In literature, apostrophe is known to be a figure of speech. A writer or the literary speaker who uses apostrophe is directly speaking to someone who is either not physically present, to someone who is dead, or to an inanimate object. So the next time you talk to your phone like it’s your most treasured possession, guess what, you’re using a figure of speech.
Generally speaking, apostrophe and other figures of speech are what we call literary devices. To further explain, the literary devices are techniques that a writer uses to produce a special effect in their general writing. When you read a novel or a poem and the writer starts talking directly to abstract concepts like love, death, or hope as if they are standing right in front of them, if you do not know, you are seeing a speech example of an apostrophe. To know more, you may look at these apostrophe samples first.
The word apostrophe comes from the Greek word “apostrophé” which means “turning back” which is a common term in Greek literary drama and works such as in Homer’s Odyssey. However, in that novel’s case, the apostrophe was used to refer to times when a rather impersonal narrator intrudes in the storyline to provide additional information or some sort of commentary. You may also see alliteration examples in literature.
This simple writing technique is ubiquitous in old pieces of literature, and even in the literature of the nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. The apostrophe is used back then in cases where the writer uses an omniscient third-person point of view in his writing. The technique can be seen in most plays, but it can also be observed in a few poetry and prose pieces.
Although they hold the same name, they play very different roles. Apostrophe as a punctuation mark that is used in contractions which refers to the process of omitting letters and sounds in a syllable, word or phrase. A few examples of these contracted terms include “I am” to “I’m,” “we have” to “we’ve,” or “do not” to “don’t.” On the other hand, the apostrophe can also pertain to a literary device. As mentioned earlier, this refers to a fictional character’s reference to an addressee who is not physically present in the scene. You may also check out meiosis examples.
Apostrophe and figures of speech—hearing these words per discussed by your teacher or shared by your friend could be intimidating, leaving you with an impression that these terms are too fancy and poetic for your day-to-day interaction. However, apostrophes are actually used often more than you may have originally thought. You might also be interested in onomatopoeia examples in literature.
If you still don’t believe that apostrophe is a usual part of your daily communication, there are various evident scenarios that would help you realize. First, remember those times you complained to your car when it refuses to start or those moments you begged to it to work long enough to take you to your office, the apostrophe was there. Also, when you shouted at your computer when it acts like a turtle, the apostrophe was also there.
Assuming that you are asked to cite some examples of an apostrophe, it could be very difficult for you to distinguish one. However, reflecting on your daily life and those absurdly weird moments when we talk or yell at things for some sort of reasons could make that task easy. To give you a broader overview, here are some of the most common apostrophes we utter without even realizing just how poetic we are being:
Take another look at these examples. They seem normal to us, right? Of course, we’d talk to our coffee. It’s every morning’s lifesaver. Of course, we’d beg the clouds to not rain. Who else are we going to talk to about it? And what’s wrong with asking math why it’s being so difficult, right? You may also check out irony examples for kids.
But if you really think about it, all of the subjects of these so-called normal statements are all inanimate. (Well, Hades is technically alive, but he is also, technically, not real, so he doesn’t count.) How normal is it to talk to things that don’t even have life, much less a mouth, to hear us, comprehend us, and respond to us? Apparently, very much so. You might be interested in balanced sentences usage and examples.
The Greeks who basically invented everything we now appreciate in this world (literature, art, and architecture, to name a few), used apostrophe as a part of the storytelling technique they used for their drama. And if the real founding fathers thought it necessary to incorporate apostrophe into their local theaters, then it must be a necessary element. You may also see antiphrasis examples.
Apostrophe gives the storyteller the chance to switch gears, to add his own commentary, and to simply state his feelings that have been awakened by inanimate or abstract concepts. Often, general statements and lines with apostrophes begin with the exclamatory sound “O,” which is used to signify a change in the addressee.
If 2 seconds ago, you were addressing Romeo, you can easily begin your next statement with “O” to tell your audience that you are no longer talking to Romeo but to somebody else, nobody can see. Death, for example. Such as in this famous scene in the classic play Romeo and Juliet by the literary master William Shakespeare. You may also like examples of assonance.
JULIET: Yea, noise? Then I’ll be brief. O happy dagger! This is thy sheath; their rust, and let me die.
These were the words that Juliet uttered when she awoke to Romeo’s dead body lying beside her. In this great example of the use of an apostrophe, we can see how Juliet talks to the dagger before she uses it to kill herself.
This dramatic scene is a symbol of Juliet’s incapability to talk to her lover who has just passed. So, to mark her final moment, she chooses to talk to an inanimate object because saying her goodbyes to Romeo is no longer possible. You may also check out examples of an oxymoron in sentences.
By addressing a person who is not present or an inanimate object who cannot feel or express emotions, a character can show his present state instead. We knew Juliet was suffering because of Romeo’s death. But we felt it more vividly when she started expressing her grief by talking to the dagger she would later use to take her own life. You might be interested in examples of sarcasm.
Now that you already had an overview of what an apostrophe is, we want you to create your own example that is out from our given list. If making one is still quite difficult for you, there’s no need to worry about. In this article, we are going to help you construct your own apostrophe you can use in your own literary works. To make this task easier, you may consider following these simple steps:
This step happens even before you write your own example. For you to able to make or use one, it is critical for you to know the nature of apostrophe. If you don’t fully understand its concept, it would be challenging for you to proceed in crafting your own apostrophic expression. Assuming that you still haven’t got the idea of the apostrophe, don’t let yourself down; instead, go right back at the top and read the discussion again.
