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If you flip through this book, you'll notice that most of the monologues look like poetry, while only a few look like regular paragraphs. That's because most of the plays written in Shakespeare's time were written in poetry. In fact, back then playwrights were not called playwrights, they were called poets. The monologues in this book that look like regular paragraphs are written in prose, which is ordinary spoken or written language that does not foUow any organized rhythmic pattern. Today, most plays are written in prose. In his plays, Shakespeare used prose about 30 percent of the time, to define characters of "lower" social status than his nobles, to create a colloquial, informal, or relaxed tone, or to malCe a character who usually speaks verse sound particularly genuine

and straightfbrward.
: The other 7o percent of the time, Shakespeare wrote in verse. Verse is simply

speech or writing that has distinctive patterns of rhythm (think of a nursery

patterns are called meter. The building blocks of meter of syllables called feet. The foot Shakespeare used predomir is caUed an iatub. An iambic foot has two syllables, with the first syllable and the second accented.

the iamb: x / da-DUM


Key: / - accented syllable

x -- unaccented syllable


Some popular iambs:

x /

x /

x /

Club Med

hot fudge


When you string five iambs together the way Shakespeare often did, you've ere ated a type of meter called iambic pentameter:

x / x / x / x / x / da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM x/ x

i :f:

/x / x

Vacation's over and I've gained ten potmds.

x / x

/x / x /x /

That old black magic has me in its spell.

x /

x /

x / x

Tonight, tonight, I'll see my love tonight.

x / x / x /x /x I But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?


Of course, not all accented syllables are created equal. When you speak a line of iambic pentameter, you'll find that you naturally stress certain accented syllables

more than others.


PUTTING YOUR FOOT IN YOUR MOUTH (EXTRA CREDIT) There are seven types of feet in flxis crazy world, each containing two or three syllables. The particular rhythm of each kind of foot depends on which syllable(s) are accented. The type of meter in a piece of verse is named for the predominant type of foot and predominant number of feet per line. The number of feet per line is referred to using Greek prefixes (di- for z, tri- for 3, tetra- for 4,penta- for 5,

hexa- for 6, etc.). So, for example, a poem containing predominantly four
trochees per line is called trochaic tetrameter. Don't worry--you won't be

quizzed on this.

x / hot fudge
did, you've cre-

iamb ( x / ) Our book trochee ( / x ) helps you pyrrhic ( x x ) to be amphibrach ( x / x ) a dassianapest ( x x / ) cally trained dactyl ( / x x ) thespian. spondee ( / / ) Amen.


Iambic pentameter dominates the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. More specifically, they used unrhymed iambic pentameter, which is commonly known as blank verse, and there were compelling reasons Shakespeare and his cronies bothered to write in it. Of all the types of meter out there, iambic pentameter is the one that is most similar to the speech patterns of the English language. In fact, our speech often falls naturally into iambic pentameter. And of all the types of meter out there, blank verse is best suited to drama. The sounds of rhymed verse and other types of meter can limit the actor by coloring the content with the author's perspective about it. Blank verse, on the other hand, has a neutral tone, which allows for greater dramatic range because the content alone determines what is exrun speak a line of accented syllables

If the playwrights were so concerned with approximating the natural patterns of spoken Engfish and with having a neutral medium to work in, why did they bother to write in verse at all? Why didn't they just use prose? Well, since you asked--word for word, verse packs a bigger punch than

ing two or three Is on which syllaVerse is an efficient and compelling means of communication. It enables the author to convey more layers of meaning in fewer words. verse is an elevated form of language, it elevates the dramatic aominant type of of feet per line is
br 4,penta- for 5,

experience. This is especially appropriate to Shakespeare's plays, because are concerned with individuals under extraordinary circtunstances, choices with far-reaching consequences. In fact, only one of


Shakespeare's plays, The Merry Wives of Windsor, is about small-town, everyday affairs.., and he wrote that play almost entirely in prose. Verse also heightens the experience for the audience by adding musicality. The rhythms of verse add another dimension to a performance much in the same way that a musical score does to a scene in a movie.




