By Eric Getz
Vivid and descriptive language that
appeals to one or more of the senses
(sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste)
Ophelia’s description of Hamlet in Act II, Scene
1, lines 87-94
“My lord, as I was sewing in my closet,
Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbraced;
No hat upon his head; his stockings foul'd,
Ungarter'd, and down-gyved to his ancle;
Pale as his shirt; his knees knocking each other;
And with a look so piteous in purport
As if he had been loosed out of hell
To speak of horrors,--he comes before me.”
“The hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old
rag mats. At one end of it a coloured poster, too
large for indoor display, had been tacked to the
wall. It depicted simply an enormous face,
more than a metre wide: the face of a man of
about forty-five, with a heavy black moustache
and ruggedly handsome features.”
A figure of thought involving the
comparison of one thing with another
thing of a different kind, explicitly
using the word “like” or “as”
“The knotted and combined locks to part, And
each particular hair to stand an end, Like quills
upon the fearful porpentine.” (Act 1. sc. 5. ll 2426)
In the movie Forrest Gump, Forrest uses a simile
when he says," Life is a like a box of chocolates,
you never know what you’re going to get.”
A figure of thought in which a word or
phrase is applied to another object or
action to which it is not literally
applicable, without asserting an explicit
In Act I, Scene 2, Line 146, Hamlet says, “Fie
on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden, That
grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature”
Hamlet compares the world to an unweeded
garden that produces things "rank and gross in
The line “eyes are windows to the soul” from
Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner is
clearly a metaphor.
A figure of thought in which a personal
nature or human characteristics are
attributed to something nonhuman, or the
representation of an abstract quality in
human form
In Act 1, Scene 1, Line 166, Horatio says, "But
look the morn in russet mantle clad / Walks
o'er the dew of yon high eastward hill."
"He imagined the ship dangling upside down
on the undersurface of the Earth, the giant
fingers of gravity holding them firmly in
An address to a dead or absent person
or to an inanimate object or abstract
In Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 135-136, Hamlet uses an
apostrophe, speaking directly to "frailty.”
“ Let me not think on't—Frailty, thy name is
In Star Trek, Captain Kirk uses an apostrophe
when he, frustrated because of the work of his
arch nemesis Khan, shakes his fist at the air and
screams, "KHAAAAAN!"
An object, action, or event that
represents something, or creates a range
of associations beyond itself
When Ophelia loses her mind in Act IV, Scene V ,
she directly discusses the symbolic meaning of
many of the flowers she hands out
“There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray, love,
remember, and there is pansies. That's for thoughts
[…]. There's fennel for you, and columbines: there's rue
for you; and here's some for me: we may call it herbgrace o' Sundays: O you must wear your rue with a
difference. There's a daisy: I would give you some
violets, but they withered all when my father died.”
In The Kite Runner, a kite symbolizes Amir’s
happiness as well as his guilt over what
happened to Hassan.
A symbolic narrative in which the
surface details imply a secondary
A cosmic allegory?
Some scholars speculate that Hamlet can be
viewed as cosmic allegory with different
characters representing different views of the
solar system with Copernicus’ Heliocentric
theory eventually triumphing over the
competing geocentric models
This allegory is reinforced by the theme of the
way things seem versus the way they really are
George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a powerful
allegory of the Russian Revolution and the
subsequent Stalinist totalitarian regime.
A trope in which a statement that
appears on the surface to be
contradictory or impossible turns out
to express an often striking truth
Hamlet, in Act 3, Scene 4, Line 181, says “I
must be cruel only to be kind.”
A common paradoxical phrase used in the
novella is “All animals are equal but some are
more equal than others.”
A trope in which a point is stated in a
way that is greatly exaggerated
In Act 2 Scene 2 Lines 589-590, Hamlet uses
hyperbole in his second soliloquy
“He would drown the stage with tears And
cleave the general ear with horrid speech….”
In the movie The Sandlot Ham Porter clearly
uses hyperbole when he says," You're killing
me smalls!”
A form of irony in which a point is
deliberately expressed as less, in
magnitude value or importance, than it
actually is.
In Act I, Scene 2, Line 158, Hamlet uses
understatement, to end his soliloquy, stating
that “It is not nor it cannot come to good”
This is quite mild compared with the rest of
his speech.
In Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio refers to his fatal
wound as “a scratch.”
A contrast or discrepancy between what is said and what is
meant or between what happens and what is expected to
happen in life and in literature. In verbal irony, characters
say the opposite of what they mean. In irony of
circumstance or situation, the opposite of what is expected
occurs. In dramatic irony, a character speaks in ignorance of
a situation or event known to the audience or to the other
A great example of dramatic irony in Hamlet is
when Hamlet is right behind Claudius as
Claudius, thinking he is alone, confesses his
crimes in Act 3 Scene 3.
