A Stylistic Analysis of 'Mufu Onifade's Nnamba's Curse

Cite this article as: Onah, P.E. & Imam, U. (2023). A Stylistic Analysis of 'Mufu Onifade's Nnamba's Curse. Tasambo Journal of Language, Literature, and Culture, (2)1, 54-64. www.doi.org/10.36349/tjllc.2023.v02i01.007.


Onah Patrick El-kanemi
Department of English and Drama, Kaduna State University, Kaduna
Email: dronahpat@yahoo.com
08057749059 and 08031587421 


Imam Ummi
Department of English and Drama, Kaduna State University, Kaduna
Email: ummieytarh@gmail.com


This study titled “A Stylistic Analysis of Mufu Onifade’s Nnamba’s Curse examines the stylistic features which are evident in the text. The research adopts the style as a choice and deviation from the norm as its theoretical framework and also made use of simple random sampling techniques to bring out some extracts from the text as data for analysis using Lawal’s model of data analysis. After much analysis, the study discovers that the writer made extensive use of both linguistic and literary tools some of which are: sense relations, irony, metaphor, modification, proverbs, elision and simile as well as ambiguity amongst others in writing the text. It concludes that the writer’s choice of style has made the text interesting, unique, humorous and easy to comprehend.


Language is a vital part of human social connection and survival, although most species have their way of communicating, only humans have mastered cognitive language communication. Language allows us to share and express our ideas, thoughts and feelings using speech sounds combined into words, and words combined to form sentences. Hence, the scientific study of language is called linguistics. According to Matthews, (2005, p. 24), Linguistics is concerned with the lexical and grammatical categories of individual languages, with differences between one type of language and another, and with historical relations within families of languages. The scope of Linguistics includes both language structure and language use. Like any other discipline, Linguistics has been divided into numerous subfields, for example, Applied Linguistics, Cognitive Linguistics, Historical Linguistics, etc. Applied Linguistics is still divided into Language Acquisition, Discourse Analysis and Stylistics.

Stylistics is the study and interpretation of the text in its linguistic and literary style. It is the study of styles in language that accounts for how meanings are projected in literary works. Stylistics facilitates understanding of literary texts by examining in detail the linguistic choices and styles adopted by writers in conceptualizing thoughts, ideas, meaning and reality in any artistic work. Such detailed examination of a text often aids the reader’s comprehension of the author’s message. Stylistics generally employs literary analysis to provide the organization of devices and techniques that characterize a particular literary work. Stylistics remains a useful tool in analyzing literary text from any standpoint by exploring the writer’s overall use of language in creating both aesthetic and artistic effects in a text.

About the Author and His Work

Mufu Onifade is a Nigerian from Oyo State, born on the 5th of October 1966. He attended the Polytechnic, Ibadan, Nigeria and African Art Museum and Training Institute, Debre-Zeit, Ethiopia to become the foremost Nigerian to master and practice the medium of painting on an animal skin. Between 1989 and 1996, through constant studio experiments, Mufu evolved a unique, authentic African painting technique called ARAISM. Mufu Onifade also holds a bachelor’s degree in Fine and Applied Arts from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Nigeria. He is a multi-faceted artist, painter, actor, dancer, poet, curator, art writer, playwright, art administrator, theatre producer and published author. Mufu Onifade’s literary works include Love is Blind (comedy play) and Nnamba’s Curse (prose) amongst others.

Nnamba’s Curse is a story about two lovers Jumoke and Fred who were madly in love with each other during their school days and promised never to be apart but lost contact after school. Jumoke who was still in love with Fred later got married due to some circumstances to a very wealthy businessman named Chief Kalamu who loved her so much. As time went on, Jumoke could not get over Fred, so she went in search of him. After many unfruitful attempts, she finally found out where he lived and visited him. Jumoke was shocked to see her lover living hand to mouth. They spoke and told each other stories of how their lives were and caught memories of old times. Fred told Jumoke he couldn’t further his education because he had no money, and Jumoke promised to take care of his education to the end. Jumoke told Fred she got married and is battling with childlessness. Fred was shocked, disappointed, and felt betrayed by Jumoke, she had broken the promise they made to each other but also felt sorry for her childlessness and decided to help her.   