Furthermore, in Shakespeare's time, basically nonexistent sets, only natural lighting, and cranlped audience conditions made theatregoing an aural rather than visual experience. The poetry was therefore the focus of the experience for the audience. Verse is a great mnemonic tool. Think of how many song lyrics you lmow, without having studied them. Not only is this a boon to the actor, but it also helps the audience follow and retain complex ideas and developments. The audience in Shakespeare's day particnlarly needed dais aid, since they la&ed the benefit of visual cues. It's a nice perk today, too. Verse not only served Shakespeare and his audience, it serves today's actor as
well. The main reason that Shakespeare's verse warrants examination by us-- and

So Shal



tile i

you--is that it improves your performance on two levels: Technically, it is a guide to the correct pronunciation of the words in your piece. Artistically, as we explain (repeatedly) in this section, the meter of the verse you speak reveals dues to the charactetistics, present state of mind, and objectives of your

grea grea


WHEN PLAYING A BEAR, DISREGARD THE FOLLOWING Aside from "Exit, pursued by a bear" in The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare rarely put his stage directions between the characters' spoken llnes--he most often

embedded them directly into the lines. This helped his audiences follow the
action, since they couldn't all see the stage. It also ensured that the actions he considered most important could not be cut. For example, Richard has given


Anne his sword and told her to kill him:

And humbly beg tile death upon my knee. Nay, do not pause, for I did kill IGng Henry;

Here INV

You will, however, fred extensive stage directions in many editions of Shakespeare's plays. Many of these were added later by editors and should be ignored. Where we have included stage directions with the monologues m this book, they are either Shakespeare's own, or have been careftflly and sparingly chosen to clarify the action. xxx


Lt smaU-town, in prose.


First things first. Reminder: if your piece is prose, section A does not apply to you, but you should read section B ("Rhetoric--Poetic and Otherwise" page xli), since most of the elements discussed in that section are applicable to both
prose and verse.

adding musit performance

ne in a movie. lent sets, only

e theatregoing
erefore the fo-

So your piece is verse. This section will help you recogmze the acting clues Shakespeare has put into the text by writing in verse. Because Shakespeare's verse is almost exclusivdy iambic pentameter, the verse pieces in this book are all in that meter. This does not mean that every single line consists of five feet, or that every foot is iambic--the meter is considered to be iambic pentameter when tile feet are predominantly iambs and almost all the lines contain five feet. Variations in tile meter keep file material from becoming too mechanical or singsong. More inlportant for the actor, they allow a playwright to create a greater range of emotional expression. Shakespeare exploited variations to a far greater extent than had been done before, yielding myriad rich dramatic possibilities. Wherever the meter is varied, you can be sure that Shakespeare deliberately made it so, to achieve a specific result.

ong lyrics you

on to the actor,

deas and devel-

needed tiffs aid,

: today, too. yes today's actor as

ination by us--and i: Technically, it is : piece. Artistically,

verse you speak re-

l objectives of your


[es--he most often

Scansion is simply tbe act of scanning a piece of verse to identify its feet and


understand its rhyflml. Since the words are linked together in a way that creates the meter, you don't need to read the line any differently than you normally would--the meter will namraUy emerge. Scamling is just about noticing what Shakespeare did, and exploring how it benefits you as an actor.

dences follow the hat the actions he Richard has given

A LEG UP ON FEET: THE BASIC VAKIATIONS ere,are the two principal variations that appear in Shakespeare's verse: 18ION n many editions of a foot will be inverted, so that the first syllable is accented and the

lltors and should be

the monologues in n carefitily and spar-

/ x DUM-da


This inverted foot (called a trochee--see "Putting Your Foot in Your Mouth;' page xxviii) is always followed by an iamb. It can appear anywhere in a line except at the end, and most often appears in the beginning:


/x /


Who are the people in your neighborhood?

/ x/ x

/ x /

These are the forgeries of jealous!! You'll notice that the inversion starts the line off with a punch, which is a clue to performance. It is a manifestation of the character's state of mind and objective. Perhaps the character is hi a hurry, angry, maldng 021 important point, interrupting, making a demand, and so on. Wherever in the line this variation falls, noticing it is one way to gain insight into that moment. DOUBLE ENDING Very often, you'll find an unstressed extra syllable tacked to the end of a line. This "double ending" used to be called a feminine ending (because it is tm,, --no.joke.), ] stressed, orc %veak but that outmoded term is falling out of favor.


