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In Hamlet, please find literary terms in this passage. Terms such as personification,...

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ravenmailk | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted October 13, 2010 at 12:08 PM via web

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In Hamlet, please find literary terms in this passage. Terms such as personification, hyperboles, assonance, alliteration, synecdoche and OTHERS.

The passage is listed here on this website.


It's Hamlet's soliloquy. It starts with: "Now I am alone.
O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!"

and ends with: "More relative than this. The play's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King."

Please help! Thank you so much! ♥

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted October 13, 2010 at 12:22 PM (Answer #1)

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In this soliloquy, Hamlet's second in the play, we again see Hamlet in a very depressed state of mind.  He has just witnessed the enactment of a play by the Players and he can't help by compare himself to the actors and see himself lacking.

Here are a few examples of the some the techinques you will notice in this soliloquy:

He starts with a metaphor, calling himself a "rogue and peasant slave."  Hamlet is a prince by birth, but his lack of action in revenging his father's death makes him see himself as like someone from the lowest class of society.  He is a slave to his emotions and intellect instead of being the ruler of those things and he knows that this is just part of his problem.

When he is talking about the actor's performance he claims that the actor could "drown the stage with tears."  This is an example of hyperbole used to express the extreme emotion shown by the actors for their tale. 

When Hamlet's anger rises at the thought of Claudius he calls him a "Bloody, bawdy villian."  The alliteration here draws attention and emphasis to the  adjectives he is using to describe Claudius.

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rienzi | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted October 14, 2010 at 11:36 PM (Answer #2)

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The most obvious feature of this soliloquy is the pathos. As much as Hamlet thinks he is unmoved he has clearly been struck to the soul by the players speech. Fiqures of speech displaying pathos such as asyndeton  and brachylogia are shown by:

That from her working all his visage wann'd,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,
A broken voice (asyndeton)

Make mad the guilty and appal the free,
Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
The very faculties of eyes and ears. (polysyndeton)

Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!
O, vengeance! (brachylogia)

There is also a wealth of rhetorical questions Hamlet asks that are known as erotema.  There are other figures of pathos; a boat load that I don't have time to unravel but you get the idea. (see the byu site below)

Here are some examples of Metonymy:

He would drown the stage with tears
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech

Probably half of the uses of "ear" in the play are metonymy or synechdoche.


see, The Development of Shakespeare's Rhetoric by Daniel Keller

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