What are examples of figurative language used in Act III, Scene 2 of King Lear?

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iandavidclark3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Act III, Scene 2 of Shakespeare's King Lear is absolutely central to the play, and it accordingly employs some of the story's most lyrical language. The most extensive example of figurative language in this scene is personification, as Lear personifies the storm and raging elements by giving them human qualities. 

The first example of personification comes in the first line of the scene, when Lear urges the storm to "crack your cheeks; rage, blow" (1). The stormy elements of nature do not actually have cheeks, nor do they literally "rage." As such, we can see Lear is giving the elements human qualities and thus heightening our ability to imagine the intensity of the storm. Later in the scene, Lear advances his personification of the storm by calling the elements "servile ministers" (21), and so he directly imagines the storm having a human profession. 

It's also worth mentioning that this scene employs an apostrophe. In terms of figurative language, an apostrophe is an address to an absent character, or to a thing or abstract idea. In this scene, Lear very clearly addresses the storm as if it were a thinking being, saying "I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness" (16). Since the weather is not a thinking being or an actual character, Lear's direct address of the storm as "you" is an apostrophe.  

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King Lear

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