Chiasmus involves the repetition of words or grammatical structures in reverse order to create a parallel and balanced phrase or sentence. This device creates a symmetrical and memorable effect in the language, often used for emphasis or to add a poetic or rhetorical quality to the writing. Chiasmus can involve a range of linguistic elements, such as words, phrases, clauses, or even entire sentences.
Examples of chiasmus:
“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” – This famous quote by John F. Kennedy features the chiasmus structure of “A-B-B-A,” creating a balanced and memorable effect.
“You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget.” – This sentence from Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” uses the chiasmus structure of “A-B-C-C-B-A,” creating a symmetrical and poetic effect.
“Fair is foul and foul is fair.” – This line from William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” uses the chiasmus structure of “A-B-B-A,” creating a paradoxical and memorable effect.
“I meant what I said and I said what I meant.” – This quote from Dr. Seuss’s “Horton Hatches the Egg” uses the chiasmus structure of “A-B-B-A,” creating a playful and rhythmic effect.
“All for one, and one for all.” – This famous quote from Alexandre Dumas’s “The Three Musketeers” uses the chiasmus structure of “A-B-B-A,” creating a sense of unity and solidarity.
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Describing Mr. Gore in The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, the author writes “He was just the man for such a place, and it was just the place for such a man.”