Dissonance is that the use of impolite, harsh-sounding, and strange words in poetry. In alternative words, it's a deliberate use of inharmonious words, phrases, or syllables meant to make harsh sounding effects. Dissonance is opposite of assonance, and similar to cacophony, that is additionally a use of inharmonious sounds. This unpleasant combination of consonants and vowels create an ungainly sound, which makes the reading uncomfortable, and adds emotional depth to a state of affairs or moment.
Use of Dissonance in standard of living and Music
Dissonant sounds also occur in everyday life. For instance, the sound of a crying baby and a screaming person are dissonant sounds. These sounds are annoying and ugly to the listeners. In music, dissonance would possibly make listeners feel uncomfortable; however, it helps to make a way of tension in musical compositions.
Examples of Dissonance in Literature
Example #1: Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister (by Henry M. Robert Browning)
“Gr-r-r–there go, my heart’s abhorrence!Water your damned flower-pots, do!If hate killed men, Brother Lawrence,God’s blood, wouldn't mine kill you!What? your myrtle-bush needs trimming?Oh, that rose has previous claims –‘St, there’s Vespers! Plena gratiaAve, Virgo! Gr-r-r–you swine!”
Browning captures the eye of his readers by starting and ending the above poem with a word “Gr-r-r.” whereas within the remainder of the stanza, he has used dissonance.
Example #2: The Dalliance of the Eagles (by Walt Whitman)
“The clinching interlocking claws, a living, fierce, gyrating wheel,Four beating wings, 2 beaks, a whirling mass tight grappling,In tumbling turning bunch loops, straight downward falling.”
Whitman has employed dissonance by describing eagles. He has combined rhyme and mono and bi-syllabic words to make dissonance.
Example #3: Wind (by Teddy boy Hughes)
“At noontide I scaled on the house-side as way asThe coal-house door. Once I found –Through the force wind that damaged the balls of my eyesThe tent of the hills drummed and strained its guyrope…The wind flung a magpie away and a black-Back gull bent like AN iron bar slowly.”
See however vowel thusunds are so completely different within the following lines that they appear incompatible with every another. These harsh sounds produce worrying result that catches our attention.
Example #4: Sunday Morning (by Wallace Stevens)
“Complacencies of the peignoir, and lateCoffee and oranges during a sunny chair,And the inexperienced freedom of a cockatooUpon a carpeting mingle to dissipateThe holy hush of ancient sacrifice.”
This may be a excellent instance of dissonance, wherever harsh-toned words interrupt the graceful and lilting flow of the words and thus create disturbing and jarring effect.
Example #5: Macbeth (by William Shakespeare)
“Of all men else I actually have avoided thee.But get thee back. My soul is just too abundant chargedWith blood of thine already.”
In the higher than lines, William Shakspere has used blank verse and variant vowel sounds to make unpleasant effects.
Example #6: Carrion Comfort (by Gerard Manely Hopkins)
“Not straighten out — slack they'll be — these last strands of manCan something, hope, want day come, not select to not be.Scan…With darksome desirous eyes my contused bones?”
Hopkins has used alliteration with high accented syllables and dissonance that echo speaker’s inner turmoil and noise and uncomfortable situations.
Example #7: Princess Ida (by Gilbert and Sullivan)
“Women of Adamant, truthful neophytes—Who thirst for such instruction as we have a tendency to give,Attend, whereas I unfold a parable.The elephant is mightier than Man,Yet Man subdues him. Why? The elephantIs large all over however here (tapping her forehead)…”
These lines have used abrupt and conversational style. Also, the employment of dissonance brings a lot of abruptness in its style, inflicting shock and surprise to the readers.
The use of inharmonious sounds creates unpleasant effects and attracts attention of the readers by making fascinating variations. it's found in poetry, plays, advertising, music and everyday life. Its purpose is to depict some style of discomfort, creating the readers or the audience to feel shock and surprise. It helps to explain the situations, that are showing emotion turbulent and tumultuous. However, typically the poets use dissonance to make ironical effects too. They usually use these sounds in an surprising manner to find the boundaries of the language.
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