In Act IV of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, what stylistic devices appear in the speech by Oberon beginning "Her dotage" and ending "disgrace bewail"?

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In Act 4, scene 1 of William Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Oberon, king of the fairies, speaks the following words to Puck when Oberon begins to feel sorry for the sleeping Titania, queen of the fairies, who has fallen in love with a commoner (Bottom) who has been turned into an ass by Puck:

Her dotage now I do begin to pity:
For, meeting her of late behind the wood, 
Seeking sweet favours from this hateful fool, 
I did upbraid her and fall out with her; 
For she his hairy temples then had rounded 
With a coronet of fresh and fragrant flowers; 
And that same dew, which sometime on the buds 
Was wont to swell like round and orient pearls, 
Stood now within the pretty flowerets' eyes 
Like tears that did their own disgrace bewail.

This passage displays a number of literary devices, including the following:

  • alliteration in (for example) “dotage” and “do”; “fresh and fragrant flowers”; “same” and “sometime”; and “Was” and “wont.”
  • assonance in, for example, “Seeking” and “sweet.”
  • iambic pentameter rhythm, in lines using ten syllables in which each even syllable is accented, as in these lines “For, meeting her of late behind the wood” and also in each of the following lines:

Was wont to swell like round and orient pearls, 
Stood now within the pretty flowerets' eyes 
Like tears that did their own disgrace bewail.

  • similes, as indicated by the use of “like” in the first and third of the lines just quoted.
  • a metaphor, as in the reference to the “flowerets’ eyes.”

 

 

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