Aim: How do we analyze Shakespearean Verse and Staging?
Transcript Aim: How do we analyze Shakespearean Verse and Staging?
Aim: How do we analyze
Do Now: What do you know about reading Shakespeare?
Lecture Topic: Verse and
How do we read Shakespeare?
Poetry without a regular pattern of meter or rhyme. The verse is "free" in not being bound by earlier poetic
conventions requiring poems to adhere to an explicit and identifiable meter and rhyme scheme in a form such as
the sonnet or ballad. Modern and contemporary poets of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries often employ
free verse. Williams's "This Is Just to Say" is one of many examples.
A line of poetry or prose in unrhymed iambic pentameter. Shakespeare's sonnets, Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost,
and Robert Frost's meditative poems such as "Birches" include many lines of blank verse. Here are the opening
blank verse lines of "Birches": When I see birches bend to left and right / Across the lines of straighter darker
trees, / I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
The matching of final vowel or consonant sounds in two or more
words. The following stanza of "Richard Cory" employs alternate rhyme,
with the third line rhyming with the first and the fourth with the second:
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him;
He was a gentleman from sole to crown
Clean favored and imperially slim.
The recurrence of accent or stress in lines of verse. In the following lines
from "Same in Blues" by Langston Hughes, the accented words and
syllables are underlined:
I said to my baby,
Baby take it slow....
Lulu said to Leonard
I want a diamond ring
METER, Foot, IAMB
The measured pattern of rhythmic accents in poems.
A metrical unit composed of stressed and unstressed syllables. For example, an
iamb or iambic foot is represented by ˘', that is, an unaccented syllable followed by
an accented one. Frost's line "Whose woods these are I think I know" contains four
iambs, and is thus an iambic foot.
An unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one, as in to-DAY.
Unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.
Each pattern is referred to as a foot.
Shakespeare uses five feet to a line.
This is called iambic pentameter
da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM.
Let's try it out on this line:
to CUT the HEAD off AND then HACK the LIMBS
I A M B I C P E N TA M E T ER I N
Romans speak in unrhymed iambic pentameter
Commoners speak in prose.
Commoners - [...] but withal I am indeed, sir, a surgeon to old
shoes; when they are in great danger, I recover them. (1.1.5)
• “You WON’T GO till I NET up a FISH for YOU.” (unmetered
• “you GO not TILL i NET you UP a FISH.”
• “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.”
Activity: Create 2 metered lines of iambic pentameter on your own.
HOW TO READ
Two basic methods to explore the texts: scansion and close reading.
The point is that by starting with the basic text on a line-by-line
basis, you can work through Shakespeare's meaning and
understand how verse and meaning come together.
Scansion is the process of analyzing poetry's rhythm by looking
at meter and feet. A foot is a two- or three-syllable division of
stresses. Meter is the predominant rhythm of a poem based on
the type and number of feet per line.
Syllables are marked either as stressed (/) or unstressed (-)
depending upon the pronunciation of a given word within the
line. For instance, the word "example" would scan as:
C O M M O N M E T R I C A L F EET
Foot Syllables Stress Pattern Example
- - /
/ - -
M E TE R
As stated before, meter is defined by the predominant type of
foot and the number of feet within the lines of a poem. For
instance, much of English dramatic verse was written in iambic
pentameter, or lines of five iambs, because the rhythm most closely
approximated natural speech patterns. In fact, unrhymed iambic
pentameter was so popular, it had a term of its own: blank verse.
Although these speeches are all written in blank verse, there
are other meters as well:
TYPES OF METER
monometer—lines consisting of 1 foot
dimeter—lines consisting of 2 feet
trimeter—lines consisting of 3 feet
tetrameter—lines consisting of 4 feet
pentameter—lines consisting of 5 feet (blank verse)
hexameter—lines consisting of 6 feet (alexandrine)
Lines of more than six feet are rare in English poetry.
OTHER HELPFUL POETRY
assonance—repetition or a pattern of similar sounds, especially vowel sounds
caesura—a natural pause or break in a line of poetry, usually near the middle of the line
consonance—repetition of similar consonant sounds, especially at the ends of words
couplet—a pair of lines of the same length that usually rhyme and form a complete thought
enjambment—the running on of the thought from one line, couplet, or stanza to the next
without a syntactical break
feminine ending—an extra unstressed syllable at the end of a line
masculine ending—an extra stressed syllable at the end of a line
versification—the system of rhyme and meter in a poem
Close reading is the foundation for studying literature. In the case of these
readings, we're looking at the basic definitions of individual words, their literal
and figurative uses, fundamental grammar and syntax, and the context in which
words or phrases are used. In addition, these readings are all dramatic works;
unlike novelists, playwrights are basically limited to dialogue and stage
directions to tell their stories. That means the text is more subject to
interpretation. We're looking for clues to meaning within the speeches. First,
we make our observations. Then, we make inferences based on patterns that