Fred remembered an old man whom he had helped before and who asked him to visit him whenever he needed help. Fred and Jumoke travelled to visit the old man who gave them some herbs for Jumoke to drink and then lay with her husband after seven days and told them the consequences of doing otherwise. Jumoke acted on the man’s prescriptions, but unfortunately for her, Chief Kalamu travelled early hours of the seventh day. Confused Jumoke visited Fred for them to seek a solution to the new development, and even though Fred didn’t want to, he slept with her. The night Chief Kalamu returned, Jumoke made him sleep with her so that when she gets pregnant, he wouldn’t suspect anything. As time went on, Jumoke got pregnant and her happy husband decided they should visit his people so they could give herbs for safety and also greet them. On reaching the village, Chief Kalamu’s brother’s wife was in labour and was unable to deliver. Chief Kalamu’s brother told him that it was due to Nnamba’s curse that any woman married to a Nnambas descendant who carries another man’s child shall have no success in childbirth unless she confesses her infidelity. Jumoke became scared after hearing that and asked her husband that they go back home as she feels uncomfortable, her husband who loved her so much did as she said. Immediately they got home, she went to Fred and they visited the old man again he gave them herbs to terminate the pregnancy, and he gave another herb to Fred and told him what to use it for. Jumoke got back home and took the herbs at night, it led to some complications and she ended up in the hospital. The doctors did their examination and couldn’t find anything, that was when Chief Kalamu found out about her infidelity. Jumoke was dying, and she called out to Ayi her housemaid to go and call Fred. Fred left his apartment for the hospital immediately after he got the news about the herbs the old man gave him. He had an accident on his way and the herbs spilt but still managed to reach the hospital with a little scoop on his hand, but it was too late, Jumoke took her last breath.

Conceptual Discourse

The term Stylistics is derived from the word “Style”. It is a recent development in an attempt to study style. Since it emerged as a significant academic field within the scope of Linguistics, Stylistics has attracted intellectual attention of varying degrees. Several meanings of Stylistics exist in Linguistics scholarship. While some see it as a branch of Linguistics that deals with the study of the varieties of language, its properties and principles behind choices, others insist that it attempts to establish principles that can account for the choices made by individuals in their use of language.

Stylistics is the literary or linguistic study of style; this implies that style is central to the study of Stylistics. Thus, it is concerned with the study of literary language or language habits of writers and their writing patterns. According to Crystal, (1980), Stylistics can be defined as a branch of Linguistics which studies the features of situational distinct use of language made by an individual or social group. Arthur, (1996) on the other hand, defined Stylistics as the branch of Linguistics that studies styles, especially in works of Literature. One of the earliest and most persistent theories of style is the distinction between what a writer has to say and how it is presented to the reader. However, style in general is considered to be a reflection of one thing or the other, which results in the development of approaches to the style. The following approaches can be identified: Style as deviation, Style as Situation, Style as Individuality/Personality, Style as Period/Time, and Style as Choice. Literary Stylistics is synonymous with literary criticism. Its main purpose is to explain the individual message of the writer, thus, the task of literary stylistics is to decipher a message encoded in an unfamiliar way, to express its meaning in familiar and communal terms, and thereby provide the private message with public relevance.

Literary Stylistics is sensitive to language use; its concern is not principally with the way the signals of the artist are constructed but rather with the underlying message that the interpretation of the signals reveals. Therefore, literary stylistics is concerned with the figurative and evocative use of language which usually characterizes the message being interpreted. It is primarily concerned with the message and the meaning they convey in a particular instance of use. Thus, the beauty of language and how it is used to capture reality is the focal concern of literary Stylistics. However, its major interest is to find out what aesthetic experience or perception of reality a given literary work attempts to convey, it searches for the underlying significance of the artistic vision that language is used to express. Literary Stylistics usually undertakes the interpretation of a text as its ultimate objective of the analysis, usually based on the consideration of the stylistic significant features of a text that are expected to provide a sure basis for the interpretation of any literary text.

