in Bertrams

Chapter 47 – Conclusion

not unhappy

In describing the subsequent marriage of George and Caroline, the narrator tells us that they are “not unhappy.”  The use of double negatives is a Classical rhetorical strategy that draws attention to what is being said.  In this case, the narrator is describing the happiness that George and Caroline possess.  The use of litotes emphasizes the great unhappiness that has tempered their lives and has stunted what real–unqualified–happiness they could have had.  While they do enjoy their life together, the use of litotes allows the narrator to show the consequences of George and Caroline’s earlier actions.  [CD & RR 2012]