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25
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4answers
2k 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
48 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
39 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, ...
0
votes
1answer
39 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.
0
votes
0answers
23 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
47 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
59 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
96 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 ...
8
votes
6answers
2k 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. ...
2
votes
3answers
102 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
184 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
129 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
126 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 ...
-3
votes
2answers
359 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
157 views

That was to this, Hyperion to a satyr

Here's from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2. But two months dead!--nay, not so much, not two: So excellent a king; that was to this, Hyperion to a satyr; I think I understand the meaning of ...
2
votes
1answer
123 views

Antecedent of “whose common theme is death of fathers” in Hamlet

Here's from Hamlet, Act 1. Scene 2 Claudius: Fie! 'tis a fault to heaven, A fault against the dead, a fault to nature, To reason most absurd; whose common theme Is death of ...
2
votes
1answer
101 views

Original pronunciation of “kind” in “A little more than kin, and less than kind”

I'm wondering about the original pronunciation of "kind" in the famous line "A little more than kin, and less than kind" by Hamlet. Was it like "keend" or the present-day "kind"? If the great vowel ...
2
votes
1answer
102 views

“My dread lord” or “Dread my lord” in Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2

Here's from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2 What wouldst thou have, Laertes? Laer. My dread lord, Your leave and favour to return to France; This text is from the second quarto(Q2). In the ...
0
votes
1answer
121 views

What wouldst thou beg, Laertes, That shall not be my offer, not thy asking [closed]

Here's from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2 And now, Laertes, what's the news with you? You told us of some suit; what is't, Laertes? You cannot speak of reason to the Dane, And lose your ...
0
votes
1answer
48 views

Farewell; and let your haste commend your duty

Here's from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2. and we here dispatch You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltimand, For bearers of this greeting to old Norway; Giving to you no further personal power ...
-1
votes
3answers
110 views

Does not divide the Sunday from the week [closed]

Here's from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 1 Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task Does not divide the Sunday from the week; It is easy to guess the meaning of: Does not divide the ...
5
votes
1answer
149 views

Stage direction like “Enter Hamlet”

I'm wondering about the grammatical structure of a stage direction "Enter Hamlet". Is "Enter" in the imperative mood or the present subjunctive mood? If it is in the imperative mood, who is the person ...
2
votes
3answers
124 views

“To reason most absurd” in Hamlet

Here's from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2 (The Arden Shakeseare edited by Harold Jenkins) Fie, 'tis a fault to heaven, A fault against the dead, a fault to nature, To reason most absurd, whose common ...
1
vote
1answer
102 views

“And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio?” [closed]

Here's from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2 (The Arden Shakespeare edited by Harold Jenkins) Hor. Hail to your lordship. Ham. I am glad to see you well. Horatio, or I do forget myself. Hor. ...
1
vote
3answers
162 views

Did Shakespeare really mean meat pies by baked meats?

Here's from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2(The Arden Shakespeare edited by Harold Jenkins). Thrift, thrift, Horatio. The funeral bak'd meats Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables. Jenkins ...
1
vote
0answers
66 views

“For food and diet to some enterprise that hath a stomach in't” [closed]

Here are some lines from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 1 (The Arden Shakespeare edited by Harold Jenkins) His fell to Hamlet. Now sir, young Fortinbras, Of unimproved mettle, hot and full, Hath ...
1
vote
1answer
66 views

“which had return'd to the inheritance of Fortinbras”

Here are some lines from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 1 (The Arden Shakespeare edited by Harold Jenkins) Against the which a moiety competent Was gaged by our King, which had return'd To the ...
1
vote
2answers
151 views

“No, faith, not a jot, but to follow him thither with modesty enough, and likelihood to lead it.” [closed]

Here are some lines from Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 1 (The Arden Shakespeare edited by Harold Jenkins) Hamlet: To what base uses we may return, Horatio! Why, may not imagination trace the noble dust ...
1
vote
3answers
175 views

Is “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream” correct English?