The author’s style can also be seen in the use of figurative language in the literary work.  According to Leech and Short, (1981), the analysis of figurative language in stylistics may cover the choice of figurative language, the meaning of figurative language, and the specific meaning or purpose of using the figurative language as employed by the author. Figurative language should not be taken by its denotative meaning because it has something more to say rather than just the meaning seen on the surface. Holman, (1986) defines figurative language as an international departure from the normal order, construction, or meaning of the words to gain strength and freshness of expression to create an effect, described by analogy, or discover and illustrate similarities or otherwise dissimilar things. Wales, (2001) argues that figurative language or figure of speech is a device used to create the imagination by comparing two or more different things and it violates the rules of linguistics. Thomas (in Perrine, 1984) states that figurative language is the way of expressing something by means not ordinarily used to speak of the object. The readers have to explore the interconnection between words or sentence by sentence to fully understand the essence of the expression. Gill, (1995) states that figurative language consists of Simile, Metaphor, Personification, Apostrophe, Metonymy, Symbol, Allegory, Paradox, Oxymoron, Hyperbole, Overstatement, Understatement, Synecdoche, and Irony.

Theoretical Framework

There are six broad rubrics under which the differing perspectives on the concept of style have been grouped. These are (1) style as deviation from a norm; (2) a manifestation of the individual; (3) Content and/or form; (4) choice between alternative ways of expressing the same idea; (5) product of context; and (6) good or beautiful writing. These rubrics offer us convenient and tidy compartments under which we discuss the interesting but ‘elusive’ concept. The paper provides a step-by-step analytical procedure for the stylistic examination of the text Nnamba’s Curse. The procedure ranges from a summary to which other levels of analysis are related, through diction, punctuation, sentence types, schemes of construction, figures of speech, etc.

This study adopts style as choice and deviation from the norm as its theoretical framework, the theory was propounded by Enkvist, Spencer, and Gregory in the Journal of Linguistics titled “Linguistics and Style” in 1964. Choices in style are motivated, even if unconsciously and these choices have a profound impact on the way texts are structured and interpreted. Since language provides its users with more than one choice in a given situation, there are various choices available to a writer in a given text (Traugott and Pratt, 1980, p. 29-30) clarify between language and choice as the characteristic choices exhibited in a text.

A further concept of style, one that has been favoured by the generative frame of reference, is the concept of style as deviance, the idea that style is constituted by departures from linguistic norms. The reason why this definition is more popular than any other is that the two-layered theoretical framework which the concept of 'deviation' entails accords neatly with the dichotomous logic of structuralist linguistics, which has played a significant role in the theory and practice of stylistics.  (Traugott and Pratt, 1980, p. 31) clarify between language and choice as the characteristic choices exhibited in a text.

However, the idea of style as choice and deviation from the norm is useful in explaining the general dynamics of the textual creation, but insufficient as a model for descriptive analysis. This is a logical drawback that should be attributed to the framework of this selective theory of style itself rather than to the authors' inattentiveness. The deviation theory of style also has a drawback which stems entirely from the ambiguous concept of a 'norm'. for this research, the style as choice and deviation from the norm theory will be used as it is more suitable for the analysis of the text.


The study is a textual analysis that offers a way to extract and examine data, derive patterns as well as interpretation of the data. It is qualitative research using which the nature of given phenomena is observed and classified. The study adopts Lawal’s model of data analysis which focuses on the syntactic, morphological, semantic, graphological, and phonological features of the text, thereby giving adequate references under each level mentioned above. The paper also analyses some of the rhetorical schemes and tropes which are evident in the text.

Data Presentation and Analysis

A thematic mode of presentation of data was adopted for this work; therefore, six subheadings denoted by Latin alphabetic references were allotted to each of the major levels of analysis – each containing sub-items denoted by Arabic and Roman numerals in some instances for ease of analytical reference. Each of the typologies of elements extracted from the text is followed by page notation.

A. Syntactic Level: At the syntactic level, sentence structures, sentence functions, anaphoric and cataphoric references, ellipses, rhetorical questions as well as modifications were analyzed.

1.   Sentence Structures: At the level of structural classification we have the following:

i.    Simple Sentences: This is a sentence consisting of only one independent clause, with a single subject and a finite verb, and expresses a complete thought. E.g.

·     I thought as much. (PG 6)

·     He gave me an address. (PG 9)

 ii.         Compound Sentences: This is a sentence consisting of at least two independent clauses joined by a comma, semicolon, or conjunction that have related ideas and forms a complete thought. E.g.

