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Importance of Speech in Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Richard III

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Importance of Speech in Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Richard III


Speech is often the strongest indicator of personality and motivation in Shakespearean histories and comedies. Each turn of phrase is a small insight into the essence of the character. Stringing together each line from the mouth of the character allows the audience to discover each nuance created by Shakespeare. By connecting the actions to a manner of speech, which mirrors those actions, Shakespeare is able to create more believable and dynamic characters. Examining Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Richard III, certain archetypes emerge, each with a specific way of speaking. Villains with their quick and underhanded remarks contrast with the silence of the submissive women who are, in turn, foils to the strong willed and outspoken women. By developing stock characters, Shakespeare is able to use stereotypes as a starting point for all of his characters. Matching the speech with the actions of the stereotypes further cements the prototype and gives the audience a clear understanding of the character without detailed background information. Through speech and the development of archetypes, Shakespeare is able to create a more complete picture of his characters.

The most developed and fascinating characters in Shakespearean histories and comedies are usually the villains, while they often lack an apparent motivation (beyond their immediate needs for either amusement or power). These characters reveal little to those around them and only uncover their schemes when alone or accompanied by their henchmen. Speech, for these villains, is usually very short with choppy phrases interjected into t...


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...d. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.

Rutter, Carol. Clamorous Voices. Shakespeare's Women Today. New York: Routledge, 1989.

Schanzer, Ernest.  "_A Midsummer-Night's Dream."  26-31 in Kenneth Muir, ed. Shakespeare: The Comedies: A Collection of Critical Essays.  Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1965.

Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night's Dream, ed. Brian Gibbons. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Vaughn, Jack A. Shakespeare's Comedies.  New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Company, 1980

Watts, Cedric. Much Ado About Nothing. London: Penguin, 1986.

Wells, Stanley & Gary Taylor, General Eds.  _William Shakespeare: The _Complete Works.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Young, David P.  Something of Great Constancy: The Art of A Midsummer Night's Dream.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966.


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