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(O. Wilde)

  • “…I’m starting work on Saturday”. - “Oh, yes, she’s been called to the bar”. – “What sort of a bar?”- “The sort you’re always propping up. I’m carrying on the family traditions.

(Th. Smith)

  • Alice was very glad to find her in such a pleasant temper, and thought to herself that perhaps it was only pepper that had made her so savage when they met in the kitchen.

‘When I’m a Duchess’, she said to herself (not in a very hopeful tone though), ‘I won’t have any pepper in my kitchen at all. Soup does very well without – Maybe it’s always pepper that makes people hot-tempered’, she went on very much pleased at having found a new kind of rule, ‘and vinegar that makes them sour – and camomile that makes them bitter – and – and barley-sugar and such things that make children sweet-tempered. I only wish people knew that: then they wouldn’t be so stingy about it, you know –’

(L. Carrol)

  • The first person I see as I step out of my car on my first day at work as a short-haired honorary blonde instead of a scraggy-headed mousey haired mouse has to be PJ.

“Don’t start”, I warned him feeling insecure about my new image.

“I wasn’t going to start anything”, replied PJ. “It’s a good cut Rosy, I like it.”

“What would you know about good cuts?” I snorted, not wanting to admit I was pleased.

“I’m a surgeon, aren’t I?”

(Sh. Norton)

  • Task 4.


Personification (prosopopeia) is a figure of speech in which human qualities are attributed to an animal, object, or idea. There is also a device that we can possibly call “depersonification”, when an animate object is deprived of its animate qualities.

In "Mirror" by Sylvia Plath, for example, the mirror--the "I" in the first line--is given the ability to speak, see and swallow, as well as human attributes such as truthfulness.

I am silver and exact.
I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful--

In John Keats' "To Autumn," the fall season is personified as "sitting careless on a granary floor" and "drowsed with the fume of poppies". Iago in Shakespeare's Othello says:

O beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green-ey'd monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.

Study the examples of personification given below and divide them into trite ones – those we use in everyday speech not even noticing them, and those possessing expressive artistic value.

  • The wind sang her mournful song through the falling leaves.

  • The microwave timer told me it was time to turn my TV dinner.

  • The video camera observed the whole scene.

  • The strawberries seemed to sing, "Eat me first!"

  • The rain kissed my cheeks as it fell.

  • The daffodils nodded their yellow heads at the walkers.

  • The water beckoned invitingly to the hot swimmers.

  • The snow whispered as it fell to the ground during the early morning hours.

  • The china danced on the shelves during the earthquake.

  • The car engine coughed and sputtered when it started during the blizzard.

  • Ну никуда не скроешься от городской жизни. Мухи страдают от головокружения, а пчелы от алкоголизма. Малиновок подкашивает избыток холестерина и психосоматическая язва. Уличные псы заходятся в хроническом кашле курильщиков, заядлых торчков. Сутулые цветы на размокших клумбах подвержены ревматизму и облысению. Даже микробам, воздушным спорам все это начинает действовать на нервы.

(М. Амис/пер. А. Гузман)

The poems below were written by Walt Whitman. Try to formulate what personification adds to the general impact of the verse. How would you define its main stylistic functions?

Fierce-throated beauty!

Roll through my chant, with all thy lawless music! Thy singing

Lamps at night;

Thy piercing , madly –whistled laughter! they echoes , rumbling

like an earth-quake, rousing all!

(«To A Locomotive in Winter» W. Whitman)

Be firm, rail over the river,to support those who lean idly…

…Diverge, fine spokes of light…

…Come on ships from the lower bay! pass up or down!…

(“Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” W.Whitman)

  • Task 5.


A narrative can be called allegoric when the literal content of a work stands for abstract ideas, suggesting a parallel, deeper, symbolic sense.

Allegory is similar to metaphor, but is usually more elaborate. In an allegorical narrative, each character (or, sometimes, object) has both a literal meaning and a consistent metaphorical meaning, and the story proceeds on two levels at once. Thus, when Spenser's Redcross Knight fights with the dragon named Error, we see the battle of a knight and a dragon at the literal level, and a conflict between the (generalized) Christian and the idea of error at the allegorical level.

Allegory is rather typical of fables and parables, where authors on account of political repressions of certain epochs and regimes had to make use of this device to mock at destructive ideas and beliefs, stiff superstitions.

Allegory usually represents a generalized idea or vice. An allegoric image is first of all a unity of the individual and the unique.

  • Herman Melville's “Moby Dick” is deeply allegoric. Recollect the plot of the book and its main images and express your opinion of the book taking into account its allegoric side.

  • Try to recollect Oscar Wilde’s tales “The Fisherman and His Soul”, “The Selfish Giant”(or Maugham’s story “The Ant and the Grasshopper”). Search for allegoric details and interpret the works with their help.

  • Task 6.


Allusion can be defined as a hint at or a reference to a well-known literary work, person, event or place.

Allusion can be overt or covert. Allusion is always rich in connotation and very economic. Scholars single out various types of thematic allusions: historical, biblical, mythological, literary ones.

Allusion helps a careful reader not only to perceive the information that is implied in a certain literary work, it also brings to light the author’s opinion and feelings. Undoubtedly, to be able to penetrate into an allusion, the reader should possess certain background knowledge.

Allusion may fulfil several functions in fiction. Some of them have already been mentioned above:

  • To display the author’s vision of a situation or fact

  • To establish a number of associations (similarities) between the person, thing or event mentioned and the one in the given text and thus transfers them to the character or place or event under discussion (the function of embodiment)

  • ..

a) Think of some other functions of allusion.

b) Analyze the extracts taking into consideration the allusions employed by the author. What do they add to the message?