·     She made quickly for the door and drew aside the curtains. (PG 11)

·     Fred’s mouth was agape as he listened to this story. (PG 23)

iii.        Complex Sentences: This is a sentence that contains an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses combined with a subordinating conjunction that explains the relationship between each idea. E.g.

·     You will surely be annoyed by this action, but kindly be comforted by the fact that I go in search of greener pastures. (PG 8)

·     I tried to visit Fred, but I discovered that he was never around except on Saturdays. (PG 9)

iv.         Compound-complex Sentences: This is a sentence that contains a combination of two types of sentence structures: a compound and a complex sentence. It has at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause. E.g.

·     He got up from his reading table where he had planted himself, like an immovable object, and went to the door, but abruptly went to his seat. (PG 18)

·     She collapsed on Fred who now comforted her as he patted her back out of wordless emotion. (PG 19)

2.   Sentence Functions: Items under this subheading are classifications made according to functions, and they include:

i.    Declarative Sentences: Declarative sentences are sentences that state information and they end with a period. E.g.

·     Life has created problems for me. (PG 8)

·     I still love you exactly the way I did in the past. (PG 24)

·     I bear no grudge against your Chief. (Pg 25)

ii.  Imperative Sentences: Imperative sentences do not simply state a fact but rather tell someone to do something. They give a command or make requests and end with a period. E.g.

·     You have to let him live life his way. (PG 10)

·     That should not repeat itself this time. (PG 18)

iii.               Interrogative Sentences: Interrogative sentences are sentences about the inquiry, they ask questions. Accordingly, they end with a question mark. E.g.

·     What do we do? Where do we go from here? (PG 108)

·     Haven’t you told me many times that life is a battlefield? (PG 24)

iv. Exclamatory Sentences: Exclamatory sentences express emotions and as such, end with an exclamation mark. E.g.

·     Oh, how Fred wept like a baby! (PG 15)

·     That’s the illusion, that there will be more time tomorrow than there’s today! (PG 27)

These sentence functions were adopted by the writer to communicate clearly, they add interest and help to get ideas across effectively.

v.   Anaphoric References: Anaphoric reference means that a word in a text refers back to other ideas in the text for its meaning. E.g.

·     Eh, Jumoke, why don’t you buy the point I’m selling to you? (PG 40)

·     Fred was not in but had indicated by the door that he was around. (PG 41)

vi. Cataphoric References: Cataphoric reference means that a word in a text refers to another later in the text and you need to look forward to understanding. E.g.

·     My heart longs for you, Peejay (PG 55)

·      A few months before his final examinations at the federal university, Fred had informed Jumoke of his need to get a place to live in the capital city where he was posted to carry out his national service. (PG 75)

Anaphoric and Cataphoric references were used in the text to avoid repetitions, instead, pronouns are used as replacements for the referent.

vii.             Ellipsis: This is a literary device that is used to omit some parts of a sentence or event, which gives the reader a chance to fill the gap while reading it.  It is written between sentences as a series of three dots (. . .).  E.g.

·     Exactly, Chief… my dear. (PG 40)

·     That’s why I’m proposing that we separate peacefully…. (PG 25)

The writer made use of ellipses in the text to indicate that the speaker has trailed off and left a sentence or thought unfinished. Ellipses are also used as a stylistic element to save time.

viii.           Modification: Modification is a syntactic construction in which one grammatical element is accompanied by another. The first grammatical element is called the head which is usually a noun, and the accompanying element is called a modifier. These modifiers are usually phrases of clauses. E.g.

·     Where was Ayi, her maid, she asked herself again and, this time answered herself aloud (PG 3)

·     It was Parrot the talkative house caretaker. (PG 31)

The playwright made use of modifiers to clarify, change and qualify or limit a particular word in a sentence to add emphasis and explanation.

ix. Rhetorical Question: This is a question posed only for dramatic or persuasive effect, it does not expect an answer. E.g.

·     Haven’t you told me many times that life is a battlefield? (PG 24)

·     If I can’t understand your plight, who else will? (PG 25)

B.  Morphological Level: At the morphological level, Compounding, borrowing, and affixation as word formation processes and word types were analyzed. Particular examples are:

i.    Compounding: Compounding is the process of combining two or more words (free morphemes) to create a new word. E.g.

