Guide to Literary Terms

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What is the definition of parallelism?

The definition of parallelism is the repetition of words or phrases for rhetorical or poetic effect.

Parallelism

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Last Updated on December 6, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 111

Parallelism - an arrangement of the parts of a composition so that elements of equal importance are balanced in similar constructions. This arrangement may be applied to words, phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs, or complete units of compositions. Parallelism is a rhetorical device.

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The term comes from the Greek parallelos, meaning “beside one another.”

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Shakespeare used this device in his Richard II when King Richard laments his position:

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Latest answer posted October 11, 2010, 10:10 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

I’ll give my jewels for a set of beads,

My gorgeous palace for a hermitage,

My gay apparel for an almsman’s gown,

My figured goblets for a dish of wood . . . .

Act III, scene iii : lines 170 – 173

see: antithesis, subplot

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