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Jeremy Garcia
Jeremy Garcia

The Role of Literary Devices in Hamlet's Emotional Turmoil in Act 3 Scene 4


# The Power of Words: Literary Devices in Hamlet's Closet Scene


Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, is a tragedy that explores the themes of revenge, madness, corruption, and mortality. One of the most memorable and dramatic scenes in the play is Act 3, Scene 4, also known as the closet scene. In this scene, Hamlet confronts his mother Gertrude about her hasty marriage to his uncle Claudius, who has usurped the throne after murdering Hamlet's father. Hamlet also kills Polonius, who is hiding behind a tapestry, and speaks to the ghost of his father, who urges him to focus on his revenge.


This scene is rich in literary devices that enhance the language, characterization, and plot of the play. Some of the literary devices used in this scene are:


- **Alliteration**: The repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words. For example, Hamlet says to Gertrude: "Look here upon this picture and on this,/The counterfeit presentment of two brothers" (3.4.53-54). The repeated p and t sounds create a harsh and accusatory tone that reflects Hamlet's anger and disgust.


- **Allusion**: A reference to another work of literature, history, mythology, or culture. For example, Hamlet compares Claudius to a "mildewed ear" (3.4.65) that infects his father's "whole ear" (3.4.66). This is an allusion to the biblical story of Cain and Abel, where Cain kills his brother Abel out of jealousy and is cursed by God. Hamlet implies that Claudius is a fratricide and a sinner who has corrupted the kingdom.


- **Dramatic irony**: A situation where the audience knows something that the characters do not. For example, when Gertrude asks Hamlet if he plans to murder her, and he replies: "No, by the rood, not so" (3.4.21), the audience knows that he has already killed Polonius behind the tapestry. This creates suspense and tension as the audience wonders how Gertrude will react when she discovers the truth.


- **Foil**: A character who contrasts with another character to highlight their differences. For example, Polonius is a foil to Hamlet in this scene. Polonius is a verbose and meddling courtier who spies on Hamlet and Gertrude, while Hamlet is a witty and melancholic prince who seeks to expose Claudius's guilt. Polonius's death also foreshadows Hamlet's own fate at the end of the play.


- **Foreshadowing**: A hint or clue about what will happen later in the story. For example, when Hamlet says to Gertrude: "A bloody deed - almost as bad, good mother,/As kill a king and marry with his brother" (3.4.28-29), he foreshadows his own plan to kill Claudius and avenge his father.


- **Genre**: The type or category of literature that a work belongs to. For example, Hamlet is a tragedy, which is a genre that typically involves a hero who suffers a downfall due to a fatal flaw or external force. In this scene, Hamlet's tragic flaw of indecision and procrastination is evident as he delays his revenge and kills Polonius by mistake.


- **Hyperbole**: An exaggeration or overstatement for effect. For example, when Hamlet says to Gertrude: "You cannot call it love; for at your age/The heyday in the blood is tame" (3.4.67-68), he uses hyperbole to mock her lust for Claudius and suggest that she is too old for such passion.


- **Idiom**: A common expression that has a figurative meaning different from its literal meaning. For example, when Hamlet says to Gertrude: "You go not till I set you up a glass/Where you may see the inmost part of you" (3.4.19-20), he uses an idiom to mean that he will make her see her true self and her faults.


- **Irony**: A contrast between what is expected and what actually happens or what is said and what is meant. For example, when Gertrude says to Hamlet: "What have I done that thou dar'st wag thy tongue/In noise so rude against me?" (3.4.39-40), she ironically accuses him of being rude when she herself has been unfaithful and disrespectful to her late husband.


- **Metaphor**: A comparison between two unlike things without using like or as. For example, when Hamlet says to Gertrude: "O shame! where is thy blush?" (3.4.82), he uses a metaphor to compare her lack of guilt or remorse to her lack of color in her face.


- **Mood**: The feeling or atmosphere that a writer creates for the reader or audience. For example, the mood of this scene is tense, angry, violent, and tragic as Hamlet confronts his mother and kills Polonius.


