Erasmus Exercise: Explained

In 1512, the Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) published De Copia (meaning “on command of language” or “richness of expression”).  Erasmus’s book was one of the most influential rhetoric texts of the European Renaissance. One exercise in De Copia directs students to compose several hundred variations of one sentence.  This exercise has three purposes: (1)   …

Sentence Components: Parallelism & Sentence Layering

Parallelism is the repetition of a grammatical structure to emphasize a relationship between ideas. Parallelism gives balance, focus, and clarity to a sentence. Parallelism establishes a pattern of repetition that writers can manipulate to create a vast array of rhetorical effects. Examples: Writers can reinforce and emphasize their use of parallelism by repeating one or…

Sentence Components: Periodic & Cumulative Sentence, Absolute Phrase

USE A PERIODIC SENTENCE In a periodic sentence, descriptive elements (or details) introduce the sentence, pushing the complete thought to the end of the sentence. This pattern proves quite effective for emphasis or suspense because the most emphatic point of a sentence is the end.  Periodic sentences are usually long, complex sentences, the independent clause…

Sentence Components: Anastrophe, Apposition, Adverbial Clause

WRITE A SENTENCE IN WHICH THE VERB PRECEDES THE SUBJECT (ANASTROPHE) Placing the verb before the subject in a sentence is also known as a form of “anastrophe,” the inversion of the natural word order (subject-verb-object) which dominates the English language.  The following sentences open with adverbs or prepositional phrases.  Notice that the verb precedes…

Conflict in Shakespeare’s Hamlet & A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Shakespeare’s plays, Hamlet (1603) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1600), explore the theme of conflict and its repercussions, each play highlighting different aspects of the theme due to differences in genre and subject. Conflict, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “a serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one”, and would therefore seem to…

Colley Cibber’s Richard III: Summary & Analysis

Colley Cibber was a comic actor and playwright with pretensions to tragedy (Colley 17-18). In 1700, he wrote and performed in an altered and slightly abridged version of Shakespeare’s Richard III, which was initially unsuccessful (probably because of overzealous government censorship) (Ashley 52). However, it soon became popular enough to eclipse the Shakespearean original on…