Shakespeare´s language

Category: Education

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Interesting ppt to introduce Shakespeare´s language to ESO students


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Shakespeare’s Language:

Copyright 2007 Shakespeare’s Language An essential part of studying ANY Shakespeare play 

A bit of background!:

Copyright 2007 A bit of background! There were no dictionaries until 1604! This means that language used in that era was very fluid and could be moulded and shaped. People studied Rhetoric . Poets and playwrights experimented with words, phrases and imagery. Free to make up words and to adopt new ones, they could also change meanings of words too.

And there’s more…:

Copyright 2007 And there’s more… If a word didn’t exist, Shakespeare changed an old one or made up a new one. Shakespeare had a huge fascination with dramatic language. He truly believed in the power of words to focus and light up the imagination, persuade the intellect and move the audience’s emotions. You can apply almost all you have learnt about poetry to Shakespeare’s works.

Dramatic language:

Copyright 2007 Dramatic language ‘ Suit the action to the word, the word to the action’ His theatre Stage Magic Creating atmosphere and setting through language. Intensely active and physical, pulsating with vibrant energy. Inbuilt stage directions. Evoke Imagery For example: Grief and Loss: ‘ Death lies upon her like an untimely frost Upon the sweetest flower of all the field’ Comment on the above quotation and discuss how you think it evokes imagery. Why is it better than simply saying: “She died.”


Copyright 2007 Imagery The use of emotionally charged words and phrases which conjure up vivid pictures in the mind and imagination. ‘ Why what’s the matter, That you have such a February face, So full of frost, of storm, and cloudiness’ Shakespeare uses a lot of Imagery from nature. Look out for it and see how much you can find. Discuss the above quotation and say why you think it’s effective.


Copyright 2007 And… Imagery can employ: Simile Metaphor Personification ‘ She never told her love But let concealment like a worm I’th’bud Feed on her damask cheek. She pined in thought, And with green and yellow melancholy She sat like Patience on a monument Smiling at grief’ Look at this example and see if you can spot the techniques that have been used.

Ready for some more?:

Copyright 2007 Ready for some more? Antithesis! The opposition of words and phrases against each other. ‘To be or not to be…’ ‘To be’ is the thesis, ‘not to be ‘ is the antithesis. ‘ The more I love, the more he hateth me To sue to live, I find I seek to die’ Remember! There is no drama with out conflict!


Copyright 2007 Lists Accumulate words and phrases like a list. Increased dramatic effect by making description forceful, and atmospheres or arguments more passionate or extreme. ‘Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork, and blind worm’s sting, Lizards leg, and howlet’s sting,’

Alliteration, Assonance and Onomatopoeia:

Copyright 2007 Alliteration, Assonance and Onomatopoeia ‘More a matter for a May morning!’ ‘What lusty trumpet thus doth summon us?’ ‘ The murmering surge, ‘That on th’unnumbered idle pebble chafes’ Look for examples in the above. Can you spot the alliteration, assonance and onomatopoeia?

Repetition: why use it?:

Copyright 2007 Repetition: why use it? Dramatic force. Repeated words, phrases, rhythms and sounds (rhyme, alliteration, assonance) add to the emotional force of a moment or scene. ‘Thou;lt come no more, Never, never, never, never, never’ Lists: Shakespeare often makes his characters list things. Can you think of any examples? What effect does this have?


Copyright 2007 Verse It was expected that plays would be written in verse! Verse is normally written in iambic pentameter Five stressed (/) syllables alternate with five unstressed (X) syllables, giving a ten-syllable line. X / X / X / X / X / But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? Iambic pentameter is similar to the human heart beat.

Yes, we’re still on Iambic P:

Copyright 2007 Yes, we’re still on Iambic P Rhythm that is exactly regular can become monotonous and boring. Shakespeare sometimes varies the rhythmic pattern to include more or fewer than ten syllables. Not boring or repetitive. See if you can find examples of Shakespeare’s varied rhythmic patterns in the play you are studying.


