Literary Term Epigram

Literary Term Epigram

An epigram in English Literature is a straightforward, witty, and often satirical statement or poem, typically with a clever or surprising twist at the end. Epigrams can be found in various forms of literature, including poetry, prose, and plays. They’re like tiny packages of insight or humour! For instance, Oscar Wilde was known for his sharp and witty epigrams, like “I can resist everything except temptation.” These short phrases often leave a lasting impact due to their terseness and depth. Famous writers like Oscar Wilde, Alexander Pope, and Dorothy Parker were known for mastering the epigrammatic form.

Functions of Epigram: Functions of Epigram are:

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  1. Shortness: Epigrams are brief and straightforward. Epigram often consists of a single sentence or a couple of lines. Their shortness is a key feature.
  2. Wit and Cleverness: They are known for their cleverness, using wordplay, irony, or satire to give a deeper meaning. The language is usually sharp and pointed.
  3. Poetic Form: While they can exist in prose, epigrams are often found in a poetic form, emphasizing rhythm, meter, or rhyme.
  4. Paradox or Contradiction: Many epigrams contain a paradox or contradiction. They express a surprising or unexpected truth in a short, memorable way.
  5. Insightful or Philosophical: Despite their shortness, epigrams often contain profound insights into human nature, society, or the human condition.

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  1. Humour or Satire: They frequently employ humour or satire to make a point or criticize something, using a light-hearted or mocking tone.
  2. Memorability: Epigrams are designed to be memorable. They leave a lasting impression due to their cleverness or wit.
Riya Akter
Riya Akter
Hey, This is Riya Akter Setu, B.A (Hons) & M.A in English from National University.


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