The Art of Repetition

When we talk, we hate it when people keep asking us to repeat ourselves, yet when we have something of import to say, we often find ourselves repeating the shocking statement in order to get our point across with emphasis. As a reader, I usually get irritated if the author repeats themselves (I mean, how many times does the author need to say “it was a crushing blow” for one instance?) but there is an exception.

There are some authors out there who have mastered the Art of Repetition, a dramatic tool usually used to emphasize a character’s recollection of an important event. Most cases it’s a phrase that is repeated throughout a particular sequence for only one scene, or used around certain circumstances. Tite Kubo uses repetition for one chapter in his series Bleach when the main character is recalling the loss of his mother. “She was our whole universe.” With each detail (hinting that Ichigo himself was to blame for her death), the statement is inserted, giving the story a strong emotional punch.

Another author who uses repetition, and who is probably better known than Mr. Kubo, is Gaston Leroux. He, however, does not uses his repetitive phrase a lot, only repeating himself enough to catch the reader’s attention, sharpening the emotional punch of the scene. He uses a very interesting phrase to describe the Persian’s view of Christine’s emotional state in The Phantom of the Opera:

“Christine Daae did not say a word: she moved about noiselessly, like a sister of charity, who had taken a vow of silence….the Persian raised himself on his elbow, looked around him and saw Christine Daae sitting by the fireside.

   He spoke to her, called her, but he was still very weak and fell back on his pillow. Christine came to him, laid her hand on his forehead and went away again. And the Persian remembered that, as she went, she did not five a glance to M. de Chagny, who, it is true, was sleeping peacefully; and she sat down again in her chair by the chimney-corner, silent as a sister of charity who had taken a vow of silence.”

How well does the repetition add to the emotion of the scene?

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