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Zeugma – Rhetorical Technique Used by Master Writers
What is Zeugma? A zeugma is a rhetorical device that creates a single word that refers to two or more words in a sentence, often playing on the literal or metaphorical.
“Trust me,” he smiled, his crooked smile unable to hide his crooked, crooked teeth.
The verb “hide” controls two words: mind and teeth. But what is worth noting in this zeugma is that the abstract noun (goal) coexists with the concrete (tooth). Notice how Cervantes uses the conjugated verb ‘to win’.
But now laziness triumphs over diligence, idleness over work, virtue over valor, pride over valor, theory over the practice of arms, which lived and shone only in the Golden Age and the valiant knights (Cervantes 465).
And the verb ‘found’:
I bewitched her, from princess to peasant, from beautiful to ugly, from angel to devil, from fragrance to foul smell, from beautiful words to vulgar, from quiet to rude, from light to darkness, and finally from Dulcinea of Toboso to the short farm girl of Sayago (Cervantes 671 ).
With this simple device, Cervantes adds joy and color to the story – in counterintuitive ways – while at the same time developing the reader’s attentiveness and forcing him to put two and two together to understand the intended meaning.
Zeugma used it humorously:
Lennox, “Pig, the only thing you save is your breath when you eat.” After two failed marriages, I’m still protective of my panties (Grafton, C is for Corpse 15).
In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, we note Portia’s eloquence: How strange is she? [outfitted]! He must have bought his doublet in Italy, his round pipe in France, his bonnet in Germany, and his manners everywhere. (Act I, scene ii, lines 72-72).
Zeugma used to set the tone of the book as he did in The Vicar of Wakefield.
For this reason, before I started seriously thinking about marriage, I hardly took a year’s order, and my wife chose her wedding dress for its wearable quality, not for its shiny surface (Goldsmith 4).
Zeugma in dialogue:
“Eliot, Michael’s untimely departure leaves a void in our homes and in our hearts” (Segal 112). “To our beloved new leader, Jason Gilbert, the racket man, the incomparable ass-man. May his kicks in court yield as often as shorts in bed” (Segal 143).
A governing word can be a noun as well as a verb, as we can see in the following examples of the noun “hand” from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
“Calpurnia was something else again. She was all angles and bones; she was short-sighted; she squinted; her arms were as wide as the bedsteads and twice as hard (7)” and the governing word is the following verb “lost” . example:
“Ms. Radley was beautiful until she married Mr. Radley and lost all her money. She also lost her teeth, her hair, and her right index finger (Dill’s contribution) (39).”
From the above examples, we conclude that zeugma may be used to add light humor or humor to the story. Just as the fool in Shakespeare’s play breaks the luxury of the plot with sarcasm and folly, so does Cervantes in Don Quixote:
At this moment a pig arrived at the inn, and as he came he blew four or five times on his reed pipe, which confirmed that Don Quixote was in the famous castle, and that they were entertaining him with music. cod was trout, soft white bread, prostitutes, and the innkeeper was the castellan of the castle, and his decision to go out was good (Cervantes 29).
When zeugma is combined with concrete and abstract nouns, these combinations can stir the reader’s emotions. Tim O’Brien’s novel The Things They Carried is full of these kinds of zegmas:
However, the Kiowa carried with them their grandmother’s distrust of the old white man of their grandfather’s hunting for protection in bad times (3). He lit the light and was responsible for the lives of his men (5). But when a terrified Ted Lavender was gunned down outside Thanh Khe, he went down carrying 34 bullets and carrying more than 20 pounds of ammunition, plus a jacket, helmet, food, water and toilet paper. and sedatives and everything else, plus weightless fear (6).
See how Gabriel García Márquez uses a single governing verb, “to listen,” to create atmospheric tension:
He got dressed in the dark, listening to his brother’s calm breathing, his father’s dry cough in the next room, the crowing of chickens in the yard, the sound of mosquitoes, the sound of his heart beating and the noise. Unnoticed until then by the overwhelming bustle of the world, he went out into the sleeping streets (Garcia Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude 27).
We are not done with this topic, because there are other zeugma derivatives depending on where the zeugma is placed in the sentence; but their sophistication can cause ambiguity and confusion; Therefore, we do not recommend using them.
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