What are some of the stylistic devices used by Shakespeare in the "nunnery scene" of Hamlet (Act III, scene 1)?
In Hamlet Act III, scene i, Hamlet switches from poetry to prose, playing the "crazy Hamlet" version of himself. He begins the inquisition of his witness with rhetorical questions: "Ha, ha! are you honest?" and "Are you fair?"
Remember, Hamlet's really talking through Ophelia to his mother:
The main speech has many dualities: "breeder of sinners" vs. "honest" and "fair."
It's fraught with religious imagery: "nunnery," "offences," "sinners," "heaven."
It's full of metaphors and analogies:
It's full of cause-effect rhetoric:
It's got anaphora: "Go" and "go to" and "you jig, you amble, and you lisp..."
And lots of verbal irony (sarcasm). I love it when Hamlet speaks like he's king:
In Act 3.1 of Shakespeare's Hamlet, in the nunnery scene as you call it, Shakespeare uses a paradox (he uses other devices, as well, but I'll stick to this one: the others are admirably covered above).
Hamlet says in lines 113-115:
Ay, truly, for the power of beauty will sooner tansform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness. This was sometime a paradox, but now the time gives it proof. I did love you once.
Hamlet says that beauty can turn honesty, or chastity, into a pimp or a whore, more quickly than honesty, or chastity, can change beauty into a virgin. Beauty can turn a woman into a bawd, but honesty or chastity cannot change a beautiful woman into a virgin.
Hamlet is indirectly condemning Ophelia for the role she is playing for Claudius and her father, Polonius--the role of spy. She has been hired, so to speak, to return Hamlet's gifts and pretend she doesn't love him, in order to see how he reacts, and to help determine the cause of his madness.