Shakespeare's Dramatic Speech

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Shows how Shakespeare exploits the social conventions of speech to dramatic effect. Since Shakespeare's plays are written texts designed to be heard rather than read, it follows that pragmatic models of conversational practice are likely to be relevant in any discussion of his linguistic usage. Conversational analysis, and the Gricean maxims prove the most useful modes for analysis. The function of the Politeness Principle in dramatic speech, and the varying strategies of topic control are also explored as important dimensions of dramatic exchanges. In the light of the pragmatic models chosen, the study examines a range of typical contexts and activities in Shakespeare's plays: his exploitation of questions, commands and requests in confrontation, the strategies for control and direction in public debate at court, techniques of argument and persuasion, and lastly, the problems of interpretation raised by self-talk in soliloquies.

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