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Rhetorical Devices in Han Ola og han Per

A proverb tells that "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" - in some ways, hardly in all ways. Likewise, many of the rhetorical devices here may be clearly detected, others not so clearly, and others may depend on the frame of mind of the beholder, in part depending on how one or several strip episodes are understood or interpreted.

I think the following devices can be seen:

Alliteration — Allusions — Amplification — Analogy — Antithesis — Aporia — Aposiopesis — Cartoon hypophora — Climax (gradatio) — Conduplicatio and anadiplosis — Enthymeme (logical shorthand)  — Enumeratio — Exemplum — Hyperbaton — Hyperbole — Incongruence — Metabasis — Metanoia (correctio) — Paradox — Parataxis — Personification — Procatalepsis — Rhetorical questions (erotesis) — Sententia — Simile

Examples and specifications are omitted in the sketch below, at least for the time being. I could perhaps furnish examples later. - Tormod Kinnes

1. Alliteration is the recurrence of initial consonant sounds. The repetition can be juxtaposed (and then it is usually limited to two words): Ah, delicious day! Done well, alliteration is a satisfying sensation.

2. Allusory means: Could Ola and Per and others characters serve in some ways as metaphors, symbols, or even emblems of Norwegian American farmers? Metaphor is a comparison which imaginatively identifies one thing with another, dissimilar thing, and transfers or ascribes to the first thing (the tenor or idea) some of the qualities of the second (the vehicle, or image). Unlike a simile or analogy, metaphor asserts that one thing is another thing, and not just that one is like another. Very frequently a metaphor is invoked by the "to be"-verb: "We are the trees whom shaking fastens more," says George Herber. These allusions --- a truth in the understanding is as it were reflected by the imagination; we are able to see something like color and shape in a notion, and to discover a scheme of thoughts traced out upon matter. And here the mind receives a great deal of satisfaction. Always be careful in your own writing, therefore, to avoid possible confusion between metaphor and reality. In practice this is usually not very difficult -

There are allusions to Norwegianness (norskdom) too: Allusion is a casual and brief reference to a famous historical or literary figure or event. Allusion sources are literature, history, and Greek myth. Reflection on the analogy refreshes and strengthens the reader's mind.

3. Amplification is a restatement with additional detail of words or expressions likely to be ignored or overlooked because of their bluntness or brevity. It allows you to call attention to, emphasize, and expand a word or idea to make sure the reader realizes its importance or centrality in the discussion.

4. Some analogies simply offer an explanation for clarification rather than a substitute argument: Analogy compares two things, which are alike in several respects, for the purpose of explaining or clarifying some unfamiliar or difficult idea or object by showing how the idea or object is similar to some familiar one. While simile and analogy often overlap, the simile is generally a more artistic likening, done briefly for effect and emphasis, while analogy serves the more practical end of explaining a thought process or a line of reasoning or the abstract in terms of the concrete, and may therefore be more extended.

5. Antithesis establishes a clear, contrasting relationship between two ideas by joining them together or juxtaposing them, often in parallel structure.

Example: In strip episode 32 a very dirty farmer, Per, complains about slaving and wading in manure year in and year out, never having had a happy day. Then a book agent comes along and praises the farm and the handsome pigs - the very things Per complains about. The denouement is that Per pours a bucket of manure over the man, while Per's farmer neighbour Ola laughs and slaps his thighs. The episode is called "An Unfailing Cure for Book Agents".

6. Much initial aporia it expresses genuine or pretended doubt or deliberation about an issue or some fact or conclusion or result. Among its several uses is the suggesting of alternatives, and to cast doubt in a modest way.

7. Typical: Aposiopesis: stopping abruptly and leaving a statement unfinished.

8. Climax (gradatio) consists of arranging words, clauses, or sentences in the order of increasing importance, weight, or emphasis. Parallelism usually forms a part of the arrangement, because it offers a sense of continuity, order, and movement-up the ladder of importance. Always begin with a point or proof substantial enough to generate interest, and then continue with ideas of increasing importance. That way your argument gets stronger as it moves along, and every point hits harder than the previous one.

9. Conduplicatio and anadiplosis consist in repetition of a preceding word; conduplicatio repeats a key word, anadiplosis the last word from a preceding phrase, clause, or sentence. The congruence that is found from picture to picture is often had through "visual conplicatio", as a matter of fact. It is an effective focusing device and transitional connector.

