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How could I refer to Shakespeare's use of iambic pentameter (or lack of) when he is...

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ellouiseirwen92 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 30, 2012 at 1:16 PM via web

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How could I refer to Shakespeare's use of iambic pentameter (or lack of) when he is writing the lines of someone who is losing their mind? 

 

For example in Macbeth where Macbeth hallucinates and sees the dagger

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cybil | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted March 31, 2012 at 1:37 AM (Answer #1)

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Shakespeare used blank verse, which is unrhymed iambic pentameter, to write his plays. Because this form is a relatively structured meter, when the playwright wants to indicate a character's mental instability--such as in Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking scene in Act 5, scene 1--he uses prose rather than poetry.


Even when characters are just pretending to be insane, as Hamlet does, Shakespeare uses prose to reveal that the character's behavior and words are not normal.

In the scene you refer to in Macbeth, Macbeth is hallucinating when he thinks he sees a dagger, but he has not lost his mind; therefore, he is still speaking in blank verse.

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