Indeed, at the end of the scene Claudius admits
that he, despite what Hamlet thought (Hamlet
did not kill him because he wanted him to die
unholy), never actually prayed, which is
another example of dramatic irony as Hamlet
was wrong and only the audience knew.
The plot of the movie series Final Destination
revolves around irony because the characters in
trying to avoid death end up dying an even
worse death they had originally imagined.
A rhetorical device in which two or
more clauses are balanced against each
other by the reversal of their structures
in order to produce an artistic effect
Polonius uses chiasmus with the line “'tis true
'tis pity, And pity 'tis, 'tis true-a foolish figure.”
(Hamlet 2.2.98-99)
“The instinct of a man is to pursue everything
that flies from him, and to fly from all
that pursues him.” (Voltaire)
A trope which substitutes the name of
an entity with something else closely
associated with it.
In Hamlet, Old Fortinbras, the King of Norway,
is often referred to as just Norway such as in
Act 1 Scene 1 Line 61, “When he the ambitious
Norway combated.” (Below is Young
In the television show White Collar, Mozzi often
refers to Peter, an FBI agent, simply as “suit”.
A figure of speech in which the term
for part of something is used to
represent the whole, or vice versa
Hamlet says in Act 1, Scene 2, Line 129 ,“O,
that this too too solid flesh would melt”
In this synecdoche flesh represents Hamlet’s
physical life.
“Tell that its sculptor well those passions
read Which yet survive, stamped on these
lifeless things, The hand that mocked them.”
The “hand” refers to the sculptor
A conversation or speech characterized
by quick, witty comments or replies.
A repartee is like a verbal fencing
In Act 5, Scene 1, Hamlet engages in repartee with the grave
HAMLET I think it be thine, indeed, for thou liest in ’t.
GRAVEDIGGER You lie out on ’t, sir, and therefore it is not yours.
For my part, I do not lie in ’t, and yet it is min
HAMLET Thou dost lie in ’t, to be in ’t and say it is thine. 'Tis for
the dead, not for the quick. Therefore thou liest.
GRAVEDIGGER ’Tis a quick lie, sir. 'Twill away gain from me to
HAMLET What man dost thou dig it for?
GRAVEDIGGER For no man, sir.
HAMLET What woman, then?
GRAVEDIGGER For none, neither.
HAMLET Who is to be buried in ’t?
GRAVEDIGGER One that was a woman, sir, but, rest her soul, she is
A great example of repartee is in the movie
Good Will Hunting during the scene at the bar
across from Harvard where Will engages in a
witty argument with a student at the bar.
A technique in drama or poetry, in
which alternating lines, or half-lines,
are given to alternating characters,
voices, or entities
In Act 3 Scene 4 the back and forth dialogue
between Hamlet and his mother is an example of
QUEEN: Hamlet, thou hast thy father much
offended. HAMLET: Mother, you have my father
much offended. QUEEN: Come, come, you
answer with an idle tongue. HAMLET: Go, go,
you question with a wicked tongue.
QUEEN: Why, how now, Hamlet?
HAMLET: What’s the matter now?
Shakespeare also uses stichomythia in Richard III
LADY ANNE: I would I knew thy
Someone based on a common literary or
social stereotype. Stock characters rely
heavily on cultural types or names for
their personality, manner of speech, and
other characteristics
Polonius is the stock character in Hamlet of an
irascible old man who provides some comic
relief by, as a man of former wisdom, acting as
comical meddler who does not recognize his
own age.
C-3P0 from the Star Wars movie series is a great
example of the stock character of a heroic
The occurrence of the same letter or
sound at the beginning of adjacent or
closely connected words.
In Act I, Scene 5, Line 43 the ghost uses
alliteration with the phrase,” With witchcraft of
his wit”
The movie V for Vendetta contains a great
example of alliteration when V says,’’ Voilà! In
view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast
vicariously as both victim and villain by the
vicissitudes of Fate….”
The repetition of vowel sounds often to
set the mood or add to the meaning of
the word
In, Act 1, Scene 5, Lines 50-51 Assonance is
used when the Ghost says to Hamlet, "With
witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts,-- O
wicked wit and gifts,” with the repetition of the
short ”i"
In the movie Top Gun Tom Cruise uses
assonance when he says, “I feel the need, the
need for speed”
The repetition of the final consonant
sounds of words
In line 38 of act 3 scene 4, when Hamlet had
just killed Polonius, consonance is used with
the repetition of an “r” sound : “Thou
wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell”
Stephen King uses consonance in his novel It
with the sentence, “He thrusts his fists against
the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts."
