An Asyndeton illustrates and adds a lot of power and vigor to diction. The examples of asyndetons below explain this very stylistic literary device.
This is not just another figure of speech. The power, force, intensity and vehemence this device infuses into any writer's, or speaker's, work can be commendable. The rapid effect while keeping the audience hooked on to the edge is what an asyndeton statement does. Evolved from the Greek word asyndetos; asyndetism means unconnected or not bound together. The conjunctions connecting a series of words, phrases or clauses in this technique are omitted and instead, only commas are used. This continuous flow of thought speeds up the rhythm of the passage and a single idea tends to be more memorable. If you are familiar with the polysyndetons, a figure of speech which encourages overuse of conjunctions, then asyndetons are the complete opposite. An elimination of conjunctions enhances a reader's thought process, giving a natural sense of spontaneity to the overall piece. The examples below will enlighten you with the effect of this rhetorical device.
Examples Of Asyndeton
- He received applause, prizes, money, fame.
- He provided her education, allowance, dignity.
- I could have gone to war, I didn't.
- He tried to betray you, to cheat you, to deceive you.
- Smile, talk, bye-bye.
- We met, we got engaged, we married.
- She is addicted to chocolates, cakes, cookies.
Asyndeton In Speech
Aristotle once mentioned that this kind of rhetoric device was the most effective in spoken oratories than in written prose and quite aptly, some of the most remembered asyndeton statements are part of some well known speeches. As you can see, these speeches have really stood out because of the well coined and simple asyndeton usage.
- "I came, I saw, I conquered".
-Translated from the Latin saying 'Veni, Vidi, Vici' these are words byJulius Caesar describing one of his greatest victories.
- "...and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."
-Quoted by Abraham Lincoln at the Gettysburg Address
- "...that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
-From John F. Kennedys InauguralAddress of 1961
- "We must... hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends."
-The US Declaration Of Independence referring to the British
- "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, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. . . "
-From Winston Churchill's address popularly known as 'We shall fight on the beaches<' in 1940.
Asyndeton In Written Prose
This figure of speech is used effectively in written prose as well. Aristotle mentioned in his book "Rhetoric" that, the maximum impact of asyndetons is when this rhetorical device is used at the end of passages and he himself ended his book 'Rhetoric' with an Asyndeton.
- 'For the conclusion, the disconnected style of language is appropriate, and will mark the difference between the oration and the peroration. 'I have done. You have heard me. The facts are before you. I ask for your judgment.'
-From Rhetoric, Book III, Chapter 19 by Aristotle
- "An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was thick, warm, heavy, sluggish."
-From Joseph Conrad's, 'Heart of Darkness'
Asyndeton In Movies
Dialogues make a movie what it is. And a different technique and style can give an edge to them, making a movie memorable. It might be easy to overlook but many movies have had asyndeton dialogues and some are listed below.
- "Anyway, like I was saying, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creoles, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That--that's about it."
-By the character 'Bubba' from Forrest Gump
- "Why, they've got 10 volumes on suicide alone. Suicide by race, by color, by occupation, by sex, by seasons of the year, by time of day. Suicide, how committed: by poisons, by firearms, by drowning, by leaps. Suicide by poison, subdivided by types of poison, such as corrosive, irritant, systemic, gaseous, narcotic, alkaloid, protein, and so forth. Suicide by leaps, subdivided by leaps from high places, under the wheels of trains, under the wheels of trucks, under the feet of horses, from steamboats. But Mr. Norton, of all the cases on record, there's not one single case of suicide by leap from the rear end of a moving train."
-By the character 'Barton Keyes' from Double Indemnity
Asyndeton In Poetry And Lyrics
Asyndeton's work well in poetry and songs as, the elimination of conjunctions enables the words and ideas to dissolve into each other without any formal bond.
- "I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets,
closets, silks, innumerable goods." By Anne Sexton, "Her Kind"
- "Thou hast not lived, why should'st thou perish, so?
Thou hadst one aim, one business, one desire;
Else wert thou long since number'd with the dead!"
By Matthew Arnold. "The Scholar-Gypsy" (Lines 151-153)
I came, I saw, I wrote! Yes, such is the impact of Asyndeton that I'm sure you were reminded of Julius Caesar's famous words. The dominance of Asyndeton's in any literary piece is evident. Make your work and ideas as interesting to relate to with the help of this smart tool.
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