I took my power in my Hand

And went against the World

‘Twas not so much as David – had –

But I – was twice as bold.

I aimed my Pebble – but Myself

Was all the one that fell –

Was it Goliath – was too large –

Or was myself – too small?

(E. Dickinson)

  • И пьесы Шекспира…они мне всегда нравились, но казалось, что Шекспир что-то как-то переборщил, как-то он чересчур сильно… А тут читаешь снова и думаешь, что-то Шекспир даже не дописал. Можно было посильнее. И надо было ему у меня кое-что спросить. Я бы ему рассказал, как оно бывает.

(Е. Гришковец)

  • Here I was, on a Friday evening, sitting in my bedroom surrounded by the relics of my life, and if Prince Charming had stepped out of the fairy story and asked me really nicely to go to the ball with him, I’d have to decline on account of having nothing to wear. Where was the … Fairy Godmother when I needed her? Come to that, where was Prince Charming anyway?

‘Fancy popping out for a beer?’ asked Barry, appearing in the bedroom doorway yawning and scratching his stomach.

‘Yeah. Got a pumpkin and a couple of white mice?’ I said, laughing only slightly hysterically.

‘Sometimes,’ he said, ‘I wonder about you, Rosie. I really do.’

(Sh. Norton)

c) Allusion is also widely used in titles. Look through the given titles and explain what they stand for.

“The Catcher in the Rye”; “Of Mice and Men”; “East of Eden”; “Pygmalion”; “Orpheus Descending”; “In Our Time”; “For Whom the Bell Tolls”; “Ulysses”, “Vanity Fair”.

d) Try to anticipate the plot judging by the title. E.g. «The Overwhelming Love of Ecstasy» and «The Overwhelming Ecstasy of Love».

e)What factual information can a careful reader discover or a title betray? E.g. “Winesburg, Ohio”)?

f)Do you believe the title to be relevant for the reader’s interpretation of the book and the author’s message?

  • Task 7.


Periphrasis, or more commonly circumlocution, is what you do when you're 'beating around the bush'. It is a way of speaking or writing all around a topic without getting to the point. It's where you use fifteen words when just one or two would do.
Here's an example. Look at this sentence:

"The reason that I took your picture was in order to make a dartboard."

Here it is again in more concise form:

"I took your picture to make a dartboard."

Periphrasis here is the use of extra words that really aren't needed, like 'the reason that' and 'in order'

Periphrasis may be used on purpose, especially in writing, as a means of creating anticipation, through delay.
Sometimes it's used to delay bad news too, with the use of euphemisms.
Consider these words spoken by a school Principal:

"In the course of the past several days, it has come to my attention that some certain members of the soon-to-be-graduating class have been behaving in what can only be described as an unseemly manner."

What he is really trying to say is: "Recently I've noticed that the grade 12 class has been misbehaving."

Periphrasis was more common in earlier centuries, where the writing and speech was far more 'flowery'. Such writing can still be found in poetry, as in phrases like "death's other self" for "sleep".

Politicians are often masters of periphrasis; they use it to avoid giving a straight answer, or to make a statement that will be quoted often.

Periphrasis can also be used to generate a form of pun, by substituting uncommon words, or word phrases, for simpler ones.

What does each sentence below really mean?

"Desist from enumerating your fowl prior to their emergence from the shell."

"It is in the realm of possibility to entice an equine member of the animal kingdom to a source of oxidized hydrogen; however, it is not possible to force him to imbibe."

«Справа, у кирпичного забора с обгрызенным верхним краем, обосновалась выездная сессия факультета ненужных вещей…»

(Гаррос - Евдокимов)

In literature periphrasis is sometimes used for comic effect. If you've read much Shakespeare, you may be familiar with Falstaff as his method of speaking is circumlocutious and humourous.

  • Under the impression,” said Mr. Micawber, “that your peregrinations…

(Ch. Dickens)

  • He swallowed a glass of liquor…(and then) transacted a similar piece of business.”

(Ch. Dickens)

a) Find and cite your own examples of periphrasis. Try to account for the usage of this device in a certain text.

b) When learning to write well, it is a good idea to avoid periphrasis. Keep your writing simple and concise, and avoid euphemisms. "Omit needless words" is excellent advice for any writer, especially a beginner.

Recognizing Unwanted Periphrasis in Your Writing:
Here are some word combinations to avoid:

"The fact that"
This expression is often used in combination with 'because of', or 'in light of', or 'in view of', or 'due to'. It can all be replaced with the single word "because"
Instead of saying: "In view of the fact that I haven't had a shower this week, please keep your distance", be much more concise and say "Because I haven't had a shower this week ...".

"The reason ... "
This is often an unnecessary use of words. Just drop it.
Instead of writing: "The reason he failed Math was because he missed thirty four classes",
make it much simpler by saying: "He failed Math because he missed thirty four classes."

"Basically ..."
This word is overused. It shouldn't be used at all.
Instead of saying "Basically, it's because he's lazy. » just say "It's because he's lazy."

Think of some other overused words and phrases. Suggest your own variants of their replacement.

  • Task 8.


Substituting a descriptive phrase for a proper name, or substituting a proper name for a quality associated with it is called antonomasia. For example: Solomon – wise man; The Land of Lakes – Minnesota.

Study the following examples and explain what is really meant.

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