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Analysis of Figures of Speech and Literary Devices in Anthills of the Savannah pdf

This blog post gives detailed analysis of Figures of speech and literary devices in Anthills of the Savannah with reference to the chapters of the text.

In Anthills of the Savanah, Chinua Achebe makes use of the devices of authoral intrusion, biblical allusion, cultural allusion, historical allusion, dramatic irony, euphemism, extended metaphor, high burlesque, innuendo, metonymy, rhetorical question and symbolism.

RECOMMEND: Themes in Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe

Analysis of Figures of Speech and Literary Devices in Anthills of the Savannah

Authoral intrusion

Most of the points of view raised by Chunua Achebe in Anthills of the Savannah are directly pin-pointed through authorial intrusions. However, he concentrates many instances in Chapter 18. One beautiful instance is the conclusion at the discussion inside Miss Beatrice Okoh’s flat that the various Peoples of Kangan must sit together and talk over the various factors slowing down their progress and development. Here, Achebe is directly advocating for the national conference of the peoples of Nigeria. In the chapter, another case of authorial intrusion is the protest of the women during the naming ceremony of “baby Amaechina Ikem-osodi”. The women had protested that Elewa the mother of the baby should have equal right as the father to give a name to the baby. Directly, Achebe is advocating the need for woman empowerment with the devices. One more instance Of authorial intrusion is Mr Emmanuel Obete’s claim that Mr Ikem Osodi’s ideas influenced him for good. This is Achebe’s appeal to Nigerian senior citizens to live emulative lives for younger generation of Nigerians. The mdst beautiful instance of the use of authorial intrusion in Anthills of the Savannah is Mrs Aina Braimoh’s opinion that “there is nothing bad in a daughter of Allah sharing joy with the daughter of Jehovah”. With this, Achebe is preaching religious tolerance. The last but not the least instance of the use of authoral intrusion is Elewa’s Uncle’s advice that a wise man should always listen to his wife’s opinion before acting on anything they both have joint interest. Here, Achebe is directly campaigning against woman abuse.

Recommended: Critical nalysis of the Settings of Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe

Biblical allusion

There is an instance of biblical allusion in Chapter 1 . This is where Professor Okong makes the following statement to his fellow Cabinet Ministers:

“I go to prepare a place for you gentlemen… but be assured that I am taking the most comfortable cell for myself"

The statement is an echo of Jesus Christ assurance to prepare a place for believers in heaven. In chapter 8, the instance is the comparison of Agatha’s regard of Mr Oriko’s love affair with Miss Beatrice Okoh (i.e. her mistress) to the way Jehova Priestess usually regards Baal worshippers. In other words, Agatha considers both lovers as sinners. In Chapter 17, the instance of biblical allusion is where that madly drunken police sergeant threatens “to shoot and blow Mr Oriko’s head into Jericho”. This is a reference to the time the Israelites wrought the fall of Jericho wall into pieces with the shout of Alleluyah! Finally, there is an instance of biblical allusion in Chapter 18 where Miss Beatrice Okoh follows the example of a Prophet in the Old Testament of the Bible to select the name “Amaechina” for Elewa’s baby girl.

Cultural allusion

In Chapter 7, the reference to goddess Idoto is cultural allusion. Among Ibos Nigeria, idoto is the goddess that blesses artists, when such artists are upon something new.

Historical allusion

Also in Chapter 7, the reference to Aba Women Riot of 1929 the Instance of historical allusion.

Dramatic irony

Achebe uses this devices in Chapter 13, The Instance is when Major Johnson Ossai announced that Mr Ikem Osodi killed himself With the gun he seized from the security men who arrested him. The announcement a dramatic irony because the readers already know that somebody in hand-cuffs cannot seize any gun.



There are two beautiful instances of the use of euphemism in chapters 2 and 4 of Anthills of the Savannah. In Chapter 2, Mr Attorney-General described Mr Chris Oriko before General Sam as a disloyal Commissioner with this quoted expression:

“I dont think Chris is hundred percent behind you"

The Attorney-General’s use of indefinite figure is “saying an unpleasant thing in a pleasant manner”
In Chapter 4, euphemism is illustrated in that bold armed robber’s statement that he would be born again. Clearly, the armed robber is saying he would come back to the world again as an armed robber

Extended Metaphor

This device is illustrated where Mr Emmanuel Obete advises Mr Oriko not to buy and use insecticides to prevent mosquito bites, inside Mr & Mrs Braimoh’s room. In Mr Obete’s opinion, such action would be an insult to Mr & Mrs Braimoh because they cannot afford to buy insecticides for use. In other words, Mr Obete is pointing out to Mr Oriko to let them “do as Romans while in Rome”

High Burlesque

This is a figure of speech whereby a piece of literary information naturally considered to be high in value is deliberately be-littled.

The instance of this device is in Chapter 4. This is where a soldier nearly kills a second-class clothes seller with his car at Gelegele Market. Instead of pleading with the trader, the soldier bullies him with this remark

“l kill you, I kill a dog”.

The soldier’s reduction of the worth of the trader, to the worth of a dead dog is high burlesque.


There are instances of the use of innuendo in chapters 2 and 13. The instance in chapter 2 is relayed by the expression “add president to his name”. The expression indirectly refers to the era of General Babangida, because he is the only military Head of State who added the title of president to his name. The instance in Chapter 13 is the indirect acceptance by Major Johnson Ossai that Journalist Ikem Osodi is murdered by the State of Kangan. The incident is a satirical comment on the murder of Journalist Dele Giwa, in 1986.

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Davidposh of Campusvibes

I'm a dedicated and progressive individual with an exceptional work ethic and client oriented service aptitude. I write to inform and educate. Currently I'm an English language students Lagos State University.

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