Shakespeare’s English Essay

Shakespeare’s English is always known to be the connecting bridge that comes between Old English and Modern English. Hence we find in his language a close affinity with both the trends. A close reading of his renowned tragedy, Hamlet, offers the readers a good variety of language ‘innovations’ that include unusual word arrangements, omissions and words which are not in use at present. In Hamlet Act I Scene (i), we see Barnardo asking Horatio: “Looks a not like the king? ” (I (i) 46) This arrangement, when it comes to Modern English becomes “doesn’t it look like the king?

” What he means here is that ‘doesn’t the ghost look exactly like the late king.

’ Another example of unusual word arrangement is seen in act I scene (iii) where Leartus exhorts his sister Ophelia to keep away from all vices of the society: “Virtue itself scapes not calumnious strokes. ” (I (iii) 38) In Modern English it becomes, “virtue itself does not escape calumnious strokes.

” Act I scene ii (41), we get an example for omissions that were common in Shakespearean English. In response to Cornelius’s and Voltemand’s promise that they will be fully conscious of their duty, the king says, “We doubt it nothing. Heartily farewell.

”(I (ii) 41) Here the subject ‘I’ is omitted in the second sentence. It should have been “I offer you my sincere good wishes. ” In Act I (ii) 243, to Hamlet Horatio says, “I war’nt it will. ” A modern reader will never be able to understand what he means by telling so as many words are omitted. What he actually meant that ‘I can assure you that it (the ghost of the old king) will appear again. ’ Words that are unusual at present are aplenty in Hamlet. Instead of ‘before’, ‘ere’ is used many times as in scene (i), 117 and (ii) 154; ‘moiety’ for ‘mighty’ in (i) 93 and ‘prithee’ is used for ‘entreat’ in I (ii) 177.

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