Anaphora

An Introduction Anaphora

Anaphora (derives from Greek ‘ana’ “again,” and ‘phero’ literally means “to bring or carry back”), is the repetition of adjacent words at the beginning of the next clauses in a sentence.

This is in contrast to Epistrophe (or epiphora) — a figure whose words are repeated at the end of clauses. Sometimes, there exists a combination of 'Anaphora' and 'EpistropheOpens in new window' which results in 'SymploceOpens in new window'. Anaphora is said to occur when the speaker repeats the same words at the start of successive sentences or clauses, purposely to emphasize a point.

Notable Examples of Anaphora

The following examples are excerpts from the iconic speeches of our heroes past:

  • We shall not flag or fail. 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.”
  • — Winston Churchill
  • Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.
  • — Elie Wiesel, Night
  • “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state, sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today. ”
  • —Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Importance of Anaphora — Anaphora serves the purpose to recall the same words mainly to create a hammering effect; the repeated language is certain to be noticed, likely to be remembered, and easily conveys strong feeling. Anaphora also serves to heighten the contrast between affirmative and negative constructions when they are mixed.

Anaphora is an important device for writers and orators, for use to achieve emphasis while passing information across to the audience. In addition to emphasizing ideas, anaphora also adds rhythmic pattern and artistic effect and make the work quite interesting, and appealing to the audience to excite their interest to read on, and on and comprehend the message within.

Further Readings:
Silva Rhetoricae: Anaphora Opens in new window
Gregory T. Howard | Dictionary of Rhetorical Terms