Paratax is derived from a Greek word meaning "to place one next to the other". It can be defined as a rhetorical term in which phrases and clauses are placed one after another independently, without coordinating or subordinating them through the use of conjunctions. It is also called "additive style." Paratax is sometimes used as asyndeton, in which phrases and clauses are coordinated without conjunctions.
The difference between parataxis and hypotaxis
Hypotaxis is the opposite of parataxis; in hypotaxis, sentences, clauses, and phrases are subordinate and linked; however, in parataxis, phrases, clauses, and sentences are not subordinate or coordinated.
Examples of parataxis in literature
Example # 1: The life of Caesar (by Plutarch)
“Veni, vidi, vici” (“I came, I saw, I conquered”)
the most famous examples of parataxis. Conjunctions and joining words are not used. The phrases are used the same, which means that the phrases are placed with the same status.
Example 2: Bleak House (By Charles Dickens)
“Dogs that are indistinguishable in the swamp. Horses that are hardly any better sprayed on their indicators. Foot passengers who huddle each other at the umbrellas, with a general infection with a bad temperament and lose their foothold on street corners ... ”
This is also one of the famous parataxis examples in literature. Here the clauses are loosely linked and create a hopping discourse. For example, conjunctions are used lightly in some places, such as “to” and “and”. ”
Example 3: Sula (by Toni Morrison)
“ Twenty-two years old, weak, hot, scared, not daring to acknowledge that he did not know who or what he was ... with no past, no language, no tribe, no source, no Address book, no comb, no pencil, no watch, no handkerchief, no carpet, no bed, no can opener, no faded postcard, no soap, no key, no tobacco pouch, no dirt underwear and nothing nothing nothing to do ... he was only one thing is certain: the unchecked monstrosity of his hand ... ”
In this excerpt, a grammatically identical relationship is established between the phrases and clauses. There are also no coordinating or subordinate conjunctions between the clauses and phrases.
Example 4: Continuities (by Walt Whitman)
“Nothing is ever really lost or can be lost
No birth, identity, form - no object in the world.
No life, none Force or any visible thing; the fields of nature abundantly… ”
In this excerpt all sentences and clauses have the same weight. This creates the effect of accumulation and compression.
Example # 5: Waiting for Godot (By Samuel Beckett)
"out ... 'to this world ...' this world ... 'little thing ...' before his time ... 'in a god for - ...' what? ... 'girl? ...' yeah ... 'little girl ...' in this ... 'out in this ... 'before its time ...' forgotten hole called ... 'called ...' never mind ... 'unknown parents ...' unheard of ... 'having disappeared ...' air ... ' she barely buttoned her pants ... 'she similarly ...' eight months later ... 'almost to the tick ...' so no love ... 'prevented that ...' no love like him normally aired over the ... 'speechless infant ...' at home ... 'no ...' nor of any kind ... 'no love of any kind ...' at any stage later ... "
Beckett has not used formal constraints (conjunctions). The clauses are juxtaposed without any clear connection, explaining each other as a single idea, despite r for mixing longer and shorter sentences
Paratactic sentences, claus Phrases and phrases are useful for explaining a quick sequence of thoughts in poetry and prose. They can evoke feelings in a similar way as if they happened at the same time. It is a useful device for describing an environment. In simple words, parataxis helps readers focus on a particular idea, thought, scenario, or emotion. Also, cultural theorists use it in cultural texts where a series of events are shown side by side.
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