OK, last week, I looked at Martius’ big speech (and we’ve already taken a look at the homo-erotic response to it, the longest speech by Aufidius) from Coriolanus. Today, let’s take a look at the longest speech of the play, this one by dear ol’ mum, Volumnia. There’s some pretty interesting stuff going on in the scansion (as well as a stage direction or two).
It’s Act Five, Scene Three, in the Volscian camp on the outskirts of Rome, where Martius and Aufidius ready their armies for the attack. Martius has already turned away Menenius (who seemed like a father-figure to him), and Martius has admitted doing so “cracked” (V.iii.9) his heart.
So who should walk in at this moment?
Continue reading Volumnia’s last word (economy-sized)
If you’re looking for Martius’ most important speech in Coriolanus, it’s most likely the speech in which he reveals himself to his enemy Aufidius, and announces his intention to join forces with him. This speech, from Act Four, Scene Five, is certainly his longest.
So let’s take a look at it…
Continue reading My name is Cauis Martius
OK, when most people think of the most famous speeches in Shakespeare, they usually go to the soliloquies (Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” [and yes, I know it may not be a soliloquy], Richard III’s “Now is the winter of our discontent,” Lady M’s “Unsex me here,” and the like), so what about in Coriolanus?
Well, there we have a problem, Houston…there’s only one soliloquy in the play.
Continue reading Coriolanus: anxious and calm
No, it’s not bowling for dollars. But looking at the scansion of some of the poetic lines in Pericles gives us a better idea of how to pronounce the unusual names found therein…
Continue reading Pericles: Scansion for names
So. Pericles. Act One, Scene Two. Its weird construction has convinced bardolators–who feel ol’ Bill can’t write crap–that this is part of the play for which Wilkins must get the credit, or in this case blame.
And why, you ask. Well, let’s take a look at the scene…
Continue reading Pericles: that scene
As long-time readers of the blog can attest, I love to take a day toward the end of our time with a play to look at some interesting things in the scansion–places where an interruption or pause is called for, or maybe where the iambic pentameter goes so awry that the verse just screams to be looked at and reacted to. But to be perfectly honest, I think I’ve been getting into a bit of a rut. So we’re going to switch things up a little here with Timon of Athens.
I want to look at moments when the scansion disappears altogether, those moments when a speech moves from prose to verse and/or vice/versa. Note, I say speech and not scene. Those instances are common. Mid-speech changes are much fewer.
Continue reading Timon of Athens — a lil’ diff’rent scansion
Last week, I took a look at some of the ‘graces’ in Timon of Athens—Apemantus’ before the first feast, and Timon’s before the second and final feast. Today, let’s look a (sort of) third.
In Act Four, Scene Three, Timon has left Athens and is now in full Misantropos mode. And at the beginning of the scene, he has another long soliloquy; this one at 48 lines, is longer than his Act Four, Scene One, full-scene torrent.
Continue reading Timon of Athens — Speech Study: Timon’s eureka moment
Act Four, Scene One of Timon of Athens is one of those strange scenes, one where there is but one character on stage, delivering but a single speech.
Timon has just booted his guests from his home in Act Three, Scene Six, and then fled Athens himself. And just fourteen lines later, we find Timon now outside the walls of his city. And he releases a forty-one line torrent of rage, a prayer of misanthropy:
Continue reading Speech study: Timon’s torrent of rage
Over the course of the next few days, I want to take a closer look, a deeper dive, into a couple of related speeches in Timon of Athens.
Both are prayers of a sort.
Let us begin with our cynic, Apemantus…
Continue reading A prayer in the dog pound
OK, I’ve talked a little about the whole “second playwright” issue with Timon of Athens–i.e., Shakespeare did not act alone. From what I’ve read on the subject (and remember, this is pre-”New Oxford Shakespeare”/Word-Adjacency-Network revelations), Thomas Middleton’s fingerprints are all over Act One, Scene Two, all of Act Three, and the last 80 lines of Act Four, Scene Three, of this play.
And after my initial read, I wondered about my early feelings/hunches about the play:
it’s going to be interesting when I take my second dive into the text, to see if I can tell the difference between what has been considered to be the division of labor.
Continue reading A question of authorial attribution (again)
With every play, I like to take a look at some of the verse variations within a play to see what we can find in terms of characterization or performance. There are two scenes of note in Antony and Cleopatra, that give us an opportunity to compare and contrast.
So let’s dive in…
Continue reading Antony and Cleopatra: Verse, scansion, and character
A couple of days back, I noted on Cleopatra’s speeches in Antony and Cleopatra, talking a little about the relative lengths, and the fact that her longest speeches all come after the death of Antony in Act Four, Scene Fifteen.
Today, let’s look at the first and (tied for the) of those longest speeches…
Continue reading Cleopatra: No more but e’en a woman…
OK, Octavia appears in only four scenes in Antony and Cleopatra (Act Two, Scene Three; and Act Three, Scenes Two, Four and Six); she has but fourteen speeches. And she seems pretty innocuous.
But–and you had to know this was coming–something intrigues me…
Continue reading Antony and Cleopatra: and Octavia(n)
Yesterday, I talked a little about Enobarbus and his verbal stylings in Antony and Cleopatra. But in that discussion, I purposefully and blatantly skipped one speech in particular. You know the speech.
That barge one…
Continue reading Smoke (well, perfume) on the water
I’ve now watched five of the six video versions of Antony and Cleopatra thus far, and between the viewings and the readings of the play I’ve done in the last month and a third, I’m fascinated by Enobarbus.
Continue reading So. Enobarbus…