Hector Adrian Anaya

Hector 4

HectorAdrian AnayaDr. Gingo&nbspEnglish 1302. P711August 2015

Useof literary devices in Hamlet

Shakespeareemployed an extensive use of literary devices in the entire play(Hamlet),which might require an essay with a very wide scope to cover. Theliterary devices are used by the writer to make play more interestingto his audience while watching or reading. Further, the author makesit easy for the audience to get the message that is being conveyed inthe play without any notable challenges. Given the fact that one cantrace almost every literary devices in the play, this brief write upwill focus on the major literary devices that are evidenced in theplay. A review of the Hamletrevealsan extensive use of stylistic devices that the author used to conveyhis message in a non-sophisticated manner.

Soliloquyis one of the most conspicuous literary devices that is evidenced inthe play. Soliloquy describes a speech that a character gives whiletalking to herself but the audience gets to hear the charactertalking. Hamlet’s speech entitled “To be or not to be” is aperfect example of soliloquy in the play. In this soliloquy, Hamletstates that…

“Tobe, or not to be, that is the question: (55) / Whether `tis nobler inthe mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, /Or to take arms against a sea of troubles / And by opposing end them.To die—to sleep, / No more and by a sleep to say we end (60) / Theheart-ache and the thousand natural shocks / That flesh is heir to:`tis a consummation / Devoutly to be wish`d. To die, to sleep / Tosleep, perchance to dream—ay, there`s the rub: / For in that sleepof death what dreams may come, (65) /&nbsp“(Ham. 3.1.55-65).

Followingthe struggles of life, Hamlet contemplates whether he wishes to existor not. He asks whether it would be easier to quit this life bycommitting suicide or continue to struggle and overcome all odds(Ewbank87).Eventually, Hamlet comes to the conclusion that death would be hisbest option in absence of the mysteries that are associated with it.Because of the uncertainties, men choose not to end their lives butstruggle through their mortal existence.

Secondly,allusion is also extensively used in the play. Allusion describes themention of an event, or person assumed to be familiar to everyone butcould turn out to be unknown to the audience. The allusion inquestion is related to Caesar in Act 3, Scene 2 where Polonius statesthat “I did enact Julius Caesar. &nbspI was killed i` the`Capitol Brutus killed me” (Ham.3.2). The allusion describes thescene where Caesar was killed by Brutus who was a great friend of his(Shakespeare45).This allusion is significant in the play because it reminds theaudience about the assassination of King Hamlet by Claudius.Similarly, the allusion s the audience the allusion gives theaudience a glimpse of Hamlet’s desire to avenge the death of hisfather. On the same note, the allusion is important because itdefines the Polonius’s acting role in the play, and it fore boardsthe death of this character (Wells et all 120). Accordingly, thisillusion harbors a couple of themes that are evidenced in the playincluding death, revenge and acting among others.

Alliterationis the next literary device that is extensively used in Hamlettobringan interesting flavor in the play. Alliteration describes arepetition of the first sound (consonant) in a couple of words in asentence or phrase. The line “With a bare bodkin? Who would fardelsbear/” shows evidence of alliteration where the first consonant “b”is repeated in words bare, bodkin and bear respectively.(Ham.3.1.77). This phrase is asking the question of who would decideto sweat and grunt through life, and it suggests that perhaps thebest thing would be to quit. Once the consonants are repeatedseverally in a sentence, the audience easily takes note of the flowof words and maybe cares to know the meaning carried in the words(Shakespeare58).

Antithesisliterary device wraps up the discussion of this essay. Antithesisdescribes ideas that contradict each other but are expressed in abalanced manner in a sentence or phrase. Perfect example of anantithesis is expressed in Hamlet’s soliloquy title “to be or notto be” Ham.3.1.54. Contradicting ideas of dying or being alive areexpressed in the same sentence depicting the contradicting thoughtsthat are reaping the character apart (Ewbank96).

Inconclusion, this write up has established that indeed Shakespeareemployed an extensive and rich usage of literary device in Hamlet inan attempt to fully engage the audience in getting his message in theplay. Soliloquy is the most outstanding literary device that isevidenced in the play, which involves a scene of a character talkingto himself but audible by the audience. Other major literary devicesinclude but not limited to alliteration, allusion and antithesis.


Ewbank,Inga-Stina. Hamlet&nbspandthe power of words.1997. 30:85-102. Print.

Shakespeare,William. Hamlet.New York: Huge Print Press. 1843. Print.

Wells,Stanley, Gary Taylor, John Jowett, and William Montgomery.&nbspWilliamShakespeare: A Textual Companion., 1997. Print.