Much speculation has been made about the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. Some scholars argue that parts of his plays were written by other playwrights, some argue that he did not write any of his plays, while others believe that he did not exist at all. One passage in particular that raises a few questions is Act III, Scene V, in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, where the three witches meet Hecate. It is believed by some, including myself that this portion of the play was not written by Shakespeare, but instead by Thomas Middleton.
To begin, Shakespeare is common for writing in blank verse or prose. Blank verse was often used by noble characters and contained a rhyme pattern known as iambic pentameter, which is an unaccented syllable followed by an accented syllable, repeated five times to create a line. Therefore, a blank verse is simply an unrhymed iambic pentameter. Prose were often used by servants or members of the lower classes and contains no pattern of accentual rhythm. Now the unusual thing about Act III, Scene V, is that Hecate speaks in neither of these poetic styles, but instead speaks in iambic tetrameter with rhyming couplets, which is an unaccented syllable followed by an accented syllable and then repeated four times to create a line. An example of iambic tetrameter is in Hecate’s monologue when she says “Your vessels and your spells provide”, the red refers to the accented syllable whereas the blue refers to the unaccented syllable. Now, rhyming was usually only ever used near the end of a scene to signal the completion of action and to emphasize the ﬁnal words spoken by a character onstage. Rhyming couplets provide a striking difference in comparison to Shakespeare’s famous iambic pentameter, and shows how unlikely it is for Shakespeare to have written this scene because most characters spoke in unrhymed iambic pentameter for monologues and speeches, whereas Hecate did not.
On top of different rhythmic patterns, a new character is introduced in...
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