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Shakespeare’s Writing Style


... 1601-02 Twelfth Night, Troilus and Cressida 1602-03 All's Well That Ends Well 1604-05 Measure For Measure, Othello 1605-06 King Lear, ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Shakespeare’s Writing Style

William Shakespeare His poetry, world, and life
  • Shakespeares genius had to do not really with
    facts, but with ambition, intrigue, love,
    suffering - things that arent taught in school
    (Bryson 109).

From Hamlet
  • the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the
    first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere,
    the mirror up to nature to show virtue her own
    feature, scorn her own image, and the very age
    and body of the time his form and pressure

Shakespeares Effect on the English Language
  • 12,000 words entered the language between 1500
    and 1650 (about ½ of them still in use today)
  • Shakespeare coined 2,035 words (Hamlet alone has
    600 new words). A small sampling
  • Bloody, hurry, generous, impartial, obsene,
    magestic, road, critical, frugal, dwindle,
    extract, horrid, vast, excellent, eventful,
    assassination, lonely, suspicious,
    indistinguishable, well-read, zany, countless

  • Shakespeares phrases are now our clichés
  • One fell swoop, into thin air, fast and loose, in
    a pickle, budge an inch, cold comfort, flesh and
    blood, foul play, tower of strength, cruel to be
    kind, bated breath, pomp and circumstance, catch
    a cold, heart of gold, live long day, method in
    his madness, strange bedfellows, too much of a
    good thing, foregone conclusion

Shakespeares Writing Style
  • Averaging out all of Shakespeares plays, they
    were made up of about 70 blank verse, 5 rhymed
    verse, and 25 prose.
  • Blank Verse unrhymed iambic pentameter
  • Rhymed Verse couplets of iambic pentameter

Shakespeares Writing Style
  • Poetry vs. Prose
  • Prose - Ordinary speech or writing, without
    metrical structure
  • Hamlet displaying madness
  • Hamlet talking to the Players
  • Hamlets letter to Horatio
  • Prose used for several reasons
  • To demonstrate a familiar relationship (often for
    relaxed or informal conversation)
  • To signify a characters status
  • When the rational is contrasted with the
  • The character of Hamlet tends to use prose both
    when he is being very rational and when he is
    very irrational (but the passionate Hamlet speaks
    in verse)

Iambic Pentameter
  • The poetic form used by Shakespeare is Iambic
  • Iambic Pentameter is a rhythmical pattern of
  • Iambic rhythm goes from unstressed syllable to a
    stressed one. Rhythmic examples divine
    caress bizarre
  • Like a heartbeat daDUM daDUM
  • Each iamb is called a foot
  • There are other rhythms. I.e., trochaic DUMda
  • Pentameter the rhythm is repeated 5 times
    each line is 10 syllables
  • daDUM daDUM daDUM daDUM daDUM

Iambic Pentameter
  • Pentameter the rhythm is repeated 5 times
  • daDUM daDUM daDUM daDUM daDUM
  • The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step
  • On which I must fall down, or else oer-leap,
  • For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires!
  • Let not light see my black and deep desires.
  • Shakespeare will sometimes end iambic pentameter
    on an unstressed syllable, so that the last foot
    sounds like this daDUMda.
  • To be, or not to be, that is the question.
  • Is this a dagger which I see before me

Rhyming Verse
  • Rhyming couplets often at the end of
  • A cue to the actors backstage
  • Some scenes in Shakespeares plays (typically
    comedies) will be entirely in couplets.
  • Banter, to lighten the tone, to show a
    characters wit, to quicken the pace of a scene

Elizabethan Age Jacobean Age
  • Shakespeare gains his notoriety during a time
    when theatre is flourishing the Elizabethan
  • Named after Queen Elizabeth I, who reigns until
  • King James I reigns during the rest of
    Shakespeares life.

Elizabethan Age Jacobean Age
  • Queen Elizabeth (1558-1603) Daughter of Henry
    VIII and Anne Boleyn. Protestant. The Virgin
  • Takes throne from Mary I (aka Bloody Mary), a
    Catholic who executed Protestants in large
  • Elizabeth I firmly establishes the Church of
    England (begun by her father)
  • England emerges as the leading naval and
    commercial power of the Western world. Elizabeth
    I's England consolidates its position with the
    defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.
  • Elizabeth names James VI of Scotland to be the
    heir to the throne.
  • Takes the crown as James I, and rules from
    1603-1625. The Jacobean Age.

