An Introduction to Hamlet

Reading Shakespeare's Language

Shakespearian language is different yet recognizable

Even though many words used by Shakespeare in Hamlet may seem common and trivial, such words have altered over the course of 400 years. The word parle, used by Shakespeare to communicate "discussion, meeting" (Mowat 15), is a derivate of the word parliament that is relevant in modern English.

Also, certain words may seem misrepresented when read in the context of the play, yet can only be accurately portrayed or meaningfully conveyed by an actor. One must "go over the lines. . . until the puzzles are solved and the lines yield up their poetry" (Mowat 15) in order to gain a full understanding of Shakespearian text.

Shakespeare's Sentences...correct grammar, or just plain confusing?

English places a strong emphasis on the position of a word within a sentence. Shakespeare may shift his sentences for a variety of reasons including to "create a rhyme he emphasize a particular word...[or] to give a character his or her own speech patterns" (Mowat 16-17).

If puzzled by the speech, to make it easier, check to see if the sequence is unusual to help with understanding.

"'Break the code' of Elizabethan poetic drama..." (Mowat 23).

Word Play

Shakespeare likes to use pun and metaphors as well. Puns are words that sound similar but have different meanings, while metaphors are a play on words in which an object or idea is expressed as something else.

Implied Stage Action

Shakespeare's work was originally a play, to be performed in front of a live audience. As such, the dialogue is to be spoken with actions and gestures behind them wether it be "picking up objects, weeping, shaking their fists" (Mowat 22) or some other way of sharing emotion.

Works Cited

Bubbles. CIS. Web. 30 Oct. 2013. <>.

"Cell Phone Locator" Mobile Phones Locate. Web. 30 Oct. 2013 <>

"Image 1." Mathieu In Reading: November 2007. N.p., 29 Nov. 2007. Web. 30 Oct. 2013. <>.

"Moving Furniture." Laptops to Lullabies. Web. 30 Oct. 2013


"The Language of Shakespeare." English Department's Site. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2013. <>.