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Shakespeare Writing Style Outline

by: Madison Krasko

Shakespeare Writing Style Outline 657

Marketplace > University of New Hampshire > Foreign Language > 657 > Shakespeare Writing Style Outline
Madison Krasko
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These notes describe the technique Shakespeare uses while writing. It is expected to be on the exams in English 657. From techniques to use while reading Shakespeare to patterns he has in his plays...
Shakespeare 657
Dr. Murphy
Class Notes
Shakespeare, English 657, English Shakespeare, Shakespeare Style, How to read Shakespeare, Shakespeare Exam 1




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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Madison Krasko on Tuesday February 23, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to 657 at University of New Hampshire taught by Dr. Murphy in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 20 views. For similar materials see Shakespeare 657 in Foreign Language at University of New Hampshire.


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Date Created: 02/23/16
Madison Krasko Shakespeare Lab Makeup Professor Murphy February 18, 2016 I. Why Shakespeare is so hard a. He wrote for the play, not for readers i. Because of this, the lines are more rhythmic and repetitive so it is easier for actors to remember II. How Shakespeare patterns work a. Characters used to have longer speeches compared to actors now a days. i. People could not read or write so their listening was better b. Language and Vocabulary has changed i. Words can disappear from language ii. Meanings of words can and have changed iii. New words are made iv. Most words we read in Shakespeare’s’ plays remain in use rather than archaic because his plays keep them alive c. Many words and phrases have new meaning that can drastically change the passage meaning III. Shakespeare invented new words a. Vocabulary grew at a faster rate than ever before i. By the 1600’s, language was as different from the 1500’s language as todays English is to the 1600’s. ii. Shakespeare’s plays are such a key role in education, that the words used in them became part of standard vocabulary iii. One depends on a recent edition where notes are available to completely understand IV. Shakespeare writes unclearly to portray what the character is trying to do a. In order for a character to sound planned, at one point they need unorganized speech i. Shakespeare used Latin words instead of English words when possible. This is a new method used and added complexity and a sense of clarity. b. When Shakespeare fluctuates the use of language in his plays there is normally a reason behind it. i. This could be to create a specific effect on the audience and how they understand the scene. ii. Shakespeare could be setting up two characters; whether in a romantic, violent, or political aspect- this is called registers. iii. It could be a method to try to make the characters state of mind and feelings more complex to reflect how they are feeling V. Reading Shakespeare Strategies a. Read aloud and slow while being attentive to the patterns within the verses. b. Shakespeare tries to balance lines with contracting words and meanings i. Antithesis is when a contrast of terms that hold conflicting meanings occurs within the verse. ii. Read aloud stressing the contracting words c. How Speech Affects the Plays i. Rhythm has a very important effect on the understanding of the lines ii. There is normally a pattern between contrasting patterns which is: a,b,b,a VI. Comparisons, Images and Analogies a. Figurative language was used a lot to make comparisons. i. Metaphors, similarities, and early imagery were used most ii. Early audiences did not have a full capacity on visual representations so Shakespeare used allegorical images as emblems to make a point. b. The Use of Images and Emblems i. In the play King Lear two emblems were used within the characters of a poor man and a rich. ii. Using these two characters helped create a larger understanding between the audience and how wealth contributes to hiding ones doings. c. Ideas about Society and Roles would Originate in Plays i. In King Lear the theme to try to bring to the audiences attention was that they must organize the society. ii. The common belief was that God organized Kings about the others in society- changes started in this belief at this time iii. The questioning of whether they should listen to the Royals or to God was coming into question d. The Great Chain of Being i. The belief that the world is in a “fixed order” created by God. ii. Human stature went from King up top to Serfs on the bottom. iii. People began rising from their class through businesses iv. Science was showing that their may be new finding that prove against their beliefs VII. Verse and Prose a. Most plays were written in verse, but a significant amount of each play was written with prose. i. Prose is any writing that is not poetry ii. In Verse, a line is started whenever it makes the strongest effect on the meaning. iii. Shakespeare normally writes in a five beat line b. Why Shift between Verse and Prose? i. Prose is normally a language for the “Lower Society” while poetry is used for the nobles and elevated. ii. Verse can be uplifting and gentle, witty or energetic, but sometimes may not be able to offer the common connection to the audience that prose can. iii. Prose can be used for its dramatic impact no matter who the speaker. iv. It may also be used to simply create difference within the verse-filled page VIII. Verse (iambic pentameter) a. Shakespeare writes in blank verse a lot. This means there are lines with rhyming poetry with five stressed syllables. i. De-dum-de-dum-de-dum-de-dum-de-dum, the bold standing