Common Rhetorical Schemes

Figures of Balance:

Parallelism: use of identical or equivalent syntactic constructions in corresponding clauses or phrases

Ex. One desires to run a bloody marathon, as one wishes to climb a gruesome mountain

Antithesis: sharply contrasting ideas juxtaposed in a balanced or parallel phrase or grammatical structure

Ex. Praise the independent child, pray for the co-dependent woman

Chiasmus: inversion of the second of two parallel structures

Ex. The spires of his tainted wealth, money corrupted by cruel ambition

Figures of Repetition:

Anaphora: repitition in the beginning of lines of poetry

Ex. He saw the darkened path behind him
        He saw the lighted path before him
        He saw the difference and the choice
And chose to go forward

Epistrophe: repetition at the end of lines of poetry

Ex. Why did the world hold such solemn sights of woe,
        yet in my eyes I could only perceive such solemn sights of woe,
        for my heart was a landscape carved by solemn sights of woe.

Figures of Amplification:

Parenthesis: a phrase  inserted into a passage with which it is not grammatically connected, and marked off by brackets, dashes, dots, etc.

Ex. Shaharra fleeing from larva–the larvae in her mind–
              Erasing scars of lost mother afar 

Periphrasis: roundabout way of expressing something; circumlocution; describing something without naming it

Ex. Tasty expressions of life’s sweet flavor, what tongue does not adore?

Polysyndeton: repetition of conjunctions in close succession for rhetorical effect

Ex. We are the ones who will struggle and we are the ones who will suffer and you are the ones who will lose and die. 

Figures of Omission:

Asyndeton: omission of conjunctions from constructions in which they would normally be used

Ex. “I will steal any money, shoplift any goods, rob any bank, so that I may simply survive,” the young man said to us on that dusty street.

Ellipsis: omission of a word or phrase necessary for a complete syntactical construction but not necessary for understanding

Ex. John and Mary know how, and they do it all night long.

Figures of Address:

Apostrophe: addressing the audience directly

Ex. Right now, you are probably asking yourself…

Rhetorical Question: a question that does not require an answer

Ex. Why should I sit here and listen to this?

Figures of Syntactic Deviation:

Inversion: rearranging syntax of a common sentence; placing words out of order

Ex. Failed were the swordsman’s efforts to strike down the invisible warrior.

Anthimeria: use of a word as if it were a member of a different word class (part of speech); typically, the use of a noun as if it were a verb

Ex. He took the slimy thing from the water and frogged me in the face.

Figures of Verbal Play:

Pun: use of words to exploit ambiguities and innuendoes in their meaning, usually for humorous effect; a play on words

Ex. Let us celebrate the idol mind of our leader. (Idol is to be a substitute for idle.)

Neologism: a new word, expression, or usage

Ex. Y’all heard me, it’s time to get jiggy in da haouse!