the merchant of venicewhat are some literary devices in merchant of venice

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vangoghfan's profile pic

vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Consider the first two lines of the play:

Antonio. In sooth, I know not why I am so sad:

alliteration in the repeated "s" sounds

assonance in the repeated long "o" and long "i" sounds

It wearies me; you say it wearies you;

rhetorical balance, signalled by the semicolon



mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

  • The three caskets that Portia must put out for the suitors are certainly symbolic.
  • In a sense Shylock is symbolic of the unethical jewish moneylenders and merchants of Venice
  • Portia makes a pun of the word "will" in her conversation to her waiting woman, Nerissa, is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father. (I.ii.24-25).

  • Allusion is used. In Act I, Scene I, for instance, Salerio, a friend of Antonio refers to "two-headed Janus," a Roman god of entrances and all beginnings (l.50) Also, in this scene, Gratiano alludes to a Greek oracle when he says,"I am a sir Oracle."
  • Parallelism is used in Act 2, Scene 6 as Lorenzo declares,

For she is wise, if I can judge of her;
And fair she is, if that mine eyes be true;
And true she is, as she hath prov'd herself;(ll.53-55)

  • Metaphor is used in Act 3, Scene 5 as Lorenzo says, "An army of good words" suggesting how words can be subject to multiple interpretations. 

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