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A Midsummer Night's Dream

by William Shakespeare

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What are some literary devices in act 2, scene 2 of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, specifically in lines 53-61 (from "Lysander riddles very prettily" to "good night, sweet friend")?

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William Shakespeare employs a variety of literary devices in the following passage from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act 2, scene 2, lines 53-61):

Hermia. Lysander riddles very prettily: 
Now much beshrew my manners and my pride, 
If Hermia meant to say Lysander lied.    [55]
But, gentle friend, for love and courtesy 
Lie further off; in human modesty, 
Such separation as may well be said 
Becomes a virtuous bachelor and a maid, 
So far be distant; and, good night, sweet friend:   [60]
Thy love ne'er alter till thy sweet life end!

In line 54, notice how the phrase “my manners” is balanced by the phrase “my pride.”

In line 54, notice the use of alliteration in the heavy emphasis on “m.”

Lines 54-55 are examples of a rhymed couplet, a form used throughout this passage.

In line 55, notice how “Hermia” is balanced by “Lysander.”

In line 56, notice how “love” and “courtesy” are balanced.

In line 58, alliteration is strongly featured thanks to the heavy emphasis on the consonant “s.”

In line 59, notice how “bachelor” is balanced by “maid.”

In line 60, notice how the structure of the first five words echoes the structure of the first four words of line 57.

In line 60, notice how the phrase “sweet friend” echoes the phrase “gentle friend” from line 56.

In line 61, notice the heavy emphasis on alliteration because of the repeated “l” sound.

In line 61, notice how the word “sweet” echoes the use of the same word in line 60.

In short, this passage is full of balanced phrasing and paired phrases – techniques that are appropriate in a play that is so full of emphasis on couples and pairs.



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