Antithesis, Chiasmus, and Symmetry in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 105. Part 2 of 3.

My reading of sonnet 105 suggests that the relationship between the rhetorical figures of ploche, antanaclasis, and polyptoton conveys meaning beyond the meaning conveyed by each figure separately.

In the article, I show how these three figures taken together convey different but related aspects of comparison that range from absolute identity through relative similarity and relative difference to absolute difference: The use of ploche equates to absolute identity: same word, same line, same meaning; antanaclasis to absolute difference: same word, different lines, different meaning; and, polyptoton to relative similarity and relative difference: same word root, or morpheme, but in different grammatical categories, different lines, same meaning.

As these categories of similarity and difference are both mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive, might they then provide a helpful way of describing the comparisons that Shakespeare makes in his sonnets? I make a start at answering this question by exploring how another rhetorical figure, chiasmus, provides a means of organising the relationship between ploche, antanaclasis, and polyptoton in sonnet 105 to allow the expression of shades and gradations of meaning between absolute identity and absolute difference.

(Date: 2016, Aug. 23.)

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