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April 24, 2021, 04:06:05 am

Author Topic: Structure/form and language of a Shakespearean play  (Read 550 times)

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BlackFrost

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Structure/form and language of a Shakespearean play
« on: December 21, 2020, 04:31:41 pm »
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Hey guys,
My class has recently started King Henry IV, and my teacher has told us to pay attention to the structure/form and language of the play.  I was wondering if anyone could explain what these are and point out some specific examples from Henry IV. Thank you.  :)

angewina_naguen

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Re: Structure/form and language of a Shakespearean play
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2020, 08:10:21 pm »
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Hey guys,
My class has recently started King Henry IV, and my teacher has told us to pay attention to the structure/form and language of the play.  I was wondering if anyone could explain what these are and point out some specific examples from Henry IV. Thank you.  :)

Hey, BlackFrost!

Great questions! Structure and form refer to the text type you're working with as well as its key features and conventions. In your case, you're studying a history play so you should familiarise yourself with the techniques used in drama, as well as the characteristics of the history genre. This article does a great job of providing an overview of what histories are that you could have a read through  :)

Language can also be understood thematically in this play because the characters, which are all from different realms of society, have different patterns of speech. This reflects the idea that our language can often be indicative of our background, destiny, place in the social hierarchy etc. and the characters can be evaluated based on how they use and manipulate language in the play. Prince Hal is significant in that he can hover between "high" and "low" languages (associated usually with the court and the tavern folk respectively) to address and interact with others. There's an amazingly written article about language in the play which you might want to check out. It's titled "'A World of Figures:' Language and Character In Henry IV Part I" and is written by AP Riemer. It could also serve as an excellent critical reading which you may end up referencing in your Module B essay when you get towards writing it later on in the term. Hope this helps and feel free to ask any follow up questions if you have any!

Angelina  ;D

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Justin_L

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Re: Structure/form and language of a Shakespearean play
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2020, 07:50:42 pm »
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Adding on Angelina's superb advice, some other things to look out for might be how each character's use of language changes (or doesn't change) throughout the play, particularly Prince Hal and his use of soliloquy and other language/dramatic techniques when contrasted to characters like Hotspur, who at one point states that he "profess not talking" (He doesn't speak well).

In terms of structure/form, there's definitely a lot of flexibility and ways to interpret meaning. For my HSC, I decided to focus on performativity and argued that the use of a play extempore (play within a play) served as a structural technique which symbolised a turning point in Hal's growth into a Prince, where I used language (eg. "I do, I will” / “and take thy praise with thee to heaven!”) to evidence his growth and fulfillment of the chain of being compared to Hotspur's ineloquence.

Hopefully that gives you some ideas on the sort of ways you can interpret the play's structure/form/language and how that ties into the wider themes. I'd definitely recommend you read lot's of critics articles to find some interesting and original takes on the play, as I found that helped me a lot in understanding and developing my own views.

Good luck with your HSC!


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