Anachronism is a literary device used to describe something that is out of its time period or context. It is used to bring something from the past into a modern context or vice versa.
What is Anachronism?
Anachronism is derived from the Greek words ‘ana’ meaning against and ‘chronos’ meaning time. This literary device can be used to add humor, create suspense, and make a point about the present.
Anachronism can also create suspense by introducing an item or concept that is not expected in a certain time period. This can cause confusion and curiosity in the reader, making them wonder how this item or concept arrived in that time period. For example, in the novel “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells, the protagonist travels to the future and discovers a society with a completely different way of life. The anachronistic element of this story creates suspense and adds to the mystery of the plot.
It can also be used to make a point about the present. By juxtaposing a past event or item with a modern-day situation, the author can draw attention to the similarities or differences between the two time periods. This can be used to comment on societal issues or to make a statement about the current state of the world. For example, in the novel “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the characters are shown to be living lavish lifestyles during the prohibition era. This anachronism serves to highlight the hypocrisy of the characters and the societal norms of the time period.
Types of Anachronism
There are two specific types of anachronism: parachronism and prochronism.
Parachronism occurs when a writer places an event or object in a time period that precedes its actual occurrence or development. This is also known as a chronological error. For instance, in the movie “Gladiator,” the character of Maximus wears armor that is historically inaccurate for the time period depicted in the film. This is an example of a parachronism.
Another example of parachronism can be found in Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar.” In the play, Brutus mentions a clock, which was not invented until many centuries after the events depicted in the play.
Prochronism, on the other hand, is the opposite of parachronism. It refers to the representation of something in a time period that is later than its actual occurrence. This type of anachronism is commonly used in science fiction and fantasy genres, where writers create futuristic or alternate worlds that are unlike our own. For instance, in H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine,” the protagonist travels into the future to discover a world that is vastly different from his own.
Another example of prochronism can be found in the movie “Back to the Future.” The film depicts a world in which a time machine has been invented, allowing the main character to travel to different time periods, including the future.
Function of Anachronism
Anachronism serves a variety of functions in literature. It can be used to add humor by placing modern-day items in a historical setting. For example, in the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” the characters ride horses while making the sound of coconuts to mimic the sound of horses’ hooves. This is an example of anachronism that adds humor to the scene.
Examples of Anachronism in Literature
- In the play “Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare, there is a scene where a clock chimes in the background. However, clocks were not invented during the time period in which the play takes place. This anachronism serves to add drama and suspense to the scene.
- In the novel “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, there is a scene where Mr. Darcy writes a letter to Elizabeth Bennett. In this letter, he mentions taking a train to London. However, trains were not in use during the time period in which the novel takes place. This anachronism serves to add humor to the scene and highlight Mr. Darcy’s wealth and privilege.
- In the graphic novel “Watchmen” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, the character of Dr. Manhattan is shown to be living on Mars. This anachronism serves to highlight the advanced technology of the time period and the character’s god-like powers.
- In the novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde, the character of Lord Henry Wotton references the play “Salomé,” which was written after the time period in which the novel takes place. This anachronism serves to comment on the decadence and immorality of the characters and the society in which they live.
- In the movie “A Knight’s Tale,” which takes place during the medieval period, the characters are shown dancing to the song “Golden Years” by David Bowie. This anachronism serves to add humor to the scene and highlight the modern influences on the film.
Sentences for Anachronism
Here are 10 example sentences for anachronism:
- In the movie set in ancient Rome, one of the characters was shown using a wristwatch, which is an anachronism.
- The play featured a scene where the characters discussed the latest iPhone, which is an anachronism for a story set in the 1800s.
- The historical novel included a character who quoted modern-day politicians, which is an anachronism for the time period in which the story was set.
- The painting depicted a knight in armor carrying a gun, which is an anachronism since guns were not invented during the medieval period.
- In the TV show set in the 1950s, one of the characters was shown using a laptop computer, which is an anachronism for that time period.
- The author of the historical fiction book made an anachronistic mistake by mentioning a character using a word that did not exist until a later time period.
- The movie set in ancient Greece showed the characters wearing modern-day clothing, which is an anachronism and detracted from the historical accuracy of the film.
- The video game set in medieval times allowed the player to use a modern-day firearm, which is an anachronism that disrupted the game’s immersion.
- The costume designer for the play accidentally included a zipper on a dress, which is an anachronism since zippers were not invented until much later.
- The historical reenactment featured a participant using a mobile phone, which is an anachronism that ruined the authenticity of the event.
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