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Transcript of Shakespeare's Language
Sentences and Syntax
Today, the modern sentence pattern is (Subject)(Verb)(Object). Sometimes Shakespeare can be hard to understand because he will switch the order around. Often times he can put the verb before the subject, confusing some inexperienced readers. For a better understanding, all you have to do is find the subject, verb, and object and rearrange the sentence until it makes sense.
Prose vs. Verse
Prose is when the text is written as if a person could speak it normally in everyday life. It is written like ordinary novels that you would read or like an essay you would write.
Verse can be a rhymed verse or blank verse. Blank verse has a pattern to it, unlike prose, but it does not rhyme.
The way that things are pronounced in Shakespeare can influence a lot. It can affect the emotion of the scene. It can also help people understand many jokes and rhymes in his works.
Rhetoric and Contrations
Shakespeare uses many different rhetorical devices in his writings. He also has many contractions that can be confusing to new readers.
What Are Puns?
Puns are when a phrase has more than one meaning. It is also known as a play on words. Most of Shakespeare's puns come from words that have more than one meaning, but sometimes readers can miss the jokes because they do not understand the words from that time.
Words and Their Meanings
Words in Shakespeare's time either had different meanings back then than they do now or they are no longer used. Some of his sentences can be hard to understand because of this. It is important to remember the different meanings of words to understand sentences, puns, and situations in his works.
Shakespeare introduced many new words to the English vocabulary. In addition to his new creations, he introduced the use of words as nouns, adjectives, verbs, that were not used as nouns, adjectives, or verbs before.
Furness, Hannah. "Shakespeare Read in Elizabethan Accent Reveals 'puns, Jokes and Rhymes'" N.p., 11 Oct. 2013. Web. 19 Apr. 2015. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/william-shakespeare/10372964/Shakespeare-read-in-Elizabethan-accent-reveals-puns-jokes-and-rhymes.html>.
"General Shakespeareana." Shakespeare Quarterly 51.5, World Shakespeare Bibliography 1999 (2000): 539-611. Web. 19 Apr. 2015. <http://www.vocabulary.com/articles/lessons/exploring-the-power-of-puns/Shakesperean_Puns.pdf>.
Panganiban, Roma. "20 Words We Owe to William Shakespeare." Mental Floss. N.p., 31 Jan. 2013. Web. 19 Apr. 2015. <http://mentalfloss.com/article/48657/20-words-we-owe-william-shakespeare>.
Act 1, Scene 1, Line 118, Romeo and Juliet
“Lady Montague: O, where is Romeo?
Saw you him today
Act 1, Scene 1, Line 8, Hamlet
“For this relief much thanks”
Act 1, Scene 1, Line 30, Hamlet
“Bernardo: Sit down awhile; And let us once again assail your ears, That are so fortified against our story,
What we two nights have seen
sit we down
, And let us hear Bernardo speak of this.”
Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 1, Line 1
"Sampson: Gregory, on my word we'll not carry coals.
Gregory: No, for then we should be colliers.
Sampson: I mean, an we be in choler, we'll draw.
Gregory: Ay, while you live, draw your neck out of collar."
carry coals: suffer humiliation
colliers: carriers of coal
choler: to be angry
draw: to draw their swords
collar: hangman's noose
King Richard III, Act 1, Scene 1, Line 1
"Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this sun of York"
Prologue, Romeo and Juliet
"From forth the fatal loins of these two foes / A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life; Whose
piteous overthrows / Doth bury their parents' strife."
Misadventured is not a commonly used word anymore, but here it is used to mean "unlucky".
Act 1, Scene 1, Line 41, Romeo and Juliet
“I will frown as I pass by, and let them take it as they
"List" meaning "please"--'Let them take it as
Act 3, Scene 3, Line 41, Romeo and Juliet
"Who even in pure and vestal modesty /
blush, as thinking their own kisses sin"
In this context, "still" means "always."
Act 1, Scene 1, Line 3, Romeo and Juliet
we be in choler, we'll draw."
In this sentence, "an" means "if".
The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 1, Scene 1
"Speed: The shepherd seeks the sheep, and not the sheep a shepherd; but I seek my master, and my master seeks not me: therefore I am no sheep.
Proteus: The sheep for fodder follow the shepherd; the shepherd for food follows not the sheep: thou for wages followest thy master; thy master for wages follows not thee: therefore thou art a sheep."
"Look, what an unthrift in the world doth spend
Shifts but his place, for still the world enjoys it;
But beauty's waste hath in the world an end,
And kept unused, the user so destroys it.
No love toward others in that bosom sits
That on himself such murderous shame commits."
