Early Modern English Exemplified in Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act V Scene 1

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Early Modern English Exemplified in Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act V Scene 1


The period of Early Modern English occurred from approximately Fifteen Hundred to some time between Sixteen Fifty and Sixteen Seventy. While this period was characterized mostly by the translation of texts from other languages into English, the language saw its first prominent writer in William Shakespeare contribute works of literary significance to the world. Hamlet Prince of Denmark, in its abbreviated, performed version, was originally included in the quarto of 1603. The current version of the text is based on the 1604-05 version of the text, which is believed to be printed from Shakespeare's own draft (Farnham). Lines 241-280 of Act V scene 1 in Hamlet are an
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The majority of the words in this section of Hamlet are used widespread and even at present; however, there are several words that appear unfamiliar. The online version of the Oxford English Diction provides these words' meanings: splenitive, "of fiery temper"; prate, "speaking much or long to little purpose"; pate, the head as intellect; esil, "vinegar"; anon, meaning now, at this time, as opposed to the chronological orientation of "at that time." Finding how Shakespeare employs these terms greatly improves comprehension, especially of lines such as 267-269: "And if thou prate of mountains, let them throw/Millions of acres on us, till our ground,/Singeing his pate against the burning zone" which theatre-goers and readers of his time would likely have understood. Two words in lines 261-262 are especially absent from modern usage: 'Swounds is a "euphemistic abbreviation of God's wounds" (OED) and woo't is a contraction of wilt thou. 'Swounds is consistent with the religious presence in the play's dialogue that also includes 'devil' and 'God'; while Hamlet's is not a religious theme, there are several Christian references, and a scene where a character (the King of Denmark) is seen praying. These examples are indicative of the culture's value of religion during Shakespeare's life. During the Early Modern English period, the European Renaissance occurred: the culture valued the classic period of…