Synecdoche (138 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

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  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume : WORLD HISTORY AND IDEAS: A CROSS-CULTURAL VOLUME.


A figurative use of language and a special kind of metonymy (q.v.) in which a part is made to stand for a whole, or a whole for a part. For example, when Pope in “The Rape of the Lock” describes the male struggle to appear fashionable and desireable in this phrase “Where wigs with wigs, with sword-knots sword-knots strive”, or, as when a politician says “America has won a great battle”. In the following quotation from Pope's “Windsor Forest” (ll. 385-8) we find the trees from which boats are made standing in for the boats themselves and thunder standing in the place of military aggression:

Thy trees, fair Windsor, now shall leave their Woods,
And half thy Forests rush into my Floods, <…

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Editors. "Synecdoche". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 November 2001
[, accessed 17 October 2017.]

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