Rhetorical Devices in Twelfth Night

Rhetorical Devices Examples in Twelfth Night:

Act I - Scene II 1

"That were hard to compass; Because she will admit no kind of suit, No, not the Duke's...."   (Act I - Scene II)

The audience may wonder why Shakespeare chose to begin his play in Orsino’s court when this shipwreck is the main event that sparks the conflict in the play. When the Captain repeats the plot that was revealed in the first scene, this makes Shakespeare’s beginning more odd. One explanation for this may be the thematic importance of Orsino’s hyperbolic love. Orsino sets the tone and subject of the play on love and the effects of love. Had he begun the play with the shipwreck the audience might believe that the play was going to be about survival and grief.

"Diana's lip Is not more smooth and rubious; thy small pipe Is as the maiden's organ, shrill and sound, And all is semblative a woman's part...."   (Act I - Scene IV)

To describe Cesario, Orsino uses a poetic blazon, in which the speaker fragments his love object into her physical parts in order to compare each fragment to something natural and perfect. For example, skin as white as snow, lips red like a rose.

"If it be thus to dream, still let me sleep!..."   (Act IV - Scene I)

Sebastian’s response to Olivia takes on the form of a heroic couplet, popularly used to end a sonnet in order to deliver a moral or a truism. Most importantly, Olivia’s next lines complete Sebastian’s final couplet. Shakespeare would have used this as an indication of these two characters’ future together, because of their ability to speak in harmony.