What literary devices are used in William Shakespeare's Hamlet in act 2, scene 2, lines 170–214?

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Shakespeare uses one of his favorite techniques in this scene: dramatic irony. Dramatic irony occurs when the audience has information that characters in a story do not. We as the audience have witnessed Hamlet's encounter with the ghost, which Polonius knows nothing about. We know that the ghost's revelation is what is motivating Hamlet's behavior. We also have heard Hamlet say that he is going to pretend to be crazy. Much of the dark comedy of this scene comes from our knowledge juxtaposed against Polonius's cluelessness as he tries to make sense of Hamlet's behavior. Polonius will decide it is the result of lovesickness.

Hamlet himself employs imagery, which is description using the five senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. For example, we can see the unpleasant image of age Hamlet provides when he states that

old men have gray beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber . . .

Hamlet also uses repetition, which creates a sense of emphasis, such as when he says, "Words, words, words" and "except my life, except my life, except my life."

Alliteration occurs when Hamlet says the words "powerfully" and "potently" and in the repeated "m" sounds when Polonius states of Hamlet that "Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t."

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In William Shakespeare's Hamlet in Act 2, Scene 2 lines 170-214, Hamlet is having a conversation with Polonius, father of Ophelia, in which Hamlet is pretending to be insane. Polonius thinks that the reason for this insanity may be that Hamlet is deeply in love with Ophelia and suffering lovesickness.

Both Hamlet and Polonious are engaging in forms of duplicity, making indirect statements rather than direct ones, a rhetorical device known as "insinuation." Hamlet's description of an honest man as "one man picked out of ten thousand" is a form of hyperbole, or exaggeration.  Hamlet frequently interrupts himself or changes direction in mid-sentence, a device know as anacolouthon, as in:

For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog,

being a god kissing carrion,--Have you a daughter?

In attributing the slanders directed at old men to his reading, Hamlet simultaneously insults Polonius while claiming to be refraining from doing so, a device known as praeteritio.

In describing old men's eyes as "purging thick amber," Hamlet is using a metaphor, a comparison that does not use the explicit comparative terms "like" or "as." The overall extended description of old men is a form of ekphrasis, or vivid description.

Lines 185-190 are an aside, in which Polonius is speaking to himself rather than Hamlet.

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