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In Shakespeare's Hamlet, the Bard used both symbolism and imagery to make his plots more interesting and his characters more believable.
Look at imagery. It is defined as...
...the author’s attempt to create a mental picture (or reference point) in the mind of the reader.
Imagery describes; it generally is geared toward creating a visual picture in one's mind by the use of highly effective language; however, sensory details in this kind of writing can also appeal to the other senses as well. It is figurative language, and literary devices used can include similes, metaphors, etc. One source gives an excellent example of basic, but beautiful and impactful imagery, as shown in poet William Carlos Williams' "The Red Wheelbarrow:"
...which involve[d] the appearances of everyday, ordinary objects like a "red wheel / barrow / glazed with rain / water..."
The color "red" stands out, as does the "glazed" surface, shiny with the rainwater.
Shakespeare also uses imagery in a highly effective way. In Act One, scene two, Hamlet is terribly depressed. His father is dead; within only a few months' time, his mother has remarried—Hamlet's uncle, which the Elizabethans (and Hamlet) believed was incestuous. Gertrude and Claudius are telling him, after only months, to get over his father's death. Hamlet hates his life. In this speech, he wishes he could die: he says he wishes his solid flesh would just disintegrate, or "melt" and turn into "dew," that would simply then disappear or evaporate.
O, that this too too sullied flesh would melt,
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew... (132-133)
The imagery here is more powerful than: I wish I were dead. Hamlet wants to disappear, and his pain is all the more apparent in that death is not enough: he wants it to be as if he had never existed at all.
A word, place, character, or object that means something beyond what it is on a literal level.
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