/ (x) Othe

da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da

x /x /x

/x / x / (x)

Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer

six om(

/x / x 1 x

/ (x)

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune 'Agahi, a clue: Are there any double endings in your piece? Are there none? If none, is your character intending to punch the end of every single fine? If many, does tiffs sound soothing? Does this sound uncertain? Or rambling? Or nervous? Tale a look. Once hi a great while you will find a "triple endhIg;' which has two extra unaccented syllables at the elm of a fine. The two extra syllables do not comprise an extra foot. We point these out wherever they occur to get your creative juices


Thinl' line f,



: Foot in Your ar anywhere in a

O, No! AN O!
Oh, brother. Oh, boy! Oh my God! Oh, please? Oh, darn! Ooookay. See? We use the word O all the time. The English language has incorporated the human impulse to utter certain sounds in certain circumstances (as when a person says "shush" to qtfiet a crying baby). O represents one of those sounds. And yet, somehow, in Shakespeare 0 seems archaic and scary. We feel self-conscious saying it and tend to gloss over it. But consider this: The word O is pronounced as a long O. When you wrap your mouth around it properly, the sound is long in duration. It's naturally big aald expressive, and Shakespeare has used it accordingly. An O is a clue to what the

a: >


unch, which is a : of mind and obportant point, in[ne this variation

character is feeling and how the character is responding to the situation at hand. When you pronounce the O fully, you will suddenly discover facets of the piece that weren't evident before. An 0 pronounced properly is, by its very nature, a stressed syllable. When an O falls on an unstressed syllable within the meter of the lhle (espe-

"I1 ,%1

dally at the beginning of a line), it delivers additional impact because the ear
is surprised to hear a stressed syllable when it expects to hear an tmstressed ehe end of a fine.
'because it is un,ng out of favor.

syllable. Pay particular attention to Os that you find in your monologue and to where they appear in the meter . . . mad don't forget to have fun with


M da

ADDITIONAL VAR.IATION S: HEADLESS FEET AND OTHER. ODDITIES Other variations you will encotmter concern the number of syllables per line.

Sometimes you will come across six iambs in one line, wlfidl is called hexameter also called an alexandrine). Are there none? If

/x/x / x / x / x/

ngle line? If many,

rambling? Or her-

What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba a lot on his mind? So much so there isn't enough room in a

a has two extra un-

plaguing him?
FEET line will contain a foot with an extra mlaccented syllable be-

it not comprise an ,our creative juices

accented syllable (da-da-DUM). (This kiud of foot is called an

Your Foot in Your Mouth;' page xxviii.)


/ x

x/ x-x / x

Strike flat the thick rotundity of the world

You'll find that you will naturally scan the meter properly. Your impulse will be to speed up the two weak syllables, giving the two of them combined the same amotmt of time you give each one of the other unaccented syllables in the llne (llke two eighth notes replacing a quarter note).

SHA Ther,

line (



Some lines will appear to have fewer than five feet. These lhles actually do contain five feet--the ones you don't see are silent. Shakespeare uscd the silent feet to build a pause into the material.


This i
x / x / x/x / x /
about one li
are of other'

She should have died hereafter (pause) (panse-panse)

Mere( x / x /x / x / x /
There would have been a time for sucti a word


the ch;

x / (x)
or end
or mol order t I

(Pause-pause) (pause-pause) She should have died hereafter


There would have been a time for such a word


Shear, (Note that in the second instance the first line has a double ending.) In this example, Macbeth has just been told of his wife's death. Shakespeare understood that the silence would be effective here, and provided it for the actor to work with. Sometimes it is obvious whether the pause comes at the beginning, middle, or end of the lhie. Sometimes (as it is here), the actor can choose what best expresses Iris objectives.

It is als
that arc

the mo

In rare instances, lines are simply missing the first, tmstressed syllable of the first iambic foot. These are called headless lines.