- **Motif**: A recurring image, symbol, theme, or idea that contributes to the development of the work as a whole. For example, one of the motifs in this scene is madness. Hamlet pretends to be mad as he insults Gertrude and Claudius, while Gertrude questions his sanity and fears for her life.


- **Oxymoron**: A combination of two contradictory words or ideas. For example,


when Hamlet says to Gertrude: "A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,/That from a shelf the precious diadem stole/And put it in his pocket!" (3.4.101-103), he uses an oxymoron to describe Claudius as both a thief and a ruler who has stolen the crown from his brother.


- **Personification**: A figure of speech where an object, animal, or idea is given human qualities or abilities. For example,


when Hamlet says to Gertrude: "Confess yourself to heaven;/Repent what's past; avoid what is to come;/And do not spread the compost on the weeds/To make them ranker" (3.4.146-149), he uses personification to compare her sins to weeds that grow more foul if fertilized with compost.


- **Setting**: The time and place where a story takes place. For example,


the setting of this scene is Gertrude's private chamber in Elsinore Castle at night.


- **Simile**: A comparison between two unlike things using like or as. For example,


when Hamlet says to Gertrude: "Nay but to live/In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,/Stewed in corruption honeying and making love/Over


the nasty sty" (3.4.91-94), he uses a simile to compare her bed with Claudius


to a filthy pigsty.


- **Situational irony**: A contrast between what is expected or intended


and what actually happens or results from an action or situation.


For example,


when Polonius hides behind


the tapestry


to spy on


Hamlet


and


Gertrude


,


he expects


to find out


the cause


of


Hamlet's madness


,


but instead


he ends up


being killed by


Hamlet


,


who mistakes him for


Claudius


.


This also complicates


Hamlet's situation


and delays his revenge


further


.




Literary Devices In Hamlet Act 3 Scene 4


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# The Power of Words: Literary Devices in Hamlet's Closet Scene


Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, is a tragedy that explores the themes of revenge, madness, corruption, and mortality. One of the most memorable and dramatic scenes in the play is Act 3, Scene 4, also known as the closet scene. In this scene, Hamlet confronts his mother Gertrude about her hasty marriage to his uncle Claudius, who has usurped the throne after murdering Hamlet's father. Hamlet also kills Polonius, who is hiding behind a tapestry, and speaks to the ghost of his father, who urges him to focus on his revenge.


This scene is rich in literary devices that enhance the language, characterization, and plot of the play. Some of the literary devices used in this scene are:


- **Alliteration**: The repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words. For example, Hamlet says to Gertrude: "Look here upon this picture and on this,/The counterfeit presentment of two brothers" (3.4.53-54). The repeated p and t sounds create a harsh and accusatory tone that reflects Hamlet's anger and disgust.


- **Allusion**: A reference to another work of literature, history, mythology, or culture. For example, Hamlet compares Claudius to a "mildewed ear" (3.4.65) that infects his father's "whole ear" (3.4.66). This is an allusion to the biblical story of Cain and Abel, where Cain kills his brother Abel out of jealousy and is cursed by God. Hamlet implies that Claudius is a fratricide and a sinner who has corrupted the kingdom.


- **Dramatic irony**: A situation where the audience knows something that the characters do not. For example, when Gertrude asks Hamlet if he plans to murder her, and he replies: "No, by the rood, not so" (3.4.21), the audience knows that he has already killed Polonius behind the tapestry. This creates suspense and tension as the audience wonders how Gertrude will react when she discovers the truth.


- **Foil**: A character who contrasts with another character to highlight their differences. For example, Polonius is a foil to Hamlet in this scene. Polonius is a verbose and meddling courtier who spies on Hamlet and Gertrude, while Hamlet is a witty and melancholic prince who seeks to expose Claudius's guilt. Polonius's death also foreshadows Hamlet's own fate at the end of the play.


- **Foreshadowing**: A hint or clue about what will happen later in the story. For example, when Hamlet says to Gertrude: "A bloody deed - almost as bad, good mother,/As kill a king and marry with his brother" (3.4.28-29), he foreshadows his own plan to kill Claudius and avenge his father.


