Literary Devices Used in Hamlet Act 1

Literary-Devices-Used-in-Hamlet-Act-1
Characters
Hamlet
Traits
Loyal to father, clever (show of
madness), somewhat rash, curious,
obsessive
Motivation
To avenge his father's murder (by Claudius)
Actions
Hamlet, as of Act II has put on a show of
madness in order to confuse the people around
him and discover a way to avenge his father
Claudius
Traits
Clever (almost got away with
murder), jealous, impulsive
Motivation
Power, wealth, and lust
Actions
Claudius has killed his own brother and married
his brother's wife in order to become King. By Act
II he is still working at retaining this power
Polonius
Traits
Very rash, nosey, untrusting, eager
Motivation
Selfpreservation, honor, power
Actions
Polonius goes to great extents to protect his honor
by forbidding his daughter to see Hamlet and
spying on his son
Ophelia
Traits
Innocent (or
unexperienced
according to her father),
obedient, puppet
Motivation
To be a good daughter and please her father
Actions
Ophelia has cut off communication with
Hamlet after her dad commanded her to do
so
Literary Devices
Act I
"A little ere the mightiest
Julius fell"
Horatio (I i 126)
Allusion
Horatio discusses the appearance of the ghost and
realizes that all is not well in Denmark while making
references to Julius who was betrayed and
murdered
"With mirth in funeral
and with dirge in
marriage"
Claudius (I ii
12)
Oxymoron
The new king expresses how this is a time of
sadness with his brother's death and a time of
happiness with his marriage to the Queen.
"So excellent a king, that
was, to this/ Hyperion to a
satyr"
Hamlet (I ii 141142)
Allusion and Hyperbole
Hamlet expresses his anger towards his
mother for marrying so soon after his father's
death and compares his uncle (satyr) to his
father (Hyperion)
"My father's spirit in arms! All is not well./
I doubt some foul play."
Hamlet (I ii 272
273)
Foreshadow
Hamlet learns about his father's ghost and
suspects that something is wrong and even that
foul play may be involved.
"And with a sudden vigour doth posset/ And curd,
like eager droppings into milk,/ The thin and
wholesome blood. So did it mine"
Ghost (I v 73
75)
Imagery
The ghost describes vividly of how he
was poisoned and the effects of this
poison
Act II
"Your bait of falsehood takes
this carp of truth"
Polonius (II i
68)
Oxymoron
Polonius tells Reynaldo that by lying
he shall discover the truth when
spying on Laertes
"And with a look so piteous in purport/ As if he
had been loosed out of hell"
Ophelia (II i 90
91)
Hyperbole/ simile
Ophelia tells her father about
Hamlet's strange behaviour
"[Pointing to his head and shoulder.]
Take this
from this, if this be otherwise."
Polonius (II ii 167
168)
Situational Irony
Polonius is so convinced that Hamlet's madness is caused
being shunned by Ophelia that he gives the King permission
to kill him if he is wrong. We the audience know the theory to
be wrong.
"Denmark's a prison"
Hamlet (II ii 258)
Metaphor
Hamlet tells his university friends that they have
been sent to a prison (due to his own
circumstances, Hamlet feels this way)
"Wherein I'll catch the
conscience of the King."
Personification
Hamlet means to get the King to confess to his
crimes by putting on a play that mirrors his
horrible deeds.
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