Hamlet’s most celebrated soliloquy is particularly full of metaphors and arresting visual images. We have the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” taking arms against a sea of troubles (a mixed metaphor, since one does not take arms against a sea), the “sleep of death,” “this mortal coil,” “the whips and scorns of time,” the “undiscover’d country,” and “the pale cast of thought.”
These metaphors and images lend a vivid quality to a speech which might easily have been obscure, since it is philosophically rather abstract and comes to a monumentally depressing conclusion (life is very bad and no one would bear it but for the possibility that death may be even worse). Time and fate are repeatedly presented as weapons or instruments of oppression while life itself is a burden, a “fardel,” under which suffering humanity grunts and sweats.
The other principal literary device that is used throughout the speech is repetition. This comes both in the form of...
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