In Sherriff’s play Journey’s End, Sherriff makes a recurring point of soldiers ‘coping’ with the war by making trivial things big and big things small, so much so that deviation from this theme leads to stress among characters.

Is there a name for this technique? What are the advantages of this technique to evoke pathos, as used in literature more generally? I can imagine this technique being used in satirical works, but I am primarily interested in non-satirical works like Sherriff's, as I am more interested in how this technique evokes pathos than humour.

  • You may be looking for the rhetorical devices of auxesis and meiosis. Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 10:42
  • @Shinrin-Yoku I don't really have any idea to make an answer, I only made an edit to clarify the question. Hopefully Gareth can answer.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 15:45


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