Shakespeare’s play is called A Midsummer Night’s Dream. So is A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream correct English? If not, what would be the correct English?
6
votes
1answer
150 views

Shakespeare's “slow as the elephant”

I am reading Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, in Act 1 Scene 2 Alexander gives the following portrait of Ajax: "[...] he is as valiant as the lion, churlish as the bear, slow as the elephant; ...
2
votes
3answers
713 views

“Small Latin and Less Greek”

About a third of the way through his poem "To the Memory of My Beloved the Author, Mr. William Shakespeare and What He Hath Left Us," Ben Jonson writes: And though thou hadst small Latin and less ...
3
votes
2answers
397 views

Why does Hamlet not say, “ere he rots?” [closed]

How long will a man lie i' the earth ere he rot? The quoted line is Hamlet's. I wonder why the "rot" is not "rots".
2
votes
2answers
142 views

Is Shakespeare really the source of our modern meaning for odd?

In a recent article, the Guardian states that Shakespeare is also responsible for the modern meaning of "odd". What is the evidence for this? The textual evidence alone is thin and unconvincing. ...
0
votes
2answers
53 views

“Upright he held it, lords, that held it last”, meaning?

In Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus when asked to become emperor Titus refuses answering that the sceptre to control the world (i.e., power) "upright he held it, lords, that held it last". What is the ...
0
votes
4answers
483 views

How to punctuate “To be, or not to be, that is the question”

What would be the correct way to punctuate this line from Hamlet? Should there simply be commas or should a colon be used? e.g.: To be, or not to be: that is the question.
5
votes
3answers
458 views

Middle English or Elizabethan English as a second language? [closed]

Are there books, web sites, or language courses designed for English speakers who want to learn Middle English or Elizabethan English in the same way that they would learn a foreign language? It would ...
3
votes
2answers
299 views

How/When did English transform to the modern version we use today? [closed]

I know that a language evolves with time and constantly keeps itself up to people's needs. But when I read a bible or a poem of Shakespeare, I can see English was very different by then with sentences ...
1
vote
1answer
151 views

What does “playus nigh” mean in Cockney?

Quotation from A history of the cries of London ancient (p23). Refer to What does “him as writ plays” mean?
2
votes
2answers
254 views

What does “him as writ plays” (etc.) mean in old newspaper clipping?

Quotation from A history of the cries of London ancient (p23). ... famous theatre afterwards to be so widely known. The sunshiny time of our literature and life, making a red-letter period in ...
6
votes
1answer
401 views

What does the phrase “Lady-Macbethed” mean? [closed]

Colonel Hampton snorted contemptuously. Senile dementia! Well, he must have been senile and demented, to bring this pair of snakes into his home, because he felt an obligation to his dead ...
4
votes
1answer
261 views

Does Shakespeare use the word “whence” incorrectly? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is “from whence” correct? Or should it be “whence”? From the Shakespeare's Sonnet XLVIII, ... From whence at pleasure thou mayst come and part;  And ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Meaning of “I would there were…”?

What is the meaning of "I would there were", as in this quote from Shakespeare's "A Winter's Tale"? I would there were no age between sixteen and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out ...
3
votes
2answers
380 views

Twelfth Night: Why does Olivia call Sir Toby “cousin”?

I’m reading Twelfth Night, where in Act 1, Scene 5, Olivia says to Sir Toby Belch: Olivia: Cousin, cousin, how have you come so early by this lethargy? How come she’s calling her uncle ...
9
votes
1answer
664 views

Searching for a literary term for “if this, then I’m a this” statements

I’m reading Shakespeare’s Henry IV (Part 1) right now and I’m noticing that Sir John Falstaff has a propensity of saying “If this, then I’m a this” sort of statements. A few examples to clarify: … ...
17
votes
2answers
500 views

Pronunciation of 'host' in Shakespeare's time

Listening to the recent film production of Macbeth with Patrick Stewart, I noticed that Duncan says: Give me your hand. Conduct me to mine host. Obviously, it's in the text (Act 1, Scene 6). ...
5
votes
1answer
773 views

What does “Would he had blotted a thousand!” mean?

I come across this passage in Bill Bryson's book, "Shakespeare": "His mind and hand went together,' they [John Hemings and Henry Condell] wrote in the introduction to the First Folio, 'and what he ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

How to cite Shakespearean Blank Verse or Free Verse in an MLA Paper [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How to quote multiple lines of verse inline If I am using a quote that is only one line, I would not need a / between lines. But, when do I use a / - for free verse or ...
-2
votes
1answer
405 views
3
votes
2answers
484 views

Is Shakespeare proper English? [closed]

"Divides one thing entire to many objects; Like perspectives, which rightly gazed upon show nothing but confusion..." - William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of King Richard the Second I read plenty ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Is this an example of litotes?

In Macbeth's Tomorrow speech To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted ...