- Subject: English
- AS: 90722
- Level: 3
- Credits: 3
3.3 Respond critically to Shakespearean drama studied
Style and techniques
Shakespeare's style can be seen in the combination of words used to create rich and complex images to develop the plot, setting, characters, and themes. Shakespeare wrote in prose (regular speech for that time) and blank verse using a rhythm and rhyme called iambic pentameter. Approaching the language describes the effect of changing from prose to verse in a scene from Othello. It is important to listen to professional recordings of the play so the correct tone can be used to help interpret meaning. Think about how the style and the tone of voice work together to reinforce the writer's purpose. See How to Read Shakespeare Aloud.
For more information on the language of Shakespeare see:
Different genres of Shakespearean plays
- Tragedy – is the genre of drama that follows a capable leader who can no longer hold their position of power because of a mistake they made or a flaw in their character which leads to their ultimate failure. Read an overview of tradegy. For discussions of tragedy see Revenge tragedy and Lessons in tragedy.
- Comedy – is the genre of drama that takes a sequence of events, adds complications like mistaken identity and/or intention to teach the audience a lesson in a humorous way. See Shakespeare's Play Types: Comedy, Tragedy & Historic.
- History – is the genre of drama that takes significant historical events and closely examines the personalities and problems of that time.
Key techniques of style
- Language techniques – look at how figurative language has been used to describe and develop plot, setting, character, theme and symbols in the text. Think about other language techniques such as repetition, listing, and extended metaphor.
- Narrative point of view – which character is telling the story and how does this influence what the audience experiences and feels towards the text? The writer will choose and/or change the point of view to control the relationship between the audience and character and to support their purpose.
- Dialogue – identify repeated language patterns in a character's speech. Look at the types of words used and how they speak. What does this show you about their personality and how they cope with issues?
- Irony – is used to highlight strengths and weaknesses in characters, to show conflict, and themes.
- Soliloquy, asides, monologues – are used to reveal a character's true thoughts, feelings, and motivations. For definitions go to William Shakespeare and click on the appropriate words.
Ways to study style
- Select 1–3 important scenes from the text, close read – to identify any language techniques and choices in language, structure and form. Explain how each technique adds to your understanding of the plot, setting, character, and theme.
For more information on style, see Revision Bite, which gives reasons for certain language techniques being used.
Other keywords for style and technique: writer's voice, word choice, use of language, methods, devices, features, aspect, structure.