As n


/ x/

(pause) Thou hadst been a knave and flatterer



There are two other instances in which your character will speak less than a full line of text:

r impulse will be
bined the same

Shared Lines
Often, a full line will be divided among two or more characters:

[lables in the line



actually do consed the silent feet

l x

x l x I x l

R o M E O : I dreamt a dream tolfight. MERCUTIO : And so did I.

This is a good example of the way hi which a shared line conveys information about the dynamic or relationship between the characters spealdng it. Since it is one line of text, there is no pause in the meter between Romeo's words and Mercutio's. This could reflect their dose and comfortable friendship: old friends are often in sync, anticipating each other's thoughts and jumping hi on each other's sentences. It could also reflect the high energy level of two young guys letting off steam, or Mercutio's impatience with Romeo's lovesiclmess. Of course, each shared lhie you will encounter will reflect the unique dynanxics of the characters who share it.

x I (x)

(When extracting a monologue from a scene, it is accepted practice to begin or end the piece with your character's portion of a shared line or to connect two or more short blocks of text by removing other characters' intervening words in order to create a cohesive monologue with a dear begin*ring, middle, and end.) Sheared Lines

:nding.) death. Shakespeare ided it for the actor :omes at the beginhe actor can choose

It is also sometimes necessary to remove segments of your own character's lines

:that are spoken in response to others, and are part of the scene but not part of :InKing John, Constance has been railing at Salisbury, who interjects, saying: : SAL I S B u RY I may not go without you to the Iedng. e o N S TAN C E: Thou mayst, thou shalt; I will not go with thee.

d syllable of the first

from the middle

which resumes with "I will not go with thee:'
are parts of scenes, they will often contain one or more '

sheared lines. Although you are spealdng only part of a shared or helpfial to examine the scene and scan the fitll line to gain inXXXV

e-,. n.

sight into your character's interaction with the other character(s) in the scene. When performing the piece out of context of the play, you may use the pause created by the excised words to advance your own objectives or to make adjustments during transitions.



Sometimes a word won't seem to fit into the meter, even considering may of the variations we've discussed above. This may be because there are certain words that, in Shakespeare's time, were sometimes pronounced with the accent on a different syllable than we hear today. For example, the word complete, below, was

pronounced with the accent on "coin":

x I 1171:

lxl x l

x l

In complete glory she revealed herself Although it is preferable, whenever possible, to preserve the meter, sometimes the lffstoric pronunciation is so different from today's that doing so hirerfetes with the audience's ability to comprehend Ore word. We pohat out such words when they appear hi monologues in this book; though we sometimes offer our opinion on pronunciation, the decision is always yours.



In order to fit the meter, words souietimcs need tinkering with. By this we mean shotr'ning words by clhn'nating vow'is, or by fusing t'gcther two adjacent vow'ls. This is called elision, mid it takes a few different forms:

Dropping Excess Syll'bles

i :i,

Tiffs involves doing something you do in everyday speech anyway. Many words are spelled as though they have more syllables than we usually pronounce. Shakespeare gen'rally intended them to be pronounced in their more popular, shorter forms. Sometimes elision will be indicated by replacing the letter(s) with an apostrophe, but often the word is spelled normally and the meter will indicate to you which way to pronounce the word. For example:

7 ;i

x I x

I x / x

I x I
(reverend - "ray-rend")

That all is done in reverend care of her

The meter of some lines will reqfire cutting syllables we dofft cut in normal speech:

is) in the scene. ty use the pause to make adjust-


(eloquence "el-quence")

To try thy eloquence, now 'tis time--dispatch

x / x / x /x / x / And kill the innocent gazer with thy sight

Other examples:

(innocent --* "inn-cent")

tering any of the
re certain words
the accent on a dangerous "daynj-russ" miraculous "mirack-less" natural -* "natch-ral" passionate -0 "pash-net"

babbling "babb-linga'
treacherous --> "trech-mss" "11

plete, below, was

flattery "flatt-ry"
shallowest - "shall-west"

Disembow'ling the Vowels A syllable is also sometimes dropped to accommodate the meter when two
the meter, some-

vowel sounds are adjacent. Sometimes, as above, a vowel sound gets dropped altogether:
diadem ---> "die-dem"

at doing so interre point out such

we sometimes ofi.


