Hamlet Rhetorical Devices

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Throughout the ages, the answer to the question of life’s purpose has eluded and confused many. Shakespeare creates the “To be, or not to be” speech and uses intentional structure to reveal Hamlet’s paradigm on life. After Hamlet is called to vengeance by his father’s ghost, he goes about his “antic disposition” (2.1.181) to begin his plot to murder his uncle, Claudius. He is conflicted by this plan of action because while he feels an obligation to help his father escape purgatory, committing murder is against his religion. This puts him into a suffocating box and traps him between logic and emotion causing him to become unstable and possibly suicidal. The first shift of the speech contains the age-old rhetorical question of “To be, or not to be” (3.1.57). In that rhetorical question he is contemplating suicide. He weighs suffering through life’s troubles or fighting back at them and eventually dying. This is a reference to his endless debate of whether or not to take action on avenging his father’s death. The personification of “fortune” (3.1.59) displays Hamlet’s feelings that the world is a person that is constantly working to see his downfall. Also the use of the line, “To be, or not…show more content…
“Conscience” is nearly a homonym for the word “conscious.” While the two words sound very similar, they have completely different meanings and both meanings can be logically read into this speech. If his “conscience” is making him into a coward it is because of his fear of moral consequences, but if his “consciousness” is the problem it is because he is thinking himself out of action. Hamlet realizes this at the end of the speech and voices that these things can cause people to “lose the name of action” (3.1.89). Shakespeare purposely concluded the speech with these thoughts because it shows how throughout the speech Hamlet has slowly gained wisdom and his paradigm has
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