Shakespeare's readers can find themselves caught in a series of implicit choices where, for example, a particular wording or phrasing may correspond to a specific stylistic effect, which is used by the author to persuade the audience. All of Shakespeare's plays draw on the resources of rhetoric, which is not considered as a mere method of composition, but also a tool to experiment with language. Linguistically, Shakespeare's manipulation of language serves to construct characters, conflicts, and themes. As readers of his texts and audience members of his plays, we are challenged to analyze Shakespeare's choices at the levels of word and phrase, and at a more abstract, figurative level, specifically in relation to how those word and phrase choices reveal power or powerlessness. In this regard, we focus on sound devices, such as alliteration and onomatopoetic phrasing, a range of metaphoric usage--chiefly metaphor, imagery, and symbolism. Technically, we complete a simple analysis of metrical features, such as iambic meter, rhythm and rhyme. Through the study of Shakespeare's works, we can draw clear connections between the meaning elicited from a text and how Shakespeare went about creating that meaning stylistically.
Shakespeare never goes stale. And there are good reasons for that. Through the years, Odyssey scholars have studied the plays of A Midsummer Nights Dream, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing, and Hamlet. As your experience with Shakespeare's texts expand, so does your understanding and appreciation of the author's work and its connections to life. Shakespeare has been done and redone hundreds of times in settings as varied in time and place as one can imagine. Shakespeare had a profound understanding of human kind: our struggles, our desires, our hopes and fears. These common sufferings and triumphs connect the characters on his stage with those people we meet in real life. This is what it means to be universal. No matter how old we are, where we live, or in what time, all boundaries can fade to nothing in a tale of Shakespeare. As the characters fall in love, so do we; as they grow enraged at injustice, so do we; as they are overcome with jealousy or humiliation, we blush crimson right along with them. The brilliance of Shakespeare comes through his mastery of the mechanics of the English language to elaborate on his intrinsic knowledge of the human psyche.
Each year, the English Speaking Union invites students and their teachers/directors who share a love and enthusiasm for the Great Bard to participate in their National Shakespeare Competition. It all starts in the classroom. Schools all over the country conduct in house, school wide Shakespeare competitions in which scholars present a memorized monologue of no more than twenty lines. After the school selects a winner, they are sent along with other scholars across their state, to compete at the branch level. This time, they present their monologue and one of Shakespeare's sonnets.
The lucky scholar selected at the branch level is then flown out for a week long trip to New York
We will enjoy watching the winning performance of 2016 in class. But for our blog post assignment this week, we will watch an inspirational educational video by the creators and actors of the Oscar award winning film, Shakespeare in Love. I promise, you will enjoy it! It is about 45 minutes in length, so allow for some time to put your feet up, brew some tea or hot chocolate, and enjoy! (There are two possible links--they are both the same.) It looks at the life and art of William Shakespeare through the lens of his play, Romeo and Juliet. For your post, please comment on the story, what you learned and anything specific that impressed you, and then see how it all comes together at the end: summary, poetry and then...the color! I promise, it will be worth the time...for, as we know, "Never was a story of more woe than that of Juliet and her Romeo..."