William Butler Yeats

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What literary devices does Yeats use in "The Cat and the Moon"?

Literary devices that Yeats uses in "The Cat and the Moon" include personification, apostrophe, simile, alliteration, and assonance.

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In his poem “The Cat and the Moon,” William Butler Yeats employs numerous literary devices. These include personification, apostrophe, rhetorical questions, simile, alliteration, and assonance.

Both the main character, the cat, and the moon are endowed with human traits. This use of personification helps establish an equivalence between the two. Yeats calls the cat “kin” to the moon. He also personifies both by suggesting that they are dancing together. In doing so, he also uses rhetorical questions. In the first question, “Do you dance?” he also uses apostrophe or direct address, as the speaker poses this question to the cat.

A simile is a comparison for effect between unlike things using “like” or “as.” In the first two lines, Yeats uses a simile to describe the moon’s motion, saying that it “spun round like a top.”

Several times, Yeats uses alliteration, the repetition of an initial consonant sound. He gives the cat a name, “Minnaloushe,” that begins with M, thus making it alliterative with “moon.” Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds anywhere in the word. He thus employs assonance in the “oo” sound of this name and moon. Other instances of alliteration employ initial K or hard C sounds in “kin” and “creeping cat,” which recurs later in “close kindred.” Another instance occurs in the initial W sound in “wander and wail as he would.”

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