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Adynaton (a-dyn'-a-ton) is an extreme form of hyperbole in which the exaggeration could not possibly happen in reality. “Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand?” Macbeth, 2.2.78

Adynaton is an example of:

Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing

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Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in all Venice.Adynaton His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff: you shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you have them, they are not worth the search.Simile
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Act 1
Scene 1
Line 121

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Spoken by:

Figures of Speech:

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world

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Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs, and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.Adynaton & Simile

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Men at some time are masters of their fates;
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Thrift, thrift, Horatio

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Thrift, thrift, Horatio.Epizeuxis The funeral baked meats
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.Alliteration
Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven
Or ever I had seen that day, Horatio!
My father—methinks I see my father.

He was a man. Take him for all in all,
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Act 1
Scene 2
Line 187

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Spoken by:


Figures of Speech:
, , , , , , ,

Not for that neither. Here’s the pang that pinches

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Not for that neither.Anapodoton Here’s the pang that pinches:
His Highness having lived so long with herAlliteration
, and she
So good a lady that no tongue could ever
Pronounce dishonor of her—Parenthesesby my life,
She never knew harm-doing!—O, now,

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Now, Ursula, when Beatrice doth come

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Now, Ursula, when Beatrice doth come,
As we do trace this alley up and down,
Our talk must only be of Benedick.
When I do name him, let it be thy part
To praise him more than ever man did merit.

What fire is in mine ears?

My talk to thee must be how Benedick
Is sick in love with Beatrice. Of this matter
Is little Cupid’s crafty arrow made,
That only wounds by hearsay.Allusion
Now begin,
For look where Beatrice like a lapwing runs
Close by the ground, to hear our conference.Simile

 Enter Beatrice, who hides in the bower.
Ursula, aside to Hero
The pleasant’st angling is to see the fish
Cut with her Metaphorgolden oars the silver stream
And greedily devour the treacherous bait.
So angle we for Beatrice, who even now
Is couchèd in the woodbine coverture.Simile

Fear you not my part of the dialogue.
Hero, aside to Ursula
Then go we near her, that her ear lose nothing
Of the false sweet bait that we lay for it.—Metaphor
 They walk near the bower.
No, truly, Ursula, she is too disdainful.
I know her spirits are as coy and wild
As haggards of the rock.Simile

But are you sure
That Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely?
So says the Prince and my new-trothèd lord.
And did they bid you tell her of it, madam?
They did entreat me to acquaint her of it,
But I persuaded them, if they loved Benedick,
To wish him wrestle with affectionMetaphor
And never to let Beatrice know of it.
Why did you so? Doth not the gentleman
Deserve as full as fortunate a bed
As ever Beatrice shall couch upon?Metonymy

O god of love! I know he doth deserve
As much as may be yielded to a man,Apostrophe

But Nature never framed a woman’s heart
Of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice.
Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,
Misprizing what they look on, and her wit
Values itself so highly that to her
All matter else seems weak.Personification & Synecdoches
She cannot love,
Nor take no shape nor project of affection,
She is so self-endeared.
Sure, I think so,
And therefore certainly it were not good
She knew his love, lest she’ll make sport at it.
Why, you speak truth. I never yet saw man,
How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featured,Diacope
But she would spell him backward. If fair-faced,
She would swear the gentleman should be her sister;
If black, why, Nature, drawing of an antic,
Made a foul blot; if tall, a lance ill-headed;
If low, an agate very vilely cut;
If speaking, why, a vane blown with all winds;
If silent, why, a block moved with none.Anaphora & Metaphors

So turns she every man the wrong side out,Metaphor
And never gives to truth and virtue that
Which simpleness and merit purchaseth.
Sure, sure,Epizeuxis such carping is not commendable.
No, not to be so odd and from all fashions
As Beatrice is cannot be commendable.
But who dare tell her so? If I should speak,
She would mock me into air. O, she would laugh me
Out of myself, press me to death with wit.Adynaton

Therefore let Benedick, like covered fire,
Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly.
It were a better death than die with mocks,
Which is as bad as die with tickling.Similes

Yet tell her of it. Hear what she will say.
No, rather I will go to Benedick
And counsel him to fight against his passion;
And truly I’ll devise some honest slanders
To stain my cousin with. One doth not know
How much an ill word may empoison liking.
O, do not do your cousin such a wrong!
She cannot be so much without true judgment,
Having so swift and excellent a wit
As she is prized to have, as to refuse
So rare a gentleman as Signior Benedick.
He is the only man of Italy,
Always excepted my dear Claudio.
I pray you be not angry with me, madam,
Speaking my fancy: Signior Benedick,
For shape, for bearing, argument, and valor,
Goes foremost in report through Italy.
Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.Metonymy
His excellence did earn it ere he had it.
When are you married, madam?
Why, every day, tomorrow.Anapodoton & Antithesis, Oxymoron or Paradox Come, go in.
I’ll show thee some attires and have thy counsel
Which is the best to furnish me tomorrow.
 They move away from the bower.
Ursula, aside to Hero
She’s limed, I warrant you. We have caught her, madam.Metaphor
Hero, aside to Ursula
If it prove so, then loving goes by haps;
Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.Allusion
 Hero and Ursula exit.
Beatrice, coming forward
What fire is in mine ears?Metaphor Can this be true?
Stand I condemned for pride and scorn so much?
Contempt, farewell, and maiden pride, adieu!Apostrophe
No glory lives behind the back of such.
And Benedick, love on; I will requite thee,Apostrophe
Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand.Synecdoche
If thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee
To bind our loves up in a holy band.
For others say thou dost deserve, and I
Believe it better than reportingly.
 She exits

Search out thy wit for secret policies

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Search out thy wit for secret policies,
And we will make thee famous through the world.
Alanson, to Pucelle
We’ll set thy statue in some holy place
And have thee reverenced like a blessèd saint.Simile
Employ thee then, sweet virgin, for our good.

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