Dig. Wass.

The Variety of Shakespeare's Prose

Volker Beckmann

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Seminar paper from the year 1983 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 3,0, Bielefeld University (Sprachenzentrum), course: Elizabethan English, language: English, abstract: The aim of the following paper is to take a closer look at Shakespeare’s prose from a stylistic, linguistic and rhetorical point of view. Given the fact that Shakespeare’s prose occurs both in his comedies, tragedies and histories and prose is being used in his plays by characters of different social ranks the question is to be asked which various functions prose as a medium fulfils in relationship to such other functions as setting, dialogue, action and theme. According to Brian Vickers Elizabethan audiences must have been aware of the alternation of prose and verse. It can be assumed that any deviation from the norm which was blank verse was a) felt by attentive audiences and b) had an impact on the way actors behaved on the stage. In the following essay I shall employ the critical method devised by Vickers in his book “The Artistry of Shakespeare’s Prose”. First, I shall be dealing with different forms of Shakespearean imagery. For the sake of convenience, I am making use of the categories suggested by Vickers. Second, I am trying to find examples showing those recurrent Shakespearean devices which have a determinant influence on what Vickers calls ‘the linguistic structure’. These devices include features like repartee, equivocation, comic logic; malapropism, repetition; foreign and regional English; unusual syntax; fondness for proverbs; word play and punning. Third, I shall prove that Shakespeare made frequent use of various rhetorical figures.

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