The Ecstasy of Rita Joe

by George Ryga

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What are examples of figures of speech found in George Ryga's play Ecstasy of Rita Joe and Ann-Marie MacDonald's play Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)?

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A figure of speech can also be called a stylistic device or rhetorical device. A great many figures of speech can be found all throughout both Ann-Marie MacDonald's Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) and George Ryga's The Ecstasy of Rita Joe.

In MacDonald's play, many examples of figures of speech can even be found in the chorus's opening speech, such as rhetorical questions. A rhetorical question is one example of a rhetorical device. Using this device, the author or speaker asks a question that the audience is not expected to answer because the speaker already knows the answer. The purpose of a rhetorical question is to "emphasize a point or draw the audience's attention" to a specific point ("Rhetorical Question"). We can call the chorus's first two questions--"What's alchemy? The hoax of charlatans?"--rhetorical questions because the speaker already has an answer in mind, and the rest of the speech is intended to explain the answer.

In George Ryga's The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, we can also see an example of the figure of speech called antithesis in the very beginning of the play. An antithesis is a form of parallelism in which "contrary ideas" are juxtaposed in a "balanced sentence" ("Schemes"). Dr. Wheeler gives us the example, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" ("Schemes"). We can see an example of antithesis in the magistrate's early words spoken in Act I:

To understand life in a given society, one must understand laws of that society.

Here, understanding life in a society is juxtaposed against understanding that society's laws.

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