for the pronunciation of strong syllables. ii. This is the standard line in English poetry iii. The first writer to use non-rhyming lines was the Earl of Surrey in 1557. iv. Ex: Repent what’s past, avoid what is to come b. Modulation i. Irregular stressed patterns are called modulation, this calls attention to other words ii. Modulation helps writers bend the rules of blank verse to make certain effects. iii. Stressing the first syllable is the most common modulation or adding an extra-unstressed syllable at the end. c. “End Stopping” i. End Stopping is when an idea expressed in a verse would have a completed line, ending in a period. ii. This made the point being made bolder and stronger d. Blank Verse is not Blank when it Rhymes i. Rhyming Lines are used to signal the end of a scene or play. If this is not used it is often seen as being incomplete. ii. Rhyme is also used to separate a part from the rest iii. To portray the tone of Folk-Wisdom rhymes were often used as well. e. Rhetoric Use i. Rhetoric was used by placing effects and description within the writing to make an emotional response within the audience members. ii. A figure is used to focus on placing and positioning words of a sentence. It can be repetition, the use of punctuation, etc. iii. A Trope is an idea of changing the meaning of a word by using it in a metaphor, simile, ironically, exaggerated, etc. iv. This method is used by characters while looking to persuade or to express strong emotions v. Repetition of a phrase three times acts as a climax and is very important to pay attention to. IX. Types of Stage Action a. What Could happen on Stage was very limited with the technology and time that they had available b. What was in a play: i. Dialogue between two or more characters; either ignoring the crowd, or occasionally using ‘asides’ to speak to the crowd ii. Soliloquy or a chorus figure is when one character of a chorus is alone on stage and talking to the audience iii. A big scene such as a sword fight, a song, a tavern scene, or a dance will occur as well c. Styles Used i. Realism is a method used often then but not seen now. This is when actors are aware that they are just characters in the play. ii. Some actors would be very in character but have to break it to acknowledge the audience iii. Naturalistic styles will use formal speeches and have a relaxed feel. An ‘Epic’ acknowledges both the audience and the scenes on stage iv. Each play has a mixed combination of each style within it. d. Estrangement i. This method likes to focus on an alienation effect ii. It makes the audience feel like the fourth wall of a room has been removed and they are watching reality iii. This was also called naturalism; today we call it realism. iv. Sometimes writers wanted the audience to know it was not reality so they could connect the actions and the parts of the play to their own lives. e. Reflexivity i. When an on-stage action keeps referring back to itself is reflexivity ii. Puns and word-play were used to often draw attention to an act. X. Pulling the Audience in a. Soliloquies and Asides i. Soliloquies are when a character is alone on stage and speaking directly to the audience. They are different from ‘asides’ because there are no other characters on the stage. ii. The members of the audience are forced to think about if they agree with the actions being done by the characters and if they are connecting with the play iii. It also makes the audience understand the viewpoint of a certain character in the play iv. This focuses on the relationship between the representation of the play and the audience b. On-Stage Plays i. On-stage plays tell the stage directions ii. These make sure the actors react and do what is needed to show the audience the moral ways to react iii. These help teach morals and political lessons c. Sub-Plot and Juxtaposition i. There should be unity of place, time, and action within a play. Before Shakespeare, a play was placed in one setting, took place within the time of one day, and only consisted of one plot. ii. Shakespeare wanted to expand the play by incorporating the plot of the working societies too. iii. The characters in sub-plots offered alternate views on values other than the main narrative iv. Sub-Plots gave comparisons to everyday people and royals as well XI. What the Play Means in Performance a. The Need to Study Performance Texts i. Performance texts explain how the audience experiences the play ii. Every movement and placement of characters, especially royals, are important and interpreted in specific ways by the audience iii. Even directions such as which clothes are worn effect how the audience views the characters b. Performances Back Then i. The settings could not be changed easily and actors often played multiple characters ii. It was important that the story be told and actions kept occurring. iii. They did not need a jail background if the prisoner and guards were dressed properly with the correct props iv. Props were often key to describe the location and time within the play v. Certain positions and poses were often used to represent emotions and states vi. Plays were believed to be truer than other forms of art because instead of believing that they could capture the beauty of nature, they did not try to capture it with painting in the background. c. Performance Now i. In Shakespeare, having a black actor had to be strategic and placed properly as well as with woman. ii. In todays Othello, slavery, war, and black Generals were all involved iii. Gender was commonly a problem within Shakespeare as well in the beginning men or boys played all roles. iv. The changes in time are noticeable within these changes and the way the performances have been done since Shakespeare was alive.


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