Language and Syntax in Coriolanus

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Take-Home Essay – Language and Syntax in Coriolanus

As William Shakespeare continued to write and create plays, he became more experiential with his language and rhetoric within them. Coriolanus, one of Shakespeare’s final tragedies, exhibits a distinct syntax when compared with Titus Andronicus and Othello. Titus Andronicus was one of the first of Shakespeare’s plays and his first tragedy. The play is characterized by classic verses, mainly in the iambic pentameter form. Shakespeare did not have the experience and artistic freedom he had when writing Coriolanus; he was emerging in London’s theatre scene and played it safe by using a more traditional syntax structure. The language Shakespeare used in Othello was much more ornate and extravagant; like Titus Andronicus it is marked by many uninterrupted speeches and soliloquies. Coriolanus is much more modern-like in the syntax than William Shakespeare’s preceding tragedy plays.
The choppiness of the speeches in Coriolanus is very unlike the formal, end-stopped, verbose soliloquies and speeches in both Othello and Titus Andronicus. Both characteristics accomplish different effects in the plays - the great, long speeches in the two tragedies prior to Coriolanus allow the audience or reader to hear the internal thoughts of the characters. In Act II, Scene IV of Titus Andronicus, the audience has an opportunity to collect Lavinia’s emotion, after her rapists cut her tongue, by Marcus, her uncle’s, long soliloquy after he

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