- **Genre**: The type or category of literature that a work belongs to. For example, Hamlet is a tragedy, which is a genre that typically involves a hero who suffers a downfall due to a fatal flaw or external force. In this scene, Hamlet's tragic flaw of indecision and procrastination is evident as he delays his revenge and kills Polonius by mistake.


- **Hyperbole**: An exaggeration or overstatement for effect. For example, when Hamlet says to Gertrude: "You cannot call it love; for at your age/The heyday in the blood is tame" (3.4.67-68), he uses hyperbole to mock her lust for Claudius and suggest that she is too old for such passion.


- **Idiom**: A common expression that has a figurative meaning different from its literal meaning. For example, when Hamlet says to Gertrude: "You go not till I set you up a glass/Where you may see the inmost part of you" (3.4.19-20), he uses an idiom to mean that he will make her see her true self and her faults.


- **Irony**: A contrast between what is expected and what actually happens or what is said and what is meant. For example, when Gertrude says to Hamlet: "What have I done that thou dar'st wag thy tongue/In noise so rude against me?" (3.4.39-40), she ironically accuses him of being rude when she herself has been unfaithful and disrespectful to her late husband.


- **Metaphor**: A comparison between two unlike things without using like or as. For example, when Hamlet says to Gertrude: "O shame! where is thy blush?" (3.4.82), he uses a metaphor to compare her lack of guilt or remorse to her lack of color in her face.


- **Mood**: The feeling or atmosphere that a writer creates for the reader or audience. For example, the mood of this scene is tense, angry, violent, and tragic as Hamlet confronts his mother and kills Polonius.


In addition to these literary devices, there are more that can be found in this scene:


- **Personification**: A figure of speech where an object, animal, or idea is given human qualities or abilities. For example,


when Hamlet says to Gertrude: "Confess yourself to heaven;/Repent what's past; avoid what is to come;/And do not spread the compost on the weeds/To make them ranker" (3.4.146-149), he uses personification to compare her sins to weeds that grow more foul if fertilized with compost.


- **Setting**: The time and place where a story takes place. For example,


the setting of this scene is Gertrude's private chamber in Elsinore Castle at night.


- **Simile**: A comparison between two unlike things using like or as. For example,


when Hamlet says to Gertrude: "Nay but to live/In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,/Stewed in corruption honeying and making love/Over


the nasty sty" (3.4.91-94), he uses a simile to compare her bed with Claudius


to a filthy pigsty.


- **Situational irony**: A contrast between what is expected or intended


and what actually happens or results from an action or situation.


For example,


when Polonius hides behind


the tapestry


to spy on


Hamlet


and


Gertrude


,


he expects


to find out


the cause


of


Hamlet's madness


,


but instead


he ends up


being killed by


Hamlet


,


who mistakes him for


Claudius


.


This also complicates


Hamlet's situation


and delays his revenge


further


.


These literary devices help Shakespeare create a powerful and memorable scene that reveals the characters' emotions, motivations, and conflicts. They also help the audience understand the themes and messages of the play more deeply.


# Conclusion


Hamlet's closet scene is one of the most important and dramatic scenes in the play. It shows Hamlet's confrontation with his mother, his murder of Polonius, and his encounter with the ghost of his father. It also reveals the themes of revenge, madness, corruption, and mortality that run throughout the play. Shakespeare uses various literary devices to enhance the language, characterization, and plot of the scene. These devices include alliteration, allusion, dramatic irony, foil, foreshadowing, genre, hyperbole, idiom, irony, metaphor, mood, motif, oxymoron, personification, setting, simile, and situational irony. By analyzing these devices, we can gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare's masterpiece. b99f773239


https://www.cpedrodevaldiviadevillarrica.cl/group/grupo-pdv-villarrica/discussion/eb8e17ee-115d-4c2b-9813-dcba69b27ebc

https://www.moonshine-shop.com/group/learn-to-meditate/discussion/346caaea-f091-4e3a-a463-6523c08ee31c

https://www.courtroomhoops.com/group/tracks-trails/discussion/87c359d9-35cb-443c-86cf-4af90a673ac1

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