The word meiosis originated from the Greek phrase meioo, which means “to diminish,” or “to make smaller.” Meiosis can be described as a witty understatement that belittles or dismisses some thing or somebody; particularly through utilising phrases that give an influence that some thing is less essential than it is or it should be. Meiosis examples are now and again used within the experience of a synonym of litotes.
In literature, however, meiosis describes using understatement to spotlight a point, or give an explanation for a situation, or to understate a reaction used to beautify the effect of a dramatic moment. For example, while Mercutio is wounded mortally and says, “ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch…” (Romeo and Juliet, by way of William Shakespeare) it is a shape of meiosis.
Features of Meiosis
It is intentional understatement.
It is used to belittle someone or an event.
It is contrary to hyperbole or exaggeration.
It frequently makes use of litotes as synonyms to present ironic effect.
Examples of Meiosis in Literature
There are several examples of meiosis in literature, in which the persons and events are understated, relying at the situations. Here are a number of them:
Example #1: King Lear (By William Shakespeare)
“I am a totally silly fond vintage man,
Fourscore and upward, now not an hour greater or less;
And, to deal plainly,
I fear I am now not in my perfect mind…”
Shakespeare has used meiosis in these traces to create humor. Although it is surely clear that the king has long gone mad, his response that “I fear I am not in my ideal mind” is an example of an understatement.
Example #2: Hamlet (By William Shakespeare)
“…A little month, or ere those footwear had been antique
With which she observed my terrible father’s body…
O God, a beast that wishes discourse of reason
Would have mourned longer…
O, most depraved speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
It isn't always nor it can not come to good:
But break, my heart; for I must preserve my tongue.”
In this speech, Hamlet makes use of understatement or meiosis to conclude his soliloquy, wherein he states that all this can not come to good. This is a gentle statement as compared to the rest of his speech, wherein he has lashed out at his mother. The nice and the best use of meiosis may be visible in tragic performs like this one.
Example #3: Fire and Ice (By Robert Frost)
“Some say the sector will result in hearth,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I maintain with those who favor fireplace.
But if it needed to perish twice,
I assume I know sufficient of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is additionally great
And would suffice.”
The understatement of the complete poem is given within the last phrase that is suffice, which means “adequate.” In this poem, ice symbolizes hatred, and fire passion that would consume members of the family quickly. Therefore, each could be greater than sufficient to destroy the arena.
Example #4: Monty Python and the Holy Grail, 1975 (By Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin)
King Arthur: “The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad within the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water.”
Peasant: “Listen, strange girls mendacity in ponds dispensing swords is not any basis for a device of government. Power derives from the masses no longer from some farcical aquatic ceremony.”
King Arthur: “Be quiet!”
Peasant: “You can’t anticipate to wield supreme energy because a few watery tart threw a sword at you.”
King Arthur: “Shut up!”
Peasant: “If I went around saying I was an emperor due to the fact a few moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me…”
Just test the usage of the words moistened bint the peasant says to King Arthur. This is the first-class use of meiosis which belittles the king himself.
Function of Meiosis
Meiosis, in fact, illustrates tone and mannerism, such as quiet and brooding, wherein protagonists are frequently understated in tone and action. Meiosis may be very common everywhere in our every day lives, old and present day literature, and media. We can distinguish understatement in modesty, in humor, in composed and calm characters, and in personalities, wherein it gives rhetorical consequences to the speech introduced via them.
Since it is a way used to give information that diminishes the response of an overemotional occurrence, the basic characteristic of meiosis is to lessen the importance of someone or something so that it will heighten something else simultaneously.
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