Essay on Article's Rhetorical Strategies: Portrait of an Actress by Woolf

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568 words
University of Richmond
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The making of a literary masterpiece can mean the use of numerous devices to compliment an artists creativity. Rhetoric strategies aid an authors address of specific objectives and improve an audiences focus in a significant manner. For this paper, a rhetoric analysis will be used to demonstrate the application of oxymoron, anaphora, and enumeratio while subsequently explaining the contextual connotation of such devices.

The phrase Insubstantial Phantom qualifies as an oxymoron. The rhetoric device implies the use of contrasting terminologies to develop paradox. Individually, the term insubstantial means of little relevance. On the other hand, Phantom implies high importance and impossible to ignore. Combining the two words creates an oxymoron since their meanings contrast extensive. It is difficult to have an irrelevant entity exist within a monumental scale. The utilization of oxymoron serves a unique purpose and aids the authors communication. In the context of the article, oxymoron develops scale and stress. The phrase is a means for the dramatization of subjects as it develops a radical image of the authors emotions. Incorporation of the phrase Insubstantial Phantom creates emphasis. The author purposes to stresses about the fortunes of her likes. The oxymoron makes communication concerning the aftermaths of a literary career from the societys point of view. The rhetoric device helps reveal that an authors status depends on the legend of her performance. It emphasizes that such career is challenging and often bares unjustly poor results.

The quote With dashes and notes of exclamation she tried to give them the very tone and stress of the spoken word (Woolf, 1947), is a demonstration of enumeratio. Enumeratio refers to a rhetoric technique involving the introduction of details to authenticate a message. The technique is used to explain processes and it breaths life to events. The two details, dashes and notes explain the manner in which the character Ellen Terry conveyed her message to the audience. Succeeding phrases offer direction and reveal purpose and role of such introduction of terms. Enumeratio responds to questions concerning process and mannerisms of engagement. The audiences can understand how Ellen Terry purposed to communicate and develop a personal legend. The use of enumeratio helped to justify the role of stylistic devices in content development.

Line 46 reads not fit her; not Ibsen; nor Shaw. The stage could not (Woolf, 1947). The line depicts the application of anaphora, which refers to term repetition within a common statement. The word not appears twice in one sentence and thrice within an individual line. The repetition at the beginning of successive phrases plays a crucial role in rhythm and inspires some comparison. From a grammatical exploration of the phenomenon, the term nor is used to check repetition of not. In context of the subject article, the rhetoric anaphora demonstrates relationship. The repetition of not reveals uniqueness and emphasizes on the status of the articles character in comparison to Shakespeares Hamlet, Phedre, and Cleopatra. The rhetoric device presents Ellen as a unique individual.

In conclusion, rhetoric strategies play a principal role in the excerpts development and the illustration of emotions. The author uses anaphora, enumeratio, and oxymoron to make an argument and emphasize on the circumstances of creating literature. Enumeratio justifies the existence and application of stylistic devices. Oxymoron developed impression by escalating the challenges limiting an artists success, while anaphora triggered the idea that Ellen Terry was unique.


Woolf, V. (1947). Portrait of an Actress. The Moment and other Essays.

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