Repetition of the last word of the preceding sentence as the first of the next is an anadiplosis – Roopa Banerjee
“Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” — Yoda, legendary Jedi master in Star Wars
These lines have made an indelible imprint on fans of the epic sci-fi movie franchise Star Wars. The message is strong and deeply philosophical but the repetition of the last word of the preceding sentence as the first of the next adds emphasis and aids recollection. This repetition, in which the last word of one clause or sentence is repeated as the first word of the following, is an anadiplosis.
An effective literary device, anadiplosis is used liberally in literature, films, television shows and political speeches. Another famous example from the movies is: “Strength through purity, purity through faith.” — Chancellor Adam Susan in V for Vendetta.
In political speeches too, anadiplosis is popular. For example: “Tonight, we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution.” — US President George Bush, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York.
Or, the famous lines of Jesse Jackson: “Don’t you surrender! Suffering breeds character; character breeds faith; in the end faith will not disappoint. You must not surrender….” addressing the 1988 Democratic National Convention.
Anadiplosis allows for some relaxations in its usage. One needn’t compulsorily start the next sentence with the last word of the preceding sentence. The same word can be used early in the next sentence. For instance, “Once you change your philosophy, you change your thought pattern. Once you change your thought pattern, you change your attitude. Once you change your attitude, it changes your behaviour pattern and then you go on into some action.” — Malcolm X, American Black Power leader.
There are myriad lullabies and folk songs which use anadiplosis to explain a chain of events. The poem For the Want of a Nail illustrates this brilliantly:
“For want of a nail a shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe a horse was lost.
For want of a horse a rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.”
The same technique is used in the famous lullaby Hush, Little Baby:
“Hush, little baby, don’t say a word,
Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.
If that mockingbird don’t sing,
Mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.
If that diamond ring turns brass,
Mama’s gonna buy you a looking glass.”
And so it goes on, using the object of the earlier line as the subject of the next.
The legendary playwright William Shakespeare was a master in the use of anadiplosis. The most famous example is from the bard’s historical play Richard II when the eponymous king observes:
“The love of wicked men converts to fear;
That fear to hate, and hate turns one or both
To worthy danger and deserved death.”
Here are some examples of anadiplosis in literature. Identify the writer and the work this excerpt is taken from:
- “When I give, I give myself.”
- “I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree . . . And I will have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow.”
- “I beg your pardon; pardon, I beseech you.”
- “I am Sam; Sam I am.”
- Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
- William Butler Yeats, The Lake Isle of Innisfree
- Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
- Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham