Hamlet – Vocabulary

anachronism Something located at a time when it could not have existed or occurred.
anxiety stress and fear that something bad will happen
apparition The appearance of a ghostlike figure. “I was recalled to the present by the apparition of a frightening specter”
aside A line spoken by an actor to the audience but not intended for others on the stage.
betray Disappoint, prove undependable to; abandon, forsake.
brevity The attribute of being brief or fleeting.
chaos A state of extreme confusion and disorder.
cliche a phrase used so often it becomes stale.
disheveled Untidy, messy, disorderly.
dramatic irony When the audience knows something that the characters do not.
eavesdrop Listen without the speaker’s knowledge.
epitaph An inscription on a tombstone or monument in memory of the person buried there.
conceit having an inflated opinion of yourself
consequence effects, or the result of an action taken
cunning cleverness or trickery
deception A misleading lie or untruth.
foil A character in a work whose behavior and values contrast with those of another character in order to highlight the distinctive temperament of that character (usually the protagonist).
harangue A loud blustering speech expressed with strong emotion
insincerity the act of being less than honest
lunacy insanity; senseless conduct; folly
madness Obsolete terms for legal insanity
malicious full of ill will or mischief
manipulate to handle or use skillfully; to manage or control for personal gain or advantage.
melancholy A feeling of thoughtful sadness
ominous telling of trouble to come; threatening
ostentatious Flashy or showy. Meant to impress others.
paragon A perfect example of something.
pernicious harmful, destructive, lethal.
perusal Reading carefully with intent to remember
platitude A trite or obvious remark.
pompous Showing arrogance or conceit.
profound Coming from deep within one. “a ___________ sigh”
protagonist The principal character, the good guy, in a work of literature.
pun The use of a word in a way that plays on its different meanings.
purgatory A temporary condition of torment or suffering. “a purgatory of drug abuse”
quintessence The purest and most concentrated essence of something.
rapier A straight sword with a narrow blade and two edges
remedy A medicine or therapy that cures disease or relieve pain.
ruse A deceptive maneuver (especially to avoid capture).
sarcasm saying something in a nice way, but not really meaning it
satirical using irony and wit to attack ideas, people, or customs; sarcastic
scheme An elaborate and systematic plan of action.
soliloquy a speech given in a play by a character who is alone on stage
stichomythia A dialogue in which two characters dispute with each other in short alternating lines.
superstitious a belief in witchcraft or ghosts
tedious Using or containing too many words.
usurp to seize power or position by force
verbal irony a disparity of expression and intention: when a speaker says one thing but means another, or when a literal meaning is contrary to its intended effect. An exampleof this is sarcasm.
visage The expression shown on a person’s face
Doctrine of Decorum In literature, a character’s speech should match his/her level of dignity; also, different styles are suitable for different subjects

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