Questions relating to William Shakespeare, an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist.

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Is “to say” in Hamlet's “and by a sleep to say we end” an infinitive or an adverb?

I was trying to identify the word classes of Hamlet's famous monologue "To be or not to be", and I'm really having trouble deciding what word class "to say" in "and by sleep to say we end the ...
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1answer
65 views

What does this sentence from Shakespeare mean? [closed]

Can someone kindly help me translate the following sentence from Shakespeare's language to Modern English through a context: "Prithee, would'st thou stay and sup with me in yonder chamber?"
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2answers
614 views

What word did Middle English have in place of “light" as in: “light blue”, “light green” etc.?

In English, we often use the adjective light before another colour to express a whiter shade of hue. For example, light blue, light green, light brown, etc. The term pale is used in a similar way, e....
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1answer
24 views

How can I quote a play from the middle of a line?

Here is the play stanza: Good night to everyone. [To Brabantio] And, noble signior, If virtue no delighted beauty lack, Your son-in-law is far more fair than black. I do not ...
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2answers
58 views

Go out into the world - The Tempest?

A few years ago, we studied the London Paralympics Opening Ceremony with our English teacher. The following words (spoken by Sir Ian McKellen if I remember well) are still echoing in my mind: ...
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1answer
68 views

how to understand the following Shakespeare's dialogue?

I was recently studying a play of Shakespeare called: Merry Wives of Windsor and the context is that there are two persons talking one is William and the other is Evans, the second one is the father ...
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2answers
106 views

Variety of English used by the Romantic poets| -eth/-s for the third person singular in particular

I have recently been reading poetry by John Keats and Rabindranath Tagore. Both these poets, being active in the 19th century, by which time I think English was quite as it is today, wrote still in ...
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3answers
442 views

What does Macbeth mean when he says his heart is “seated”?

Here's the quote (from The Tragedy of Macbeth, by William Shakespeare): This supernatural soliciting Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill, Why hath it given me earnest of success, ...
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6answers
384 views

“As I am wo/man” in Twelfth Night, II, 2 (Shakespeare): a case of indefinite article omission or no?

Are "As I am man" and "As I am woman" in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, II, 2 examples of indefinite article omission or not? This question is (e)specially directed towards those familiar with ...
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73 views

Murdered in cold blood?

In Shakespeare's Othello, would the murder of Desdemona be a "cold blooded murder"? When looking up the meaning of a cold blooded murder I find it means that the murder was premeditated or deliberate. ...
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2answers
157 views

Roaming and Coming in William Shakespeare's O Mistress Mine

William Shakespeare's O Mistress Mine, Feste's song from Twelfth Night, seems to have the rhyming scheme AABCCB. However, the first two lines are problematic for that scheme with modern pronounciation:...
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A Winter's Tale Help, 'He something seemed…'

There is a children's copy of A Winter's Tale at work with a line I didn't understand (browsing whilst waiting for the microwave!). It says 'He something seemed unsettled' (Hermione talking about ...
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1answer
345 views

What is the meaning of: “If we offend, it is with our good will” [closed]

I was reading A Midsummer Night's Dream; Act-V, Sc.1 . There Peter Quince read the prologue: If we offend, it is with our good will. That you should think, we come not to offend, But with good ...
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5answers
3k views

Thank thou or Thank thee

How would Shakespeare have said "Thank you"? Can't decide if it is thee or thou, since it isn't really a sentence.
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1answer
80 views

Shakespare's Scansion: Elision: half-solved

This is, hopefully, the end of the saga: the third installment of the Shakesperean scansion series. The first two can be found here: Shakespeare's Scansion Shakespeare's Scansion: the Sequel I've ...
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1answer
155 views

Shakespeare's Scansion: the Sequel

Okay, so we seem to have established (with lots of great and generous help from StoneyB and Peter Shor) that: where it came to certain diphthongs, Shakespeare either elided syllables that didn't ...
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1answer
157 views

