In Hamlet, what literary devices can you identify in the following passage? Please help me find metaphors, synecdoche, images, similes.  It is listed here on this website....

In Hamlet, what literary devices can you identify in the following passage? Please help me find metaphors, synecdoche, images, similes.

 

It is listed here on this website.

http://www.enotes.com/hamlet-text/act-ii-scene-ii?start=5

It's Hamlet's soliloquy. It starts with: "Now I am alone.
O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!"

and ends with: "More relative than this. The play's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King."

Please help! Thank you so much! ♥

Asked on by ravenmailk

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jmj616's profile pic

jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

a) Metaphors are comparisons that do not use the word "like" or "as."  Some examples:

"O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I."  Hamlet is not really a slave; in fact, he is a prince.  He means to say that he is acting like a peasant slave who lacks courage. 

 "Why, what an ass am I!"  Hamlet is not really a donkey.  He means to say that he is acting foolishly, like a donkey.

b) Images.  The two metaphors above can also be considered examples of imagery; they cause us to picture slaves and jackasses in our minds.  Other images are:

"drown the stage with tears";

"I should have fatted all the region kites/With this slave's offal" (I should have fed all the hunting birds in the region
With my body’s decaying flesh);

c) Similes are comparisons that use the word "like" or "as."  Some examples:

"Yet I...peak like a John-a-dreams" (shrink from my task of revenging my father's murder like a dreamy fellow);

"I...must...fall down cursing like a very drab, / Menial servant in the kitchen."

d) A synechdoche is a figure of speech in which a part is used to represent the whole (abc for alphabet) or the whole represents a part (Boston won the World Series).  The term is also used for other substitutions, such as the object contained for the container ("I was injured by some pickles" rather than "I was injured by a can of pickles), and the action instead of the actor.

This passage contains an example of the last type of synechdoche:

Because murder, although it is silent, will speak
With its own most miraculous organ.

Hamlet does not mean that "murder" can speak.  Rather he means that the person who committed the murder, Claudius, can be made to speak by having him witness a play that is "something like the murder" of Hamlet's father.

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