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Hendiadys. (-As cool as anaphora?). What is hendiadys?. hen-di'-a-dis Greek: hen , "one" dia , "through" dis , "two“ “One by means of two“ Definition: Expressing a single idea by two nouns instead of a noun and its qualifier. A method of amplification that adds force.

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(-As cool as anaphora?)

What is hendiadys
What is hendiadys?

  • hen-di'-a-dis

  • Greek: hen, "one" dia, "through" dis, "two“

  • “One by means of two“

  • Definition: Expressing a single idea by two nouns instead of a noun and its qualifier. A method of amplification that adds force.

Examples of hendiadys
Examples of hendiadys

  • He came despite the rain and weather.Instead of "He came despite the rainy weather"

  • The distinction and presence of the dignitary moved his audience. Instead of “The distinctive presence of the dignitary moved his audience.”

What is the purpose
What is the purpose?

Through hendiadys, adjectives are accentuated by being transformed into nouns. Through separation, the modifier gains potency.

What do the experts say
What do the experts say?

  • Critic Frank Kermode has described hendiadys as "a way of making a single idea strange by splitting an expression in two" (Shakespeare's Language).

  • “Hendiadys has the effect of using language in order to slow down the rhythm of thought and perception, to break things down into more elementary units, and thereby to distort normative habits of thought and put them out of joint. Hendiadys is a kind of rhetorical double take, a disruptive slowing of the action so that, for example, we realize the hatching of something more complex” (Lukacher).

Why do i want you to know this
Why do I want you to know this?

Hamlet is the play most marked by the use of hendiadys (66 instances according to Wright).

Why? George T. Wright hypothesizes: "hendiadys is most congenial to Shakespeare's purposes in those plays that explore the problematical depths of thought and feeling, as opposed to those that survey, from a perspective less intensely or less personally involved, the spectacle of erring human behavior" (173).


Find examples of hendiadys within Hamlet and explore the larger impact of doubles in the play. How important to the play do you think the idea of doubling is? What does it add to the drama?

(For example, consider the extent to which we see characters in doubles: Voltemand and Cornelius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Laertes and Ophelia, Gertrude and Claudius. Apart from Horatio, Hamlet is a figure of profound isolation highlighted by his soliloquies).