What poetic/literary/stylistic devices are evident in in Hamlet's soliloquy in Act 4 scene 4 of Hamlet?
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Shakespeare’s soliloquy here, as in many of his soliloquys, is not overly poetic – that is, not overly stylistically artificial or self-conscious. They were not intended to stand alone as poetic discourse by one narrator (Aristotle’s criterion for verse) but as internal dialogues revealing of character, here almost a dialogic argument between two forces inside the character’s head (one arguing for action and one arguing for thoughtfulness). He compares the impulses of beasts to the god-like ability of Man to choose actions (such as revenge). Other than the standard iambic pentameter line (ideal for realistic discussion in English), very few poetic “tricks” are visible – an occasional poetic contraction (“do’t) for meter – some syntactic inversion (“or be nothing worth”) – and of course metaphors and other figures of speech (what may appear like a poetic vocabulary is in fact fairly standard for 16th-17th century English, especially in dramatic performance). The real strength of the soliloquy lies in its persuasive rhetorical language; in it, Hamlet actually argues himself into action (“O, from this time forth,/My thought be bloody or be nothing worth!”); and the final rhymed couplet, a standard form of closure, adds considerable strength to his resolve.
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