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"Strange things I have in head, that will to hand": Echoes of Sound and Sense in Macbeth

Paul Pellikka
Style
Vol. 31, No. 1, Aesthetics and Interpretation (Spring 1997), pp. 14-33
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42946361
Page Count: 20
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"Strange things I have in head, that will to hand": Echoes of Sound and Sense in Macbeth
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Abstract

Shakespeare's plays were conceived not as literary texts but as dramatic texts for the heightened spoken language of acting. But since most analyses of Shakespeare's language take a literary approach, there is a need for both aural analyses themselves and examples showing methods by which such aural analyses might be made. Macbeth offers an excellent example for analyzing aural style. An audience can hear the play as a complex network of language effects in which the actual sounds of the words relate, echo, and enhance the sense of the words, and which create a unique tonal fabric for the play, serving also to underscore important structural, semantic, thematic, and ironic relationships. In particular, the effects of alliterative consonance and complex alliteration function as a stylistic principle throughout the play. In addition, other less easily classifiable though clearly discernible language effects increase the complexity and the meangfulness of this particular style found throughout Macbeth.

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