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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: March ::
Re: Oxymorons
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0599  Tuesday, 28 March 2000.

From:           Bruce Young <
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Date:           Monday, 27 Mar 2000 14:23:32 +0000
Subject: 11.0588 Q: Oxymorons
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0588 Q: Oxymorons

It doesn't immediately strike me as obvious that Hamlet abounds in
oxymorons.  I wonder if oxymoron is being confused (in the book on
Hamlet and Claudius) with hendiadys.  (Hendiadys, according to the OED,
being "A figure of speech in which a single complex idea is expressed by
two words connected by a conjunction; e.g. by two substantives with and
instead of an adjective and substantive." For example, "He came despite
the rain and weather.  Instead of "He came despite the rainy weather."
The example is from Silva Rhetoricae
<http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/silva.htm>.)

The play certainly abounds in hendiadys, and Claudius, among others,
uses it.  See the prize-winning article by George T. Wright, "Hendiadys
and Hamlet," PMLA 96 (1981): 168-93.

The only example I've found quickly in Hamlet is Hamlet's "The pith and
marrow of our attribute" (1.4.22).  Shakespeare, of course, uses it
elsewhere as well: e.g.,  Coriolanus 4.7.44: "even with the same
austerity and garb."

I hope this helps.

Bruce Young

[Editor's Note: I just realized I miss numbered today's digests up to
this point. For the record the digests that were numbered 11.059 to
11.065 should have been 11.0592 to 11.0598.]
 

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