• Oxymoron – a figure of speech in which contradictory terms are used in the same sentence/ subject.
    • “I must be cruel, only to be kind” (Hamlet; 3; 4; 180)
    • Hamlet is speaking to the ghost of his father and himself. He is talking about being cruel to others, more specifically his mother, in order to end up being kind.
  • Couplet – two lines of a verse that rhyme.
    • “More relative than this. The play’s the thing / Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.” (Hamlet; 2; 2; 600-601)
    • Hamlet illustrates his plan to lure out the King’s emotions and previous actions in a play that relates to what was done.
  • Imagery – detailed explanations through words that are meant to create images in the mind of the reader.
    • “A great square house, with a heavy portico darkening the principal windows, as its master’s heavy brows overshadowed.” (Bk. 1; Ch. 3; Pg. 2)
    • Dickens uses a lot of imagery, but this sentence describes the house that the Gradgrinds live in and also provides a brief image of the stone cold Mr. Gradgrind.
  • Allusion – an indirect reference to other things.
    • “The smoke-serpents, submissive to the curse of all that tribe, trailed themselves upon the earth.” (Bk. 1; Ch. 11; Pg. 1)
    • The smoke-serpents allude to the biblical story of Adam and Eve and represents to the curse placed upon the serpents after Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden.
  • Simile – comparison in literature using the words “like” or “as.”
    • “Haste me to know’t, that I with wings as swift/ As meditation or the thoughts of love…” (Hamlet; 1; 5; 29-30)
    • During the first conversation of the ghost after hearing about the murder, Hamlet implies that he’s an angel that works swiftly and in the name of love.
  • Metaphor – device for comparison in literature that cannot use “like” or “as.”
    • “As meditation or the thoughts of love/ May sweep to my revenge.” (Hamlet; 1; 5; 30-31)
    • Hamlet sees himself as an avenging angel that hopes that his love and motivation for his father will “sweep” him towards committing the revengeful act.
  • Alliteration – a sequence of words that have similar sounds when said aloud.
    • “Serpents of smoke”, “Smoke-serpents” (Bk. 1; Ch. 11; Pg. 1-2)
    • These are two examples of Dickens using alliteration, they roll off the tongue and can gain the attention of the reader as they notice a small pattern in the wording.
  • Motif – recurring idea, symbol, theme, image, etc. that is presented through a work of literature.
    • Revenge (Hamlet)
    • In Hamlet, the main characters continuously seek revenge on one another and for good reason. This motif is shown specifically by Hamlet, Claudius, Fortinbras and others although these are the most significant. As this motif grows and twists, these characters will begin to take further and much more extreme measures to ensure their victory on the opposition.
  • Archetype – a collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought, image, etc., universally present in individual psyches.
    • “He knelt down in the middle of the square, bowed down to the earth, and kissed that filthy earth with bliss and rapture.” (6.8.27)
    • In crime and punishment Sonia is seen as a christ figure is is her Archetype. In this quote she is convincing Raskolnikov to get on his knees and pray to God for forgiveness for his crime.
  • Parody – a humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing
    • “Surely there never was such fragile china-ware as that of which the millers of Coketown were made. Handle them never so lightly, and they fell to pieces with such ease that you might suspect them of having been flawed before. They were ruined, when they were required to send labouring children to school; they were ruined, when inspectors were appointed to look into their works; they were ruined, when such inspectors considered it doubtful whether they were quite justified in chopping people up with their machinery; they were utterly undone, when it was hinted that perhaps they need not always make quite so much smoke.” (2.1.3)
    • In this quote dickens makes fun of the factory owners saying they are “fragile China”
    • Dickens is taking a jab at the factory owners for being too fragile to fail
  • Personification – the attribution of human nature or character to animals, inanimate objects, or abstract notions, especially as a rhetorical figure.
    • Did he see any faint reflection of his own image making a vainglorious will, whereby five-and-twenty Humbugs, past five-and- fifty years of age, each taking upon himself the name, Josiah Bounderby of Coketown, should for ever dine in Bounderby Hall, for ever lodge in Bounderby Buildings, for ever attend a Bounderby chapel, for ever go to sleep under a Bounderby chaplain, for ever be supported out of a Bounderby estate, and for ever nauseate all healthy stomachs, with a vast amount of Bounderby balderdash and bluster? (3.9.27)
    • This is personifying Mr.Bounderby’s wealth saying that he will “reproduce” in the form of building things in the town that will live for ever
  • Pun – the humorous use of a word or phrase so as to emphasize or suggest its different meanings or applications, or the use of words that are alike or nearly alike in sound but different in meaning; a play on words.
    • “A little more than kin, and less than kind.”(1.2 65)
    • This is a pun on the new King of Denmark his uncle referring to hamlet as his son
  • Sonnet –  a poem, properly expressive of a single, complete thought, idea, or sentiment, of 14 lines, usually in iambic pentameter, with rhymes arranged according to one of certain definite schemes “ Tir’d with all these, for restful death I cry, As, to behold desert a beggar born, And needy nothing trimm’d in jollity,And purest faith unhappily forsworn, And guilded honour shamefully misplaced, And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted, And right perfection wrongfully disgraced, And strength by limping sway disabled, And art made tongue-tied by authority, And folly (doctor-like) controlling skill, And simple truth miscall’d simplicity, And captive good attending captain ill: Tired with all these, from these would I be gone, Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.”
    • This is 14 lines and is the 66th sonnet this hamlet cries for death in his weariness and loathing. The word and is used 10 times at the beginning of each line of the sonnet except for the start and end 2 line each.
  • Symbol – something used for or regarded as representing something else; a material object representing something, often something immaterial; emblem, token, or sign.
    • “Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft,”(5.1.174–175)
      • Yorick’s skull represents death and the skull is the kings former jester and hamlet refers to every humans body decaying eventually. Especially when he talks about polonius’s decaying body.
  • Tragic flaw – the character defect that causes the downfall of the protagonist of a tragedy; hamartia.
  • “How all occasions do inform against me, And spur my dull revenge! What is a man, If his chief good and market of his time Be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more. Sure, he that made us with such large discourse, Looking before and after, gave us not That capability and god-like reason To fust in us unused. Now, whether it be
  • Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple Of thinking too precisely on the event, A thought which, quarter’d, hath but one part wisdom And ever three parts coward, I do not know Why yet I live to say ‘This thing’s to do;’ Sith I have cause and will and strength and means To do’t. Examples gross as earth exhort me: Witness this army of such mass and charge Led by a delicate and tender prince, Whose spirit with divine ambition puff’d Makes mouths at the invisible event, Exposing what is mortal and unsure To all that fortune, death and danger dare, Even for an egg-shell. Rightly to be great Is not to stir without great argument, But greatly to find quarrel in a straw When honour’s at the stake. How stand I then, That have a father kill’d, a mother stain’d, Excitements of my reason and my blood, And let all sleep, while, to my shame, I see The imminent death of twenty thousand men, That, for a fantasy and trick of fame, Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause, Which is not tomb enough and continent To hide the slain? O, from this time forth, My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!
  • This shows Hamlet’s fatal flaw is his inability to act he cant take action against his mother, he can’t kill Claudius when he is praying his fatal flaw is that he cant take action.
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English Literary Terms & Definitions

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