Main Difference – Assonance vs. Consonance
Assonance and Consonance are two poetic devices that are often used in literature. The main difference between Assonance and Consonance is that Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in words that are closely found while Consonance is the repetition of the same consonants or the same consonant pattern in short succession.
What is Assonance
Assonance is the repetition of a vowel sound in a phrase or a sentence. Assonance is used to create internal rhythm within a sentence or a phrase. Assonance can be noticed in words that start with consonants. For example, look at the sentence below.
He locked the box with the rocks.
All three words locked, box and rock repeat the same vowel sound –o. Each of these words contains the same vowel sound, but they start with different consonant sounds. Keep in mind that it is the vowel sound that create assonance, not the letter. For instance,
Men sell the wedding bells
Note that it is not the vowel ‘e’, but the vowel sound –e that create the assonance in this sentence. Look at the extract below to identify how assonance is used as a literary device in literature.
“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o‘er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze…”
(I wandered lonely as a cloud by William Wordsworth)
Alliteration of –o sound – host, golden, daffodils
Alliteration of –ee sound – beneath, trees, breeze
What is Consonance
Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in a phrase or a sentence. The repetition of consonants generally occurs with the consonant in the middle or at the end of the words. For instance, look at the sentence given below.
Touch the peach on the beach.
Here, all three words, touch, peach and beach end with the consonants –ch. Consonance is a literary device that can be used in both prose and poetry. Poets use consonance to include a rhyming effect and a lyrical feeling to their poetry. Consonance is also used for the purpose of restating the significance of an idea or theme. The excerpts given highlight the usage of consonants.
All’s well that ends well.
The early bird gets the worm.
All mammals named Sam are clammy.
Many people find it difficult to distinguish the difference between alliteration and consonance. In fact, alliteration is a special case of consonance where the repeated consonants are at the stressed syllable. Sibilance is another type of consonance where the sibilant sounds are repeated.Given below is an extract from ‘Twas later when the summer went’ by Emily Dickinson. Note the repetition of ‘m’ sound in the poem.
‘T was later when the summer went
Than when the cricket came,
And yet we knew that gentle clock
Meant nought but going home.
‘T was sooner when the cricket went
Than when the winter came,
Yet that pathetic pendulum
Keeps esoteric time.
Difference Between Assonance and Consonance
Vowel and Consonant sounds:
Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in close succession.
Consonance is the repetition of consonants two or more times in a short succession.
Assonance has no such subcategories.
Consonance can be categorized into types: alliteration and sibilance.
Assonance is mostly used in verse.
Consonance is used in both verse and prose.
Assonance example is taken from the ditty,West Beast East Beast by Dr. Seuss. Note the repetition of -ee- sound in beast, beach, each, reach, etc.
The second example is taken from Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost. Note the repetition of /h/ and /w/ consonant words.