Example: In episode 56, "Per Tries the New Steering Gear", there is an instance of both anadiplosis and conduplicatio in panel 3 and 4: "off". Per shows off by reckless driving and some self-steering outfit, and his passengers begs "Oh mercy, let me off!" When the car in a short while collides with a pig and turns over in panel 4, Per says while both are hurled violently out of the car: "Ay tank vi both get off".

Off, off, off, thus.

10. Enthymeme (logical shorthand) is an informally-stated syllogism which omits either one of the premises or the conclusion. An enthymeme can also be written by omitting the minor premise. It is also possible to omit the conclusion to form an enthymeme.

11. Perhaps: Enumeratio: detailing parts, causes, effects, or consequences to make a point more forcibly.

12. Maybe: Erothesis, rhetorical question, may lead to further discussion. The use of this device allows your reader to think, query, and conclude along with you.

13. Exemplum: citing an example; using an illustrative story, either true or fictitious.

14. Hyperbaton includes several rhetorical devices involving departure from normal word order. Much Norse in it.

15. Hyperbole, the counterpart of understatement, deliberately exaggerates conditions for emphasis or effect. Ola and Per strips often end in explosions, or "cartoon hyperboles of the slapstick genre" something like that. Hyperbole is the most overused and overdone rhetorical figure in the whole world (and that is no hyperbole); we are a society of excess and exaggeration. Nevertheless, hyperbole still has a rightful and useful place in art and letters; just handle it like dynamite, and do not blow up everything you can find.

16. Cartoon hypophora" consists of raising one or more questions at the beginning of a strip and then proceeding to answer them, usually at some length, throughout a series of pictures that constitute the strip. Hypophora is an attractive rhetorical device, and can be used as a transitional or guiding device to change directions or enter a new area focus.

17. Incongruence. Not included among rhetorical items, but it is frequently used in much humor - for example the difference between what is preached and what is actually done.

18. Metabasis, or very brief summaries to clarify movements. Text balloons contain some.

19. There is metanoia (correctio) - it qualifies a statement by recalling it (or part of it) and expressing it in a better, milder, or stronger way, or moving from modest to bold, and so on. A negative is often used to do the recalling.

20. Paradoxes, suggest complexity of a situation.

21. Parataxis: Successive independent clauses, with coordinating conjunctions.

22. Ola and Per are battered personifications: Personification metaphorically represents an animal or inanimate object as having human attributes--attributes of form, character, feelings, behavior, and so on. Ideas and abstractions can also be personified. Personification functions primarily as a device of art. Ideas can be brought to life through personification and objects can be given greater interest.

23. Much into it: Procatalepsis, by anticipating an objection and answering it. Sometimes the writer will invent probable or possible difficulties in order to strengthen his position by showing how they could be handled if they should arise. Objections can be treated with varying degrees of seriousness and with differing relationships to the reader. The reader himself might be the objector. Or the objector may be someone whose outlook, attitude, or belief differs substantially from both writer and reader. Procatalepsis can be combined with hypophora, so that the objection is presented in the form of a question which is often the case in "Han Ola og han Per".

24. Very much of it: Sententia: quoting a maxim or wise saying to apply a general truth to the situation; concluding or summing foregoing material by offering a single, pithy statement of general Norwegian wisdom: art is long and life is short.

25. Simile is a direct, expressed comparison between two things essentially unlike, but resembling each other in at least one aspect. Many times the point of similarity can be expressed in just a word or two: Yes, he is a cute puppy, but when he grows up he will be as big as a house. Similes can be negative, too, asserting that two things are unlike in one or more respects: My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun. . . . Shakespeare The strip makes use of poetry from time to time, and in some love songs among the aged plenty of similes are used, in part with detrimental effects (xx). A variety of ways exists for invoking the simile. A simile can sometimes be implied, or as it is often called, submerged.

Collection

Rhetorical devices in Han Ola og han Per, Literature  

Rosendahl, Peter J. Han Ola og Han Per. A Norwegian-American Comic Strip. En norsk-amerikansk tegneserie, edited by Joan N. Buckley and Einar Haugen. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 1984 (Original printed in the Decorah-Posten).

Rosendahl, Peter J. More han Ola og han Per. A Norwegian-American Comic Strip. En norsk-amerikansk tegneserie. Edited by Joan N. Buckley and Einar Haugen. Bilingual Edition. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1988.

Notes: The material on the rhetorics of Ola and Per is taken from a major thesis in "American Civilization: Norwegian Immigrant History", at the University of Trondheim:

Kinnes, Tormod. The Humor of Han Ola og han Per Taken Seriously. Major Thesis in American Civilization. The English Section at the Department of Foreign Modern Languages. NTNU, Trondheim, Spring 2007.

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