·     New-born (PG 29)

·     Grandfather (PG 48)

Examples 1 and 2 above are adjective-verb hyphenated compounds while 3 is adjective-noun hyphenated compounds comprising two free morphemes. The words are compositional compounds as their meanings are determined by combining the meaning of the parts.

ii.  Affixation: Affixation is the process of adding a morpheme (an affix) to a word to create either a different form of that word or a new word with a different meaning. There are mainly two kinds of affixes in English which are; the prefix and the suffix.

iii.               Prefix: A prefix is a group of letters or syllables usually bound by morphemes, placed before the root of a word to modify its meaning. E.g.

·     Miscarriage (PG 3)

·     Disarmed (PG 5)

iv. Suffix: A suffix is a group of letters or syllables that are usually bound morphemes placed after the root of a word to modify its meaning. E.g.

·     Commitment (PG 1)

·     Immediately (PG 3)

v.   Borrowing: Borrowing is a word formation process in which words are taken from one or more languages to fit into the vocabulary of the other or transferred into another language due to language contact. E.g.

·     Okrika (PG 10)

·     agbada (PG 40)

vi. Acronyms: These are words derived from the initials of several words that are pronounced as a word and sometimes contrasted with initialism. E.g

·     (Association of Theatre Arts Students) ATAS (PG 50)

·     (Divisional Police Officer) DPO (PG 73)

vii.             Blending: This is a word formation process in which two or more words are merged into one so that the blended constituents are either clipped or partially overlap. E.g.

·     Buka + Cafeteria = Bukateria(PG 54)

viii.                                                                                              Word types 

Simple words: A simple word consists of a single free morpheme.

·     Husband (PG 1)

·     The school (PG 6)

ix. Compound words: Compound words are two or more words that are combined to create a separate word.

·     Toothpaste (PG 4)

·     Handkerchief (PG 7)

x.   Complex words: Complex words consist of a free morpheme and a bound morpheme.

·     Overwhelmed (PG 3)

·     Horrifying (PG 125)

xi. Clipping: This is a word formation process that consists of the reduction of a word to one of its parts. E.g.

·     Madam = Ma. (PG 73)

·     University = varsity (PG 50)

C.  Semantic Level: At the semantic level, sense relations (antonyms and synonyms), ambiguity, and repetition will be analyzed.

i.    Antonyms: An antonym is a word that means the opposite of another word. E.g.

·     Good                               -               bad(PG 1)

·     Love                 -              hate(PG 1)

The writer made use of antonyms to demonstrate the contrast between two things and provide a clue as to what is meant.

ii.  Synonyms: A synonym is a word that means the same or similar to another word in the same language. E.g.

·     Bitterness     -    agony  (PG 15)

·     Joy                -      excitement    (PG 29)

The writer made use of synonyms to avoid over-usage and repetition.

iii.               Ambiguity: Ambiguity is something, particularly words, and sentences that are open to more than one interpretation, explanation, or meaning. Ambiguous words or sentences usually carry their conceptual meaning. E.g.

·     He, therefore, began to live from hand to mouth. (PG 7)

The sentence above simply means he had just enough money to live on and nothing extra.

·     Jumoke felt like telling the old man to hit the nail on the head because she hadn’t all the time in the world. (PG 7)

The phrase ‘hit the nail on the head’ as used in the sentence above is ambiguous as it does not carry its literal meaning. It means to describe exactly what is causing a situation.

iv. Repetition: This is the simple repetition of a word, within a short space of words with no particular placement of the words to secure emphasis. Repetition is also used in the text to show cohesion and coherence.

·     He embraced Fred again and again. (page 85)

·     Flatteryflattery, all flattery! (page 24)

D. Graphological Level: Under this subtitle, elements that depict punctuation, capitalization, and italicization are presented:

i.    Punctuation: The writer made excessive use of a hyphen to make a phrase, a clause, or a whole sentence a compound word.

·     Four months old (PG 3)

·     Caretaker-turned-landlord (PG 9)

The hyphen was also used in the text o show stammering.

