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If you read the New Critics, you're bound to read about Shakespeare. In William Empson's 7 Types of Ambiguity, he's on the hunt for complex language to scrutinize under his Close Read-a-Scope. And as he writes, "It is impossible to avoid Shakespeare in these matters; partly because his use of language is of unparalleled richness and partly because it has received so much attention already."
Shakespeare is kind of their main man. Given that he was kind of the man, and all.
The New Critics came up with tons of examples of Shakespeare's rhetorical sophistication and ambiguity… as if we needed more proof of just how awesome Shakespeare was. But Empson is a true master of unraveling a text to discover all of its hidden meanings.
So, let's follow him down the rabbit hole with these three lines from Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well.