Sometimes the syllable is dropped by "gliding" the two adjacent vowel

sounds together:

l. By this we mean :her two adjacent

holier -> "hol-yer" virtuous -0 "virtch-wuss" Courtier -0 "court-yer" Romeo -0 "Rome-yo"

tedious -- "teed-yuss"

mightiest -* "might-yest" perfidious "perfid-yuss"

way. Many words

sually pronounce.

And sometimes the last syllable of one word is smooshed with the first syUableof the next word, creating one syllable:

leir more popular,

g the letter(s) with

he meter will indi-

/ x / x / x I x / 1 the lack of many a thing I sought

ometimes compressed into one syllable:

"rev-rend") flower -0 "flowr" don't cut in normal knowest -+ "lralowst" spirit -+ "speert" XXXVII


Vis--V (and Sometimes Th) In Shakespeare's time, a it v or a th that syllable. appeared between it was common " to drop " of into one Again, two vowels, and to ehde the syllables on either ade sometinaes it's noted in the text, bnt somemnes it's not. (Note: As with all elision, you only do it when the meter requires it!)
e'er or ever --" "air" een or even -- een

x /x The inaudi

q) q)

Just as it is times nece

which the t
men exalnl

o'er or over "ore"

whe'er or whether --" "ware"

only where
x/ x

Efiding some "v" words will make them awlcward to pronounce and difficult for today's audience to cmderstand. For this reason, it is sometimes a good idea to "force" the V sotmd into the one syllable, or you may wish to keep the two syllables, treating them as a crowded foot (see above). Again, you will choose
what to do on a case-by-case basis:
seven or se en --" "sen" or "sevn"

I am too ,

x /
Do botch

given or gi'n "gin" or "givn"

devil or dev'l "del" or "devr' GONTRACTION-- lUST DO'T Contractions are sometimes noted in the text, but not always. The meter will indicate that a contraction is necessary, if the spelling hasn't. Noted in the text:

x /x To woo a

To be ado Other ex

x I x

/ x /x


business patient--*I

I'll run from thee and hide me in the brakes

Not noted, but the meter iustructs us to contract it ourselves (I had -- "I'd"):

x /

/ x

/ x/

I had thonght, sir, to have held my peace until

Since di
ferent m sion lists

Shakespeare used many more contractions than we use today. You will see
such contractions as: 'tis = it is 'pon = upon 'em = them i' = in 't = it t" = to 's = us or is wi' = with 'r = your o' = of th' = the or thou o' th' = of the

know wl

called a An example of one of these less familiar comractions, not noted in the
text: XXXVII1

x /x/ x
ppeared between te syllable. Again, e: As with all eli-


/x/ (The inaudible - "Th'inandible")

The inaudible and noiseless foot of tlme


Just as it is sometimes necessary to elide a word to fit the meter, it is also sometimes necessary to expand a word. No doubt you've come across a word in which the final "ed" is pronounced as a separate syllable--tiffs is the most common example of expansion. Even in Shalespeare's time, expansion was done only where necessary to fit the meter. Some examples:



,unce and difficult :times a good idea h to keep the two 1, you will choose

x / x / x

I x /

(empierced "em-peer-sed")


I am too sore empierced with his shaft

x I

I x I

x /xl
(damnation - "dam-nay-shee-un")

Do botch and bungle up damnation

' or "givn"

I x I x

I x /xl
(marriage "ma-ree-age")

To woo a maid in way of marriage

The meter will in-

x I x/

I x

(Frederick "Fred-e-rick")

To be adopted heir to Frederick Other examples:

business "bi-zi-ness"

patrician - "pa-tri-shee-an"
licentious -- "lie-sen-shee-uss"


different actors may pronounce the same word with a difyllables. We have included words in our elision and expan: today. You will see that you may not consider elisinns or expansions since yon already them that way; we simply wish to ensure that all our readers which pronunciation fits fire meter in each instance.
O' = Of

th' = the or thou

o' th' -- of the Is, not noted in the

COME TO PKAISE CAESUKA, NOT TO BHKY IT ' to discuss the pause that can occur mid-line, which (seh-ZHOOR-uh or seh-ZYOO-mh). A caesura is usually but the pause appears mid-line, it's quite


brief, suggesting that when a new idea is expressed after a caesura, it has come quickly the heels of the one that precedes it. above are frequently found lurkTheon two basic variations in meter discussed Poetry

and rh
logue -

q) q)

ing around caesuras.

