Analyse the use and significance of rhetorical devices in Hamlet.

nandini289 | Student

Language plays a major role in the definition of a character's trait in conditioning our response to him.We must appreciate that great popularity that Shakespeare and his characters have enjoyed over the last four centuries owes itself in a manner way to the language of his plays. what the characters say is important, because they linger in our minds for what they say as much as for what they do or feel or suffer. But the way they say what they say is of paramount importance. The manner and method of a speaker affects the response of the audience to what they hear. Theatre-goers  respond not merely to the meaning of words, but also how the words are conveyed to them. Shakespeare's choice of metre, rhythm, imagery and of course , diction, determines how we respond to what the characters say, and to the characters themselves. Ultimately this affects- enriches-- the total experience of interacting with a play on stage or on page. The meaning of the word is important but attention should be paid to what goes into making the meaning of words effective communication and manipulation of audience response.


An interesting aspect of Shakespeare's use of language is thefact that certain linguistic features are meant to be appreciated as rhetorical devices for their own sake and not merely as starting points for generalisations for the larger context of the text. Rhetorical devices and figures of speech such as

"Love's fire heats water cools not love" ---Shakespeare


"This royal throne of kings,this sceptred isle,

this earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,

This other Eden..." --Shakespeare

are considered of little importance on a closer examination of the taxt today. Thompson and Taylor have drawn attention to George T. Wright's analysis of Shakespeare's use of hendiadys, a rhetorical figure which Shakespeare uses over 300 times and there are 66 examples of it in Hamlet alone.

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