Guide to Literary Terms Questions and Answers

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What is the technical term for the repetition of an element in both the beginning and end of a novel?  (I have "full circle" and "palindromatic")  

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kshufford29 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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write31 answers

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A palindrome is used to refer to a word, phrase, sentence, etc. that can be read the same backwards as it's read forwards. For example, taco cat backwards is still taco cat (tac ocat). The sentence was it a rat I saw backwards is was it a rat I saw (was I tar a ti saw). You wouldn't use this to describe the repetition of an element at the beginning and end of a story as plandromatic because you can't read the story backwards the same as it's read forwards.

The term full circle is often used when the climax/falling action has the same setting as the beginning of the novel. This would be the answer you're looking for, based on what you described. This term itself is not a literary element, but more closely related to the format of a story.

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Michael Stultz, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookM.A. from Aquinas American School (Madrid, Spain)


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I always teach this as "framing," "frame story," or a "framing device."

Aha!  I found it.  Enotes agrees:

Framing device, a narrative tool in which the setting of a story or another element is repeated at the beginning and end of a story...The term framing device refers to the usage of the same single action, scene, event, setting, or any element of significance at both the beginning and end of an artistic, musical, or literary work. The repeated element thus creates a ‘frame’ within which the main body of work can develop.

About the others:

  • I like "palindromatic," but it's hard to say, and it can't really be read backwards for the same effect, can it?  The term you're going for must suggest a sense of the linear (start and then finish), right?
  • "Full circle" is a lay term, not worthy of induction in the hallowed walls of literary devices.

Example: "Frankenstein uses the framing imagery of ice to contrast the creation of the Monster by fire."  Make sense?

Good luck!

 

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