Have you ever read an article or book, or listened to a speech, and noticed the repetition of a word or words at the end of successive paragraphs?
That’s called epistrophe.
Epistrophe is a writing technique that involves ending a sentence with the same word, phrase, or clause.
You may also hear it called antistrophe. This term has the same meaning but refers to repeating words within successive clauses, rather than at the end of sentences.
Epistrophe is the opposite of anaphora, which is the repetition of words at the beginning of sequential sentences.
Let’s take a look.
What Is Epistrophe
What Is Epistrophe?
Epistrophe is a rhetorical device in which the same word or phrase is repeated at the end of successive clauses or sentences. The word epistrophe comes from the Greek and means “turning about.”
Epistrophe, often called epiphora, has a similar structure to anaphora and shares many of the same effects.
The repetition of words at the end of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences leaves a strong impression on readers.
Epistrophe is used both in fiction and nonfiction. It can add emphasis to an idea (as it did in Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech), make a poem more memorable, help unify a work of fiction, and more.
What Is Epistrophe?
Epistrophe refers to the repetition of a word or phrase at the end of several lines of text.
This is a rhetorical device that can be used by writers and speakers in order to drive their points home — literally. For example:
“I am going to say something and I would like you to listen carefully. I am going to say this one more time. I need you to listen very closely.”
The last two sentences repeat the final phrase “one more time” for emphasis. This device is often used when the speaker/writer wants to drive home an important point, such as:
“I am not leaving until you clean this room up! Do you hear me? If this room is not cleaned up by tomorrow morning, there will be serious trouble!”
In the above example, the word “trouble” is repeated. The effect is similar to hyperbole, but it’s not quite as dramatic and dramatic.
What Is Epistrophe In Writing?
When you read a line of writing and hear it in your head as if it were being spoken, you’re probably hearing the line’s rhythm.
It can also be created by repeating an end word or phrase, which is called epistrophe.
Epistrophe is a figure of speech that results in repetition at the end of multiple sentences or phrases.
It is most commonly used for emphasis or to drive home a point. An example of epistrophe would be, “This is the way we brush our teeth, brush our teeth, brush our teeth.”
Examples Of Epistrophe
Let’s look at some examples of epistrophe:
If you had known the virtue of the ring,
Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,
Or your own honour to contain the ring,
You would not then have parted with the ring.
– The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare
The moth and the fish eggs are in their place,
The bright suns I see and the dark suns I cannot see are in their place,
The palpable is in its place and the impalpable is in its place.
– Song of Myself, Walt Whitman
When I was a child,
I spoke as a child,
I understood as a child,
I thought as a child.
– Corinthians 13:11
Then I’ll be all aroun’ in the dark. I’ll be ever’where-wherever you look. Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there… An’ when our folk eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build-why, I’ll be there.
– The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
The big sycamore by the creek was gone. The willow tangle was gone. The little enclave of untrodden bluegrass was gone. The clump of dogwood on the little rise across the creek-now that, too, was gone.
– Flood: A Romance of Our Time, Robert Penn Warren
Where affections bear rule, their reason is subdued, honesty is subdued, good will is subdued, and all things else that withstand evil, for ever are subdued.
–The Art of Rhetoric, Thomas Wilson
Perhaps this is the most important thing for me to take back from beach-living: simply the memory that each cycle of the tide is valid, each cycle of the wave is valid, each cycle of a relationship is valid.
–Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Here are a few epistrophe examples from films and TV shows:
A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight!
– Aragorn, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2003
Shel Turtlestein was many things, but above all he was my friend. When I didn’t get a date with Fiona Gunderson, Shel was there. When I didn’t get to play the part of Tevye, Shel was there. And when a raccoon broke into my room, unfortunately, Shel was there.
-Manny Delgado (eulogy for his turtle), Modern Family (Season 1, Episode 17, 2009)
Don’t you ever talk about my friends! You don’t know any of my friends. You don’t look at any of my friends. And you certainly wouldn’t condescend to speak to any of my friends.
– John Bender, The Breakfast Club, 1985
And close your eyes, child, and listen to what I’ll tell you.
Follow in the darkest night the sounds that may impel you.
And the song that I am singing may disturb or serve to quell you.
– Follow, Jerry Merrick
Cause if you liked it then you should’ve put a ring on it.
If you liked it then you should’ve put a ring on it.
Don’t be mad once you see that he want it.
If you liked it then you should’ve put a ring on it.
–Single Ladies, Beyoncé
I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper, she’s a Pepper, we’re a Pepper. Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too? Dr. Pepper.
– Advertising ditty for Dr. Pepper.
What Is Epistrophe In Screenwriting?
This is often confused with another literary device called anaphora, which is the repetition of words at the beginning of successive clauses or sentences.
Epistrophe is often used in conjunction with anaphora to create a sense of emphasis and rhythm.
It can be used in writing to add emphasis to ideas as well as create a sense of rhythm, which makes it especially useful in screenwriting where dialogue and voiceover narration need to sound natural and also engage the reader’s attention.
How To Use Epistrophe In Your Writing
The purpose and effect of employing epistrophe in your writing are to drive home a point or an idea. In rhetoric, it is used to make the audience feel the emotion of what you are trying to say.
It’s typically an effective way to end a speech, as it will leave an impression on the audience.
Epistrophe is a stylistic device, just like antithesis and anaphora. It’s part of a group of devices called rhetorical schemes, which use repetition to emphasize ideas.
The difference between epistrophe and other rhetorical schemes
However, is that epistrophe uses repetition at the end of phrases, clauses or sentences and generally emphasizes a single word or phrase.
What Is Epistrophe – Wrapping Up
As we’ve explained, epistrophe is the repetition of a group of words at the end of a clause or a sentence.
We’ve seen that this is often done for emphasis or poetic effect.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our explanation of what epistrophe, and that you’ll now enjoy using this rhetorical device in your own writing.
Study these examples carefully, so you feel confident with the definition of epistrophe, and the usage and purpose of epistrophe in English writing.
Our epistrophe examples have demonstrated how effective this device can be when used well.
By studying these sentences closely, you can see how this technique works well to create a catchy phrase or to make an important point memorable.
Now that you know about this concept and have some examples to look at, it’s time to try to use it in your own writing.
If you’re working on an essay, consider using this technique to wrap up your argument or to emphasize a key point.
If you’re writing poetry, you might use it as one way to create a rhythmic effect. Or, you might use epistrophe as part of a larger rhetorical strategy.
The most important thing is to get out there and try it out for yourself! You never know what kinds of interesting things will happen when you start incorporating new tools into your writing.