Diatribe is a violent or sour grievance of something or a person. It is a rhetorical tool used as a verbal attack against a man or woman, group, institution, or a particular behavior. Merriam Webster defines diatribe as, “An angry and usually long speech or piece of writing that strongly criticizes someone or something.” Its motive is to point out the follies and weaknesses of some thing or someone. However, if the focus of criticism diverts from targeting the principle object, it can become terrible or destructive grievance as a result of its harshness.
Examples of Diatribe in Literature
Example #1: Heart of Darkness (By Joseph Conrad)
Joseph Conrad’s narrative Heart of Darkness is primarily based on compelled labor of subjugated Africans, as well as the mistreatment and beatings by means of European colonialists. This serves as an good enough diatribe of imperialism and colonialist countries. The tone of this account is sympathetic closer to Africans, while the person Marlowe describes imperialism as:
“The conquest of the earth, which normally means the taking it far from those who've a one-of-a-kind complexion or who've barely flatter noses than ourselves, isn't a quite thing…”
Further, he uses severe complaint terming it a “theft with violence, aggravated murder on a super scale,” and Europeans “grabbed what they might get for the sake of what was to be got.”
Example #2: Cherry Orchard (By Anton Chekov)
The character Trofimov seems a stronger man or woman in Act II of Anton Chekov’s Cherry Orchard, and additionally the most effective individual who speaks out phrases of wisdom. In one of the scenes, Trofimov and Lopakhin begin quarrelling, needled via Lopakhin’s comments approximately his repute as “everlasting student,” and his flirtation with Anya. Thereby, Trofimov launches a diatribe in opposition to Lopakhin and Russian intelligentsia, as they failed to enhance the social conditions of deprived people by saying,
“The considerable majority of those intellectuals whom I know search for nothing, do not anything, and are at gift incapable of hard work. They call themselves intellectuals, but they use ‘thou’ and ‘thee’ to their servants, they treat the peasants like animals, they analyze badly, they read not anything seriously, they do sincerely nothing, approximately technological know-how they best talk, about artwork they understand little …”
Example #3: Hamlet (By William Shakespeare)
In the chambers of Polonius, Laertes counsels Ophelia to rebuff the advances of Prince Hamlet. Laertes makes use of diatribe through describing Hamlet in this manner:
“For Hamlet and the trifling of his favor,
Hold it a style and a toy in blood,
A violet inside the children of primy nature,
Forward, now not permanent, sweet, now not lasting.”
Meanwhile, Polonius enters and launches his personal diatribe about the topic happening among Laertes and Ophelia, pronouncing:
“Do now not agree with his vows, for they may be brokers
Not of that dye which their investments show.”
He calls Prince Hamlet a robust who is just gambling together with her feelings.
Example #4: Gulliver’s Travels (By Jonathan Swift)
In Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift assaults humanity. Swift now not handiest makes use of satire, however also a diatribe towards the follies of human learning, aristocracy, royalty, government of England, the dominant Whig Party, and struggle with France. He criticizes the failures and flaws of humanity to expand its order, reason, and harmony. His first voyage represents a observation on the moral kingdom and political events of England. For instance, Swift describes Lilliputians as six inches in height, showing a smallness and pettiness symbolic of human institutions, such as country and church, and the Lilliputian Emperor represents English King George I.
Example #5: The Canterbury Tales (By Geoffrey Chaucer)
Geoffrey Chaucer has hired sour grievance in his series of stories, The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer assaults Monk violently, by pronouncing that, although his duty is to serve churches and humans, as a substitute he is taking an interest in searching and riding maximum of the time. Then comes the Friar, a priest whose responsibility is to hear confessions of the humans, however he has married several women inside the town. Chaucer describes him:
“He hadde made ful many a marriage/ Of yonge girls at his owene cost.”
Similarly, Chaucer criticizes other characters, including a nun, the Prioress, the Wife of Bath, the Parson, the Summoner, and the Pardoner.
Function of Diatribe
Diatribe sharpens the critical college of writers. It also allows readers to recognize and get admission to a work, lending it a powerful effect on their lives. Diatribes or sour criticisms attraction to multiple readers in distinct ways, due to their conflicting interpretations and comparisons approximately the items criticized. In addition, diatribe makes readers privy to true and bad qualities of the gadgets and persons in question. Besides, it is very common in literary works, politics, and ordinary speech.
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