Elizabethan Theatres
  • Flowering of theatre. The Renaissance (rebirth)
    grew from Englands medieval theatre of mystery
    and morality plays with some stylistic infusion
    from educate mens common reading of the Roman
    playwrights (Terence, Plautus, Seneca).
  • City authorities would often ban theatrical
    productions gatherings encouraged crime.
  • Theatres The Theatre and The Curtain in North
    London The Rose, the Swan, and The Globe (1599)
    in South London.
  • Christopher Marlow (1564-1593) Tamburlane the
    Great, Faustus, Edward II
  • Ben Jonson (1572-1637) Volpone, The Fox
  • Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Elizabethan Theatres
  • Wooden, circular structure, open to the sun
  • The pit (groundlings) vs. the galleries
  • Audience close to the actors
  • Women not allowed on stage (teenage boys)
  • No scenery, few props, but elaborate costumes

The Globe Theatre
Origins of Theatrical Career
  • It is not clear how his career in the theatre
    began but from about 1594 onward he was an
    important member of the company of players known
    as the Lord Chamberlain's Men (called the King's
    Men after the accession of James I in 1603). They
    had the best actor, Richard Burbage they had the
    best theatre, the Globe they had the best
    dramatist, Shakespeare.

Stratford to London
Theatre in Shakespeares Time
  • The Lord Chamberlains Men and The Globe Theatre
  • Sharers (6-10) owners, best actors/directors/
    writers (Richard Burbage, Hemming Condell, Will
    Kemp, Shakespeare)
  • Journeymen (10-15) adult men
  • Apprentices (3) young boys
  • Average play
  • 10 performances
  • 200 a year
  • 2 weeks to prepare
  • Types of performance Public, Court Provinces

Shakespeares Plays
  • 37 plays
  • Comedies
  • Tragedies
  • Histories
  • Romances
  • In comedy, the parade of human folly is
    presented through the wrong end of the binoculars
    from a perspective of detached amusement. But
    with tragedy, the binoculars are turned the other
    way everything is up close, intense, and
    immediate (Epstein 303).

  • Tragedies
  • Solitary men struggling with human existence
  • We feel for the characters, learn through their
  • What is the title characters tragedy?
  • What when is the catharsis?
  • The violence of tragedy this strange beauty is
    given to the most horrific suffering.

  • Comedies
  • Make light of our faults, bring joy
  • Examine the madness and delusions of love even as
    they celebrate its enchantment
  • Each comedy teaches us something different about

  • Histories
  • Help us view who we once were
  • Celebrate Tudor line examines the question of
    dynamic succession

  • Romances
  • (aka Problem Plays, Tragicomedies)
  • Theatrical illusion and its relation to life
    appearance reality
  • The capacity of art to transform terror into
  • And the power of love to heal

Chronology of Plays
  • 1589-92 Henry VI, Part 1 Henry VI, Part 2
    Henry VI, Part 3
  • 1592-93 Richard III, The Comedy of Errors
  • 1593-94 Titus Andronicus, The Taming of the
  • 1594-95 The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Love's
    Labour's Lost, Romeo and Juliet
  • 1595-96 Richard II, A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • 1596-97 King John, The Merchant of Venice
  • 1597-98 Henry IV, Part 1 Henry IV, Part 2
  • 1598-99 Much Ado About Nothing
  • c. 1599 Henry V
  • 1599-1600 Julius Caesar, As You Like It
  • 1600-01 Hamlet, The Merry Wives of Windsor
  • 1601-02 Twelfth Night, Troilus and Cressida
  • 1602-03 All's Well That Ends Well
  • 1604-05 Measure For Measure, Othello
  • 1605-06 King Lear, Macbeth
  • 1606-07 Antony and Cleopatra
  • 1607-08 Coriolanus, Timon of Athens
  • 1608-09 Pericles
  • 1609-10 Cymbeline

The Four Humours
  • A traditional theory of physiology in which the
    state of health - and by extension the state of
    mind, or character - depended upon a balance
    among the four elemental fluids blood, yellow
    bile, phlegm, and black bile.
  • These were closely allied with the four elements
    (air, fire, water, and earth). Their
    correspondence is described as follows

The Humours
  • SANGUINE Blood
  • Hot and moist (Air)
  • Amorous, happy, generous
  • MELANCHOLIC Black Bile
  • Cold and dry (Earth)
  • Gluttonous, lazy, sentimental
  • Cold and moist (Water )
  • Dull, pale, cowardly
  • CHOLERIC Yellow Bile
  • Hot and dry (Fire)
  • Violent, vengeful

The Humours
  • The "humours" gave off vapors which ascended to
    the brain an individual's personal
    characteristics (physical, mental, moral) were
    explained by his or her "temperament," or the
    state of that person's "humours."
  • The perfect temperament resulted when no one of
    these humours dominated.
  • By 1600 it was common to use "humour" as a means
    of classifying characters knowledge of the
    humours is not only important to understanding
    later medieval work, but essential to
    interpreting Elizabethan drama.