Figures of speech are literary devices which are used to convey ideas that go beyond their literal meaning.
In English, there are more than 200 different types of figures of speech. Anticlimax is one of them.
Anticlimax is a figure of speech where the events or ideas in the sentence are arranged in descending order of importance. The purpose of anticlimax is to first arouse the interest of the reader and then to create a trivial or unimpressive conclusion.
- I thought the chest contained gold coins, trinkets or jewels, but to our dismay, it was filled with rocks. (The writer enumerates valuables as the possible contents of the chest but ultimately reveals that it was filled with rocks. There is an initial build-up of excitement after which there comes a fall.)
- The much-hyped event which everyone was waiting for turned out to be a boring affair with a turnout of as less than 50 people. (Here, the writer starts by describing the event as ‘much-hyped‘ and later calls it a ‘boring affair‘ in an anti-climatic manner.)
Some popular examples of Anticlimax are as follows:
“Here thou, great Anna, whom three realms obey,
Dost sometimes counsel take, and sometimes tea.”
—Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock
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“And as I’m sinkin’ The last thing that I think is, did I pay my rent?”
—Jim O’Rourke, Ghost Ship in a Storm
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“In moments of crisis, I size up the situation in a flash, set my teeth, contract my muscles, take a firm grip on myself and without a tremor, always do the wrong thing.”
—George Bernard Shaw