Shakespeare's Language

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Shakespeare's language

William Shakespeare used language to::

William Shakespeare used language to: create a sense of place seize the audience’s interest and attention explore the widest range of human experience He was a genius for dramatic language “ ”

1. Blank verse:

1. Blank verse unrhymed lines with an arrangement of unstressed and stressed syllables known as “ In sooth / I know / not why / I am / so sad / ” (from The Merchant of Venice) iambic pentameter

2. Variations on metre:

2. Variations on metre to make his verse less monotonous, Shakespeare: “ that this too too sull ied flesh would melt ” (from Hamlet) ‏ altered the pattern of unstressed and stressed syllables “ There’s nothing ill can dwell in such a temple” (from The Tempest) ‏ altered the expected number of syllables Emilia: Why, would not you ? divided a single line between two or more speakers Desdemona: No, by this heavenly light! (from Othello) ‏ A shot from Hamlet by Franco Zeffirelli (1990).

3. Use of verse and prose:

3. Use of verse and prose VERSE generally used by aristocratic characters in serious or dramatic scenes PROSE generally used by lower-class characters in comic scenes in informal conversations

4. Imagery:

4. Imagery clusters of repeated images build up a sense of the themes of the play, like a. imagery from nature b. imagery from Elizabethan daily life, like: c. l ight and darkness in Romeo and Juliet A shot from Romeo+Juliet by Baz Luhrmann (1996). s ports and hunting; shipping and the law; jewels; medicine

4. Imagery:

4. Imagery use of metaphors and similes d. use of personification e. “ Come, civil Night ; Thou sober-suited matron all in black. ” ( from Romeo and Juliet, Act III, Scene II) ‏ “ There’s daggers in men’s smiles ” (from Macbeth) ‏ “ The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath ” (from The Merchant of Venice, IV.i.179–181 ) ‏ A shot from The Merchant of Venice by Michael Radford (2004).

5. Antithesis:

5. Antithesis The contrast of direct opposites. “ Why then, O brawling love , O loving hate , O any thing , of nothing first created: O heavy lightness , serious vanity ” (from Romeo and Juliet ) Frank Dicksee Romeo and Juliet (1884).

6. Repetition:

6. Repetition Repeated words or phrases add to: “ Oh horrible , oh horrible , most horrible ! ” ( The Ghost in Hamlet )‏ the emotional intensity of a scene “ O night , O night , alack , alack , alack , I fear my Thisbe’s promise is forgot! And thou, O wall , O sweet, O lovely wall . ” ( Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream )‏ its comic effect

7. Hyperbole:

7. Hyperbole Extravagant and obvious exaggeration “ Blow me about in winds ! Roast me in sulphur ! Wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire !” (from Othello ) Othello is haunted by the knowledge that he has wrongly killed Desdemona ) (

8. Irony:

8. Irony Verbal irony Saying one thing but meaning another Dramatic irony It is structural: one line or scene contrasts sharply with another The audience knows something that a character on stage does not In Julius Caesar , Mark Antony calls Brutus “an honourable man” but means the opposite I n Macbeth Duncan’s line “He was a gentleman on whom I built an absolute trust” is followed by the stage direction “ Enter Macbeth”

9. Pronouns: you and thee:

9. Pronouns: you and thee YOU Implies either closeness or contempt Friendship towards an equal Superiority over someone considered a social inferior Used to address someone of higher social rank Can be aggressive or insulting THEE More formal and distant form Suggests respect for a superior Courtesy to a social equal Send clear social signals