·     Emm... A-jumo-bi… he stammered (PG 5)

·     B-but … w-well, that is not the crux of the matter now. (PG 26)

·     It’s all right… But are you sure you will spare the time before you dash off to the office? (PG 39)

The writer also made use of a hyphen in place of a comma (,) to show pauses between parts of a sentence or between elements in a list in speech. E.g.

·     He takes good care of me, but my whole heart ­­– my unconditional love, which only you understand – is whole with you. (PG 24)

·     I believe I have to be a party – if not the only party – to restore your lost glory. (PG 31)

The writer also made use of the full stop (.) which shows an end in a sentence inappropriately in some of his sentences. He uses the full stop in place of the comma which shows a pause in the statement. E.g

·     For now, she had come to a decision: Do your best. Leave the rest. Make people happy. (PG 2)

·     He didn’t feel like letting her go. But reality stubbornly played the tune and they had to dance to it. (PG 33)

ii.  Capitalization: The capital letter is used to start a sentence, names of people, places, and titles.


·     Jumoke soon opened an exclusive fashion house called JUMKAL BOUTIQUE. (PG 46)

·     This successful outcome led to the opening of another high-class beauty house, a sister outfit called JUMKAL SALON. (PG 46)

The writer made use of capitalization to identify a philosophical saying, and Jumoke’s business names to capture the attention of the reader. Capitalization was also used to show the acronym ‘ATAS’andidentifies a word in an adage to show emphasis.

iii.               Italicization: The writer made use of italics to identify foreign words:

·     Okrika (PG 10)

·     Iro and Buba (PG 18)

·     agbada (PG 40)

The writer also made use of italics to identify some philosophical sayings.

1.   “This room is not always as untidy as this; at times it's worse.”

“You don’t have to be crazy to love me… But it PAYS.”

“Life without sound education is like a woman without virtue and beauty.”

2.   Only God has no equals; every man has a better version of himself somewhere, far or near, (PG 52)

The writer made use of italics to also identify the title of a play.

1.   One day, Fred was on his way to the varsity Auditorium to watch one of his favourite plays, The Gods are Not to Blame by his favourite Nigerian playwright (PG 50)

E.   Phonological Level: This section deals with sound effects.

i.    Alliteration: Alliteration is the obvious repetition of identical initial consonant sounds in successive or closely associated syllables within a group of words, even those spelt differently. E.g.

·     Life was full of activities of love and hate. (PG 1)  /f/ and /t/

·     A big toothpaste advertisement smile. (PG 4)   /t/

ii.  Assonance: Assonance is the figurative term used to refer to the repetition of a vowel sound in a line of text or poetry. E.g.

·     But Jummy, why? Why? I can’t believe it. (PG 20)  /ai/

·     The singing bird is deprived of its voice. (PG 21)  /i/

iii.               Elision: Elision is the omission of one or more sounds in a word or phrase, producing a result that is easier for the speaker to pronounce. Generally, the middle or last letters or syllable is eliminated, or two words are blended and an apostrophe is inserted. E.g.

·     Thats why Im here sir. (PG 5)                           That + is = that’s

·     …dont cry… (PG 9)                                           Do + not = don’t

·     Psychological (PG 29)

In examples 1 and 2 above, there are elisions of sounds that are seen in contracted forms where the actual phonemes are replaced with an apostrophe. In example 3, the underlined phoneme has been elided and silent in pronunciation but is seen in the written form.

F.         Rhetorical Schemes and Tropes: Rhetorical schemes are deviations or changes in standard word order or pattern while rhetorical tropes are the use of words, phrases, or images in a way not intended by their normal significance. Some of the rhetorical devices in the play are proverbs, metaphors, simile, idioms, irony, personification, and anaphora.

i.      Proverbs: Proverbs are words combined to form larger semantic units which are encoded by the speaker and decoded by the hearer through underlined knowledge of the language itself. Proverbs are usually metaphorical and their meanings most of the time are connotative. E.g.

·       As long as women continue to remain unpredictable, men will never learn their lessons (PG 21)

This proverb simply means that because of the unpredictability of women, their relationship with men becomes a never-ending problem.

·       No amount of rain can wash the spots from a leopard’s skin. (PG 65)

The proverb above means no matter how hard you try, you cannot change another person’s character.

ii.    Irony: Irony involves a situation in a narrative in which the readers know something about the present or future circumstances that the character does not know. Ironic statements are usually effective in meaning.

