2When you first read a play by Shakespeare, his language seems VERY STRANGE. But once you catch on to some of the ways Shakespeare is using English, it will begin to make more and more sense.YOU MAY EVEN START TO LIKE IT!!It won’t ever be easy but the more you read it, the more you’ll start to understand.
3Most of the time you are reading POETRY. Shakespeare didn’t speak poetry when he was walking around London on his daily errands, but characters onstage in Shakespeare’s time almost always spoke in VERSE.Some of Shakespeare’s verse has a familiar type of RHYME and RHYTHM:Mary had a little lamb.London Bridge is falling down.Double , double, toil and trouble,Fire burn and cauldron bubble. Macbeth
4Iambic Pentameter – 5 beats per line, 10 syllables per line Most of the time, Shakespeare’s poetry has a different kind of pattern. Much of his poetry doesn’t rhyme, but follows a very steady BEAT.Da DUH da DUH da DUH da DUH da DUHHow can these things in me seem scorn to you?
5It’s pretty amazing when you start to feel the beat going on and on… Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon Who is already sick and pale with grief That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.
6The Beat Goes On!! Try these – Count the syllables; find the beat. My mistress with a monster is in love.A Midsummer Night’s DreamIf music be the food of love, play on.Twelfth NightCome not between a dragon and his wrath.King Lear
7The beat/syllable pattern is the reason that most of Shakespeare’s lines look like this: HAMLET:To be, or not to be? That is the questionWhether ’tis nobler in the mind to sufferThe slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,And, by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep—No more—and by a sleep to say we endThe heartache and the thousand natural shocksThat flesh is heir to—’tis a consummationDevoutly to be wished! To die, to sleep.To sleep, perchance to dream—
8Instead of this: 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, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, 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 that flesh is heir to—’tis a consummation devoutly to be wished! To die, to sleep. To sleep, perchance to dream—
9The beat pattern – called the meter Is the reason that a character’s lines may start way over from the left margin. Two characters may share one 5 beat line:POLONIUS: Mad for thy love?OPHELIA: My lord I do not know.
10Read period to period (or semi-colon) instead of stopping at the end of a line There had she not been long but she became g A joyful mother of two goodly sons; <STOP> And, which was strange, this one so like the other g As could not be distinguish’d but by names. <STOP> -Comedy of ErrorsAlso, if you read outloud, the meaning will come a little easier. Remember, Shakespeare wrote these lines as SCRIPTS – lines were meant to be SPOKEN.
11Since Shakespeare’s day, many words have changed. How? Words we don’t use anymore:Who would fardels bear?The scrimers of their nationHe galls his kibeWords that look the same but have different meanings :I could fancy (like) more than any otherExamine well your blood (lineage)He’s as tall (brave) as any man in Illyria
12Shakespeare knew a lot of words. Shakespeare’s vocabulary was 30,000 words. The average person today uses 15,000 words.He also created many NEW WORDS and played around with puns and other wordplay.Some words first used in his plays:assassination relianceobscene premeditatedislocate accomodation
13Shakespeare liked to play around with the ORDER of words. He rearranged words:That handkerchief Did an Egyptian to my mother give.He omitted words and letters: over = o’erI’ll <go>to England.Why? Sometimes to make the words fit 5 beats; sometimes to fit the rhyme; sometimes just because it sounds good that way!