Shakespeare Decoded - Jones College Prep

Mr. Gunnink
Survey of Literature
“A father, and a gracious agèd man,
Whose reverence even the head-lugged
bear would lick,
Most barbarous, most degenerate, have
you madded.”
-King Lear 4.2.41-43
 Uses Archaic Language
 Omits parts of words
 Wrote scripts, not novels
 Uses Unusual Syntax
 Often uses Rhythm and Rhyme
 Wordplay!
 Anon (Now; soon)
 Ere (Before)
 Arras (Wall tapestry)
 Fain (ready; willing; eager)
 Art (Are)
 Hap/Haply (luck; chance)
 Ay/Aye (Yes)
 Hark (Listen)
 Betimes (Immediately)
 Hast (Have)
 Betwixt (Between)
 Hath (Has)
 Choler (Anger; irritability)
 Hence (from here)
 Cozen (cheat; trick; deceive)  Hest (command)
 Cuckold (Man married to
 Hie (go quickly)
an adulteress)
 Dost/Doth (Do/Does)
 Ho (Calls attention to)
 Knave (A villain)
 Marry (I swear by the
Virgin Mary)
Maugre (In spite of)
Methinks (I think)
Moe (more)
Morrow (Tomorrow)
Ne’er (never)
Oft (Often)
Perchance (Maybe)
 Prithee (I pray thee;
Rood (Cross of Jesus)
Shouldst (If ___ should)
Shrive (confess sins)
Sirrah (mistercontemptuous)
 Soft (Be quiet!)
 Wouldst (if ______
 Thou (You, Subject)
 Thee (You, Direct Object) 
 Thence (From there)
 Thine (Yours)
 Thy (Your)
 ‘Tis (it is)
 ‘Twere/’Twas (It were/It
Withal (in addition;
Wherefore (Why?)
Whence (from where?)
Woo (to seek and gain)
 on and of= o’
 Do it= do’t”
 in= i’
 Amongst= “’mongst”
 The= th’
 Medicine=“med’cine”
 It= ‘t
 Ever= “e’er”
 He= ‘a
 To have= “t’have”
 Be= b’
 Whether= “Whe’r”
 With= wi’
 “God b’ wi’ you”
 Them=‘em
 “’T may, I grant”
 Have= ha’ or ‘a’
 “Will you ha’ the truth
 Be it= “be’t”
 Expresses emotion
 Amazed
 Based on context
 Seductive
 Overjoyed
 Annoyed
 Surprised
 Scared
 Depressed
 Understanding
 Furious
 In Physical Pain
 Embarrassed
 Longing
 Disappointed
 Serious
 Mourning
 Syntax=the order of words in a
 In English, the traditional order is
Subject-Verb-Object (Direct/Indirect)
 The boy (S) bounced (V) the basketball
 Ate the sandwich I.
 I the sandwich ate.
 I ate the sandwich.
 Ate I the sandwich.
 The sandwich I ate.
 The sandwich ate I.
 Which of these sentences would you use if you needed
someone to understand you quickly?
 What is the syntax of that sentence?
 “That handkerchief/ Did an Egyptian to my
mother give.” (Othello 3.4.55-56)
 Three major parts: Egyptian gave
 Rearranged: “An Egyptian gave that
handkerchief to my mother.”
 How do the two sentences read differently?
 “A glooming peace this morning with it
brings.” (Romeo and Juliet 5.3.305)
 Three major parts: Morning brings
 Rearranged: “This morning brings with
it a glooming peace.”
 How do the two sentences read
 “And duller shouldst thou be than the fat
weed/That roots itself in ease on the lethe
wharf,/Wouldst thou not stir in this.”
(Hamlet 1.5.32-34)
 Three major elements: Thou be duller
 Rearranged: Wouldst thou not stir in this,
thou shouldst be duller than the fat weed
that roots itself in ease on the lethe wharf.
 “The prisoners/Which he in this
adventure hath surprised/To his own
use he keeps” (Henry IV 1.1.92-95)
 Three major parts: He keeps the
 Rearranged: “He keeps the prisoners,
which he hath surprised in this
adventure, to his own use .”
 “The snow comes in January; wild
winds blow, and the trees are bare.”
 Turn this sentence into two lines of
poetry, one in ending in “snow”, one
ending in “blow”
 “In January comes the snow/The trees
are bare, and wild winds blow.”
 “Then they did weep for sudden joy, and I
sung for sorrow, that a king should play bopeep and go among the fools.”
 Four lines, ending with weep, sung, bopeep, among.
 “Then they for sudden joy did weep,/And for
sorrow I sung/That a king should play bopeep/And go the fools among.”
 Perfect rhyme: true/blue; scars/stars;
 Imperfect rhyme: lap/shape;
 Eye rhyme: love/move/prove;
 End rhyme: Roses are red, violets are
blue/Flowers are lovely, and so are you.
 We add emphasis to word and syllables
in everything we say.
 Where we add the emphasis (stress)
helps determine the meaning of the
 I didn’t say he had a tattoo.
 Shakespeare wrote most of his lines in iambic
Iambic= repeating iambs
Iamb= two syllables, first one unstressed, second one
Pentameter= five units in a line
Five iambs= ten syllables
Shakespeare does not always follow this exactly, but
usually he does.
 ta TUM ta TUM ta TUM ta TUM ta TUM
 “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?”
 “But soft! What light breaks through yonder window?”
 “And mermaid-like awhile they bore her up.”
 “And they bore her up awhile, mermaid-like.”
 Syntax changes to better fit the rhythm
 Puns: words with similar sounds but different
Oxymorons: words with opposite meanings used
Paradox: a statement that appears to be logically
impossible yet is somehow true
Ambiguity: when words convey more than one
Sexual double-entendres: common words with sexual
Responding using the words previously spoken
 Shakespeare loved to write in sonnets
 He wrote stand-alone sonnets, but also
included many sonnets in his plays
 Most sonnets within plays were soliloquies
(spoken by the actor to himself with no one
else on stage)
 Shakespearean (or English sonnet) different
from Petrarchan (Italian) sonnet
 English Sonnet rules:
 14 lines of iambic pentameter
 12 lines of alternating rhyme
 End with rhyming couplet
 First 8 lines (octave) usually describe a situation,
problem, question
 Second 6 lines (asestet) usually respond to the octave
 In between there is often “the turn” (volta)
 Rhyming couplet offers final insight
1. When my love swears that she is made of truth,
2. I do believe her though I know she lies,
3. That she might think me some untutored youth,
4. Unlearnèd in the world’s false subtleties.
5. Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
6. Although she knows my days are past the best,
7. Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue:
8. On both sides thus is simple truth suppressed.
9. But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
10. And wherefore say not I that I am old?
11. O love’s best habit is in seeming trust,
12. And age in love loves not to have years told.
13. Therefore I lie with her, and she with me,
14. And in our faults by lies we flattered be.

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