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In the sentence below I have two parts that I can't clearly understand. First, what function does the word 'any' have? As far as I understand it is usede to give some emphasis on the word 'heavier'. Can I omit it without changing the meaning of the sentence? Second, it's the meanong of the word. Basically, I know meaning of the word but I guess it has been used as a different meaning .

Samuel Smiles, a nineteenth­-century English author, wrote, “It is doubtful whether any heavier curse could be forced on man than the complete gratification of all his wishes without effort on his part, leaving nothing for his hopes, desires, or struggles.”

  • '“It is doubtful whether any heavier curse could be forced on man than ... ' is a shorter form of '“It is doubtful whether there is any heavier curse that could be forced on man than ...', and 'any' is necessary in both, except if using an archaic / obsolete style. (2) Curses are seen as being applied by a more powerful external agency, sentient beings in many belief systems. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 29 '17 at 23:34
  • Thank you for your kind explanation about the word 'any' but my second question is about 'forced' not 'curses'. I'd appreciate it if you happen to answer my question once again. – tammy Nov 30 '17 at 0:17
  • Curses are seen as being applied by a more powerful external agency, forced onto the hapless victim. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 30 '17 at 8:45
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With respect to "any," you could replace it with "a" and keep the sentence grammatical.

The implication of "forced" is that no one would choose such a dire situation, but of course being cursed is seldom a matter of choice. Thus, the sentence is a mixed metaphor, an indulgence in confused rhetoric.

If you eliminate the logical errors and over-wrought rhetoric, what the sentence means is: "It would be a curse for any man to be gratified in every hope and desire because then he would never need to struggle."

Stated that way, it is quite comprehensible but not necessarily persuasive because its premise that struggle is somehow "good" is not self-evidently true. Many times what is written in English seems incomprehensible due to its being nonsense rather due to any failure on the part of the reader or of the resources of the English language. It is quite possible, indeed frequent, to find perfectly grammatical English that makes no sense.

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