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Shakespeare Pre-Reading for Romeo & Juliet
In an English sentence, meaning is dependent on
the place given each word. Shakespeare
frequently shifts his sentences away from
“normal” English arrangements—often in order to
The rhythm he seeks
 To use a line’s poetic rhythm to emphasize a particular
 To give a character his or her own speech patterns
 To allow the character to speak in a special way
Shakespeare often places the verb before the
Instead of “He goes,” we find “Goes he”.
Shakespeare also places the object before the
subject and verb.
Instead of “I hit him,” we might find “Hit him I”.
In order to create sentences more like the English
of everyday speech, one can rearrange the words
in familiar order.
In Romeo & Juliet, as in other Shakespeare plays,
sentences are sometimes complicated not
because of unusual structures but because
Shakespeare omits words and parts of words that
English sentences normally require.
Example: In conversation, we, too, often omit words.
We say, “Heard from him yet?” and our hearer supplies
the missing “Have you.”
 Example from Romeo & Juliet: The character Montague
asks “were you by?” instead of “were you nearby?”
In Romeo & Juliet, Shakespeare uses a ton of puns,
metaphors, and oxymorons.
A pun is a play on words that have more than one
A metaphor is the comparison between two seemingly
unlike things.
An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which apparently
contradictory terms appear in conjunction.
Note: We will stop periodically throughout the play as
examples of puns, metaphors, and oxymorons arise.
Shakespeare is considered a genius. He wrote
37 plays in approximately 21 years and is
believed to have coined over 1,000 words and
phrases, many of which are still in use today.
 Shakespeare’s language is difficult to
understand, however, once readers learn to
recognize his techniques the meaning behind
the words begin to shine through.