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Apostrophe Examples

Apostrophe is an exclamatory rhetorical figure of speech, when a speaker or writer breaks off and directs speech to an opponent or third party, to observers, or to an imaginary person, location, deity, or abstract quality or idea. This can be a person, a ghost, a God, or virtually any person that is not present. This allows the author to give information or explanations to a reader who would otherwise be difficult to know or understand. It takes some skill to be able to properly use the apostrophe figure of speech in a way that appears natural in the course of one's writing, but it has been done to great effect throughout history. The term is derived from a Greek word meaning "a turning away," and this sense is maintained when a narrative or dramatic thread is broken in order to digress by speaking directly to someone not there, e.g., "Envy, be silent and attend!", Alexander Pope. In dramatic works and poetry written in or translated into English, such a figure of speech is often introduced by the vocative exclamation "O". For example, in William Shakespeares' Julius Ceaser, Mark Antony addresses the corpse of Caesar in the speech that begins:



"O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man

That ever lived in the tide of times." 


Lines like "Then come, sweet death, and rid me of this grief." are also an example of apostrophe, in this passage, the speaker is talking to death which is, obviously, not a person, but a phenomenon.
Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.
Meaning: A character talks to life which is an imaginary idea possible only in literature.

- James Joyce (Book: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man)
Literature James Joyce
Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on
us?
Must to thy motions lovers seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch.

Meaning: The poet addresses the sun in an informal and colloquial way as if it were a real human being. He asks the sun in a rudely that why he appeared and spoiled the good time he was having with his beloved.

- John Donne (Poem: The Sun Rising)
Literature Poems John Donne
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

Meaning: In this nursery rhyme, a child addresses a star which is an imaginary idea and hence is a classical example of apostrophe.

Literature Kids Jane Taylor
Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand?
Come, let me clutch thee!
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.

Meaning: In his mental conflict before murdering king Duncan, Macbeth has a strange vision of a dagger and talks to it as if it were another person.

- William Shakespeare (Play: Macbeth)
Literature William Shakespeare
Apostrophe Meaning
An apostrophe, a rhetorical device by which a speaker turns from the audience as a whole to address a single person or thing.
Apostrophe Examples
oh death! where is thy sting?