Shakespeare's rhyming couplet

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RHYMING COUPLETShakespeare had experimented with rhyming couplet and poetic form as much as he did with his blank verse through out his career.

We can notice that the use of rhyme varies according to character. For instance , inThe Two Gentlemen of Veronathe womanizing Proteus speaks in rhyme, the virtuous and rather dull Valentine in blank verse. InRichard II, Bolingbroke only begins to use rhyme after becoming a king, using it time and again in his final pacifying speech. And inTwelfth Night, Olivia speaks in prose until Viola appears on the scene: the rhymes increase as she falls more desperately in love.

Shakespeare uses rhyme where leaving and loving themes appear as the main situations.Leaving rhymes dont just give an exit to the end of a scene, as in HamletsThe time is out of joint, O cursed spiteThat ever I was born to set it right!



InOthello, Iagos attempts to influence Othello against Desdemona are in poetry, and rhymed couplets punctuate the progress of the argument. He pretends to be hurt that Othello challenges his motive:

Thank you for this profit, and from henceIll love no friend, since love breeds such offence.

And as the plot comes to fruition he uses a rhymed aside to the audience to make them complicit.Will you go on, I pray? This is the nightThat either makes me, or fordoes me quite.

But rhyme is most associated with love. Rhymes, verses of feigning love are just one of the cunning means whichA Midsummer Nights Dreams Lysander has used to filch Hermias heart from her father.

Shakespeare revels in playing with poetry,Romeo and Juliet probably believed to have contained the best examples of using the rhymed couplet differently as per the character and situation.

Lady Capulets couplets appear to be serious and when speaking to Juliet about accepting Paris as a suitor her speech is certainly formal for a mother talking to her daughter:

This precious book of love, this unbound lover,To beautify him only lacks a cover

On first seeing Juliet, Romeo starts speaking in much more compelling rhyming couplets:Did my heart love till now? Foreswear it, sight.For I neer saw true beauty till this night.

When they meet, their first speeches together create a sonnet in which they share the final rhymed couplet before they kiss.Juliet: Saints do not move, though grant for prayers sake.Romeo: Then move not, while my prayers effect I take.

The balcony scene is considered to be a perfect marriage of form and feeling, which is a blank verse consisting of 200 lines that includes some of Shakespeares most memorable rhyming couplets:

Good night, good night. Parting is such sweet sorrowThat I shall say good night till it be morrow.


RHYME1.Couplets: A progress from more to less rhyme in the regular dialogue is a sure index to Shakespeare's development as a dramatist and a master of expression. In the earlyLove's Labour's Lostare more than 500 rhyming five-stress iambic couplets; in the very lateThe Winter's Talethere is not one.Exclusive of the 'Mouse-trap' play, III, ii, there are inHamlet27 rhyming couplets, of which nearly a half are exit tags; most of the others are those sententious generalizations which are so often in this kind of verse. An unusual number of the exit tags have also the character of rhymed maxims. It is noteworthy that Polonius's precepts are in blank verse.

2. Mouse-trap' Couplets:The 'Mouse-trap' play is introduced by three iambic four-stress lines rhyming together, III, ii, 130-132; then come 78 lines of rhymed five-stress iambic couplets, most of them formally closed, giving the peculiarly outdated and artificial effect which differentiates the play within the play from the play itself. As in the case of the Masque couplets inThe Tempest, this use of rhyme, contingent on special reasons for its introduction, has no weight in determining the date of the play by application of the rhyme test.

3. Song Snatches: Ophelia's first three song snatches "How should I your true-love know," IV, v, 23-26, "He is dead and gone, lady," IV, v, 29-32, "White his shroud as the mountain snow," IV, v, 34, 36-38 are four-stress trochaic (catalectic) alternating with irregular three-stress; "To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day," IV, v, 46-49, is irregular iambic four-stress and three-stress alternating; "They bore him bare-fac'd on the bier," IV, v, 146-148, is iambic four-stress, with a conventional refrain; "And will he not come again," IV, v, 170-179, is irregular three-stress iambic, with dactylic effects in the third and the fourth lines of the stanza. The quatrain that Polonius reads from Hamlet's letter, II, ii, 11 6-1 19, is iambic three-stress; the norm of Hamlet's snatches, III, ii, 248-251, 257-260, is the ballad stanza4of four-stress iambic alternating with three-stress; so is that of the stanzas sung by the Clown "at grave-making," V, i, 59-62, 69-72, 89-92.

Shakespeare is believed to have used 5,170 unique words in his plays as per the analysis of study conducted by the New-York based Data Scientist, Matt Daniels in 2015. Shakespeare may have had a better style when it came to rhyming couplets and more traditional verse.


REFERENCESShakespeares rhyming couplets by Sylvia