Hamlet Techniques + Examples

Hyperbole Exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.
Hyperbole “Forty thousand brothers / Could not with all their quantity of love / Make up my sum.” -Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 1.
Hyperbole “Denmark’s a prison.” As an exaggeration. -Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2.
Hyperbole “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” As an exaggeration. -Marcellus, Act 1, Scene 4.
Symbol A thing that represents or stands for something else, esp. a material object representing something abstract.
Symbol “The serpent that did sting thy fathers life / Now wears his crown.” Emphasis on serpent, also covers use of poison. -Hamlet Snr, Act 1, Scene 5.
Symbol Ophelia’s flowers, Act 4, Scene 5. To Gertrude: Fennel and columbines -representing adultery. To Claudius: Rue and daisies -representing regret and unhappy love. About Polonius: Violets -representing faithfulness.
Symbol Yorick’s skull representing the circle of life. “Dost thou think Alexander looked o’ this fashion i’ the’ earth?” -Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 1.
Symbol The recorder that Hamlet offers to Guildenstern in Act 3, Scene 2. “You would play upon me. You would seem to know my stops.”
Soliloquy An act of speaking one’s thoughts aloud when by oneself or regardless of any hearers, esp. by a character in a play.
Soliloquy “To be, or not to be? That is the question-” Act 3, Scene 1.
Metaphor A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable. (examples are those described as symbols).
Simile A figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid.
Simile “Mad as the sea and wind when both contend” -Gertrude, Act 4, Scene 1.
Repetition “To a nunnery, go” -Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1.
Repetition The action of repeating something that has already been said or written.
Iambic pentameter A commonly used type of metrical line in traditional poetry and verse drama. Describes the rhythm that the words establish in that line, 10 syllables a line, resembles the way we speak.
Irony The expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.
Irony Gertrudes death by poison, Rosencranz and Guildenstern’s death in England, Fortinbras’ arrival when everyone is dead.
Foreshadowing Be a warning or indication of (a future event).
Foreshadowing “A dream itself is but a shadow.” -Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2. Hamlet pretends to be mad and actually becomes mad.
Foreshadowing “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” -Marcellus, Act 1, Scene 4. The smell of death is in the air.