What figure of speech used in the following statement? "He had indeed, almost natural..." (Twelfth Night, Act I, Sc, 3, line 23)

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In keeping with the motif of revelry and the festivities of the last night of Christmastime, Sir Toby and Maria engage in light banter with one another. Rather frivolously, too, Sir Toby considers his friend, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, as a better mate to his niece Olivia than the Duke Orsino. That he thinks in such a manner is an indication of his sense of "all's fair in love." This attitude underscores Shakespeare's theme of the "universality of love," also, as Sir Toby considers Sir Andrew the equal of any man, even Duke Orsino.

In their verbal exchange, then, Sir Toby suggests Sir Andrew as a suitor for his niece Olivia, declaring that he can speak three or four languages and "hath all the good gifts of nature"(1.3.25). To this Maria retorts, 

He hath indeed, almost natural-: for besides that he's
a fool, he's a great quarreler; and but that he hath the gift
of a coward to allay the gust he hath in quarrelling, 'tis
thought among the prudent he would quickly have the gift
of a grave.(1.3.26-30)

Here Maria makes a pun on the word natural that Sir Toby has employed. In Shakespeare's time natural also meant idiot in the vernacular. In addition, this use of a word twice with a new meaning in the second instance is a figurative device called ploce. With these playful uses of words, Sir Toby and Maria continue their banter.



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