Category Archives: scansion

Friday (Non-)Film Focus: Othello (yet again)

OK, so I open in Othello next weekend. As I’ve noted before, I’m playing Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, another in a series of Shakespeare’s dubious dads. I disappear after the first act, only to die off-stage sometime before Lodovico’s delivering of the news in Act Five.

But before I leave the stage (forever), I have one last rhyming couplet…

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The sprite-ly voice of conscience?

In The Tempest, given Prospero’s backstory, his desire for revenge and his plans to achieve it are clear and clearly understandable. So what changes to allow for the kumbaya hug-out that is the ending? I think the key is in the early moments of Act Five. In my head, I keep coming back to this moment. And seems I’m not alone, as reader “Pongo Literatii” commented a few days back for the blog entry Friday (non)Film Focus: a question of postcolonialism:

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Podcast 162: The Tempest — Videos, and Caliban speech study


This week’s podcast [FINALLY] returns us to our prolonged discussion of The Tempest. We have some video reviews, a discussion of two major Caliban speeches, an explanation for my tardiness, and a little preview.

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A quick word or two on that Epilogue

Crazy busy today, so only a couple of quick thoughts on the Epilogue to The Tempest


spoken by Prospero.

Now my charms are all o’erthrown,
And what strength I have ’s mine own,
Which is most faint. Now ’tis true
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardoned the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell,
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands.
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself, and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardoned be,
Let your indulgence set me free.
  • Epilogue.1-20

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The Tempest speech study: Caliban, part one

As I re-read The Tempest, I’m fascinated by Caliban. It’s such a bizarre character, one that it seems Shakespeare himself doesn’t know how to present. Not human. And yet poetical (when he isn’t planning murder, usurp, or rape). Over the course of the next few days, let’s take a look at a couple of his speeches and see what we find in characterization.

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Cymbeline speech study: the wake-up call

Over the last week or so, I’ve been discussing some of the major speeches from Cymbeline. I started off with Act Two’s Iachimo-in-the-Box speech. Last weekend, I touched upon Posthumus’ full-scene, single-speech rant against women. Today, let’s move from the men to the main woman of the piece: Innogen.

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Posthumus Leonatus’ dead mother says thanks, too.

Way back when, two years ago, when we were discussing that melancholic Dane, I mentioned that our friend scansion had helped us figure out how we were supposed to pronounce Ophelia’s big bro’s name: not “LAYerTEES” (like I had alway thought), but “layAIRtees.” Go figure. Who knew we’d get that same kind of revelation this month with Cymbeline? But we do…

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Volumnia’s last word (economy-sized)

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?

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Coriolanus: anxious and calm

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.

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Timon of Athens — a lil’ diff’rent scansion

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.

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