CHAPTER IV The Figural Devices and AlamkZra ... CHAPTER IV The Figural Devices and AlamkZra Dhvani The

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    The Figural Devices and AlamkZra Dhvani

    The classical view of figurative language is that it is

    a detachable ornament applied on ordinary language. By

    being figurative, a poet can transfer the beautifying

    aspects of figurality to ordinary language, stylising poetic

    expressions. The Greek word "metaphora" denotes the concept ~- . . ~~

    of aesthetic transference, by being etymologically derived

    from "meta" meaning "over," and "pherein" meaning "to

    carry." Based on some very obvious functional differences

    in figurality, Aristotle classified language into logic,

    rhetoric, and poetic. Fetaphor, according to Aristotle, is

    "the application to one thing of a name belonging to another

    thing," and he classifies figurality on the basis of the

    specific and generic qualities of the analogues.' Chapter

    twenty one of Poetics deals with these classifications.

    Cicero, Horace, and Longinus also shared similar views

    on the operation of figures as being "cosmetic" in their

    effects on ordinary expression. Quintilian endorsed the

    concept of transference based on a discreet evaluation of

    the similarities and dissimilarities of the figure and the

    standard form of language. In short, the Western classical

    view r>f tiqu+a.l.ity was based on the notion that language in

    i t : : sl tc tndard or. ordinary form was a true reflex of reality

    I any attempt at embellishing it had only a very

    subjective semantic appeal and significance.

  • The Romantics were preoccupied with the basic

    contradiction between fancy or imagination, and reason, and

    had to take a deviant view of figurality. They perceived

    reality as being understood linguistically through the

    faculty of imagination. For them the objective "hurrying of

    material" as experienced by man through the sensory

    exposures is the result of the "vitally metaphorical

    function" of the linguistic medium. As a result; the

    romantic subjectivism was a greater reality than material

    reality for them. The Romantic view approximates to what

    Wallace Stevens said about metaphor: "Reality is a clichh

    from which we escape by metaphor. ,, 2

    The twentieth century views on figurality owe much to . h . * ' :

    I .A. Richard'>'{arguments in The Philosophy of Rhetoric %A. 2 - a . . ''

    ( 1 9 3 6 ) , which consolidate the Romantic views on metaphor on

    1 one side, and open up the possibility of redefining the

    i semantic, cultural, and linguistic functions of language on 1 1 the other. He starts from the proposition that meaning is

    universally relative, and that every language seeks new

    correlations among material objects as a significant level

    of reality which is fundamentally linguistic rather than

    :3 objective. Words are not "events" in themselves, but are

    the totality of the conventions which derive from our

    employment of them. Words do not mean, but we mean by words

    according to Richards. Figurality is a significant

  • linguistic function, and it is a linguistic recreation of a

    new semantic awareness. Far from being an embellishment of

    a standard variety of experience and reality in language, a

    metaphor achieves a diversion and escape, creating a new

    integrity, a role, and an order.

    The stretching of linguistic devices to new frontiers

    of experience and reality as a metaphor does, inevitably

    results in ambiguity in poetry according to Empson:

    An ambiguity in ordinary speech; means something

    very pronounced, and as a rule witty or deceitful.

    I propose to use the word in an extended sense,

    and shall think relevant to my subject any verbal

    nuance, however slight, which gives room for

    alternative reactions to the same piece of

    language. 4

    The anthropologists and linguists of the twentieth

    century, in their attempts to properly correlate the

    affinities between "ways of life" and "ways of thinking" in

    the case of man as a species, made great advances in the

    understanding of the figural devices of language. The

    mythical and metaphorical apprehension of reality within the

    operational limits of the linguistic medium began to be

    approved of as an inevitable aspect of language function.

    H . L . Whorf and Edward Sapir argued that a man's experience

    of life and apprehension of the world depended on the

  • linguistic conditioning effected by the language he spoke.

    An individual's mental activity, impressions, and the

    synthesis of his ideas depended on the linguistic medium.