Shakespeare's Scansion

Here are lines from "Richard III": Farewell. The leisure and the fearful time Cuts off the ceremonious vows of love And ample interchange of sweet discourse Which so long sundered ...
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1answer
49 views

Yet Another (harmless) Shakespeare Question: Scansion

He was very fond of his pet words, some of which might seem oddly useless to some readers UNLESS scansion is considered. Specifically, "doth," "did," and "most" crop up with astounding frequency when ...
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69 views

Shakespeare and the tenses

In Anthony's speech there is a line that goes like this: "When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept." Why the present perfect?
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1answer
48 views

Word for imputing one's motives to another by putting them in their mouth (King Lear)

I am looking for a word to replace "declares" in this paragraph analysing Edmund's betrayal of his brother in Shakespeare's King Lear: Edmund begins his quest for power by setting Edgar up as a ...
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2answers
976 views

What did Shakespeare mean by “gild refined gold” [closed]

In the play King John by Shakespeare the following line is used: To gild refined gold, to paint the lily, To throw a perfume on the violet, What did Shakespeare mean by "gild refined gold"? ...
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1answer
328 views

Hamlet - what does “O heart, lose not thy nature” (Act 3, scene 2) mean?

In Hamlet's soliloquy at the end of Act 3, scene 2 What does the line, "O heart, lose not thy nature" mean? SparkNotes's No Fear Shakespeare interprets it to "Oh, heart, don’t grow weak." ...
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1answer
242 views

Second Person Singular conjugation of words ending in Y

I know that most regular verbs would be conjugated in Second Person Singular by adding "est" (Thou makest), and Third Person Singular by adding "eth" (She maketh), but what if the verb ends with a Y? ...
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1answer
178 views

Can someone explain this quote from 'The Tempest'?

I was reading a Russian translation of Shakespeare's The Tempest, when the queer word choice by the translator made me open the original work to see what the author actually wrote. And here it is: ...
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3answers
215 views

Number disagreement between subject and verb in Shakespeare?

I guess this is a quote from Shakespeare's Macbeth: Come what come may, Time and the hour runs through the roughest day. I'm confused about the subject-verb agreement in both sentences. AFAIK ...
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2answers
143 views

Explanation of a scene in Shakespeare's Hamlet

It is clear from my question that English is not my first language. I apologize if it sounds dumb. I am trying to understand the structure of the sentences in the following scene of Hamlet: But ...
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6answers
4k views

What do we call 'Shakespearean trash-talk'?

A classic example: In the opening scene of Richard II, Henry Bolingbroke and Mowbray seeks the adjudication of the king. They hurl accusations of treachery and cowardliness at each other. They ...
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1answer
261 views

Adjective/noun for a situation that cannot be solved? [duplicate]

I am writing an essay on Act 3 Scene 5 in Romeo and Juliet where the romantic play takes the turn for tragic. Indeed, Juliet loses the support of her primary family and is left deserted, with no hope ...
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1answer
99 views

Shakespearian equivalent of 'very'

What would the early modern english/shakespeare equivalent of 'very'be in the sentence: 'That was very nice' ?
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1answer
148 views

Shakespearean equivalent of genuinely?

What would the word 'genuinely' as in: 'genuinely I am being really funny' be in early modern english, of Shakespeare era? ?
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1answer
618 views

What is an “aglet-baby” exactly?

This is a line from the Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare Grumio [to Hortensio]: Marry him to a puppet or an aglet-baby . . . Although 'aglet' is an extremely uncommon word, its meaning can ...
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0answers
64 views

A Question on Shakespeare's use of conditionals [duplicate]

The following is a big question, but I am really confused by the use of conditional in this Shakespearean excerpt. From The Taming of the Shrew, Act I, Scene I: 142 I am agreed; and would I ...
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1answer
280 views

What's the meaning of I am well

In the context of the following quote (taken from "Much Ado About Nothing"), what does "I am well" mean? One woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am well; another virtuous, yet I ...
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2answers
1k views

Death's dateless night

What do you think Shakespeare meant by this expression, which occurs in one of his sonnets? “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of things past, I sigh the ...
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4answers
3k views

Why did English change so much between Chaucer and Shakespeare?

