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