Can anyone help with examples of literary devices in Hamlet!
Sounds like a homework question. No problem there, but what is your teacher or book including in that term "literary devices?" The term is used in different ways. Does it include things like figures of speech, or does it mean things like themes and characterizations, or all-of-the-above?
A theme: revenge. Hamlet's supposed to take revenge against Claudius.
In very basic characterization, Hamlet is the protagonist, and Claudius is the antagonist.
In style, the play is a combination of blank verse, prose, and poetry.
If you need figures of speech, there's all kinds. But, do you need that? Please be a little more specific about what you're looking for.
You're right it is homework! I need Similes, Metaphors, Idioms, Alliteration, Personification.... I need five for each act. I'll take any help you can give me. I just can't get the hang of Shakespeare????
Simile. Bernardo is talking to Horatio, and he says,
Ber. Sit down awhile,
And let us once again assail your ears,
That are so fortified against our story,
Bernardo is saying that Horatio's ears are like a fort, that his story has to attack, to get through. Saying that one thing is like another, is simile.
But now then. *Take note of this.* Some people would call it "metaphor." Some will say that a simile has to have the word "like" in the statement itself. Does your book say that? Look at the textbook discussion and examples, and also go by what your teacher has said. You might need to call this "metaphor." It's going to depend on what your teacher thinks, as to whether this qualifies as simile, or you'll need to call it metaphor. I can only tell you that, and leave you on your own there.
Metaphor. Marcellus says,
Mar. Horatio says 'tis but our fantasy,
And will not let belief take hold of him
Marcellus is speaking as though "belief" had hands or claws that could grab a person. That's a metaphor. It isn't simile, because he isn't saying "belief" is like a person, or like a lion or some animal. He's just saying "belief" can grab. That puts it in the more general category of metaphor.
Personification. Marcellus says,
Doth make the night joint-labourer with the day?
He's talking as though "day" and "night" were people who were at work. (Actually, of course, it's the people themselves who are working.) He's describing non-human things as though they were persons, doing what a person does, working as laborers. So, personification.
More metaphor. Horatio says,
Shark'd up a list of lawless resolutes,
For food and diet, to some enterprise
That hath a stomach in't;
He's speaking as though "enterprise" had a stomach, that things could be fed to. People have stomachs, but we know this isn't personification, because he mentions a shark. But he isn't really saying it's like a shark. The "enterprise" is some kind of aggressive thing with a stomach, is all he's really saying. Not personification, and not simile, so that leaves it as metaphor.
But if a person takes it as "like a shark" that would put it into the category of simile. Even the experts could get into argument over this. Go by your teacher and textbook as to what you can call it. You'll probably need to call it metaphor.
Idiom. Polonius says,
Pol. Marry, well bethought!
"Marry" is idiom. It's a reference to the Virgin Mary, and people in those days used it the way we'd use "my goodness" or "golly." The different sort of expressions that people use, in different places and times, are idioms.
Alliteration. There's isn't much alliteration in Hamlet, but here's one.
Ghost. ... With witchcraft of his wit,
The repetition of the "w" make it alliterative.
Now, once again, you'll have to use your own judgment about what your teacher will accept. Even among experts there are sometimes arguments about exactly what a "simile" is, and etc. But maybe this will help to get you started.
Sibilance (can also be an apostophe):
O, most wicked speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
Have we, as 'twere with a defeated joy,--
With one auspicious and one dropping eye,
With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,
In equal scale weighing delight and dole,--
Seems, madam? nay, it is, I know not 'seems.'
That he is mad, 'tis true: 'tis true 'tis pity;
And pity 'tis 'tis true: a foolish figure
And in part him: ' do you mark this, Reynaldo?
Ay, very well, my lord.
'And in part him; but' you may say 'not well:
But, if't be he I mean, he's very wild;
Addicted so and so:' and there put on him
What forgeries you please; marry, none so rank
As may dishonour him; take heed of that;
But, sir, such wanton, wild and usual slips
As are companions noted and most known
To youth and liberty.
My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time;
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief.
You cannot, sir, take from me any thing that I will
more willingly part withal: except my life, except
my life, except my life.
the whiff and wind of his fell sword
(also "knotted and combined locks" at 1.5.18
"shot and danger of desire" at 1.3.35 and so on... there are 66 in all)
Mother, mother, mother!
Mother, good night. Indeed this counsellor
Is now most still, most secret and most grave,
Who was in life a foolish prating knave.
Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.
Good night, mother.
Once more, good night:
And when you are desirous to be bless'd,
I'll blessing beg of you.
be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as
snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a
(Rosencrantz' "massy wheel" speech)
The single and peculiar life is bound,
With all the strength and armour of the mind,
To keep itself from noyance; but much more
That spirit upon whose weal depend and rest
The lives of many. The cease of majesty
Dies not alone; but, like a gulf, doth draw
What's near it with it: it is a massy wheel,
Fix'd on the summit of the highest mount,
To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser things
Are mortised and adjoin'd; which, when it falls,
Each small annexment, petty consequence,
Attends the boisterous ruin. Never alone
Did the king sigh, but with a general groan.
Besides, to be demanded of a sponge!
I am glad of it: a knavish speech sleeps in a
Ear as synecdoche and metonymy is used quite often throughout the play, example:
so the whole ear of
Denmark Is by a forged process of my death
(and here "buzzers" can be an Onomatopoeia):
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
Her brother is in secret come from France;
Feeds on his wonder, keeps himself in clouds,
And wants not buzzers to infect his ear
With pestilent speeches of his father's death;
Wherein necessity, of matter beggar'd,
Will nothing stick our person to arraign
In ear and ear
She speaks much of her father; says she hears
There's tricks i' the world; and hems, and beats her heart;
Spurns enviously at straws; speaks things in doubt,
So full of artless jealousy is guilt,
It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.
You should be able to come up with some for Act 5.
Thank you so much for helping me. You deserve a lot of credit. This Hamlet stuff is hard for me to grasp, but thank you again, I really appreciate all the help.
There are many literary devices in Hamlet, you just have to get around the wordiness. Here are a few:
"up-spring" on line 610 is a KENNING, a two word combination used for a simple or proper pronoun, introduced into literature primarily by "Beowulf".
"Fate cries out" on line 690 and "Nature cannot choose his origin" on line 628 are examples of PERSONIFICATION, giving humanlike characteristics to non-human opjects, ideas, or foriegn entities.
"Why what should be the fear?" on line 670 is a RHETORICAL QUESTION, a question asked that goes on to be answered by the person who asked it, meaning that no answer was required from the audience in the first place.
"...and makes each petty artery in this body as hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve." on lines 691-692 is an example of a SIMILE, a comparison of two different things using like or as.
There are a few! Hope that helped.
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