There are many techniques of language used by Shakespeare within “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. There are many reasons for this. Different character’s, or perhaps more importantly, groups of characters, use different language to establish their status throughout the play. This shows us that perhaps language in theory hasn’t actually changed all that much since Shakespearean times as particular social groups, speak in a particular manner. Not necessarily using the same words as we do today, but in the same way. Prose
A prime example of this is the difference in speech between The Mechanicals, The Fairies and Royalty. The Mechanicals speak in what is known as ‘Prose’, normal speech; “We will meet, and there we may rehearse most obscenely and courageously. Take pains, be perfect, adieu. ” As we can see there are no stanzas, nor are their words fluent. This I feel conveys The Mechanicals’ status as low and they are basically shown as ‘common workers’, implying they are not clever or gifted enough to make their words rhyme or be in verse. Verse
Unlike The Mechanicals, Royalty confirm their high status by speaking in verse. They speak in an iambic pentameter, lines of ten syllables, which emphasises their ‘intelligence’ with how fluent and exotic their speech is; “Therefore fair Hermia question your desires, Know of your youth, examine well your blood. ” We only see The Mechanicals and Royalty in one scene together and in this scene, The Mechanicals are acting in the play they have devised to perform at Theseus’ wedding, and their language and vocabulary is completely different as it is far more complex and fluent as it is rhyme.
This could perhaps suggest the impact and effect the Royals have and symbolise their power to change something. When Francis Flute, the bellows-mender is acting as Thisby at the ceremony, unlike his normal speech, “What is Thisby? A wand’ring knight? ” which is very basic and no different really to our present language, he says: “O Sisters Three, come, come to me, With hands as pale as milk, Lay them in gore, since you have shore With shears, his thread of silk. ”
It is almost as though The Mechanicals must rise to the occasion and impress the king at the wedding by speaking in a manner similar to theirs, conveying to the reader/audience their (The Mechanicals’) true knowledge and fear of the authority of the Royalty. Rhyme Rhyme is the language technique used by The Fairies. I believe that Shakespeare chose for the Fairies to speak in ‘rhyme’ as it is considered beautiful and fluent, perhaps mysterious, stressing the status and more importantly, the characteristics of The Fairies. Puck, in particular uses a mysterious vocabulary.
For example, ‘dreams,’ ‘visions,’ ‘shadows,’ ‘remedy,’ and a lot of references to ‘Cupid’, the mysterious God of Love in Roman mythology. A prime example of the rhyme used by The Fairies is by Titania towards Bottom: “Out of this wood, do not desire to go, Thou shalt remain here, whether thou wilt or no. I am a spirit of no common rate: The summer still doth tend upon thy state. ” Lexis ; Linguistic Devices Allegedly, in Shakespearean times, the audience witnessed the play primarily to listen as opposed to watching it which is a valid reason why the language and devices used were of the utmost significance.
I have already commented on and analysed the syntax within the play, now I shall look at lexis and linguistic devices throughout ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. There are many examples of pathetic fallacy used by Shakespeare in the play: “Brief as the lightning in the collied night, That (in a spleen) unfolds both Heaven and Earth. ” This is also a good example of a simile. Shakespeare also creates a semantic field of love between many characters but most noticeably between Titania and Bottom. Shakespeare uses words like ‘bed,’ ‘company,’ ‘desire,’ ‘angel,’ ‘Moon,’ and ‘amiable’.
This semantic field is used to emphasise the theme of love, and give an authentic atmosphere of love and romance, one of the most important aspects of the play. Constant repetition of ‘Cupid’ during the play provides a reference to love throughout, once more emphasising one of the main themes. Imagery of the forest coming to life is used as Oberon says, “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where oxlips and the growing violet grows,” and this is relatively early into the play where the forest is the main setting, so it almost sets the scene.
Repetition and listing are both used as a fairy describes, “Over hill, over dale, thorough bush, thorough brier, over park, over pale, thorough flood, thorough fire. ” This listing adds to dramatic effect. Here, I have outlined the majority of techniques Shakespeare uses throughout ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and their purpose/function. In conclusion the language is very complicated and the speeches are well thought out and extremely complex, but in general, all of the attempted devices work fluently and result in a timeless masterpiece.