Shakespeares Use of Blank Verse in His Plays

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Shakespeare’s Use of Blank Verse in His Plays Jolly Das Associate Professor Department of

Shakespeare’s Use of Blank Verse in His Plays Jolly Das Associate Professor Department of English Vidyasagar University Midnapore

Blank Verse in English Drama Gorboduc (1561), written by Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville

Blank Verse in English Drama Gorboduc (1561), written by Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville was the first English play to use blank verse Jolly Das

Poets /Playwrights who used blank verse in English • Thomas Kyd used blank verse

Poets /Playwrights who used blank verse in English • Thomas Kyd used blank verse in The Spanish Tragedy • Christopher Marlowe used it in all his plays • Shakespeare made profuse and varied use in his plays • Milton used it in Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained and parts of Samson Agonistes • James Thomson used it in The Seasons • William Cowper used blank verse in The Task • Wordsworth, Keats and Shelley used it profusely • Tennyson also used it • T. S. Eliot used it in his plays • There are others. . . Jolly Das

Thomas Kyd (6 November 1558— 15 August 1594) No picture available Jolly Das

Thomas Kyd (6 November 1558— 15 August 1594) No picture available Jolly Das

Christopher Marlowe (26 February 1564 [Baptised] – 30 May 1593) • Tamburlaine the Great

Christopher Marlowe (26 February 1564 [Baptised] – 30 May 1593) • Tamburlaine the Great • Edward the Second • The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus • Dido, Queen of Carthage • Hero and Leander (completed by George Chapman) Jolly Das

William Shakespeare (26 April 1564 [baptised] – 23 April 1616) • All his plays

William Shakespeare (26 April 1564 [baptised] – 23 April 1616) • All his plays had blank verse • Made various experiments • Made blank verse flexible / plastic Jolly Das

T. S. Eliot on the use of form. . . “To create a form

T. S. Eliot on the use of form. . . “To create a form is not merely to invent a shape, a rhyme or rhythm. It is also the realization of the whole appropriate content of this rhyme or rhythm. ” [ ‘The Possibility of a Poetic Drama, ’ The Sacred Wood 63] Jolly Das

Why blank verse in theatre? • The Elizabethan playwrights were compelled to forge their

Why blank verse in theatre? • The Elizabethan playwrights were compelled to forge their own theatrical idiom in order to express the variety, complexity and diversity in the worldview which resulted from the impact of humanism, rationality, the rapid development of science and the discovery of new lands outside the European world. Jolly Das

 • The personal tone in poetry was inadequate for its use in theatre.

• The personal tone in poetry was inadequate for its use in theatre. o An element of detachment and impersonality was the prerequisite. o Poetry “is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion. ” [T. S. Eliot, Tradition and the Individual Talent, ’ The Sacred Wood 58] o The poet-playwright can reach this condition of impersonality by a complete surrender to the work to be done, that is, the act of writing the play. o Theatre is the most objective of all the forms of literature, demanding from the playwright a sense of detachment by which he is able to be loyal to his work. Jolly Das

 • This has been described by John Keats as ‘Negative Capability, ’ in

• This has been described by John Keats as ‘Negative Capability, ’ in a letter written on 22 December 1817 to his brothers George and Thomas: [. . . ] at once it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously—I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason [. . . ] Jolly Das

 • Thus, the playwright had to be conscious of his role and function—to

• Thus, the playwright had to be conscious of his role and function—to be detached and to be true to the characters he chose to portray—without trespassing their domain of mysteries, uncertainties and doubts. • With this in view, therefore, poetry would be the best vehicle of linguistic communication in theatre. • The next step would be the choice of verse. Jolly Das

T. S. Eliot, on the use of blank verse in drama: “The Elizabethan Age

T. S. Eliot, on the use of blank verse in drama: “The Elizabethan Age in England was able to absorb a great quantity of new thoughts and new images, almost dispensing with tradition, because it had this great form of its own which imposed itself on everything that came to it. Consequently, the blank verse of their plays accomplished a subtlety and consciousness, even an intellectual power, that no blank verse since has developed or even repeated. ” [‘The Possibility of a Poetic Drama, ’ The Sacred Wood 62] Jolly Das

T. S. Eliot, on the use of blank verse in drama: “The essential is

T. S. Eliot, on the use of blank verse in drama: “The essential is to get upon the stage this precise statement of life which is at the same time a point of view, a world—a world which the author’s mind has subjected to a complete process of simplification. ” [‘The Possibility of a Poetic Drama, ’ The Sacred Wood 68] Jolly Das

 • Blank verse, already in vogue on the Elizabethan stage and being in

• Blank verse, already in vogue on the Elizabethan stage and being in the process of successful use by Kyd and Marlowe, among others, would be Shakespeare’s natural choice. • One must remember that Shakespeare had the instinctive propensity to appropriate and perfect existing material rather than spend time in quest of striking a radically different path. This is indicated in Eliot’s opinion as a practising poet-playwright: “[. . . ] no man can invent a form, create a taste for it, and perfect it too. ” [‘The Possibility of a Poetic Drama, ’ The Sacred Wood 62] Jolly Das

 • Verse allows poetic license, thereby providing scope for compacting thoughts and their

• Verse allows poetic license, thereby providing scope for compacting thoughts and their expression with rhetorical embellishments, without the limiting supervision of grammatical norms. • Blank verse, when spoken, sounds like the conversational idiom. • This is because of the use of enjambment (run-on) and endstopped lines. Jolly Das

End-stopped and run-on lines End-Stopped line: It is a poetic device in which a

End-stopped and run-on lines End-Stopped line: It is a poetic device in which a pause comes at the end of a syntactic unit (sentence, clause, or phrase). This pause can be expressed in writing as a punctuation mark, such as a colon, semi-colon, period, or full stop. Jolly Das

Run-on Line : also called enjambment It is incomplete syntax at the end of

Run-on Line : also called enjambment It is incomplete syntax at the end of a line; the meaning runs over from one poetic line to the next, without terminal punctuation. lines without enjambment are end-stopped. Jolly Das

Macbeth Act I scene i All. Fair is foul and foul is fair: Hover

Macbeth Act I scene i All. Fair is foul and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air. Act I scene vii Macbeth. Away and mock the time with fairest show; False face must hide what the false heart doth know. Jolly Das

Macbeth Act I scene iii Macb. Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor! The greatest is

Macbeth Act I scene iii Macb. Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor! The greatest is behind. —Thanks for your pains. [Aside to Banquo] Do you not hope your children shall be kings, When those that gave the Thane of Cawdor to me Promised no less to them? Ban. [Aside to Macbeth] That, trusted home, Might yet enkindle you unto the crown, Besides the Thane of Cawdor. But ‘tis strange; And oftentimes to win us to our harm, The instruments of darkness tell us truths, Win us with honest trifles, to betray’s In deepest consequence. — Jolly Das

Macbeth Act I scene v Lady Mac. Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt

Macbeth Act I scene v Lady Mac. Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be What thou art promised. Yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full of the milk of human kindness To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great; Art not without ambition, but without The illness should attend it. What thou wouldst highly, That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false, And yet wouldst wrongly win. Jolly Das

Macbeth Act I scene v Macb. My dearest love, Duncan comes here to-night. Lady

Macbeth Act I scene v Macb. My dearest love, Duncan comes here to-night. Lady M. And when goes hence? Macb. Tomorrow—as he purposes. Lady M. O, never Shall sun that morrow see! Your face, my thane, is as a book where men May read strange matters. To beguile the time, Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye, Your hand, your tongue; look like th’ innocent flower, But be the serpent under’t. . Jolly Das

Macbeth Act II scene vi Inverness Duncan. This castle hath a pleasant seat; the

Macbeth Act II scene vi Inverness Duncan. This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself Unto our gentle senses. Banquo. This guest of summer, The temple-haunting martlet, does approve. Jolly Das . .

Lindisfarne Castle

Lindisfarne Castle

Macbeth Act V scene v Macb. She should have died hereafter; There would have

Macbeth Act V scene v Macb. She should have died hereafter; There would have been a time for such a word. To-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To the last syllable of recorded time, And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more; it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury; Signifying nothing. Jolly Das

Twelfth Night The disguised Viola resembles Sebastian, her twin brother. Jolly Das

Twelfth Night The disguised Viola resembles Sebastian, her twin brother. Jolly Das

Twelfth Night Act II scene iv Duke. My life upon’t, young though thou art,

Twelfth Night Act II scene iv Duke. My life upon’t, young though thou art, thine eye Hath stay’d upon some favour that it loves; Hath it not boy? Vio. Duke. A little by your favour. What kind of woman is’t? Vio. Of your complexion. Duke. She is not worth thee, then. What years i’ faith? Vio. About your years, my lord. Duke. Too old, by heaven! Let still the woman take An elder than herself; so wears she to him, So sways she level in her husband’s heart. For, boy, however we do praise ourselves, Our fancies are more giddy and unfirm, More longing, wavering, sooner lost and won, Than woman’s are. Vio. Jolly Das I think it well, my lord.

Twelfth Night Act I scene iii Maria. Ay, but you must confine yourself within

Twelfth Night Act I scene iii Maria. Ay, but you must confine yourself within the modest limits of order. Sir To. Confine! I’ll confine myself no finer than I am. These clothes are good enough to drink in, and so be these boots, too; an’ they be not, let them hang themselves in their own straps. Jolly Das

Twelfth Night Act II scene v Fabian. I will not give my part of

Twelfth Night Act II scene v Fabian. I will not give my part of this sport for a pension of thousands to be paid from the Sophy. Sir To. I could marry this wench for this device. Sir And. So could I too. Sir To. And ask no other dowry with her but such another jest. Jolly Das

Macbeth Banquet Scene Act III scene iv Roman Polanski (1971) Jolly Das

Macbeth Banquet Scene Act III scene iv Roman Polanski (1971) Jolly Das

Twelfth Night Malvolio appears before Olivia In a strange manner! Act III scene iv

Twelfth Night Malvolio appears before Olivia In a strange manner! Act III scene iv Jolly Das

Acknowledgement o All the pictures used in this presentation have been borrowed from various

Acknowledgement o All the pictures used in this presentation have been borrowed from various sources available in the internet. o The quotations from Shakespeare’s plays have been taken from the Alexander Text of The Complete Works of Shakespeare. Jolly Das

Thank you !

Thank you !