Repetition - a word repeated more than once
ACTING CLUE: Obviously, Shakespeare has a large vocabulary, so if he chooses to use the same
word more than once, there's reason behind it. Try different things vocally each
time the word is expressed; see if it's repetition has a different meaning, or is it
simply meant to be stressed? Again, play with it and hear what you discover!
EXAMPLE: "What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?
Since every one hath, every one, one shade,
And you, but one, can every shadow lend." (Sonnet 53)
Double Entendre - words with double meaning
ACTING CLUE: The more Shakespeare could get out of a word, he would. Be alert to this fact
when you first read his text and your mind will be open to numerous
possibilities. Double entendres are considered a wink to the audience -
(and mostly in a bawdy way) have fun with them.
EXAMPLE: Gregory: "...Draw thy tool, here comes of the house of Montagues."
Sampson: "My naked weapon is out: quarrel, I will back thee."
(Romeo & Juliet, Act I, sc i)
Metaphor - a figure of speech, comparing two different subjects by saying one thing is another
ACTING CLUE: Metaphors help to clarify a thought, situation, or emotion, and at times add humor.
EXAMPLE: "All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players."
(Jaques, As You Like It, Act 2, sc vii)
Puns - a play on words; using the similar sound or sense of words often to create humor or sarcasm
ACTING CLUE: Puns can be tricky. Often words used during Shakespeare's day have changed in
meaning over time, drastically in some cases. Do not be fearful and so rush through
those moments, take your time and spell it out vocally. Most often the sounds of the
words themselves will help you to discover their existence and meaning.
EXAMPLE: "A little more than kin, and less than kind." (Hamlet, Act I, sc ii)
Antithesis - opposite ideas; direct contrast
ACTING CLUE: Though you might hate it, antithesis is your friend. (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)
Shakespeare is brilliantly mad about contrasting ideas, and uses them almost
constantly. To ignore antithesis, you deny yourself and your potential listeners
not only deeper meaning, but lighthearted fun. Find the opposites, then use
your voice to help your audience hear them, too.
EXAMPLE 1: "To be, or not to be..." (Hamlet, Act III, sc i)
EXAMPLE 2: "How can I then return in happy plight,
That am debarr'd the benefit of rest?
When day's oppression is not eas'd by night,
But day by night, and night by day oppress'd,
And each, though enemies to either's reign,
Do in consent shake hands to torture me... (Sonnet 28)
Simile - comparison of two fundamentally different things, using words 'like' or 'as'
ACTING CLUE: Similes clarify ideas, and help the listener to relate to what the character is
experiencing. Think of it as, "Let me put it this way, so you can get what I mean."
In most cases they paint a visual picture for the moment being described.
Similes can be poignant or fun, but it's up to you to discover them and paint that
picture for your listener.
EXAMPLE: "Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end..." (Sonnet 60)
NOW YOU'RE READY to do your own interpreted reads! Have FUN!
- VISUAL CLUES -