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parallelism


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The arrangement of similarly constructed clauses, sentences, or verse lines in a pairing or other sequence suggesting some correspondence between them. The effect of parallelism is usually one of balanced arrangement achieved through repetition of the same syntactic forms (see syntax). In classical rhetoric, this device is called parison or isocolon. These lines from Shakespeare's Richard II show parallelism:I'll give my jewels for a set of beads,My gorgeous palace for a hermitage,My gay apparel for an almsman's gown,My figured goblets for a dish of wood…Parallelism is an important device of 18th-century English prose, as in Edward Gibbon's sentence from his Memoirs (1796): ‘I was neither elated by the ambition of fame, nor depressed by the apprehension of contempt.’ Where the elements arranged in parallel are sharply opposed, the effect is one of antithesis. In a more extended sense, the term is applied to correspondences between larger elements of dramatic or narrative works, such as the relation of subplot to main plot in a play.

Subjects: Literature


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