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Definition of Apostrophe

I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. Here Stephen simply addresses life as it is, as something to be experienced, and not as something that itself has experiences, or feelings, or acts in any other way like a human. It's worth knowing that there is some debate among scholars about exactly what does and doesn't count as apostrophe.

These debates, like lots of scholarly debates, can be a bit technical. But knowing the basics of the debates can help you understand apostrophe, and can also help you understand why some definitions of apostrophe on the Internet seem to define it in different ways.

Though everyone agrees that apostrophe is a form of address to a silent listener, some scholars insist that apostrophe must involve what they call an "aversion," a turning away from an original audience to then address the subject of the apostrophe.

This way of thinking about apostrophe is based in theater, where a character onstage would literally turn away from the other characters when issuing an apostrophe. For example, in the induction of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew , the Lord is speaking to his huntsmen then suddenly he breaks off to exclaim:. Most scholars, though, define apostrophe more broadly as being any "exclamation," or impassioned outcry, in which a speaker directly addresses an absent or silent object directly.

For instance, many poems that address people or inanimate objects begin and end with their subject—they don't turn to their subject from something else, because they only ever address that one subject. There is also some debate about whether all direct addresses from a writer to that writer's audience, sometimes known as "authorial intrusion," counts as a form of apostrophe.

For instance, the novel Jane Eyre famously ends with a line in which Jane, who has narrated the entire story, suddenly directly addresses her audience to say: However, while the speaker Jane is here breaking off from her narration to directly address the reader, most scholars agree that this sort of authorial intrusion is not apostrophe. The reason is that apostrophe does not only address itself to a silent or absent entity—it must address a specific entity.

Beaudelaire's poem "To The Reader" may therefore be considered an example of apostrophe, because Beaudelaire describes the reader and makes him come to life, addressing him directly at the end:. There's one more damned than all. He never gambols, Nor crawls, nor roars, but, from the rest withdrawn, Gladly of this whole earth would make a shambles And swallow up existence with a yawn He smokes his hookah, while he dreams Of gibbets, weeping tears he cannot smother.

You know this dainty monster, too, it seems — Hypocrite reader! A number of poetic forms are closely associated with apostrophes, such that these sorts of poems, more often than not, contain apostrophe.

Elegy and ode , two common poetic forms both make frequent use of apostrophe. An elegy, a poem written to commemorate a person who has died, sometimes addresses that person directly, or laments the death to other people, to nature, or to god. In "Elegy for Jane," Roethke addresses Jane directly in the last stanza:. An ode, like an elegy, usually praises and describes its subject, as in Keats' "Ode to a Nightingale," in which he addresses his subject directly, from his opening line:.

In addition, poems that contain an envoi , a short concluding stanza found particularly in ballades and sestinas , often contain apostrophe. The envoi regularly though certainly not always serves as a dedication to a patron, beloved, or muse, and these dedications often take the form of an apostrophe. Apostrophe is found throughout literature: One of the earliest and most famous examples of apostrophe in literature comes from Homer, who begins both The Iliad and The Odyssey with an invocation of the Muse.

The Odyssey begins with the following lines, which ask the Muse, a goddess of the arts, to help the author in his work:. Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story of that man skilled in all ways of contending, the wanderer, harried for years on end, after he plundered the stronghold on the proud height of Troy.

Apostrophe pops up all over the place in Shakespeare, as his characters often address abstract ideas or inanimate objects while onstage. In Macbeth , while Macbeth is struggling with whether to follow through with a planned murder, he sees an apparition of a dagger and addresses it:. Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand?

Come, let me clutch thee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible To feeling as to sight? The works of Romantic poets of the nineteenth century, who were steeped in Greek poetry and myth, are also filled with apostrophe. Several of John Keats' odes, in particular, address their subjects directly. In "Ode on a Grecian Urn," Keats speaks to a beautiful ancient vase, addressing it as a bride, a child, and a historian, and also as a kind of Muse, who, if it could speak, would write more eloquently than Keats himself:.

Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness, Thou foster-child of silence and slow time, Sylvan historian, who canst thus express A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme. The modernist writer Virginia Woolf, who wrote in the early 20th century, also regularly used apostrophe in as part of the "stream of consciousness" that she often created for her characters. Here, in Woolf's The Waves, one character, Rhoda, cries out in anger to "human beings":.

What dissolution of the soul you demanded in order to get through one day, what lies, bowings, scrapings, fluency and servility! How you chained me to one spot, one hour, one chair, and sat yourselves down opposite!

Many different genres of music make use of apostrophe, as it creates a direct emotional attachment between the singer and his or her subject. Walter, remember when the world was young and all the girls knew Walter's name?

Walter, isn't it a shame the way our little world has changed. Do you remember Walter playing cricket in the thunder and the rain? Do you remember Walter smoking cigarettes behind your garden gate? Yes, Walter was my mate. But Walter, my old friend, where are you now? I saw your son today, he look just like you You was the greatest, you'll always be the greatest I miss you B. G Can't wait til that day, when I see your face again.

In an old Scottish folk song whose lyrics were composed by Robert Burns, the speaker addresses a river called Doon:.

Ye banks and braes o' bonnie Doon How ye can bloom so fresh and fair How can ye chant ye little birds And I sae weary fu' o' care. Here the punk band Blink sings to a girl, who seems to be more of a fantasy girl than a real person, and whom they call Princess Leia:. Princess Leia, where are you tonight? And who's laying there by your side?

Every night I fall asleep with you And I wake up alone. Apostrophe is used primarily to express strong emotion like love, hate, fear, or anger , but it allows the speaker or writer to do so by directly addressing the subject of their thoughts or feelings, which makes the expression less abstract. Speakers or characters may use apostrophe to make an impassioned plea or prayer, to celebrate a happy occasion, or to lament a loss. The device creates a heightened emotional atmosphere in a literary work, often forming a peak in a given scene.

Jane Taylor uses apostrophe in the well-known poem , The Star:. Up above the world so high, Like a diamond in the sky.

This poem became one of the most popular nursery rhymes told to little children — often in the form of song.

In this nursery rhyme , a child speaks to a star an inanimate object. Hence, this is a classic example of apostrophe. Stars and clouds and winds, ye are all about to mock me; if ye really pity me, crush sensation and memory; let me become as naught; but if not, depart, depart, and leave me in darkness. Here, Donne speaks to death, an abstract idea, as if it were a person capable of comprehending his feelings. The poet addresses the sun in an informal and colloquial way, as if it were a real human being.

He asks the Sun in a rude way why the Sun appeared and spoiled the good time he was having with his beloved. I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. Being able to talk to something abstract — like life itself — is possible only in literature. Whatever the shape of your house, However you scoot from place to place, No matter how strange and colorless the clothes you may wear, I bet nobody likes a wet dog either.

Don’t be an oxymoron. Know your literary terms.

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Definition and a list of examples of apostrophe. Apostrophe is an exclamatory figure of speech in which a speaker addresses a 3rd party or inanimate object.

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Apostrophe Definition. In literature, apostrophe is a figure of speech sometimes represented by an exclamation, such as “Oh.” A writer or speaker, using apostrophe, speaks directly to someone who is not present or .

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A dictionary definition of apostrophe: This definition covers both the punctuation mark and the figure of speech. It also provides a brief etymology of the word. Macbeth's apostrophe to the dagger: Macbeth, played by Patrick Stewart, addresses his vision of a dagger. An apostrophe is a figure of speech or literary device where an absent or nonexistent person or thing is addressed as if present and can understand.

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In poetry, an apostrophe is a term used when a speaker directly addresses someone or something that isn't present in the poem. The speaker could be addressing an abstract concept like love, a person (dead or alive), a place, or . Apostrophe - when a character in a literary work speaks to an object, an idea, or someone who doesn't exist as if it is a living person. This is done to produce dramatic effect and to show the importance of the object or idea.