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Word Count: 2,636
Her speech is nothing Horatio says of Ophelia in the fourth act of Hamlet Yet the unshaped use of doth move The hearers to collection They aim at it And botch the words up to fit their own thoughts 45 7-10 To the discerning reader Horatios observation can be interpreted dualistically although the character means to describe the ravings of the princes lover he is additionally and unintentionally identifying one of Shakespeares most important linguistic formulas -a manipulation of syntax to indicate the complexity of social thematic and emotional undertones When cut to the core Mary Muncaster comments in her essay The Use of Prose in Elizabethan Drama Shakespeare fully understood the intricacy of speech patterns to be his primary literary tool and sought to vary these patterns in linguistic play-through prose and verse or in combination Muncaster 21 In the most intrinsic sense prose and verse delineations in Shakespeares syntax serve fundamentally as an indicator of social class throughout most of the playwrights plays verse is the linguistic standard of the upper class while prose remains delegated to the lower caste Examples of this formula abound in the characterizations of the murderers in Richard III Touchstone in As You Like It the Shepard in A Winters Tale and most famously the motley crew of laymen who meet in the first act of A Midsummers Night Dream to plan a play in celebration of the marriage of Duke Theseus and his bride Hippolyta Through the thick vernacular of Bottom who describes the intended effect he hopes his acting will provoke That will ask some tears in the true performing of it If I do it let the audience look to Their eyes I will move stones I will condole in some measure To the rest-Yet my chief humour is for a tyrant I could play ercles rarely or a part to tear a cat in to make all split
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