Anaphora is that rhetorical and literary device in which there is a repetition of a word or a phrase in successive sentences or clauses.
I can’t catch a crocodile,
I can’t climb a cliff.
I can’t cook a cake…
In the above example, there is a repetition of the phrase ‘I can’t’, which is an example of anaphora.
Why Writers or Speakers use Anaphora?
People make use of this device in order to give emphasis on words or phrases. It is one of the most effective tools in literature that is often used by the writers. Professional writers know how to use anaphora in an effective manner. It is, in fact, the best choice to make a speech or a writing a significant one. It gives weight on a particular word or phrases.
Mostly, you can come across with anaphora in speeches. In speeches, a speaker repeats certain words or phrases to make a speech more effective and memorable. For instance, you can find out such examples of anaphora in the speeches of Martin Luther King.
Now is the time to make real promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
The following example paragraph is taken from Martin Luther King’s famous address ‘I Have a Dream’, which was delivered at ‘The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.’ You can see how the speaker has repeated the phrase ‘Now is the time…’ to make his address more effective and emphatic.
Apart from the speeches, writers use this rhetorical device more commonly in poetry than prose. In poetry, it helps to create rhythm and gives emphasis on a particular word or phrases.
And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys & desires.
The above stanza is taken from a poem ‘The Garden of Love’ written by William Blake. You can see that the poet has used anaphora in this particular stanza. The repetition of ‘And’ creates a rhythm.
A few more examples of Anaphora
• We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air,…. (Winston Churchill)
• 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… (Charles Dickens)
• Doubt thou the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth move, Doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love. (Shakespeare)
It is concluded that an anaphora is a rhetorical and a literary device in which you can find out a repetition of a word or phrase in successive sentences. It is used by the speakers or writers in order to give emphasis on a particular word or phrase. In poetry, it is mostly used to create rhythm.