    Thus the speaker of Hopi (an American Indian

    language) 'sees the world' through the lens of his

    own language, and that world differs significantly

    from the one seen by the native speaker of

    English. 5

    The mythical and metaphorical devices appear as the

    methods of improving the awareness of reality through the

    / medium of language. Claude L6vi-Strauss has made extensive

    studies on the working of the mythical imagination of the

    primitive mind as an attempt at exploring the linguistic

    possibilities of the contrasting and correlating aspects of

    natural 'and social conditions. It is this sociological

    interaction that results in the metaphorical transformation

    of the language medium, evoking complex word-pictures out of

    a bewildering range of images, which may appear as

    ambiguous, complex, or strange for sometime. The

    sociological and linguistic context slowly wanes into the

    ordinary awareness of the society, and the metaphorical or

    figural aspect of language becomes naturalised as ordinary

    expression. As a result, any language becomes inundated

    with a lot of dead metaphors.

  • The concept of style as deviation and chbice owes much

    to Jan Mukarovsky's concept of "foregrounding" and

    Jacobson's views on "metonymy" and "metaphor. " Mukarovsky

    anticipates a background for the foregrounded metaphor,

    which is none other than the standard structures of ordinary

    language. In due course the metaphor becomes automatised. I

    Roman Jacobson, on the otherhand, conceives of a horizontal

    axis of syntagmatic and metonymous structures, and a

    vertical axis of paradigmatic metaphorical structures. All

    linguistic structures according to him show either

    metonymous or metaphorical characteristics according to the

    choice of the writer, which again depend on his

    psychological affinity towards contiguity or similarity as

    the case may be. /'


    The question of figurality in language is not a '

    sociological phenomenon in Indian Aesthetics, nor is it 1

    purely cosmetic as the-classical rhetors of the West viewed

    it. Figurality is a part of poeticity which forms the

    undifferentiated totality of the constituent elements of a

    composition. The pre-dhvani critics--Bhamaha, Udbhata,

    Dandin, and Rudrata--were the rhetoricians interested in the

    analysi-s, definition, and classification of the figurative

    types. Exaggeration or atigayokti and a crooked or oblique

    manner of speech called vakrokti are two significant

    characteristics of poetic expression, and all figurality of

  • expression should contain an affinity to either of these / Lk '6 * common characteristics. BhZmaha denied the very idea of -1

    ' , +Ira '4

    realistic or natural presentation called svabhavokti on the * -

    2 ground that a totally unexaggerated expression cannot but be r

    > c 4c mere information such as "the sun has set, the moon shines, '*

    P P the birds are returning to their nests. "' Udbhata, Dandin, < ! . -

    . . I

    and Rudrata followed the argument of Bhamaha and denounced 2% I t - 1 '

    svabhavokti. But Kuntaka took a different view altogether, ? " 6 h(L

    arguing that even unexaggerated expressions can achieve

    poetic heights, without any pretensions of figurality, and

    the swing of figural language is from svabhzvokti to

    J vakrokti. The grading of figurality on the basis of phonemic or semantic differences is the fundamental working

    principle of alamkaras, and the principle works on the

    presumption that every alamkzra is a deviation from

    svabhavokti and is functionally an embellishment. 10

    Bhamaha recognises about three dozen alamkaras as

    subdivisions or derivatives of the four major figures

    mentioned in the NdtyaiZstra. These four major figures are:

    alliteration or anuprzsa, rhyme or yamaka, metaphor or

    riipaka (dipaka), and simile or upama. Though BhZmaha gave

    the subdivisions in a discursive manner, he took the view

    that overtechnicality in the construction of figures would

    mar poetic beauty and affect the proper appreciation of

  • poetry. Spurning or aksepa, corroboration or

    arthantaranyzsa, contrast or vyatireka, miracle or

    vibhavana, condensed expression or samHsokti, enumeration or

    yathzsankhya, fancy or utpreksa, and affectionate speech or