I am looking for an examples of the literary devices zeugma, epithet and apostrophe within the book. Can anyone direct me to a few good examples?

1 Answer | Add Yours

teachsuccess's profile pic

teachsuccess | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Zeugma is defined as a literary device where a verb is used to apply to more than one noun, combining grammatically and logically different ideas. An example of zeugma from the novel:

They gave me to understand that they were prepared to put up with my antics, my informal addresses to my students, my jokes, my constantly slipping scarf, my Tom Jones and Daisy Miller.

When Mrs. Rezvan offers the the author, Azar Nafisi, a position teaching English at the Allameh Tabatabai University, Nafisi is torn between her desire to teach and her desire not to be a puppet of the intellectual elites. Although Nafisi eventually accepts the position, she comes to realize that the supposed liberalism of the college is still light years away from that of western-style liberalism. In the quote above, the university officials are purportedly prepared to 'put up' with certain idiosyncrasies of Nafisi; the verb 'put up' is used to apply to various unconnected nouns such as a scarf or the informal address Nafisi uses with her students.

Epithet is defined as a nickname or a descriptive phrase which illustrate traits specific to a character. Sometimes, an epithet can also be an abusive word which is offensive and should not be used in conversation. Examples of epithet in the novel:

Our president, the powerful former speaker of the house, Hojatol-Islam Rafsanjani, the first to earn the title of reformist, was the new hope, but he who called himself the general of reconstruction and was nicknamed Ayatollah Gorbachov was notorious for financial and political corruption and for his involvement in terrorizing dissidents both at home and abroad.

This is a nice paragraph which illustrates the use of epithets. For example, Rafsanjani has been nicknamed the Ayatollah Gorbachov, a telling epithet. Gorbachev was known for his glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) policies in the Soviet Union. However, an Ayatollah Gorbachev would merge seemingly progressive policies with incongruently repressive tactics, a great epithet for Rafsanjani as described above.

Apostrophe is defined as a literary device which seeks to address abstractions or even characters who are not present for the conversation. One of the best examples from the novel is:

After all, our intellectual elite has not acted any better than the clerics. Haven't you heard about the conversation between Mr. Davaii, our foremost novelist, and the translator of Daisy Miller? One day they were introduced. The novelist says, Your name is familiar-aren't you the translator of Henry Miller? No, Daisy Miller. Right, didn't James Joyce write that? No. Henry James. Oh yes, of course, Henry James. By the way what's Henry James doing nowadays? He's dead-been dead since 1916.

Here, Mrs. Rezvan is addressing the arrogant incompetence of the intellectual elite. The 'incompetence' is the abstract element. By constructing an imaginary conversation between a supposed novelist and a 'translator,' Mrs. Rezvan is giving vent to opinions she cannot utter in public.

Hope this helps!

We’ve answered 318,928 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question