Periphrasis originates from the Greek phrase periphrazein, which means “talking around.” It is a stylistic tool that can be defined as the usage of excessive and longer words to carry a meaning which can had been conveyed with a shorter expression, or in some words. It is an oblique or roundabout way of writing approximately something. For example, the use of the phrase “I am going to” instead of “I will” is periphrasis. This is likewise called “circumlocution,” but there's a slight distinction between circumlocution and periphrasis.
Types of Periphrasis
Periphrasis is one type of circumlocution. There are two forms of circumlocution, particularly periphrasis and ambage. Periphrasis is a roundabout clarification of something, whilst ambage is an oblique and ambiguous manner of expressing things or ideas.
Difference Between Paraphrasis and Periphrasis
Para means “beside,” whereas peri means “around.” In paraphrasing, ambiguous statements are restated in order to beautify the meanings, at the same time as periphrasis is a measured roundabout way of expressing something.
Examples of Periphrasis in Literature
Example #1: David Copperfield (By Charles Dickens)
“‘Under the impression,’ said Mr. Micawber, ‘that your peregrinations in this city have no longer as but been extensive, and that you would possibly have some trouble in penetrating the arcana of the Modern Babylon in the course of the City Road—in short,’ said Mr. Micawber, in any other burst of confidence, ‘which you might lose yourself—I will be happy to call this evening, and deploy you in the know-how of the nearest way …'”
In this excerpt, Dickens has used periphrasis to present comic impact to the text. It is used within the speech of Wilkins Micawber, who speaks in an indirect manner. Also, this technique offers poetic taste to this prose.
Example #2: Sonnet 74 (By William Shakespeare)
“When that fell arrest
Without all bail shall convey me away.”
In this extract, Shakespeare is explaining loss of life and its consequences. He has used an oblique way of illustrating loss of life as “whilst that fell.” Here it means, when loss of life comes, no one might be able to shop him.
Example #3: The Rape of the Lock (By Alexander Pope)
“Close via those meads, forever topped with flowers,
Where Thames with satisfaction surveys his growing towers,
There stands a structure of majestic frame,
Which for the neighb’ring Hampton takes its name.
Here Britain’s statesmen oft the fall foredoom
Dost every so often counsel take—and every now and then tea. Not louder shrieks to pitying Heav’n are cast,
When husbands or whilst lap-dogs breathe their last,
Or while rich China vessels, fall’n from high,
In glitt’ring dirt and painted fragments lie!”
In this excerpt, Pope is employing periphrasis by way of criticizing the aristocratic class thru the outline of Hampton Court Palace. He has used this tool to disclose the negative aspect of aristocracy.
Example #4: The Importance of Being Earnest (By Oscar Wilde)
“I become within a hair’s-breadth of the last opportunity for pronouncement, and I observed with humiliation that likely I might don't have anything to say.”
In the above passage, periphrasis is employed to describe earnestness. This idea could be understood in exclusive ways. In the text, it is given as the alternative of pettiness, but elsewhere it's far defined as the reverse of seriousness.
Example #5: Kubla Khan (By S. T. Coleridge)
“So twice 5 miles of fertile ground
With partitions and towers had been girdled round:
And there had been gardens vivid with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here have been forests historical because the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.”
Coleridge has used periphrasis to demonstrate hidden meanings and concepts. He illustrates the natural global as wild, while things are safe and calm in the palace walls.
Function of Periphrasis
From the above examples of periphrasis, one may want to surmise that this literary device is used to decorate sentences by means of creating notable consequences to draw readers’ attention. These periphrasis examples have additionally shown that using this literary tool lends poetic flavor to prose. Periphrasis is a function of analytical language that has a tendency to shun inflection.
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