Hamlet Literary Devices

Simile comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind using like or as. It is used to make a description more vividPersonal ExampleAs strong as an elephant.Hamlet Example: “For it is, as the air, invulnerable, And our vain blows malicious mockery.” (Act 1, Scene 1, Line 144-145)
Metaphor word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.Personal Example: The world is a stage. Hamlet Example:”Besides, to be demanded of a sponge!” (Act 4, Scene 2, Line 12)
Imagery author’s use of vivid and descriptive language to add depth to their work in order to appeal to human senses.Personal Example:A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.Hamlet Example:” Within a month, Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears Had left the flushing in her gallèd eyes” (Act 1, Scene 2, Line 155-156)
Symbolism using an object or a word to represent an abstract idea.Personal Example: In the Great Gatsby, the heat symbolizes tension.Hamlet Example:’Tis an unweeded gardenThat grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature Possess it merely. That it should come to this” (Act 1, Scene 2, Line 135-137)
Alliteration the repetition of usually consonant sounds in two or more words Personal Example:She sells sea-shells down by the sea-shoreHamlet Example:”Whiles, like a puffed and reckless libertine, Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads” (Act 1, Scene 3, Line 49-50)
Consonance the repetition of sounds at the end of the word, but also refers to repeated sounds in the middle of a wordPersonal Example:The lumpy, bumpy road.Hamlet Example:”Till then sit still, my soul: foul deeds will rise though all the earth o’erwhelm them, to men’s eyes.” (Act 1, Scene 2, Line 256-257)
Assonance repetition of a vowel sound in a line of text or poetryPersonal Example:Go slow over the road.Hamlet Example:”With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts— O wicked wit and gifts, that have the power So to seduce!” (Act 1, Scene 5, Line 43-45)
Personification attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something non-living.Personal Example:The machine breathed one last time.Hamlet Example:”With less remorse than Pyrrhus’ bleeding sword” (Act 2, Scene 2, Line 454)
Foreshadowing an advance hint of what is to come later in the story by the writer Personal Example:In the Great Gatsby, the clock had issues working, kind of foreshadowing a death of someone in where their time will run out.Hamlet Example:”Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” (Act 1, Scene 4, Line 95)
Hyperbole exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.Personal Example:I’d wait my whole life for you. Hamlet Example: “We pray you, throw to earth This unprevailing woe, and think of usAs of a father” (Act 1, Scene 2, Line 106-108)
Understatement presentation of something as being smaller or less important than it actually isPersonal Example: During a hurricane, Maria said “It’s raining a bit more than usual”. Hamlet Example:”It is not nor it cannot come to good” (Act 1, Scene 2, Line 159)
Dramatic Irony Something is revealed to the audience but not to the other characters. Personal Example: In a movie, the killer is revealed, however the characters still are trying to find out the murderer. Hamlet Example:The whole concept of the readers knowing that Hamlet knows about Claudius, however Claudius does not know.
Verbal Irony words express something that is the opposite of the truth or what they really feel or mean.Personal Example:Yet Brutus says he was ambitious and Brutus is an honorable man.Hamlet Example:.
Situational Irony a situation in which actions have an effect that is opposite from what was intended (the opposite of what was expected) Personal Example:The fire station was burned down.Hamlet Example:Hamlet thought Claudius was behind the curtain spying and so he stabbed Polonius, not knowing it was polonius the whole time. He was not able to avenge his father just yet.
Motif a recurring symbol which takes on a figurative meaningPersonal Example: The moth in ‘The Death of a Moth” Hamlet Example: “‘Tis an unweeded gardenThat grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature Possess it merely. That it should come to this.” (Act 1, Scene 2, Line 135-137)
Oxymoron a figure of speech in which contradictory terms ARE RIGHT next to each other.Personal Example:Jumbo ShrimpHamlet Example:”I must be cruel only to be kind.” (Act 3, Scene 4, Line 181)
Paradox A contradiction bringing a hidden meaning. Personal Example:You have to spend money to make it.Hamlet Example:”The body is with the king, but the king is not with the body” (Act 4, Scene 2, Line 27-28)
Parallelism parts of the sentence are grammatically the same, or are similar in construction.Personal Example:The structure of the “I have a dream” speech.Hamlet Example:” ‘Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, Nor customary suits of solemn black,Nor windy suspiration of forced breath, No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,Nor the dejected ‘havior of the visage,Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief, That can denote me truly.” (Act 1, Scene 2, Line 78-83)
Theme main idea or an underlying meaning of a literary work that may be stated directly or indirectlyPersonal Example:In an episode of Black Mirror, everyone was too busy watching the news to realize that the princess was released minutes before the program started. In the end, someone stated “It looks like everyone was too busy to look outside”.Hamlet Example:In Hamlet, sometimes, becoming too dependent on your thirst for revenge and honor can lead to your own demise.