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What literary devices were used in "Whoso List to Hunt" by Sir Thomas Wyatt?

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jmallexa1 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 31, 2009 at 5:39 AM via web

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What literary devices were used in "Whoso List to Hunt" by Sir Thomas Wyatt?

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 31, 2009 at 5:48 AM (Answer #1)

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This is an example of a Petarchan sonnet--one octet and a sestet, fourteen lines.  The problem or issue is the woman the speaker loves is enticing and irresistable, but unattainable since she belongs to the King. 

The metaphor is used (the woman is compared to the deer [hind] which run freely in the King's forest lands and are illegal to hunt--punishable by death to those who are caught) to show the thrill of the hunt or pursuit of the woman.  The speaker tells others that they can go ahead with the chase as he is tired of the hunt--she is not as tame as she appears. 

The author also uses the classical allusion.  The "deer" is probably Anne Boleyn, and Wyatt also alludes to Caesar's deer--meaning the woman belongs to the all-powerful King of England, Henry VIII (Caesar).

Irony is also used in lines 13-14 of the poem since the deer so completely belonged to him that she is later beheaded for trumped up charges of infidelity.

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