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Here goes the line from the speech made by Charlie Chaplin in the movie "The Great Dictator":

"The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed—the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of man will pass, and dictators die, and the power that they took from the people will return to the people, and so long as men die liberty will never perish."

. My question is what does the passing of greed refer to? How should the sentence be read?

  • yes, the last expression should be "liberty will never perish" . my mistake. – Cavid Hummatov Apr 26 '17 at 21:54
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Passing should be understood here as passing away. The impostor Schultz speaks earlier of greed as the source of contemporary evil and misery. Now he says that the misery is a sign that greed is passing away: the evildoers who impose misery are men bitter because the world is changing.

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  • sorry but I couldn't conceive how misery is a sign that greed is passing away. Could you open it up ? – Cavid Hummatov Apr 26 '17 at 22:03
  • maybe passing here connotes temporary - "The misery is now upon us has just a trait of temporary greed " ? – Cavid Hummatov Apr 26 '17 at 22:16
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    @CavidHummatov It's not great writing, but the passing of greed can only be construed as a nominalization of greed passes: greed has to be the subject of pass. I think what the barber is trying to say is that the current misery is brought about by the last desperate efforts of greed-driven men to maintain their supremacy. Since pass (away) is a common euphemism for die, we might employ the same metaphor with slightly different terms: the misery is the "death throes" of greed. – StoneyB on hiatus Apr 26 '17 at 22:32
  • like the darkest hour is just before the dawn ? We've got nothing to lose but only misery? – Cavid Hummatov Apr 26 '17 at 22:41
  • @CavidHummatov Eh, sort of. – StoneyB on hiatus Apr 26 '17 at 23:12

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