Catachresis is a figure of speech in which writers use mixed metaphors in an inappropriate way, to create a rhetorical effect. Often used intentionally to create a unique expression. Catachresis is also known as an exaggerated comparison between two ideas or objects.
Characteristics of catachresis
Mixed metaphors are good examples of catachresis, and are often used by writers to create a rhetorical effect. They are used to express extreme alienation or heightened emotions. Catachresis is considered a mistake in language, as it can change the meaning of words. is a combination of different types of figures of speech and is used prominently in poststructuralist literary works, as those writers were adept at using puns and creating confusion in literary texts, which is an important part of the catachresis.
Some forms of catachresis a word is used to indicate something completely different from the literal meaning of that word. as in this example, "It is the deepest winter in Lord Timon's bag; that is, one can go deep enough and find little" (William Shakespeare's Timon of Athens).
Sometimes a word is used to indicate something whose actual name is not used such as "arm of a chair".
Sometimes a paradoxical statement is used to create illogically tense metaphors. Like "Take up arms against a sea of problems".
Abusio is a subtype of catachresis that results from the combination of two metaphors.
Examples of catachresis in literature
Example 1: On revenge (by Francis Bacon)
"A man who studies revenge keeps his own wounds green ..."
Bacon uses metaphoricals Language by comparing revenge to the writer has made a connection between seemingly unrelated subjects. However, the catachresis creates a rhetorical effect in this serious text.
Example 2: King John (by William Shakespeare)
"I don't ask much:
I ask for cold consolation ..."
We find numerous examples of catachresis in Shakespeare's works, as he is regularly on purpose used mixed metaphors in his literary writings. Here he has used catachresis, "cold consolation."
Exa Example 3: Poem 640 (by Emily Dickinson)
"With only the door ajar
These oceans are - and prayer -
And this white food - despair - “
In the first and second lines we see the paradox in phrases shown in bold. These describe two different distances that spread hopelessness. In the same way, “white food” means colorless food that actually does not nourish the body.
Example 4: Hamlet (by William Shakespeare)
“... or weapons against a sea of problems
And by resisting, does one end them? To die, to sleep - ”
Here Hamlet is only thinking in vain after facing a sea of problems. In this way, Shakespeare used a straight metaphor, even though it was taken here as a catachresis.
Example # 5: I've never traveled anywhere, gladly beyond (By E. Cummings)
"The voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses -
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands… ”
In this excerpt, the poet is an illogical comparison between the voice of his lover's eyes and roses and rain with his hands. The poet tries to express the power of his lover over him and its importance to him.
Example 6: The Tempest (By William Shakespeare)
"His complexion is perfect gallows ..."
In the line given, the character Gonzalo implies that Boatswain what a criminal looks like and needs to be hanged. Here, “perfect gallows” is used as a mixed metaphor. The two objects are compared, although there is no obvious similarity between them.
Example # 7: Peri Bathous (by Alexander Pope)
"Mow the beard,
Shave the grass,
Pin the plank,
Nail my sleeve ..."
The metaphorical words are shown in bold. The literal and metaphorical meanings can be understood in the context that the poet describes as: know-how, skills, dispositions and abilities.
Function of catachresis
Catachresis can be used in both poetry and prose. In poetry, it is used by abusing a phrase or word to intentionally create a mixed metaphor. Poets use catachresis to achieve a stylistic effect or to exert heavy compression in both comic and serious writing. Sometimes it's also used to create a reference that didn't exist, but the main reason for using this technique is to express the ideas in a unique and creative way.
Popular Literary Devices
- Ad Hominem
- Deus Ex Machina
- Double Entendre
- Flash Forward
- Half Rhyme
- Internal Rhyme
- Line Break
- Non Sequitur
- Pathetic Fallacy
- Poetic Justice
- Point of View
- Red Herring
- Tragic Flaw