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Shakespeare: Literary Terms to Know

Provides the definition of literary terms specific to Shakespeare and his works.
by

John Staber

on 11 December 2015

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Transcript of Shakespeare: Literary Terms to Know

Shakespeare:
Crash Course and Lit Terms to Know

Tragedy:
Comic Relief:
Allusion:
Foil:
a drama that ends in catastrophe (most often death) for the main character and often several other central characters.
a humorous scene, incident, or speech that relieves the overall emotional intensity of a play or other work of literature.
a brief reference within a work to a notable, or famous, work of literature or art. These references also include historical events and people.
a character whose personality is the polar opposite of another.
Tragic hero:
someone of noble birth who usually has
great influence on his society. This character usually
has one or more fatal or tragic flaws which leads to the
character's downfall.
Romeo and Juliet
is a tragedy, while Romeo is a
tragic hero
.
The idea of comic relief is to provide the audience with a break from the tension of the play.
Romeo and Juliet
will have several examples of comic relief.
Shakespeare includes several allusions
throughout
Romeo and Juliet.
He expected his audience to understand these references.
Mercutio's speech early on in the play makes reference to "Queen Mab," a mythical character who visits dreamers as they sleep.
Shakespeare includes foils in order to help convey the larger themes of his plays.
Benvolio and Tybalt will be examples of
Foils.
Dramatic Conventions:
Soliloquy:
a longer speech that a character gives
while he or she is alone (or thinks he or she is alone) on stage: This is also called an inner monologue because it reveals the inner thoughts of the character. The only people privy to these thoughts are the audience members. Take a look at the following:
Aside:
a character's remark, either to the audience or to another character, that others on stage are not supposed to hear. [An aside is indicated by stage direction.]
Ex: Sampson.
[Aside to Gregory] Is the law of our side if I say ay?
Iambic Pentameter
allowed Shakespeare to create a beautiful sound to his language which still appeals to people today.
Blank Verse:
refers to a form of
poetry
that uses unryhmed lines of iambic pentameter.
iambic pentameter
refers to the syllabic structure that Shakespeare wrote in: five unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable.
Take a look at the following (the
red
is stressed and the
black
unstressed):
Romeo:
My
grave
is like to
be
my
wed
ding bed.
But
soft
, what
light
through
yon
der
win
dow breaks?
Shakespeare's
Use of Language
"It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!"(Shakepeare 2.2.2).
.
Don't panic!
You won't have to label the stressed or unstressed syllables. Just make sure you know what
blank verse
and
iambic pentameter
are.
Before we kick things off, let's begin with a crash course from notable young adult author, John Green, as he rapidly dissects Shakespeare and
Romeo and Juliet
:
The Globe and Elizabethan Theatre
Your Shakespearan Name
Full transcript