The word meiosis comes from the Greek word meioo, which means "reduce" or "reduce". Meiosis can be defined as a witty understatement that belittles or dismisses something or someone; especially by using terms that give the impression that something is less important than it is or should be. Examples of meiosis are sometimes used as a synonym for litotes.
However, in the literature, meiosis describes the use of understatement to emphasize a point or explain a situation, or underestimate a response that is used to enhance the effect of a dramatic moment. For example, when Mercutio is fatally wounded and says, "Yes, yes, a scratch, a scratch ..." (Romeo and Juliet (by William Shakespeare) is a form of meiosis.
Features of meiosis
It is an intentional understatement.
It will used to belittle a person or event.
It is opposed to exaggeration or exaggeration.
Litotes are often used as synonyms to create an ironic effect.
Examples of meiosis in the literature
There are several examples of meiosis in the literature where the people and events are underestimated depending on the situation. Here are some of them:
Example # 1: King Lear (by William Shakespeare)
“I'm a very silly and loving old man,
Four or higher, not an hour or so;
And, to put it bluntly,
I'm afraid I'm not. in my perfect mind ... ”
Shakespeare has used meiosis in these lines to create humor. Although it is certainly clear that the king has gone mad, his reaction that "I am afraid I am not in my perfect mind" is an example of an understatement.
Example # 2: Hamlet (By William Shakespeare)
“… A month, or before those shoes were seen
With which she followed the body of my poor father…
O God, a beast that wants the speech of reason
I would have regretted longer ...
O, the most wicked speed, post
With so much dexterity for incestuous sheets!
It is not and cannot be good:
But it breaks, my heart; because I have to shut up.
In this speech, Hamlet uses understatement or meiosis to conclude his soliloquy, where he claims that all of this cannot be good. This is a mild statement compared to the rest of his speech, in which he has lashed out at his mother. The best and most effective use of meiosis can be seen in tragic works like this one.
Example # 3: Fire and Ice (by Robert Frost)
“Some say the world will end in fire,
From what I have tasted I wish
I'll stick with those who favor fire.
But if I had to perish twice,
I think I know enough about hatred
To say that for destruction ice
is also great
and it would be enough. ”
The understatement of the whole poem is given in the last word that is sufficient, which means“ adequate ”. In this poem, ice symbolizes hatred and ignites passion that could quickly consume relationships. Therefore, both would be more than enough to destroy the world.
Example # 4: Monty Python and the Holy Grail, 1975 (By Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin)
King Arthur : "The Lady of the Lake, her arm covered with the purest and shiniest samite held Excalibur from the bosom of the water."
Peasant: "Listen, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is not the basis of a system of government. Power comes from the masses, not from some ridiculous aquatic ceremony."
King Arthur: "Shut up!"
Peasant: "You can't hope to exercise supreme power because some water pie threw a sword at you."
King Arthur: "Shut up!"
Peasant: "If I was saying I was an emperor because a moistened bint had thrown a scimitar at me ..."
Just check the use of the words bint wet the peasant says to King Arthur. This is the best use of meiosis that belittles the king himself.
Function of meiosis
Meiosis, in fact, illustrates tone and mannerism, such as silence and melancholy, where the protagonists are often underestimated in tone and action . Meiosis is very common in all parts of our daily life. , ancient and modern literature, and the media; We can distinguish understatement in modesty, in humor, in calm and serene characters, and in personalities, where it gives rhetorical effects to the speech delivered by them.
Since it is a method used to give information that decreases the response of a Over-emotional occurrence, the basic function of meiosis is to reduce the importance of someone or something to enhance something else simultaneously.
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