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What poetic/literary/stylistic devices are evident in in Hamlet's soliloquy in Act 4...

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noura10 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 22, 2011 at 12:20 AM via web

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What poetic/literary/stylistic devices are evident in in Hamlet's soliloquy in Act 4 scene 4 of Hamlet?

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted October 22, 2011 at 2:59 AM (Answer #1)

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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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