Monday, March 20, 2006
"ASSONANCE" IN EDUCATING RITA
In the 1983 film Educating Rita, Rita (Julie Walters) asks Professor Frank Bryant (Michael Caine) the meaning of assonance. Here's an excerpt from the script, which believe it or not, I was able to find on the net:
R: What does assonance mean?
R: Don't laugh at me.
P: Er, no. Erm, assonance, it's a form of rhyme.
R: Erm, what's an example?
P: Do you know Yeats?
R: The wine lodge?
P: No, WB Yeats, the poet.
P: Well, in his poem The Wild Swans At Coole, Yeats
rhymes the word "swan" with the word "stone". You
see? That's an example of assonance.
R: Ooh, yeah, means getting the rhyme wrong.
P: I've never thought of it like that.
OK, you students of verse, what's wrong with this dialogue?
Well, what the professor is actually describing is consonance, which according to my Holman's
Handbook, is the use of words in which the final consonants of stressed syllables agree but the
vowels that precede them differ, as in "add-read,", "bill-ball," and yes, "swan-stone."
Assonance is the resemblance or similiarity in sound between vowels followed by different consonants, as in "lake-fate," "dike-knight", and "trodden-cobbles."
Personally, I prefer my own definition of assonance: the sound assholes make when they're
describing slant rhyme.
It was a delightful movie, by the way, charming and witty and profound by turns (I rented it last night). Michael Caine and Julie Walters were perfect for their parts. Highly recommend this one, as (yes, it has become) an old-time treat.