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The Tempest: introduction to AO2

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A useful resource for OCR A level candidates.

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The Tempest: introduction to AO2

  1. 1. Re-introduction to AO2! Metre, Language and Imagery in The Tempest
  2. 2. Metre! • Shakespeare writes either in blank verse, in rhymed verse or in prose. • Blank verse = unrhymed but uses a regular pattern of rhythm or metre. In the English language, blank verse is iambic pentameter.
  3. 3. Iambic Pentameter • Pentameter means there are five poetic feet. In iambic pentameter each of these five feet is composed of two syllables: the first unstressed; the second stressed. : The sky, it seems, would pour down stinking pitch Can you scan it?
  4. 4. So? • Shakespeare often deviates from the perfect iambic line (especially in this play!) • When he does, it can be a clue to a change in the character's feelings or thoughts, or a change in situation, or both. When the rhythm is changed, the energy and dynamic of the language have been changed.
  5. 5. Examples of ‘dropped’ iambic pentameter Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises, Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not. (Caliban) And deeper than did ever plummet sound I’ll drown my book. (Prospero)
  6. 6. Rhyme • While blank verse forms the basis of Shakespeare's writing, he often uses rhyme. • Frequently in Shakespeare a rhymed couplet (a pair of lines whose end words rhyme) closes the scene and sometimes suggests what will come next: HAMLET: The play's the thing Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King
  7. 7. Rhyme and farewells Edgar: The weight of this sad time we must obey, Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say. The oldest hath borne most; we that are young Shall never see so much, Nor live so young. (King Lear) Prospero: And my ending is despair, Unless I be relieved by prayer, Which pierces so that it assaults Mercy itself and frees all faults. As you from crimes would pardoned be, Let your indulgence set me free. Why does Shakespeare often use rhyme for goodbyes?
  8. 8. Prose • The convention in Shakespeare's time was to write plays in verse. His extensive use of prose is yet another sign of his inventiveness and capacity to break with custom when it served his plan. • Why make the change from verse to prose?
  9. 9. Prose • Often lower class or comic characters speak prose while the more socially or morally elevated characters speak in verse • Not always, though- Some of Hamlet's most important speeches, such as his advice to the players, are in prose. • In Julius Caesar, Brutus chooses prose over verse when he sets out to convince the citizens that the conspirators were right to murder Caesar. • In The Tempest, Trinculo, Stephano and the sailors in the opening scene speak in prose
  10. 10. Language: Things to look out for … • Go into the dark backward and abysm of time when you last did AO2 language work (especially on Shakespeare…) • What are you looking for?
  11. 11. Things to look out for … • Compression and omitted words • Language used for characterisation (e.g. imagery or semantic fields associated with a particular character) • Theme and ideas of the play supported by imagery and language echoes • Form and structure reflecting meaning
  12. 12. Prospero: music, natural imagery, emotion Read the first extract (Prospero telling Miranda the story of Antonio’s treachery) and discuss: • The effect of the compression and omission here (what structural purpose is this extract serving in the play?) • The effect of the colloquialism ‘I say’ • How the word ‘key’ is used… • The ivy/tree trunk metaphor
  13. 13. Ariel: movement, supernatural power Read Ariel’s account of creating the storm at the beginning of the play and discuss: • How Ariel’s speed is emphasised by the language and structure • The effect of verbs not usually used for human motion • The effect of the missing words in “I flamed amazement” • The effect of the unusual word order in the line “more momentary and sight-outrunning were not”
  14. 14. Caliban: dream and enchantment Look again at the gorgeous “Be not afear’d” speech. • What is the effect of the extra syllables at the end of lines? • What is the effect of the mingled verb tenses? • Look for ‘sound effects’: how do they support the idea of magic and music here, and Caliban’s connection to the island?
  15. 15. Antonio’s figurative language Gonzalo is “an ancient morsel” Courtiers are easily manipulated “They’ll take suggestion as a cat laps milk” His conscience is as untroubling as a blister: “If ’twere a kibe/’Twould put me to my slipper.” • Is it significant that Antonio has such frequency of figurative language? • What is different about his metaphors and similes, compared to Prospero, Ariel and Caliban?
  16. 16. Some language echoes to look out for in the play • “strange” • “wonder” (also Miranda) • “sleep”, “dream” • “sea” • “music” • “freedom”/ “service”
  17. 17. Further reading… •The Actor & the Text by Cicely Berry, Virgin Publishing, 1993 • Shakespeare's Advice to the Players by Peter Hall. Oberon Books, 2003 • Shakespeare's Language by Frank Kermode, Penguin Books, 2001 • Shakespeare's Wordcraft by Scott Kaiser, Limelight Editions, 2007 • Glossary of Literary Terms - University of Cambridge A handy, clearly written all-on-one-page glossary: http://www.english.cam.ac.uk/vclass/terms.htm