Skip to main content
Chemistry LibreTexts

Hamlet: Useful Terms

  • Page ID
  • A GLOSSARY:  Begin our study of Hamlet with some resources to help you.  As you study Hamlet, you may encounter many of these terms.  Keep this glossary at hand.  Scan the list now.  Which terms do you NOT understand?  Be sure to focus on these terms.








    aside - A statement made by a dramatic character meant to be heard by the audience but not by other characters on the stage with the speaker.

    soliloquy - an act of speaking one's thoughts aloud when by oneself or regardless of any hearers, especially by a character in a play

    tragedy - A drama or literary work in which the main character is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a consequence of a tragic flaw, moral weakness, or inability to cope with unfavorable circumstances

    motif - Any element that recurs in a work of literature. A recurring element.

    conflict - A struggle between two opposing forces.

    • central conflict - usually faced by the main character or protagonist
    • internal conflict - conflict within the character (person vs self)
    • external conflict - conflict between a character and something outside the character (person vs person, person vs. nature, person vs. society, person vs. supernatural)

    symbolism - using symbols to represent ideas or meaning beyond a literal definition

    extended metaphor - a comparison between two unlike things that extends beyond a full paragraph

    puns - word play that involves using two meanings assigned to one word

    tone - the author's or speaker's attitude toward the subject in writing

    satire - a technique used to expose how foolish some person or topic is by using ridicule, humor, irony, or exaggeration for this effect

    hyperbole- exaggeration

    Plot- A series of events in a play or narrative related to a central conflict or struggle

    Plot-related terms:  

    • exposition (Introduction) Sets the tone or mood, introduces the characters and setting, and provides necessary background information.
    • inciting incident - The event that introduces the central conflict.
    • rising action - series of events that build tension or suspense
    • climax - The highest point of interest and suspense or it can refer to the turning point of action in a story or play; the point where the rising action stops and the falling action begins.
    • crisis (Turning point) -Often the same event as the climax, the point of the plot where something decisive happens to determine the outcome of future events and the final resolution of the conflict.
    • falling action - All the events that follow the climax and result from the crisis or turning point.
    • resolution is the part of the story's plot line in which the problem of the story is resolved or worked out. This occurs after the falling action and is typically where the story ends.
    • denouement - Any events that follow the resolution that tie up any unfinished business or loose ends.