The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare
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In William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, what literary techniques can be found in the following quote? "And speak between the change of man and boy / With a reed voice, and turn two mincing steps / Into a manly stride, and speak of frays...."

In this quote from The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare uses the literary techniques of imagery, metaphor, personification, and parody as Portia describes to Nerissa how she is going to pretend to be a man.

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In the passage below in act 3, scene 4, Portia says,

And speak between the change of man and boyWith a reed voice, and turn two mincing stepsInto a manly stride, and speak of frays....

Portia is telling Nerissa that she is going to disguise herself as...

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In the passage below in act 3, scene 4, Portia says,

And speak between the change of man and boy
With a reed voice, and turn two mincing steps
Into a manly stride, and speak of frays....

Portia is telling Nerissa that she is going to disguise herself as man to defend Antonio. But rather than simply saying she is going to do this, she uses the literary device of imagery to paint a picture for Nerissa of how she will look and sound. Imagery is description that uses any of the five senses of sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell.

Portia says she will speak with a reedy voice, as if she is a teenaged young man. She also says she will turn her small, womanly steps into a man's long stride. We can hear and see what she is envisioning as she describes it.

Further, Portia uses the literary device of metaphor, a comparison that does not use the words "like" or "as," when she says that she will speak in a "reed voice." Portia compares her new male voice to a reed instrument that squeaks up and down.

Portia speaks with alliteration, which is placing words that begin with the same consonants close together to create a sense of rhythm. She does this with t, m, and s sounds when she states that she will "turn two mincing steps / Into a manly stride, and speak...."

Portia employs the literary technique of parody when she describes how she will imitate a man. Parody imitates in a way that pokes fun or mocks: Portia is having fun mocking how men speak and walk.

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