What are some examples of the rhetorical devices Shakespeare uses in the "To Be Or Not To Be" soliloquy?Rhetorical Devices such as adage, alliteration, caesura, chiasmus, logos, pathos, anaphora,...

What are some examples of the rhetorical devices Shakespeare uses in the "To Be Or Not To Be" soliloquy?

Rhetorical Devices such as adage, alliteration, caesura, chiasmus, logos, pathos, anaphora, antistrophe, aside, assonance, consonance, enargia, ethos, isocolon, rhyme, or stichomythia?

Asked on by dstephe307

1 Answer | Add Yours

scarletpimpernel's profile pic

scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Caesura--notice the unique breaks in these two lines from the soliloquy through the use of colons and semicolons:
"To be, or not to be: that is the question:" and "To die: to sleep; No more;"

Antithesis--use of parallel structure to show contrasting ideas.  Notice the contrast of suffering for something good with fighting to end troubles in the lines below. Passivity v. aggression.

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? 

Anaphora: Notice how all of the following lines begin with "the" and then a form of possession ('s or "of").

The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

Pathos: Look for the many examples of this appeal in the soliloquy such as Hamlet's use of words such as "pangs" "heart-ache" or any other phrases which appeal to human emotions.

Logos: While Hamlet does not rely heavily on logos for this
speech's effect, he does reference some inarguable truths about human nature.  See if you can find at least one example.

These are certainly not the only rhetorical strategies that Shakespeare includes in this speech, but they're a start.

We’ve answered 318,911 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question