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Shakespeares language
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Slide 10

Sentences

Sentences

Syntax - arrangement of words in sentence

Influence of Latin grammar

Move toward “simplicity” - Bacon > Orwell

Shakespeare created stage pictures out of poetry - issues of verse and prosody

iambic pentameter

rhyth, emphasis

characterization

Slide 11

Let’s look at Hamlet

Let’s look at Hamlet

The Ghost speaks:

Sleeping within my orchard,

My custom always of the afternoon,

Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,

With juice of cursed hebona in a vial,

And in the porches of my ears did pour

The leprous distillment. (1.5.59-64)

Slide 12

Dangling modifier - or suspension?

Dangling modifier - or suspension?

Grammatically, the subject should be “I” but is in fact “thy uncle”

Error embodies initial problem: Claudius replace Old Hamlet

Suspensions heighten suspense - remember, young Hamlet is listening intently

Virtually every scene is enriched by such manipulations of syntax

Slide 13

Rhetoric

Rhetoric

Renaissance playwrights were committed to eloquence and grounded in study of rhetoric

Richard Reynolds, humanist educator (1563)

Slide 14

But to whom nature hath given such an ability, and absolute excellency, as that they can both copiously dilate any matter or sentence, by pleasantness or sweetness of their witty and ingenious oration to draw unto them the hearts of a multitude, to pluck down and extirpate affections and perturbations of people, to move pity and compassion, to speak before princes and rulers and to persuade them in good causes and enterprise, to animate and incense them to Godly affairs and business, to alter the counsel of kings, by their wisdom and eloquence, to a better state, is a thing of all most noble and excellent.

But to whom nature hath given such an ability, and absolute excellency, as that they can both copiously dilate any matter or sentence, by pleasantness or sweetness of their witty and ingenious oration to draw unto them the hearts of a multitude, to pluck down and extirpate affections and perturbations of people, to move pity and compassion, to speak before princes and rulers and to persuade them in good causes and enterprise, to animate and incense them to Godly affairs and business, to alter the counsel of kings, by their wisdom and eloquence, to a better state, is a thing of all most noble and excellent.

Slide 15

Translating Latin passages

Translating Latin passages

To English and back to Latin - had a profound impact on English versification

George Puttenham, The Art of English Poesy

Imitation led to creation in poetry of

Sir Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, John Donne, Ben Jonson - and of course, Shakespeare

Slide 16

Shakespearean examples

Shakespearean examples

Grumio in The Taming of the Shrew: Petruchio will dazzle Katherina with his verbal skills

Polonius, in Hamlet - vain about his rhetorical skills - Queen asks him to speak with “More matter and less art”

Portia’s famous speech in The Merchant of Venice

Mark Antony’s in Julius Caesar

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