Chiasmus

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.

4 thoughts on “Chiasmus”

  1. Would Iago’s ‘We cannot all be masters, nor all masters cannot be truly followed’ an example of chiasmus as well?

  2. 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.”

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