The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0159  Wednesday, 24 January 2001

From:           John Robinson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 23 Jan 2001 13:52:43 EST
Subject: 12.0140 Re: A Rhetorical Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0140 Re: A Rhetorical Question

>I agree with Erick Kelemen that phrases like "ship of mortality," "table
>of equality," "ocean of despair" are metaphors.

That's too broad a category for the trope.  There are probably dozens of
rhetorical subcategories of trope that fall under the general rubric of

Also, there is nothing about the structure of an utterance that makes it
metaphorical, it is the intend that makes an utterance metaphoric or

The same is true about the difference between a superstition and a
proverb.  Think of "Lightning never strikes the same place twice" as it
stands we can't tell if it is a superstition or a proverb because we
don't have a context (literal or metaphorical) for the words. If meant
literally (as advice in seeking shelter in a lightning storm) it's a
superstition (which are always meant to be taken literally); if meant
metaphorically (as statistical advice) it is a proverb (which are always

The original question was of a specific application of a concrete noun
"tower" say combined with the prepositional phrase "of strength" with
strength being an abstract quality. This is a question of structure, not
intent or context as with metaphors.

    "words of woe"
    "kingdom of glory"

This trope is too specific to not have it's own name. As I've said
before I've heard it called 'antiposes'--and not by panhandlers on
Telegraph Ave.-- but by a Rhetoric Prof. at Berkeley when I was an
undergrad some years ago.  (Yes, I'm starting to equivocate, who am I to
fight the powers that be?) This weekend I'll head down to the Berkeley
library and snoop around some more.

Keep in touch.

John Robinson

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