My inexpert perception of things is that the distance between The Canterbury Tales (end 14th century) and Romeo and Juliet (end 16th), from a language perspective, is vast, and vastly greater than the ...
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1answer
269 views

Help understanding a sentence/reference

The introductory paragraph of the book An Introduction to Mathematics, written for general audience by the great British mathematician Alfred North Whitehead goes like this: Chapter 1: THE ...
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1answer
502 views

Why will mothers smile when infants quarter'd with the hands of war? [closed]

From Julius Caesar (by Shakespeare) Anthony : Blood and destruction shall be so in use,        And dreadful objects so familiar,      &...
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1answer
269 views

Please explain Portia's soliloquy from “The Merchant of Venice” [closed]

The quality of mercy is not strain'd, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
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9answers
4k views

In “That patient merit of th'unworthy takes”, what does merit mean exactly?

In the famous Hamlet's soliloquy, I am not quite clear on the role/meaning of merit in the following: The insolence of office, and the spurns That patient merit of th'unworthy takes, My ...
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2answers
98 views

What does it mean to have “whipped top”? (Shakespeare/archaic usage)

e.g. in the Merry Wives of Windsor, Act V, Scene 1: Since I plucked geese, played truant, and whipped top, I knew not what it was to be beaten till lately. I assume it's some form of game or ...
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1answer
875 views

Meaning of the phrase 'out upon it'

I came across this phrase twice while reading the play Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare in the following contexts: 1 - "Out upon it old carrion, Your flesh rebels at these years?". A ...
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3answers
239 views

Is this line from The Merchant of Venice metaphorical?

From "The Merchant of Venice", Act IV: The quality of mercy is not strain'd, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Can we consider that a metaphor?
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3answers
3k views

Is 'sluttish time' a metaphor?

The phrase 'sluttish time' is used by Shakespeare in one of his sonnets. Can it be termed as a transferred epithet as the word 'sluttish' here seems to be an epithet(adjective) or is it essentially a ...
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2answers
458 views

Interpretation of “Thou art more lovely and more temperate”

In sonnet 18, line two Thou art more lovely and more temperate What does the word temperate imply? I googled it up and found that it means less extreme., if so then why compare temperateness ...
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6answers
65k views

Is “worser” correct grammatically?

Is worser correct grammatically? I know it seems incorrect, but I stumbled upon the word when reading Hamlet: Oh, throw away the worser part of it, And live the purer with the other half. ...
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3answers
932 views

What is the grammatical construction in “Be but sworn”?

I have found several questions asking for the meaning, but the thing that troubles me here is the grammar actually and i haven't found anything on that. In Shakespeare's sentence "Deny thy father ...
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2answers
601 views

The meaning of “yet” in “Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears had left the flushing in her galled eyes”

Here's from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2. within a month; Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears Had left the flushing in her galled eyes, She married: I'm wondering about the ...
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1answer
320 views

Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears had left the flushing in her galled eyes

Here's from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2. within a month; Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears Had left the flushing in her galled eyes, She married: I'm wondering about "Had left"...
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2answers
673 views

“A beast that wants discourse of reason would have mourn'd longer” in Hamlet

Here's from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2. and yet, within a month,— Let me not think on't,—Frailty, thy name is woman!— A little month; or ere those shoes were old With which she followed my ...
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2answers
724 views

Is “Like Niobe, all tears” an apposition? [closed]

From Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2. and yet, within a month,— Let me not think on't,—Frailty, thy name is woman!— A little month; or ere those shoes were old With which she followed my ...