Paraphrase Tool


Updated May 20, 2023

Exploring the Power of Consonance: An In-Depth Look at a Rhetorical Device


In the realm of rhetoric, various devices are employed to captivate audiences and enhance the impact of a message. One such device is consonance, a technique that adds a musical quality to language through repetition of consonant sounds. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of consonance, exploring its definition, purpose, and providing accurate examples that showcase its effectiveness in various contexts.

Understanding Consonance

Consonance, derived from the Latin word "consonare" meaning "to sound together," is a rhetorical device that involves the repetition of consonant sounds within a phrase or sentence. Unlike alliteration, which repeats initial consonant sounds, consonance can occur anywhere within words or at the end of words. By creating a harmonious auditory effect, consonance elevates the overall quality of writing or speech.

Purpose and Effects of Consonance

Enhancing Musicality and Rhythm

One of the primary purposes of consonance is to add musicality and rhythm to a piece of writing or speech. Just as a melody lingers in our minds, consonance helps create a memorable and captivating experience for the audience. The repetition of consonant sounds, such as in the phrase "silken, sad, uncertain, rustling," from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven," creates a lyrical quality that resonates with readers or listeners.

Creating Emphasis and Impact

Consonance also plays a crucial role in emphasizing certain words or ideas, thereby enhancing their impact. By repeating consonant sounds, speakers or writers draw attention to specific words or concepts, making them stand out and leaving a lasting impression. Consider Martin Luther King Jr.'s iconic phrase, "I have a dream," where the repetition of the "d" sound not only adds a melodic quality but also emphasizes the significance of his vision.

Strengthening Visual Imagery

Furthermore, consonance can contribute to the creation of vivid visual imagery. By using consonant sounds that mimic the subject being described, writers or speakers can paint a more evocative picture in the minds of their audience. For instance, the phrase "whispering willows" evokes a gentle rustling sound, while "pitter-patter of raindrops" mirrors the sound of rain falling.

Examples of Consonance in Literature

To further illustrate the power and versatility of consonance, let's explore a few examples from renowned literary works:

Example 1: William Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18"

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"

In this famous line, the repetition of the "s" sound in "shall," "thee," and "summer's" creates a soothing, serene effect, reminiscent of a gentle breeze or whispering leaves on a warm day.

Example 2: Emily Dickinson's "Hope is the Thing with Feathers"

"And sweetest in the gale is heard"

The consonance in the repetition of the "s" sound in "sweetest," "gale," and "heard" not only adds a musical quality but also echoes the soft, melodic chirping of birds, conjuring an image of hope amidst adversity.

Example 3: F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby"

"So we beat on, boats against the current"

Here, the repetition of the "b" sound in "beat," "boats," and "against" creates a rhythmic effect, symbolizing the relentless struggle and determination of the characters in the face of adversity.


Consonance, with its ability to enhance musicality, create emphasis, and strengthen visual imagery, is an invaluable tool in the realm of rhetoric. By skillfully employing this device, writers and speakers can craft more impactful and memorable messages. Whether in literature, speeches, or everyday conversations, consonance adds a touch of elegance and beauty to language, leaving an indelible mark on those who encounter it. So, let us embrace the power of consonance and elevate our communication to new heights.


About Paraphrase Tool

Getting your wording just right

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