How would you analyze a sound recording of Shylock's monologue from The Merchant of Venice?  

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An analysis of a sound recording of Shylock's monologue from The Merchant of Venice would entail noting the physical qualities of the recording and the linguistic qualities of the speaker. Physical qualities comprise whether there is music; whether it's a live broadcast; whether there are sound effects; whether it is narrated; whether there are background noises; etc.

Linguistic qualities include sentence, tonal, and word variations. For one thing sentence stress may vary. For instance, if the speaker is English, sentence stress will be different from American sentence stress. Even if an American is speaking in a cultivated English accent, there will still be subtle sentence stress variations. Sentence stress are the words in a sentence that are stressed for meaning and effect and, when comparing English to American sentence stress, to what extent stress is given (subtle or significant).    

Tonality includes the mood of the speaker's voice portrayed by darkness or brightness, pace of delivery, emotionality, inflection. It also includes rising and falling tones which may be attached to interrogative and declarative sentences but may also be attached to emotion and mood. Inflection may vary according to pitch of voice, which also contributes to emotiveness and mood.

Word level variations include pauses as well speech. Words may be drawn out or clipped, rushed or casual, exaggerated, swallowed, interrupted, given extra syllables, given unusual stress, etc. Each of these variations can impart meaning to the text and understanding of the speaker's motive, emotions, objective, point of view, thematic concerns etc. In Shylock's monologue the variations a speaker gives to sentence stress, tonal qualities and words point to the thematic import of his speech.

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The Merchant of Venice

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