Shakespeare' As You Like It: Effective Use of Sound In Jacques' Speech
As infamous as Shakespeare is, and as well known as his works are, some prose are just simply more extraordinary than the rest. There are many ways to look at Jacques speech, such as use of language or imagery yet, something we often do not reflect on is the sound of the prose. When reading this particular speech, the subject is directly related to the sounds Shakespeare has chosen. We are guided gracefully through the stages of life in twenty-seven lines. As it is read aloud, the reader hears the actual sounds that each stage exhibits, and finds themselves part of the speech, experiencing it, as opposed to merely reading it.
The introduction is like a drum-roll before the show starts. The intonation at which the reader proceeds begins with a high sound due to" ...(a)ll..." 1 being the first word. The aw' sound is repeated at the beginning and three times during the next sentence, "And all the men and women merely players;" (2.7.140). The next sentence is lower in pitch, using a lower e' sound "..exit and their entrances," (2.7.141). Reappearing in the final two sentences, before the actual ages begin, is the aw' sound. The fluctuation like that of a ring master, is striving to gain attention before the show starts.
The first three stages can be considered the childhood progressing into adulthood stages. "Mewling and puking..." (2.7.144), are two words, which when said, they are slurred and unclear, much like that of the speech of an infant. The ew' in mewling and the you' sound in puking are common noises from young children. Next we reach the schoolboy stage. Young men are often reluctant to attend school, and their protests take the form of "...whining..." (2.7.145). When the word whining is pronounced, it sounds like a whine. The word starts with a dragged out why' sound, making the reader again feel like they are making the sounds which are pertinent to that...
Bibliography: Shakespeare, William, "As You Like It", The Riverside Shakespeare, Evans et al.,
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974) 365-400.
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