A Stylistic Analysis Of Chimamanda Adichie’s “Purple Hibiscus” And Chinua Achebe’s “Anthills Of The Savannah”

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A Stylistic Analysis Of Chimamanda Adichie’s “Purple Hibiscus” And Chinua Achebe’s “Anthills Of The Savannah”


Language and style never moves beyond a concentration on the supremacy of words. Literary piece (such as novels) somehow contain meaning of style with language; effectively manipulated in ways that signal it as different from “ordinary” language. A stylistic analysis of Chimamanda Adichie’s “Purple Hibiscus” (2003) and Chinua Achebe’s “Anthills of the Savannah” (1987) is carried out to educate, explicate and expose everybody that come across this paper, in guiding them on how to analyse and understand these prose texts. It also examines the uniqueness of stylistics as it concerns both the combination of linguistics and literary study of the texts being reviewed. The data used to illustrate and substantiates our claims are systematically sourced from the selected Nigerian prose texts earlier mentioned.

The lexico-semantic patterns and choices, the phonological, morphological, syntactic and graphological devices are the main stylistic elements coupled with rigorous in-depth analysis of the figurative language employed in selected prose texts which are used to prove our claims. Finally, we find that each of the elements however, has identifiable functions which contribute to the effective meaning of the texts. Therefore, it can be concluded that these elements trigger and play important roles in passing the intention of the writers/authors across their audience. Comparatively, this research discovers that Adichie borrows a lot from Achebe’s manner of writing in simple free-flow linguistic and stylistic presentations, there is, nevertheless, a wide disparity in their sexist beliefs and ideological orientations. This implies that; while Achebe tends towards phallocentric predilection, Adichie subtly differs by pitching a camp with her gender lot – Feminism. This creates a wide valley between the two mountains.

Keywords: Stylistics, language, figurative language, syntax, graphology, lexico-semantics…

Chapter One


Stylistics has always had a hard time of it. As an academic discipline it has always been seen, pretty much throughout the twentieth century, as neither one thing nor the other, or, much worse, as all things to all men and women, as sitting uncomfortably on the fence between the linguistic and the literary, and as a bit uneasy within either domain, building bridges that never quite stretch far enough across dividing waters and always, as here, resorting to retreat, repair and reconciliation metaphors of bridges, unfilled gaps and spaces, crossing contested territories, unhappy marriages and paths not taken. In the 1960s and 1970s this was in part to be expected for an essentially inchoate interdisciplinary endeavour. Linguists felt stylistics was too soft to be taken too seriously and tended to introduce irrelevant notions such as performance data and interpretation; literature specialists felt that stylistics was too hard, too mechanistic and too reductive, saying nothing significant about historical context or aesthetic theory, eschewing evaluation for the most part in the interests of a naïve scientism and claiming too much for interpretations that were at best merely text-immanent. And many linguists and literary critics continue to this day to give stylistics a hard time. But, for better or for worse, stylisticians have stayed together. Although, there have been few divorces or major disagreements within the family (G. Watson and S, Zyngier, 2007: R. Carter, 2007).

However, stylistics as a term as generally been referred to as the study of style and language. The concept of style itself has had a troubled history in the modern period both within and outside literary study. It has commonly been argued that, we use the term ‘style’ without knowing its meaning. The Work of literature is written and presented in many ways in order to bring out its creative nature. To achieve this, the writer uses his peculiar manners, choice of words and form in presenting his message. This is what is known as style. Style therefore is the peculiar way in which something is done (Nnaji, 2014).

Simpson (2004:2) defines style as “a method of textual interpretation in which primary of place is assigned to language”. This shows that language is the key point in stylistic because a writer employs various forms and patterns of language while presenting his message.

Stylistics is the description and analysis of the variability of linguistic forms in actual language use. The concepts of ‘style’ and ‘stylistic variation’ in language rest on the general assumption that within the language system, the same content can be encoded in more than one linguistic form. Operating at all linguistic levels (e.g. lexicology, syntax, text linguistics and intonation), stylisticians analyse both the style of specific texts and stylistic variation across texts. These texts can be literary or non-literary in nature. Generally speaking, style may be regarded as a choice of linguistic means; as deviation from a norm; as recurrence of linguistic forms and as comparison.

Azuike (1992) in Nnaji (2014) identifies the following rubrics to guide one in stylistic analysis. They are: “Style as a deviation from the norm, style as individual, style as content and form, style as choice, style as a product of context, style as good and beautiful writing”.

Style as choice, as one of the six rubrics forms, is the focus of this work. This means that an individual can adopt a special way of writing to make his work unique. Often times, the author’s identity is given away by some details reflecting, habit of expression or thought, and these seem to confirm that each writer has a linguistic ‘thumb-print’, an individual combination of linguistic habits which somehow betrays him in all that he writes. Accordingly, it is a writer’s idiosyncratic way of expressing himself or herself, it is an offshoot of his or her personality.

Style may be said to relate communicative performance, which is the demonstration of the speaker’s or writer’s language capacity in generating and understanding specific communicative contexts. Stylistics therefore is the study of style. But style itself, by its nature, is a subject of debate. This paper is thus an attempt to investigate the style of writings of these two authors that make their works distinct from their contemporaries.

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