Seven Types of Ambiguity
Revised twice since it first appeared, it has remained one of the most widely read and quoted works of literary analysis.
Ambiguity, according to Empson, includes "any verbal nuance, however slight, which gives room for alternative reactions to the same piece of language." From this definition, broad enough by his own admission sometimes to see "stretched absurdly far," he launches into a brilliant discussion, under seven classifications of differing complexity and depth, of such works, among others, as Shakespeare's plays and the poetry of Chaucer, Donne, Marvell, Pope, Wordsworth, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and T. S. Eliot.
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adjective already analysis beauty Chaucer comparison conceit Conchubor connected conscious consider contradiction convey couplet course Crashaw critics death Deirdre device doubt dramatic irony Dunciad effect Elizabethan English example eyes fact feeling give grammar heaven Herbert human I. A. Richards idea implied insist interpretation irony irrelevant judgment language less M. C. Bradbrook Macbeth matter meaning meant Measure for Measure ment merely metaphor mind mode Naisi nature night normal notion noun object once one's onomatopoeia opposites Othello Pandarus Pathetic Fallacy perhaps phrase poem poet poetical poetry Pope praise puns Pure Sound puzzling quatrain reader reasons rhythm seems sense sensible sentence Shakespeare situation Sonnet sort statement suggest syntax T. S. Eliot tears thee thing third type thou thought tion trivial trying type of ambiguity variety verb verbal verse W. B. Yeats weep whole word