The UVic Writer's Guide

Rhetoric And Figurative Language

Rhetoric is the art of persuasion. Classical rhetoricians such as Aristotle and Quintilian organized the methods and tools of persuasion and theorized that a rhetorical discourse should consist of "invention" (developing arguments), "disposition" (organizing one's subject), and "style" (the means of persuasion). "Style" included the use of figurative language, which in modern literary criticism is generally separated from its old context as an element of rhetoric. This glossary organizes figurative language into two categories:

1. "figures of speech" (rhetorical figures, or schemes), which deviate from normal language mainly in the order of words (syntax); and

2. "figures of thought" (tropes), which deviate from common usage mainly in the meaning of words.

(See also Wit. )

Literary Terms (By Category)
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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated April 14, 1995