Shakespeare & Stylistic Devices

Stylistic Devices
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time-iconLesson duration is: 45 min

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Stylistic Devices

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Stylistic Devices
Match the definitions to the terms.


Metaphor =


Personification =

 A one thing is said to be like another, always contains ‘like’ or ‘as’

 B  a thing or idea is given human attributes

 C the use of words that begin with the same sound near one another

D comparison: one thing is described as being another thing

Slide 2 - Slide

Stylistic Devices
Match the examples to the terms.


Metaphor =


Personification =

A The fire swallowed the entire forest.

B Life is like a box of chocolates.

 C From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life.
D Love is a battlefield.

Slide 3 - Slide

Stylistic Devices

Repetition =


Assonance =

 Allusion =

 A -  exaggeration
"There were millions of people at the café."

B -  the use of words that have the same or very similar vowel sounds near one another 
"rise high in the bright sky "

 C - a brief and indirect reference to a person, place, thing or idea of historical, cultural, literary or political significance.
Don’t be a scrooge (reference to Dicken’s A Christmas Carol)

 D- a literary device that repeats the same words or phrases a few times to make an idea clearer. 
"It was many and many a year ago, In a kingdom by the sea"

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Let's play a Kahoot!

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The Elizabethan Era
1558 - 1603

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Queen Elizabeth 1
Queen of England (1558-1603)
Daughter of Henry VIII (six marriages!)
The “Virgin Queen”
England: major European power in politics, commerce and the arts.

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What comes to mind when you think about Shakespeare? 40 46 34 1

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Watch the clip about Shakespeare and write down 2 interesting facts about his life.

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Sonnet (‘little song’)
Originated in Italy around 1235. Entered English poetry in 16th century.
Lyric poem of fixed form:
14 lines of iambic pentameter (five sets of unstressed syllables followed by stressed syllables)

Three types marked by rhyme:

  • The Petrarchan or Italian sonnet

  • The Spenserian sonnet

  • The Shakespearean or English sonnet

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Three types marked by rhyme:

The Petrarchan or Italian sonnet: abba,abba, cde,cde
The Spenserian sonnet: abab, bcbc, cdcd, ee
The Shakespearean or English sonnet: abab, cdcd, efef, gg

Slide 11 - Slide

"Sonnet 292" by Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374) (translation)
The eyes I spoke of once in words that burn,
the arms and hands and feet and lovely face
that took me from myself for such a space
of time, and marked me out from other men;

the waving hair of unmixed gold that shone,

the smile that flashed with the angelic rays

that used to make this earth a paradise,
are now a little dust, all feeling gone;

And yet I live, hence grief and rage for me,

left where the light I cherished never shows,

in fragile bark on the tempestuous sea.

Here let my loving song come to a close;

the vein of my accustomed art is dry,

and this, my lyre, turned at last to tears.

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Shakespearean Sonnet
Shakespeare: 154 sonnets
A large number of the poems seem to be addressed to a mysterious woman (the “dark lady”)
Structure: Three quatrains and a concluding couplet.
General rhyme scheme: abab cdcd efef gg
Themes: passage of time, love, beauty, mortality

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Work in pairs. Each student chooses one sonnet (not the same one). Listen to the recording and annotate while listening. When you annotate, make sure to also point out stylistic devices.

Read the sonnet again, answer the questions and analyse the sonnet. Share your analysis and answers with the other student. Write down the answers. Compare the two sonnets and discuss the differences.

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Sonnet 18
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? 
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date: 
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd; 
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st; 
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. 

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Sonnet 18 - Questions
  1. What does the speaker name as being the downsides to summer?
  2. Who does the speaker mean/address by saying “thee”?
  3. What could “thy eternal summer” stand for?
  4. How do we know that this is a Shakespearean sonnet?
  5. What does the speaker mean by saying: “When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st?”
  6. What do we call the two closing sentences again?

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Sonnet 130
My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun; 
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; 
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white, 
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
     And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare 
     As any she belied with false compare.

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Sonnet 130 - Questions
  1. What is the rhyme scheme?
  2. How does Shakespeare describe his “mistress”?
  3. How are the last two lines different from the beginning of the poem?
  4. What is the poem about?
  5. What does Shakespeare criticize in this sonnet?

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