Act 1, Scene 1, Line 193, Romeo and Juliet
"Griefs of mine own lie heavy in my breast,
Which thou wilt propagate to have it pressed
With more of thine. This love that thou hast shown
Doth add more grief to too much of mine own
Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs;
Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes"
Shakespeare has many contractions in his writing to help with the rhythm and flow of the sentence. Knowing these contractions can help while reading:
Act 2, Scene 2, Line 71, Romeo and Juliet
"With love's light wings did I o'erperch these walls." (Metaphor)
Act 1, Scene 1, Line 10, Macbeth
"Fair is foul, and foul is fair." (chiasmus, repetition of words in reverse order)
Prologue, Romeo and Juliet
"Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean."
(assonance, repetition of the same words/sounds close enough to echo the other)
Macbeth, Act 2, Scene 2, Line 7
drugged (used as a verb)
"Do mock their charge with snores: I have
Romeo and Juliet, Act 4, Scene 5, Line 65
“Despised, distressed, hated, martyr'd, kill'd!
time, why camest thou now to murder, murder our solemnity?”
A Midsummer's Night Dream, Act 3, Scene 1, Line 78
“What hempen home-spuns have we
here, so near the cradle of the fairy queen?”
Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 3, Line 3
"What, lamb! What,
! God forbid. Where's this girl? What, Juliet!"
Works Cited (cont.)
"Reading Shakespeare's Language." N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2015. <http://web.calstatela.edu/faculty/jgarret/417/Reading-Shakespeare.pdf>.
Schwartz, Debora B. "Shakespearean Verse and Prose." Shakespearean Verse and Prose. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2015. <http://cla.calpoly.edu/~dschwart/engl339/verseprose.html>.
"Shakespeare's Accent: How Did The Bard Really Sound?" NPR. NPR, 24 Mar. 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2015. <http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2012/03/24/149160526/shakespeares-accent-how-did-the-bard-really-sound>.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. George Taylor and Reed Smith. Interlinear Edition ed. N.p.: Ginn, 1936. Print.
Works Cited (cont.)
Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Ed. Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. Folger Shakespeare Library ed. New York: Simon and Schuster Paperbacks, 1992. Print.
Shakespeare, William. The Plays and Sonnets of William Shakespeare. Ed. William George Clarke and William Aldis Wright. Limited Edition ed. Vol. 1. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1978. Print.
Shakespeare, William. The Plays and Sonnets of William Shakespeare. Ed. William George Clarke and William Aldis Wright. Vol. 2. Chicago: William Benton, 1952. Print.
"Words and Phrases Coined by Shakespeare." Words and Phrases Coined by Shakespeare. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2015. <http://www.pathguy.com/shakeswo.htm>.
"Words Shakespeare Invented." Words Shakespeare Invented. N.p., 20 Aug. 2000. Web. 19 Apr. 2015. <http://www.shakespeare-online.com/biography/wordsinvented.html>.
Hylton, Jeremy. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.
This is the website where I found the picture on the title slide.
Hamlet. Digital image. Hamlet. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015. <http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/df/Hamlet.jpg>.
Title page of Hamlet
Romeo and Juliet. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015. <http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4c/Romeoandjuliet1597.jpg>.
Title Page of Romeo and Juliet on the title slide.
Based on Jim Harvey's speech structures
Since some of the pronunciations of words are not the same as they were back then, most of his sonnets no longer rhyme. In sonnet 116, the lines:
"If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.”
do not rhyme. However, back then "proved" was pronounced in the same way as we now pronounce "loved"
Act 1, Scene 1, Line 137, Romeo and Juliet
"But all so soon as the all-cheering sun / Should in the farthest east begin to draw / The shady curtains from Aurora's bed, / Away from light steals home my
"Heavy" here does not mean weight, it means "sorrowful".
Act 1, Scene 1, Line 203, Romeo and Juliet
, I will go along"
"Soft" means "wait" here.
e'er - ever
i' - in
gi' - give
Sometimes longer words can be abbreviated as well. For example, Act 4, Scene 1, Line 80, Macbeth "The pow'r
of man, for none of woman born
shall harm Macbeth.
o'er - over
ne'er - never
a' - he
e'en - even
'tis - it is
Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 4, Line 11
"Romeo: Give me a torch. I am not for this ambling. Being but heavy I will bear the light.
Mercutio: Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance.
Romeo: Not I, believe me. You have dancing shoes With nimble soles; I have a soul of lead
So stakes me to the ground I cannot move."
Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 1, Line 100
"No, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a
church door, but 'tis enough. 'Twill serve. Ask
for me tomorrow, and you shall find me
a grave man."
Act 3, Scene 1, Line 56, Hamlet
"To be or not to be, --that is the question;
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
And by opposing end them. To die,--to sleep,--
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks"
Tybalt - (TIH-balt) Romeo and Juliet
Rosaline - (ROZ-ah-lin) Romeo and Juliet
Donalbain - (DAWN-al-bayn) Macbeth
Menteith/Menteth - (men-TEETH) Macbeth
Banquo - (BANG-kwoh) Macbeth
Cathness/Caithness - (KAYTH-ness) Macbeth