What are some examples of figures of speech and sound devices used in William Shakespeare's Othello? Can you give specific references?

Expert Answers
thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Figurative language is often divided into categories, including figures of thought (sometimes called tropes) and figures of speech based on either sonic or syntactic patterns. During the Renaissance, handbooks and manuals on figurative language, either in the form of stand-alone works or extended sections in more general textbooks, proliferated and were taught in the schools, and thus it is highly probable that Shakespeare would have been acquainted with them. Some of the best known included George Puttenham's The Arte of English Poesie, Roger Ascham's The Scholemaster, Henry Peacham's The Garden of Eloquence, and Richard Sherry's A Treatise of Schemes and Tropes.

Sound devices:

Alliteration is defined as the repetition of consonants. The repitition of the initial "h" in  the following quotation is an example of alliteration. "I have charged thee not to haunt about my doors: In honest plainness thou hast heard me say" (Act 1 Scene 1).

Caesura is a break or pause in the middle of a line. It was used regularly in Homeric epic and Old English poetry, as part of a metrical scheme. In "Othello" its function is mainly expressive. An example (with || marking the caesura) is: "Justice to break her sword! || One more, one more." (Act 5 Scene 2)

Syntactic Device:

Diacope is a type of repetition, but with intervening words between the first and subsequent uses of the repeated phrase. An example is: "Put out the light, and then put out the light." (Act 5 Scene 2) 


Metaphor is an implied comparison in which one discusses one thing in terms of something else. One of the best known metaphors in "Othello" is: "O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; /It is the green-ey'd monster, which doth mock/The meat it feeds on.” (Act 3 Scene 1)