Shakespeare and Mirikitani

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Jacob Denson
English 125
February 20, 2013
“Shakespeare and Mirikitani: The use of Simile, Diction, and Tone to express Emotion”
Janice Mirikitani’s poem, “Suicide Note” and William Shakespeare’s Hamlet both use simile, diction, and tone to express emotion. Both works use these forms of writing to establish a tone of deep emotion, with sadness and despair being at the forefront. “Suicide Note,” being about an Asian-American college student who commits suicide, was written as an apology to her parents for not living up to their standards. Hamlet is the story of a man who has just lost his father and documents the desperation he faces to revenge his murder. Both establish the tone as full of emotion and use diction and similes to emphasize this feeling.

Janice Mirikitani uses similes in her poem to express desperation and hopelessness. In the first few lines, she says, “How many notes written… ink smeared like birdprints in the snow.” This is showing how the voice of the play has written letters to her parents, but after so many they just become a blur, meshing together until they are non-decipherable. In Hamlet, when the king is confessing his sins and praying, he states that he is “like a man to double business bound.” Here Shakespeare is showing how the king is torn between his feelings toward his brother and the allure of being a king. After this line, he says, “My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent.” His guilt and his greed are causing stress like a man who is obligated to two forms of business with no idea where to start.

The diction used in each of these poems illustrates how each writer wants to display a particular emotion. In Hamlet, again when the king is praying, he starts by saying “O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven; It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t.” This statement shows disgust with himself. By using the words “rank” and “smells”, he conveys that the murder he committed is a foul offence that he is sickened by. He later...
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