What language devices does Shakespeare use in act 1, scene 1?

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There are a huge number of literary devices in the opening scene of Hamlet, but here are just a few of them:

  • Hendiadys . This rather strange looking word is a rhetorical device in which a complex idea is expressed using two words separated by a conjunction such as...

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There are a huge number of literary devices in the opening scene of Hamlet, but here are just a few of them:

  • Hendiadys. This rather strange looking word is a rhetorical device in which a complex idea is expressed using two words separated by a conjunction such as "and." So for instance, we have the following words spoken by Horatio in line 67-68:
But in the gross and scope of mine opinion
This bodes some strange eruption to our state. (Emphasis added).
In other words, Horatio senses there's something wrong, but doesn't quite know what.
  • The last line just quoted also gives us imagery. Horatio uses the image of the Ghost to highlight the sense of foreboding caused by the spook's presence.
  • In line 77 Marcellus provides us with a metaphor. He compares the shipbuilders working round the clock to prepare ships for the imminent war with Norway to night working with day. ("Doth make the night joint laborer with the day?") This heightens the already rapidly-building tension, showing us how the onset of war has turned everything upside-down, blurring the very distinction between night and day.
  • Later on in the scene, Horatio uses personification, which is when a lifeless object is endowed with human characteristics. He describes the dawn as being "in russet mantle clad," (i.e. wearing red clothing) and walking over the dew of a distant eastward hill. The dawn cannot, of course, wear clothes or walk, but personification helps to make its sudden appearance all the more striking.
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