The Language of William Shakespeare’s Plays

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The Language of William Shakespeare

  • Shakespeare’s Plays

What Makes Shakespeare’s Plays Great?

The Language of Shakespeare’s Plays

  • Shakespeare uses both poetry and prose in his plays.

    • Elizabethan playwrights generally considered poetry to be elevated language.
      • Poetry is usually spoken by the main or high-ranking characters.
    • Elizabethan playwrights generally considered prose to be common language.
      • Prose is usually spoken by the supporting or low-ranking characters.

Shakespeare’s Use of Poetry

  • The poetry in Shakespeare’s plays consists of both blank verse and rhymed verse.

    • Shakespeare uses blank verse—unrhymed iambic pentameter—in nearly 70 percent of his dramatic dialogue.
    • Shakespeare uses rhymed verse in about 10 percent of his dramatic dialogue.
      • His rhymed verse often consists of couplets—two consecutive lines of poetry that rhyme.

Shakespeare’s Use of Blank Verse

    • Blank verse sounds similar to human speech but is still considered elevated language.
    • The rhythm of blank verse emphasizes imagery and heightens the emotional impact of language.

Shakespeare’s Use of Rhymed Verse

  • Rhymed verse is often used to express matters of love and courtship.

Shakespeare’s Use of Rhymed Verse

Shakespeare’s Use of Prose

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