Category Archives: Language

Shakespeare Quarterly – Sonnets

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Turning Sonnets into Poems: Textual Affect and John Benson’s Metaphysical Shakespeare.

In Turning Sonnets, Megan Heffernan questions the arrangements and classification of sonnets through the analysis of textual features including genres, thematics and form. It proves to be a deeply interesting read, highlighting the history of cataloguing sources and modes, to effectively name (or in Shakespeare’s case) number sonnets.

Open Links to Performances (Performance Badge)

As You Like It – 1936 film version

Helpful version as it contains subtitles for retention and comprehension of material not covered in class. A great comedy to pair with Twelfth Night, and resourceful for unpacking themes within the pastoral mode.

To Kill Myself – Rape of Lucrece 

Wonderfully artistic visioning from The Royal Shakespeare Company.

Act 3, Scene 2 – The Winter’s Tale 

Perhaps for me the standout example of a well spoken, educated, strong woman in all the texts covered this semester. A great reminder of our lectures covering the power and importance of words.

Romeo and Juliet – Onscreen footage

Everyone’s classic introduction to Shakespeare. I was reminded heavily of the play when reading The genres of Shakespeare’s plays, by Susan Snyder as she talks in depth about the reflection of youth in Shakespeare’s works. Characters become representations of the time period and a refection of society. This is set up immediately  in Romeo and Juliet’s prologue, “Two households, both alike in dignity|In fair Verona, where we lay our scene|From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,|where civil blood makes civil hands unclean” (1.Pro.1-3).

Act 5, Scene 3 – King Lear 

Continuing the consideration of genre, King Lear is a great example of ego and pride leading to a tragic end (which cannot be evaded). This is a very emotionally powerful clip displaying the effects of time within a tragedy.



The Dance: a Sonnet

Once your graceful arms did hold me close
once you whispered in my ear
we talked of life and love and those
were words I cherished most to hear

Yet now we must as strangers act
and in this imbecilic dance engage.
Where once was kinship, nothing lacked;
now only glances leave this cage.

I know your deepest hurts, desires
you know my each and every way
your gentle touch still sets a fire
that is the light for this ballet

Go on pretending, go through the motion
We’ll always have our silent devotion.

Lover’s Stars: a Sonnet

Should the sun forget to rise today, and
should the stars remain alight, I would not
be dismayed to sit and dwell within the
night, for under blackness once we met.

Speak they of love as if for morning lives
and lovers arms for afternoons exist.
Yet you and I both know the truth that is:
that love and pain must th’other assist.

For, lacking one we not the other know
and leaving one behind we fail to see
that without hurt, love cannot grow
and without love, pain does not feel

Just as the stars were made for nighttime,
So too were you made for me, darling.

Sonnet Review #4

At this point in time we must take a reading break

And take a look at a stage production of King Lear

Sir Ian McKellen is amazing!

He can go crazy, while making a sneer.

This play shows folly of man and also their greed.

Greed for others love or material things.

This all becomes their downfall; they won’t breed,

All of this murder for what? To become King?

In most of Shakespeare’s plays, the fool is wiser

Seeing error and lies behind one’s mask

Except Cordelia, Lear’s own daughter,

The fool gave good advice, no need to ask.

Appearance misled those with eyes,

Which is why the blind is always quite wise.


Review Sonnet #2

This next review will be quite not be a bout a play,

However it will be about the first reading of this class

And no it is not a story that is joyous, happy or gay,

But instead a tale with a creepy man that turns is an ass.

If you are still unsure of which tale I speak of

Then you did not do the readings

And will not understand the references above

For it is The Rape of Lucrece, and it does not end in weddings

Instead the readers witnesses the impending doom,

Of a beautiful woman that is objectified

By all the men that do not think of her feelings, they simply presume

That for one so pretty she must not have emotions inside.

She is the only thoughtful character that turns to self-sacrifice

To protect the ones she loves, in hopes that they are satisfied.



Sonnet: High Aspirations

Of sleepless nights, of hectic days,

Of times spent staring at a parchment,

O, it’s tiring, this craze;

For my melancholy state, this is the argument.

The sun goes down, the moon comes out,

Yet I remain in the same spot.

The stress I face is what I write about,

My nerves wracked, and I distraught.

But I will pursue on my journey to success;

I will thwart any obstacles in my path;

I will foster determination and progress,

And perhaps, when I’m done, I will soak in a bath.

               For I am from hard work and dedication,

               And I will fly high to reach my aspiration.

Lucrece Paraphrase

Let us go back to Lucrece shall we?

As I was skimming through my full notebook for a blank page today in  class I came across some notes about Lucrece. There was a specific passage that I struggled with and decided to paraphrase/annotate. I decided to share my paraphrase with you in the chance any of you struggled with the  same lines.

The original lines are:

“‘O unseen shame, invisible disgrace!

O unfelt sore, crest-wounding, private scar!

Reproach is stamped in Collatinus’ face,

And Tarquin’s eye may read the mot afar:

How he in peace is wounded, not in war.

Alas, how many bear such shameful blows,

Which not themselves but he that gives them knows.

‘If, Collatine, thine honour lay in me,

From me by strong assault it is bereft:

My honour lost, and I, a drone-like bee,

Have no perfection of my summer left,

But robbed and ransacked by injurious theft.

In thy weak hive a wand’ring wasp hath crept,

And suck’d the honey which thy chaste bee kept.” (827-840).


My paraphrase:

Shame is not seen, disgrace is invisible!

The unsupported scar will ruin the family’s name!

Shame is clear on Collatine’s face,

Tarquin can see the shame on the family and Collatine.

Collatine was not injured in the war but by this.

How often do people feel as much shame as the guilty.

Collatine placed his honour in me:

But, by force it was stolen.