The matching of final vowel or
consonant sounds in two or more
Many lines in Hamlet rhyme such as the
“Till then sit still, my soul: foul deeds will rise,
Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's
eyes.” (Act I.ii.257-258)
Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken is a
great example of rhyme
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And
sorry I could not travel both And be one
traveler, long I stood And looked down one
as far as I could To where it bent in the
The recurrence of accent or stress in
lines of verse
Most of Hamlet is in the rhythm of iambic
pentameter like the following line from Act 3
scene 1, “to BE or NOT to BE, that IS the
In Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem A
Psalm of Life, he uses the rhythm of trochaic
tetrameter (4 trochees, 8 syllables) as seen in
the line
Tell me | not in | mournful | numbers
The measured pattern of rhythmic
accents in poems
Most of Hamlet is in iambic pentameter like the
following line from Act 3 scene 1, “to BE or
NOT to BE, that IS the QUEStion”
In Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem A
Psalm of Life he uses the meter trochaic
tetrameter (4 trochees, 8 syllables) as seen in
the line
Tell me | not in | mournful | numbers
An end-stop occurs when a line of poetry
ends with a period or definite punctuation
mark, such as a colon. When lines are endstopped, each line is its own phrase or
unit of syntax.
In Act 3 Scene 2, line 73 is an end stopped line
since it ends with a period
“Which I have told thee, of my father’s death.”
In Edgar Allen Poe’s poem The Raven, Poe uses
an end stopped line with the line “Swung by
Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted
floor. “
Also known as enjambment, which is a
run-on line of poetry in which logical
and grammatical sense carries over
from one line into the next
In Act 3 Scene 2, line 66 is a run on line since
does not end with any punctuation
“They are not a pipe for Fortune’s finger
To sound what stop she please. Give me that”
In Edgar Allen Poe’s poem The Raven, Poe uses
a run-on line with the line “Then upon the
velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking”
(Latin “cutting off”) is a pause in the
midst of a verse line, indicated by a
mark of punctuation, such as a comma,
a question mark, a period, or a dash.
In Hamlet’s soliloquy in Act 3 scene 1
Shakespeare uses many caesura
Devoutly to be wished.// To die to sleep,
In Alexander Pope’s famous poem, An Essay
on Criticism, he makes use of a caesura with
the line “To err is human; // to forgive,
Also called open form verse, unlike
traditional verses its rhythms are not
organized into the regularity of meter;
most free verse lacks rhyme
One Hamlet’s speeches from the play is entirely in
free verse
‘’I have of late – but wherefore I know not – lost all
my mirth, forgone all custom of exercise; and
indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that
this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile
promontory. This most excellent canopy the air,
look you, this brave o’erhanging, this majestical
roof fretted with golden fire – why, it appears no
other thing to me than a foul and pestilent
congregation of vapours.’’ (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2)
Psalm 23 (KJV)
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me
beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of
righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff
they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine
enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my
life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
The name given to a line of verse that
consists of five iambs (an iamb being
one unstressed syllable followed by
one stressed)
Many lines in Hamlet are written in iambic
pentameter including the opening line of
Hamlet’s monologue in Act 3 Scene 1, “to BE or
NOT to BE, that IS the QUEStion”
(the capital letters are the stressed syllables and
the lowercase the unstressed)
Shakespeare also uses iambic pentameter in
many of his sonnets such as Sonnet 73
“That time of year thou mayst in me behold”
A pause introduced into the reading of
a line by a mark of punctuation
In Hamlet’s soliloquy in Act 3 Scene 1
Shakespeare uses many grammatical pauses
To be,// or not to be, //that is the question
In Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem If he uses
many grammatical pauses such as in the line
“If all men count with you, // but none too
A natural pause, unmarked by
punctuation, introduced into the
reading of a line by its phrasing or
In Act 3 Scene 1 during Hamlet’s soliloquoy,
Hamlet uses a rhetorical pause between two
words between which there is no punctuation
But that the dread / of something after death,
At the beginning of many of John F. Kennedy’s
speeches after he says ,”Ladies and gentleman”
he often uses a rhetorical pause before going
into his speech.
Two successive lines, usually in a verse
of a poem or a song, that are rhymed
and have the same meter
“Till then sit still, my soul: foul deeds will rise,
Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's
eyes.” (Act I.ii.257-258)
Hamlet uses this concluding couplet at the end
of his dialogue
In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, he uses this
concluding couplet “Singing he was, or fluting
all the day; /He was as fresh as is the month of
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