Explain why you consider "the serpent that did sting thy father's life, now wears his crown" a metonomy or an implied metaphor?My concern is understanding the difference between metonomy and...

Explain why you consider "the serpent that did sting thy father's life, now wears his crown" a metonomy or an implied metaphor?

My concern is understanding the difference between metonomy and implied metaphor.  They seem very similar to me.  This is not necessarily a Hamlet question, but more of a figurative language question.  This is not for an assignment, but just for my own understanding.

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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There are actually two figures of speech in this quote. The first is a metaphor: Claudius is a serpent who stung (killed) King Hamlet. The fact that he "now wears his crown" is a metonymy. The crown is a thing associated with kings and therefore represents not just the literal crown but the position, role, and duties of the King. 

By defintion, a metaphor is an implied comparison of one thing to another, in the this case, Claudius to a serpent. This is an interesting metaphor because sperents have an infamous reputation for representing evil ever since the Biblical story of Adam and Eve. In Hamletthe Garden of Eden is the kingdom of Denmark under King Hamlet's excellent rule. Claudius's murder of the king threatens that paradise with such obvious corruption. It is kind of a "fun" metaphor too because the Ghost reveals that he was poisoned while taking nap in his orchard (garden) and that the "story" of his death was an actual snake bite. It is a story that everyone believed because that was a plausible cause of death, and there was no evidence to the contrary. The stereotype of snakes is that they are sneaky and deadly. That certainly applies to Claudius!

As for the metonymy of "crown" it is actually an example that is frequently used to teach the concept of metonymy. A king's crown is a symbol of his power or a "thing closely associated with" the king himself. It is at the top of his physical self just as the king is the top of his kingdom. That Claudius becomes King after the the murder connects him to the former King and his position.

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