·       Will you come back here, you bastard? (PG 106)

This statement by Nnambaolisa is ironic because he is unaware of the actual situation and is speaking from his knowledge. Jantuga who he considers his son is not his but belongs to another man.

iii.  Metaphor: Metaphor is the use of a word or phrase to refer to something that it isn’t. It is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not applicable. Metaphorical statements usually carry a connotative meaning although in some cases the meaning may be conceptual.

·       Life is a battlefield (PG 24).

·       The taste of love is a dangerous one. (PG 37)

These statements are metaphorical because they make an implied or hidden comparison between two unrelated things but share some common characteristics.

iv.   Simile: A simile is a figure of speech that makes a comparison, showing similarities between two different things. Unlike a metaphor, a simile draws resemblance with the help of the word “like’’ or “as”. Therefore, it is a direct comparison and it usually carries its conceptual meaning.

·       To him, Jumoke and Fred were like a snail and its shell (PG 5)

·       The room was as silent as an examination hall. (PG 13)

v.     Idioms: An idiom is a phrase or expression that typically presents a figurative, non-literal meaning attached to the phrase; but some phrases become figurative idioms while retaining the literal meaning of the phrase. E.g

·       Live from hand to mouth (PG 7)

·       No condition is permanent (PG 23)

vi.   Anaphora: This is a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences.

·       The singing bird is deprived of its voice. The hunter of wild animals is left alone in the jungle, stripped of his weapons and charms. The fish is thrown out of the water. (PG 21)

·       I admire everything in you. I admire the intellect you displayed when we first met. I admire your beauty. I admire your principles. I admire everything in you. (PG 56)

vii.Personification: This is a figure of speech in which an inanimate object or an abstraction is given human qualities.

·       The walls were so untidy that they loudly screamed for painting. (PG 13)

·       … my heart bleeds. It cries and screams aloud in horror. (PG 29)

·       But reality stubbornly played the tune and they had to dance to it (PG 33).

viii.          Soliloquy: This is an act of speaking one’s thoughts aloud by oneself or regardless of any hearers, especially by a character in a play. E.g.

·       Oh, what a day! She would joyfully exclaim much to herself. (PG 35)

·       Where was Ayi, her maid, she asked herself again and, this time, answered herself aloud, ‘Oh, I sent her to the market’. (PG 3)

·       ‘Where am I going? What am I looking for?’ she asked herself and looked round as if she could find someone to proffer an answer.

Summary of findings

From the data presented in this study, syntactic features such as modification, sentence structure, and function, ellipses as well as phonological features such as alliteration, assonance, and elision are evident in the text. They were used by the author to add melody and beauty to the text. The semantic features such as sense relations (synonyms, antonyms), repetition, and ambiguity were equally found in the text. The artistic success of the author’s use of sense relations brought about coherence while repetition brought about emphasis, ambiguity add humour, as well as created a chance of confusion in the mind of the reader(s).

At the level of morphological features, the author also used affixation, compounding, borrowing, blending, acronyms, word types, and clipping while graphological features such as capitalization, punctuation, and italicization were presented in the text. Equally, we saw certain rhetorical schemes and tropes as deviations or changes in standard word order or pattern in form of words, phrases, or images in a way not intended by its normal significance. Some of the rhetorical devices in the play are proverbs, metaphors, similes, idioms, irony, personification, and anaphora. Rhetorical schemes and tropes were used by the playwright for their universal semantic inducement, and dramatic effects to convey moods and emotions effectively as well as enforce comparison between concepts.


This research presents how a constellation of linguistic schemes that coalesce to produce a work can be analyzed and synthesized. It has shown how the relative frequencies of certain lexical and syntactic items can provide a clue to the message and the dominating mood of the text. The research equally established a plausible connection between rhetoric in antiquity and what is regarded as modern stylistics.

The construction of a literary text depends on the kind of stylistic features that make it unique, interesting, and easily comprehensible by its readership. Our analysis based on Crystal’s model showed how those stylistic tools conveyed moods, and emotions, add humour, cohesion, and coherence as well as served as tools for expressing hidden meanings. The author’s ability to deploy these leagues of literary or stylistic features announces this work as a good piece of art fit for any class of readership.


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