The inverted foot following a caesura:

isfics, ]




/ In his
color c a sens

Be comfort to my age! Here is the gold The double ending preceding a caesura:

x /

x /(x) x/ x / x /

Observe my uncle. If his occulted gdilt In addition, you'll sometimes find a fine in which the pause you take at a caesura replaces the mlsrtessed syllable of the first foot following the punctuanon:
! :]i

poke t like m


wise t the sc

x /

x /

/ x

To fright them ere destroy. (pause) But come in


BUILD, BREATHE, AND BE Quick ABOUT IT We tend to front-load our everyday speech with the information we consider
most important, and then let our sentences peter out... Lines of verse re-

the b

quire that we do just the opposite. A line of verse is usually written to build steadily toward its end, where its key point is usually located. According to some methods of acting verse, the actor should take a pause

at the end of a line only when a thought is completed (usually delineated by

punctuation), and continue to the next line without pausing if a thought is continuous. According to other methods, the actor should pause at the end of every fine, taldng the shortest pause where there is no punctuation and pauses of various lengths depending on the nature of the punctuation where it does appear. We encourage you to pause for a breath at the end of each line and see what you discover; often a pause taken where a thought seems continuous will reveal a new, unexpected meaning. Actors also tend to slow down verse, to dramatic effect--or so they think. Actually, verse should be spoken fist:r than everyday speech. At the speed of everyday speech, verse would average approximately twelve lines per minnte. We suggest that you aim to deliver your monologues at between fifteen and eighteen lines per minute. The timing of monologues in this book is



are t

serv ciati

based on this approximation but will obviously vary according to individual

defivery. XL

ira, it has come




ntly found lurk-

Poetry is more than file sum of its meter. Understanding the following poetic and rhetorical elements and recognizing them when they occur in your monologue-whether verse or prose--will give you additional clues to tile characteristics, present state of mind, and objectives of your character. A [<EASON TO R.HYME In his plays, Shakespeare used thyme sparingly (almost exclusively in verse), to color or enhance the content of certain material. For instance, rhyme can convey a sense of witty repartee; it can lend ethereality to the speech of fairies; or it can poke fun at the speaker by maldng him or her sound overblown. Furthernxore, like meter, rhyme makes the material more memorable. Shakespeare's rhyme generally appears at the ends of lines, but it can also be


me you take at a the punctuation:

found within a line. Sometimes you'll find a whole rhymed passage, but period-

ically you'll find just one rhymed couplet (two thymed lines) in what is otherwise blank verse. Often, such a couplet signifies the end of a scene, smtlming up the scene or carrying the audience into the next. There are a few variations to look for as well: HALF RHYME Shakespeare creates the same effect more subtly by using a hakf rhyme, in which the two rhyming sounds are very close but not exactly the same: Earth's increase, foison plenty,


ion we consider
ines of verse re-

written to build ,uld take a pause Barns and garners never empty

[/y delineated by g if a thought is

pause at the end punctuation and nctuation where

Sometimes you will come across two words that look like a half rhyme, but they're not. That's because prommciatlons have changed since Shakespeare's time. In most cases, both words were pronounced slightly differently than they are today, rhyming somewhere in the middle. When you encounter historic rhymes, you have to decide whether to pre and rhyme the words, or to give them today's pronuni so they'll be easier for your audience to understand. In most instances,
to use modern prontmciations, but there are circumstances under

end of each line

,ught seems conFect--or so they

speech. At the y twelve lines" per es at between fff-

g the rhyme may be preferable (e.g., to create humor).