Assuming that you are making your assignment and there are given objects to be apostrophized, then consider using those but if not, you can get any handy object on your room or home. You can utilize a cup, a pencil, a paper, basically anything that you can hold. This is also an important part of the process.
This may sound crazy but just say anything to the object you are holding. For example, if you are pleased with the object, you can say “Oh, how delightful you are (the object).” Or if you are annoyed with the object, you can express it like “Oh, (the object), when will you be useful to me.” In this step, there are no limits on your message’s theme or format, the only thing you need to consider is that the addressee should be the object. In doing this, you may do it in isolation so you won’t look ridiculous though.
Write anything you have said, and there you go, you already have your own examples. Remember that apostrophe is a figure of speech that addresses an inanimate or nonexistent object or concept as if it is capable of understanding. Since you are talking to an object that is not capable of replying you back or even digest what you have said, it can be considered as an apostrophe.
These steps are best for newbies since these are used only for making a simple one. Nonetheless, if you already have mastered the concept of the apostrophe, you can add more creative effects or engage in the more complex application of apostrophe like addressing abstract things such as death, joy, love, respect, etc.
Classic writers, or those whose works we still read, study, and love until now (like Shakespeare for example!) loved using an apostrophe as a figure of formal speech since it effortlessly gives an additional drama to the already climactic scene. Which means that the technique is ubiquitous in many of the famous literary works we know. Below are a few examples of the use of apostrophes in literature.
HAMLET: Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath bore me on his back a thousand times, and now how abhorr’d in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it.
It doesn’t come as much of a shock that dear old Shakespeare is on the list. If you’re looking for drama, this is your guy. First, he made Juliet talk to a dagger before committing suicide. (Seriously, this guy has issues.)
Now, in another time-honored piece, Hamlet is found strolling through a graveyard with his friend Horatio (which, apparently, is how friends hang out back then) when two gravediggers dug up the skull of Hamlet’s former acquaintance Yorick who was a court jester when he was still alive. You may also see simple allegory examples.
Hamlet then picks up Yorick’s skull and addresses it by saying “Alas, poor Yorick!” After his short hello to his old friend, he then turns back to addressing his friend Horatio. But talking to Yorick’s skull made Hamlet contemplative of the concept of death and decay, two things he just held in his hands. You may also like paradox definition and examples.
ANTONY: O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth, that I am meek and gentle with these butchers! Thou art the ruins of the noblest man that ever lived in the tide of times.
Aside from being the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare is officially known as the Master of Apostrophes. Julius Caesar is just another classic piece that is littered with apostrophes.
In this one, Antony addresses the bloody corpse of Julius Caesar and apologizes to it. If you have observed, Antony calls Caesar a “bleeding piece of earth.” With this statement, he acknowledges the fact that Caesar can no longer hear or respond to him. You may also check out cumulative sentence examples.
Although Caesar’s dead body is not as decayed as Yorick’s skull in Hamlet, both men display the same characteristic: lifelessness. And, as we’ve already discussed, talking to anything or anyone that cannot respond to you is, in literature, known as the use of an apostrophe. You might be interested in anaphora examples definition and usage.
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee / Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so; / For those whom thou thinkst thou dost overthrow / Die not poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
In this poem, Donne is directly addressing Death as if it is a person any of us can see. (Apostrophe alert.) He expresses in the sonnet his personal opinions regarding the concept of Death.
He tells it that although some people are scared of it, it has nothing to be proud of because inspiring awe and fear in other people is not something that anyone should aim for. He’s basically telling Death about the stupidity of the whole reason behind his existence. You may also see dramatic irony definition and examples.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star, / How I wonder what you are. / Up above the world so high, / Like a diamond in the sky.”
This poem has become one of the most popular nursery rhymes told to children. A tune to accompany it has even been invented. In this poem/nursery rhyme, a child is the persona of the poem. He can be found speaking to a star which is an inanimate object. Aside from being a classic poem/nursery rhyme, it is also a classic example of the use of an apostrophe. You may also like onomatopoeia definition and examples.
Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”
Another popular literary work that makes use of an apostrophe. In this excerpt from the novel by Joyce, we can see the character talking to life as if it is a person and not the actuality that he is living. His basic statement seems to communicate to us that, aside from directly addressing life, he is also confiding in it.
O stranger of the future! / O inconceivable being! / Whatever the shape of your house, / However you scoot from place to place / No matter how strange and colorless the clothes you may wear / I bet nobody likes a wet dog either. / I bet everyone in your pub, / even the children, pushes her away.
This example is a little different than the ones we’ve had because the persona in the excerpt doesn’t talk to either a dead person or to an inanimate object.
In this one, the persona talks to a stranger who isn’t even born yet. Not only do they not know each other, but the poem’s subject also doesn’t even exist. But we can see how he talks to him, and his apparent effort to build some sort of connection between them by spurting assumptions about the stranger’s nonexistent life. You may also check out examples of alliteration in poetry.
An apostrophe is a figurative language that can be used to make a simple expression more creative. Hence, it is natural to see them in poems. Talking about that, here are some examples of poems that encompasses apostrophe.
By using an apostrophe in literary works, writers can effectively bring abstract ideas and even nonexistent persons to life, so that the emotions they want to communicate can have a medium which can help make the reader more empathetic toward the sentiments since it is being felt and expressed by a character. You might be interested in simile examples for kids.