AP English – Macbeth Literary Elements

Foreshadowing def: A narrative device that hints at coming events; often builds suspense or anxiety in the reader.ex: Act 1 Scene 5, Line 58-61MACBETH: “My dearest love, Duncan comes here tonight.:LADY MACBETH: “And when goes hence?”MACBETH: “Tomorrow, as he purposes.”
Aside def: A device in which a character in a drama makes a short speech which is heard by the audience but not by other characters in the playex: Act 1 Scene 3″If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me without my stir”
Soliloquy def: A long speech expressing the thoughts of a character alone on stageex: Act 1LADY MACBETH:The raven himself is hoarseThat croaks the fatal entrance of DuncanUnder my battlements. Come, you spiritsThat tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,And fill me from the crown to the toe top-fullOf direst cruelty! make thick my blood;Stop up the access and passage to remorse,That no compunctious visitings of natureShake my fell purpose, nor keep peace betweenThe effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts, And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers, Wherever in your sightless substancesYou wait on nature’s mischief! Come, thick night, And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,To cry Hold, hold!
Dramatic irony def: Irony that occurs when the meaning of the situation is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play.ex: Act 1 Scene 4DUNCAN: “There’s no art To find the mind’s construction in the face. He was a gentleman on whom I built An absolute trust.”
Situational irony def: An outcome that turns out to be very different from what was expectedex:”My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,Shakes so my single state of manThat function is smothered in surmiseAnd nothing is but what is not.”
Verbal irony def: A figure of speech in which what is said is the opposite of what is meantex: Act 3 Scene 6″The gracious Duncan Was pitied of Macbeth: marry: he was dead”
Motif def: a principal idea, feature, theme, or element; a repeated or dominant figure in a designex: Act 1 Scene 5 / gender “Come, you spirits / That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, / And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full / Of direst cruelty!”
Symbol def: A thing that represents or stands for something else, especially a material object representing something abstract.ex:”Look like the innocent flower,But be the serpent under it.”
Allusion def: A brief and indirect reference to a person, place, thing or idea of historical, cultural, literary or political significance.ex: Act 1 Scene 5, Line 64-65Look like th’ innocent flower, But be the serpent under ‘t.”
Alliteration def: It is a stylistic device in which a number of words, having the same first consonant sound, occur close together in a series.ex: “So foul and fair a day I have not seen.” Act 1 Scene 3
simile def: A comparison using “like” or “as”ex: “Which smoked with bloody execution, like a valor’s minion, carved out his passage till he faced the slave.” Act 1 Scene 2
metaphor def: A comparison without using like or asex: “If you can look into the seeds of time and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak, then, to me, who neither beg nor fear your favors nor your hate.” Act 1 Scene 3
personification def: A figure of speech in which an object or animal is given human feelings, thoughts, or attitudesex: Act 1″Stars, hide your fires!Let not light see my black and deep desires.”
Tragic flaw def: A weakness or limitation of character, resulting in the fall of the tragic hero.ex: Act 1 Scene 4″The Prince of Cumberland! that is a stepOn which I must fall down, or else o’erleap,For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;Let not light see my black and deep desires:The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be,Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.”
Paradox def: A statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.ex: “Not so happy, yet much happier”
Antithesis def: the direct opposite, a sharp contrastex: Act 1 Scene 4″Nothing in his lifebecame him like the leaving of it.”
Juxtaposition def: Placement of two things closely together to emphasize comparisons or contrastsex: Act 1 Scene 5, Line 64-65Look like th’ innocent flower, But be the serpent under ‘t.”
Apostrophe def: A figure of speech that directly addresses an absent or imaginary person, an inanimate object, or a personified abstraction, such as liberty or love.ex:”Is this a dagger which I see before me,The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee!I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.Art thou not, fatal vision, sensibleTo feelings as to sight? Or art thou butA dagger of the mind, a false creationProceeding from the heat oppresséd brain?I see thee yet, in form as palpableAs this which I now draw.”
Caesura def: A natural pause or break in a line of poetry, usually near the middle of the line.ex:”There’s no such thing:It is the bloody business which informsThus to mine eyes.”
Cacophony def: Discordant, unpleasant noiseex:”Out, damned spot! Out, I say!—One, two. Why, then, ’tis time to do ‘t. Hell is murky!—Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him.”
Denouement def: an outcome or solution; the unraveling of a plotex: Act 5 Scene 8″Hail, king! for so thou art: behold, where standsThe usurper’s cursed head: the time is free:”
Synecdoche def: a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versaex:”Take thy face hence.”

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