ms in this book is ling to individual

[blood, etc.) XLI

gone / mon eye / vmtory (hmtory, melod), etc .... all rhymed w th die )



While the section on rhyme, above, describes one way in which Shakespeare played with the repetition of sounds, he played with tlie sounds of words in other ways as well, enriching the material on different levels: like the rhythius of meter, sound repetition heightens die theatregoing experience by adding dimension; the linldng of sounds creates an anral through-line; and, most importmlt, the types of sounds found in a particnlar monologue provide you guessed it!--yet more clues to the characteristics, present state of mind, and objectives of your character. Wc discuss the particularities of these clues on a case-by-case basis in the individual monologues' Commentary

Z. 3.



The r



The repetition of the first sound of two or more neighboring words: Death, desolation, ruin mid decay ONO The honey bags steal from the humble bees For queen, a very caitiff crowned with care One heaved a-high, to be hnrled down below; A mother only mocked with two sweet babes; A dream of what thou wert, a breath, a bubble,

The t

A sign of digdity, a garish flag

To be the aim of every dangerous shot; A queen in jest, only to fill the scene Where man doth not inhabit, you 'mongst men Being most unfit to live. I have made you mad;

The repetition of vowel sounds hi two or more neighboring wor&s: Ere we will eat our meal in fear and sleep There are three instances of assonance in this one little line:

Barns andgarmrs never empty [quit scanning it's not in blank verse]

L Barns / garners
z. garners / never

in which Shakerh the sounds of :nt levels: like the going experience iral through-line;
,cular monologue :s, present stare of

3. never / empty


CONSONANCE The repetition of consonant sotmds in two or more neighboring words: Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide When and where and how
We met, we wooed, and made exchange of vow


cularities of these
*es' Commentary

All the infections that the sin1 sucks tip From bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall, and make trim

By inchmeal a disease! His spirits hear me,

And yet I needs must curse.

ONOMATOPOEIA The use of a word that sounds like what it means:

wouldst gabble like a thing most brutish

dance our ringlets to the whistling wind
lovers make moan

SEPARATING SUBSEQUENT SOUNDS :Sometimes you'll find two consecntive words in wlfich the first word ends and the second begins with the same sound, such as King Lear's Blm, winds, reason not, and is scarce. These abutffmg sounds should always be enunciated which will affect the tone of your delivery and give the second Word a slight additional emphasis. If they occur in your monologue, separate

see what you discover.




When it comes to imagery, Shakespeare is the lmlg. He is a marvel at using figures of speech and vivid descriptions to create mental pictures for the audience. He uses several devices to do so; here are the most prevalent:

By "ears"

METAPHOR . . .. .;.A n'oblect or action in place of the The use of a word or phrase oenotmg o, ....... , sion eFn


one actually being described, to nnply a likeness or analogy between them.


All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; From forth the kennel of thy womb hath crept A hell-hound that doth hunt us all to death;

The jLLX
words, [

with it,

SIMILE A comparison of two essentially unlike things, in which a particular similarity is pointed out by the use of like or as: So we grew together Like to a double cherry, seeming parted, But yet an union in partition If I must die, I will encounter darlmess as a bride And hug it in mine arms.

In this
he face

No raft
to ]

In thi
crowd crowd about


The representation of an inanimate object or abstract idea as a personality or as having human attributes: Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrlillded front; Headstrong liberty is lashed with woe.

SYNECDOCHE A figure of speech in which a part represents the whole object or idea (as in "bread" for food), or vice versa (as in "the law" for "police"):


W OIkK" lrvel at using figfor the audience.

Whose words all ears took captive


By "ears" the speaker means all listeners.

Rhetoric is the art of writing or speech as a means of communication or persuasion, employing various devices to achieve literary effect. Some devices tbat Shakespeare used are: ANTITHESIS The juxtaposition of opposing or contrasting ideas in balanced or parallel
words, phrases, or grammatical structures.



.on in place of the

tween them:

-n *%1


Antithesi is one of the key devices used by Shakespeare. Once you are familiar With it, you'll begin to notice it everywhere--the plays are riddled with it: To be or not to be, that is the question;
: % _[

ticular similarity is

In this most obvious of examples, Hamlet uses antithesis to flame the dilemma
he faces.

