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Hi everyone, it's Lauren and welcome to
another episode in my series on Shakespeare,
in today's video
I'm going to be talking about how to read Shakespeare,
some tips and tricks to help
you feel comfortable with the language
It's no secret that a lot of people feel
quite intimidated by Shakespeare
because of the old-fashioned language
and because of the fact it's written in verse
one of the big barriers is that
Shakespeare wasn't really designed to be read,
Shakespeare was designed to be performed
so it does take a little bit of imagination on our part to work out
what the actors are doing on stage whereas
in a book you have a lot more direction
as to what would be going on with the plot
Tip number one is to find a synopsis of the play
and read that before you actually read the play itself.
A lot of Shakespeare's language is very poetic
and there's a lot of imagery in what he writes
because you've got to imagine
that a lot of these plays were performed outside
and there was minimal staging
and special effects so what audiences were there for was the poetry
and Shakespeare was able to paint a picture for them with his words
but that does mean that when you're trying to work out what's going on sometimes
characters go off on tangents and talk about something else
and while that may be very beautiful
it might be completely irrelevant to what is actually happening in the plot in very basic terms,
so if you are struggling with Shakespeare's language
or you get to a passage that you really don't understand,
if you have in the back of your mind a basic outline of the plot
you know that as you're reading it if you get lost
you'll be able to find your way again quite easily.
Tip number two,
one of the most important ones is to find
some adaptations of Shakespeare,
there are tons of films, you can go and see
Shakespeare on stage, you can see tv adaptations, film adaptations,
I'm sure there are tons of clips on youtube.
Seeing an actor perform Shakespeare
can really do wonders to break down the barriers of language
because they really understand what Shakespeare's words are trying to say
and I find it especially helps you
to watch an experienced person read Shakespeare
because then your ear gets atuned
to the rhythm and cadence of Shakespeare which is very similar,
he tends to write in iambic pentameter and
once you get used to that rhythm of language
it makes it a lot easier for you to hear that in your head when you're reading it alone
not to mention the fact that Shakespeare's themes are absolutely
universal of love and loss and revenge
and they are fantastic to watch
if you are struggling with reading it,
then watching an adaptation can really help bring these things out.
A fantastic online resources the No Fear Shakespeare project,
so all of Shakespeare's plays
are in the public domain and can be found online,
if you type in 'No Fear Shakespeare' you will find a website
which has every single one of his plays.
On one side of the screen you have the original
text and on the other side you have a modern-day translation
and I find it especially helpful when there are sections of Shakespeare which are prose,
which are discussions between people
because on this side of the screen you just end up with all of the dick jokes
which you would not get on a first read
because that colloquialism, that banter
something that we've lost in translation
interestingly, I find it actually a lot easier to understand Shakespeare when he's doing this high imagery kind of poetic parts of his soliloquies
and then when it is just the everyday banter between the servants for example
and No Fear Shakespeare t is very helpful with that.
There's also a ton of analysis of Shakespeare online
if you want to get really deep into the language and what Shakespeare really means,
then you can just type in a specific soliloquy and
you'll get loads of responses come up
and finally I have some examples for you
I'm going to help you with this reading experience
this is my copy of Romeo and Juliet,
you can see that most of it is written in verse.
Iambic pentameter is what Shakespeare uses mostly
and that means that they are ten syllable lines
however that is just the way that it's written on the page to keep it in the rhythm of the verse,
if you have a sentence that is longer than ten syllables
then it will get to a certain point and then the sentence will continue on another page
but that doesn't mean
that's how you would read it, or how an actor on stage would actually say the line
so for example here is Juliet. You would not read afraid like this -
What's in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other word with sweet.
So Romeo would were he not Romeo call'd. Retain that dear perfection which he owes.
No, no, no! Make sure when you're
reading it that you're paying attention to the grammar, to the punctuation
and you're reading the sentences off the line
and you're not thrown by the indents here.
As I've already said another thing that can throw you off your reading experience is the excessive almost use of imagery.
I have another example here from Romeo
'But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east and Juliet is the Sun.
Arise fair Sun and kill the envious moon who is already sick and pale with grief that thou, her maid art far more fair than she'
so Romeo is just going off on a tangent here
because Juliet has just come to the window
and he's describing her beauty,
he's describing the effect that she's having on him
and Shakespeare is using poetry to convey emotions to you
but you don't really need to understand this about the Sun and the moon,
I mean it is interesting
but that's not the point
the real point is this - 'but soft!' Hey!
hang on one moment, what's going on over there?
A light has come through that window over there and it is the east,
it's like the dawn and Juliet is the Sun rising and bringing that light the rest of the world
later on he says 'It is my lady; O! It is my love:
O that she knew she were.
She speaks yet she says nothing.
What is that her eye discourses?
I will answer it
I'm too bold, 'tis not to me she speaks.'
So through Romeo's words we're actually
getting what Juliet is doing, there aren't any stage directions here
but he is talking to her,
he's wishing that she knew that
he was there and he sees that she's talking to herself, looking around the garden,
he thinks she can see him
he goes to wave to her...Oh no no!
So it just takes a slightly more closer look at the text to
not only get what Romeo was saying but
also to give you a vision of what is happening on stage as well
Another example that I really like of the texts really communicating what an actor would be going on stage is
this soliloquy from Macbeth,
it is just before Macbeth is about to go and kill Duncan
and he's having a vision -
'Is this a dagger which I see before me the handle toward my hand?
Come let me clutch thee. I have been not and yet I see thee still.
Art though not fatal vision sensible to feeling as to sight?
Or art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation proceeding from the heat-opressed brain?'
So not only do we have that Macbeth is seeing a dagger in front of him,
but he's trying to grab it and realizing that he can't
'art thou not sensible to feeling as to sight?'
like I can see you why can't I feel you?
'I see thee yet in form and palpable as this which now I draw.
Though marshall'st me the way that I was going and such an instrument I was to use.'
so again I see you there as palpable as this which now I draw - this dagger which I have with me and which i'm drawing from my belt,
to me this dagger I see is as real
as the one that I'm holding here which
the audience can see, and you are showing,
'thou marshall'st me the way' you are showing me the way that I need to go to commit murder
so it's always worth bearing in mind
that it's a person delivering a speech to the audience,
if you try and read it as you would read a normal book
then you're only going to get half the story.
So I hope that was helpful if Shakespeare is something that you are a little bit nervous about,
I know the language can be difficult, the 'thous' the 'thys' the 'th'arts'
but it really is quite simple,
the English follows exactly the same grammar as we have now,
it's just an older form of 'you'
these are things that you can look up quite easily
and once you understand them
it really is just like reading plain English
and you won't even notice that they're in the text.
So let me know how you feel about Shakespeare in the comments below -
are you a complete novice who's a little bit nervous about getting stuck in
or are you a Shakespeare aficionado?
Do you have any more tips of your own that you can share with everybody else?
I will be very happy to answer any more questions and take suggestions
if there's anything else that you'd like to
learn and i will see you in my next video
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How to Read Shakespeare!

481 Folder Collection
EZ Wang published on June 12, 2017    Jerry Liu translated    Evangeline reviewed
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