The chastity I was fighting so hard to protect is gone,

And now I am no longer pure.

An evil wasp crept into my ‘hive’ and stole my ‘honey’.


I thought it was quite interesting how Shakespeare used the symbolism of the wasp to represent Tarquin, the bee to represent Lucrece and the honey to represent Lucrece’s chastity and purity. After reading Troilus and Cressida I cannot help but notice how much weight Shakespeare’s characters place on others opinions. This is evident in Lucrece’s fear of shame for both herself and Collatine. It is also interesting to note Shakespeare’s extensive emphasis on the eye and what is visible on the outside (and public) versus internal emotions that are private.


Ashley Anderson



Shakespeare, William. “Lucrece.” The Oxford Shakespeare: Complete Sonnets and Poems. Ed. Colin Burrow. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 289. Print.

Neologisms in Troilus and Cressida

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Neologisms starting from act III onwards.

Starting off with “pander” from 3.2.206, except this word wasn’t coined by Shakespeare. The word originated from the character Pandarus; its meaning derived from the character’s role as a go-between in the various adaptations of the love story of Troilus and Cressida (or Criseyde). Shakespeare simply reinforced its meaning with its use in Troilus and Cressida, as explained by the Oxford English Dictionary:

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Next is “unplausive”, seen in 3.3.43. My little annotation on the first picture above shows the word means “disapproving”, as taken from OED as well:

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“Unplausive” is a word we don’t use as much in modern language (its last cited use was in the 30’s). Even its opposite, “plausive”, is considered rare.

Another word that Shakespeare coined, and is now obsolete, is “rejoindure” (4.4.35). According to OED, the word seemed to be only useful in early 17th century up to mid 18th century.

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Not all words or new meanings Shakespeare invents dies during his time. “Appalled” (4.5.4), in which Shakespeare coined a new meaning for, is still used today (its first two meanings of being “made pale” or being “flat or stale” are now obsolete). That is, we use it more in the context of simply being  “dismayed”, and not exactly as “bereft of courage…at the sudden recognition of something dreadful”.

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Another is “multipotent” (4.5.130), its usage did not die in the Elizabethan era. Though this isn’t exactly used in our daily casual conversations, but nevertheless it’s not considered obsolete.

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“Consigned” (4.4.44), too, is a word still used today, especially in business transactions. Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 12.38.32 PM

Then we have “untraded” (4.5.179), in which Shakespeare made up a new meaning for, and seemed to have been only used once in Troilus and Cressida. Even in its other contexts, this word is also obsolete.Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 12.43.59 PM

“Expectance” (4.5.157) is still around today, but is no longer used exactly in the context that Shakespeare invented. It is more commonly used as “anticipation”, and this newer meaning is derived from its older meanings.

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Lastly, we have “bragless” (5.10.5), which isn’t considered obsolete yet, but something we don’t use in modern language. Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 12.55.51 PM

Through these neologisms in Troilus and Cressida, we see how influential William Shakespeare has been in the English language. Though not all of the words he makes up last, some are still used today, or used at some point in time, or became the basis for the evolution of other meanings.




Close Reading: Twelfth Night (Act 1, Scene 1)


[Music.] Enter Orsino Duke of Illyria, Curio, and other Lords.

ORSINO: If it is so that music feeds the appetite of love, keep

playing. Give me more of it, so I can become sick of it and stop

loving. [To the Musicians] Play that again! It had a sad fall. Oh, it

sounds sweet, like a breeze over a bed of violets, carrying

away its scent. Stop playing. It’s not as sweet anymore.

Oh, love is so restless. It makes your desires as vast as the sea,

and then make you despise everything. Love is so fantastical

and incomparable.

CURIO: Are you going to go hunt, my lord?

ORSINO: Hunt what, Curio?

CURIO: The hart (deer)

ORSINO: That’s exactly what I’m doing, with my own heart. Oh,

when I first saw Olivia, I thought that she cured the diseased

air (with her purity). At that moment, it was as if I was a hart

and my desires, like vicious hounds, attacked me.

Enter Valentine

What news do you have [from Olivia]?

VALENTINE: Excuse me, my lord, but they did not allow me inside.

But I did get an answer from her servant and it reads,

“[Olivia] will be kept inside for seven years, and will not even

show her face to the skies. She will keep herself as if she were

a nun, to remember her deceased brother’s love. This will keep

his love pure and untainted in her remembrance.”

ORSINO: Oh, her heart must be so great that she pays so much

respect and love to her dead brother. Think about all the love I

will get, when she is struck [from Cupid’s arrow] and falls in

love with me – then she will surrender her sweet and perfect

heart and mind to be controlled by only  one – me! Let’s go to a

place with sweet flowers, and think about love.


Shakespeare has used many literary elements in this scene.

First, an example of simile is present in the line 5-7:

“Oh, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound

That breathes upon a bank of violets,

Stealing, and giving odor.” (I, i, 5-7)

Moreover, “Receiveth as the sea” (11) and “my desires, like fell and cruel hounds” (21) are also an example of a simile.

Furthermore, an instance when a metaphor is used is when Orsino says “That instance was I turned into a hart” (20).

In addition to, Shakespeare has used puns in this passage. Specifically, the pun of “hart” was evident, when Curio asks Orsino whether he would like to hunt a hart, and Orsino claims that  he is indeed hunting a heart.

Also, there is an example of apostrophe: “O spirit of love” (9).

In this passage, Orsino laments the effects of love, and claims how restless his unrequited love is for Olivia. Furthermore, this scene provides the audience with some of the basics of the story: Orsino is a high lord who is in love with the grieving Olivia, who does not return his feelings.

12th night 112th night 2

(I also performed a reading of this scene which can be found here.)