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    surprise someone to something

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    surprise someone to something

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    Hello everyone,

    The following sentences are from a preface of Our Town:


    The end of the act is impressive, as full of poetry as are the ends of acts one and two, but more deeply conceived. The play first surprised the audience to gaiety and then - so wrote the Washington Herald - "slowly stilled it to a hushed silence with significance of its unadorned truth."


    Is it possible to say The play first surprised the audience to gaiety? Please what does that mean in this context? It's the preposition to before the noun that puzzles me here. I suspect it's written by a German editor. Please help. Thanks in advance.


    (Please post in English)




    Authorkeeblerelf (908281)  03 Dec 22, 11:59
    Comment

    I have no problem with the “to” there although it’s not a particularly common locution. I can imagine “surprised to silence,” “surprised to laughter,” and maybe others. It’s just like the similar construction in the subsequent part of the sentence (“ … stilled … to … silence … ”).

     

    It means that the play surprised its audience to begin with and that this surprise led to gaiety, or that it manifested itself in gaiety.

    #1AuthorBion (1092007) 03 Dec 22, 12:21
    Comment

    Thank you. Does that mean the audience was surprised and amused or exhilarated at one and the same time?

    #2Authorkeeblerelf (908281) 03 Dec 22, 12:31
    Comment

    I think the idea is more that the surprise in this case leads to, issues in, is followed by, gaiety.

    #3AuthorBion (1092007) 03 Dec 22, 12:37
    Comment

    OK, I understand now. Thank you very much indeed 🙂

    #4Authorkeeblerelf (908281)  03 Dec 22, 12:42
    Comment

    The time-gap may be short or the two mental events (surprise, gaiety) almost instantaneous.

    #5AuthorBion (1092007) 03 Dec 22, 12:44
    Comment

    Thanks again, Bion, that clarifies things even more. Thank you.

    #6Authorkeeblerelf (908281)  03 Dec 22, 12:55
    Comment

    "Is it possible to say The play first surprised the audience to gaiety?" It's possible to say anything, the real question is whether it's standard language. This expression is perfectly understandable to a native English speaker but I'd say it's not at all standard English. I suggest you avoid the construction unless you want to sound very poetic!

    #7Author FernSchreiber (1341928) 03 Dec 22, 18:33
    Comment

    OK, I see. Special thanks to you🙂

    #8Authorkeeblerelf (908281) 03 Dec 22, 20:48
     
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