendre
- Flash Forward
- Half Rhyme
- Internal Rhyme
- Line Break
- Non Sequitur
- Pathetic Fallacy
- Poetic Justice
- Point of View
- Red Herring
- Tragic Flaw