:ther Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living, and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men? In this prose excerpt, Brutus is using the device to sway the opinion of the three antithetical pairings in rapid succession, to fuel the emotional investment in his position before they can think twice

; a personality or as

And if King Edward be as true mid just

As I am subtle, false and treacherous, This day should Clarence closely be mew'd up. III is particularly given to using antithesis. He constantly compares versus the attractiveness of others, his deceit-

bject or idea (as in

the integrity of others, his shrewdness versus their guileless-



PUN A play on words Sometimes the humor derives from different senses of the same word, and sometimes from the similar sense or sound of different


pierce quend

fi s
WHY A few Repe Rath
porto ward

Shakespeare was extremely purmy, most often in a bawdy way. Sometimes

today's audiences will miss the puns because of changes in word pronunciations or meanings. Where it would be helpfifl, we point out such puns in our Commentary boxes.

Horse--a pun for "whores" Traitor--a pma for "trader" (i.e., pimp)

Diomedes has not only stolen Troilus's former lover, Cressida, but has now also appropriated Troilus, horse. When Troilus meets Diomedes on the battlefield, he says: O traitor, Diomed! Turn thy false face, thou traitor! And pay the llfe thou owest me for my horse!

Rep, Who
rl,e r
its nt

the x

The actor is free to decide whether Troilus puns on purpose or inadvertently (and if inadvertently, whether Troilus even notices that he has punned); the pun is effecnve whichever way it s played.

DOUBLE ENTENDRB A word, phrase, or passage having a double meaning, especially when the second meaning is risqu& While this device is related to a pun and might contain a pun or puns, it is subtly different: it plays only on the words themselves, and not on the sounds of words. Example:

While Oberon, King of the Fairies, is telling a story about Cupid shooting

one of his arrows, a second, ribald memfing lies behind his words:

Prod loosed his love-shaft smartly from its bow As it should pierce a htmdred thousand hearts.

But I might see young Cupid's fiery shaft

Quenched in the chaste beams of the war'ry moon

Literal Meaning x senses of the love-shaft pierce Cupid's arrow pierce

Double Entendre penis penetrate

nd of different
way. Sometimes

fiery shaft;

flaming arrow

raging hard-on
given a "cold shower"

L pronunciations
ms in our Corn-


A few more elements to consider:

Rather than being a "throwaway" repetition of a word or phrase can be an oppommity for an actor to explore the nuance or progression in a character's inward objective or outward action: da, but has now es on the battleA horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!

Repetition with a Twist:

When a phrase contains both repeated and new words, the fanfiliar sounds of the repeated words lead the listener to the surprising new word or phrase, with

its new sotmd (which is pleasing to the ear) and new idea (which is pleasing to the mind), naturally highlighting the new idea.
or inadvertently

,unned); the pun

Mad wodd! Mad ldngs! Mad composition!

Was ever woman in this htunor wooed? Was ever woman in this humor won?

Ely when the sec-

t might contain a

Word Length
Pay attention to the lengfl, s of the words your character speaks. Does she use particularly long words? Or a series of short, staccato ones? A preponderance of words of one length or the other may suggest that your character is longwinded, supercilious, lovesid% tired, excited, rushed, furious, condescending... Again, this is valuable information. Examples: Being taken prisoner, Cleopatr defiantly tells her captor, Sir, I will eat no meat, I'll not drink, sir ,.. Talldng between clenched teeth, perhaps?

; themselves, and

: Cupid shooting



Don Armado, on the other hand, seeks to impress with his vocabular

Sir, it is the IQng's most sweet pleasure and affection to congratulate the

Princess at her pavilion in the posteriors of this day, which the rude multitude call the afternoon. Most impressive.


THE READINESS IS ALL The tools explained here and applied throughout this book ready you for-and support--your bask acting work, rather than replacing it. Recognizing the elements contained in the text and lmowing how to exploit them will

heighten your ability to express your objectives and characterization, whatever method of acting you practice.