Copyright 2007 Tetrameter A verse line with four stresses is called tetrameter (tetra=four) Common rhythm of nursery rhymes. Shakespeare uses it for songs in his plays. Can you remember the witches’ chant in Macbeth? Unpunctuated lines


Copyright 2007 Rhetoric To speak persuasively. Is the speech a logical argument? How does it begin, handle evidence and counter objections, conclude? Think about how it appeals to the emotions and the imaginations of the Shakespearean audiences? Try to look at how techniques have been used in the language.


Copyright 2007 Rhyme Uses rhyme in songs, prologues and epilogues, masques and plays within plays. Blank verse Strong rhymed couplets are used for exits Sometimes rhyme occurs in speech shared by two characters to express shared emotions: Juliet: ‘O now be gone, more light and light it grows Romeo: More light and light, more dark and dark our woes


Copyright 2007 Self-persuasion Thoughts of the protagonist. Normally displayed through a soliloquy. Boastful or ranting language: ‘The raging rocks And shivering shocks Shall break the locks Or prison gates’ Bombast


Copyright 2007 Hyperbole Extravagant and obvious exaggeration. E.g. “It’s so hot I am dying!’ Two incompatible or clashing words are brought together to make a striking expression. E.g. Romeo and Juliet are opposites. There are lots of oxymorons in this play. Oxymoron


Copyright 2007 Irony Verbal and dramatic. Verbal irony is saying one thing and meaning another. E.g. in Macbeth ‘ Fail not out feast’ is said to Banquo. Why is it ironic? Dramatic irony is used when one scene or event contrasts with another: ‘He was a gentlemanon whom I built absolute trust’ ENTER MACBETH Why is this dramatic irony?

Puns and Malapropism:

Copyright 2007 Puns and Malapropism Puns are words that have two or three different meanings. Find Mercutio’s speech on page 83 and find a pun in his speech. Malapropism Inappropriate, muddled or mistaken use of words. Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream uses many.


Copyright 2007 Monosyllables Simple short words can carry a high emotional frequency and dramatic charge. E.g. ‘To be or not to be’

Why do I need to know all these things?:

Copyright 2007 Why do I need to know all these things? At GCSE level, you’re required to show insight and depth of analysis. Understand Shakespeare’s use of language for dramatic, poetic and figurative effect. Understand Shakespeare’s stagecraft and appeal to the audience. ‘The day is hot, the Capels are abroad’ Why does Shakespeare include comments on the weather? What effect does this have on the audience?

Tips for essays:

Copyright 2007 Tips for essays Plan your answer and make detailed notes. Do not re-tell the story. Analyse in depth; look at characters, stagecraft, their language and how this informs the audience of the situations. Comment on language use* Comment on the social, historical and cultural context. LENGTH OF ESSAYS.

PowerPoint Presentation:

Copyright 2007 Example 1 (Not a great example. What do you think is not so good about this?) At this point, Mercutio is fuming and decides to fight instead of Romeo. ‘Tybalt, you ratcatcher, will you walk?’ This is showing the violence because Mercutio is insulting a powerful Capulet. Mercutio is saying that he will fight instead of Romeo.

PowerPoint Presentation:

Copyright 2007 AS they start to fight, Romeo steps in between them trying to break them up. As he does, Tybalt thrusts his sword into Mercutio and flees. Mercutio was hit awfully. “I am hurt. A plague on both your houses! I am sped.” This shows that he knows he will die and blames it on the Montagues and the Capulets. The audience feel that he could die because Benvolio asks Mercutio if he is hurt badly. Mercutio answers. “Ay, Ay, a scratch, marry ‘tis enough. Where is my page?- go villain, fetch a surgeon. Mercutio is saying that his wound is enough to kill him and he needs a surgeon. What’s not so good about the above answer? How could it be improved? Example 1 continued…

PowerPoint Presentation:

Copyright 2007 Example 2 (What’s good about this?) Unlike Benvolio, Tybalt is the exact opposite and he encourages the violence and conflict. The text suggests this when Tybalt says; ‘As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.’ When this play was written people were very religious, so comparing someone’s family to hell is abusive, spiteful and symbolises the devil. Tybalt encourages the violence by being spiteful to Benvolio; he has insulted his family. The audience is immediately informed of Tybalt’s ‘fiery’ character.

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