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The Convention of Self-Addressed Speech in Shakespeare’s Plays: New Empirical Data

The Convention of Self-Addressed Speech in Shakespeare’s Plays: New Empirical Data This essay presents the findings of a long-term empirical investigation into the history of soliloquies. The investigation is based on the bedrock distinction between dialogue in the sense of a speech directed at the hearing of one or more other characters and soliloquy in the sense of a speech not directed at the hearing of any other character. Many soliloquies so defined are short; many are guarded in asides from the hearing of other characters; many are unguarded in the presence of other characters. Scholars have ignored these categories and so have underestimated the vast extent of Shakespeare’s employment of the convention and the contexts in which soliloquies occur. The present essay presents for the first time a comprehensive account of all 1185 soliloquies in the canon by indicating the number of soliloquies in each play, the number of characters who soliloquize in each play, the gender distribution of soliloquizers, etc. The essay also presents new evidence that soliloquies in Shakespeare’s plays represented self-addressed speeches as a matter of convention (rather than audience addressed speeches or interior monologues). What emerges from this survey is a new appreciation of Shakespeare’s daring inventiveness in employing the convention that governed soliloquies in his plays. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Ben Jonson Journal Edinburgh University Press

The Convention of Self-Addressed Speech in Shakespeare’s Plays: New Empirical Data

Ben Jonson Journal , Volume 29 (2): 32 – Nov 1, 2022

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
Copyright © Edinburgh University Press
ISSN
1079-3453
eISSN
1755-165X
DOI
10.3366/bjj.2022.0339
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This essay presents the findings of a long-term empirical investigation into the history of soliloquies. The investigation is based on the bedrock distinction between dialogue in the sense of a speech directed at the hearing of one or more other characters and soliloquy in the sense of a speech not directed at the hearing of any other character. Many soliloquies so defined are short; many are guarded in asides from the hearing of other characters; many are unguarded in the presence of other characters. Scholars have ignored these categories and so have underestimated the vast extent of Shakespeare’s employment of the convention and the contexts in which soliloquies occur. The present essay presents for the first time a comprehensive account of all 1185 soliloquies in the canon by indicating the number of soliloquies in each play, the number of characters who soliloquize in each play, the gender distribution of soliloquizers, etc. The essay also presents new evidence that soliloquies in Shakespeare’s plays represented self-addressed speeches as a matter of convention (rather than audience addressed speeches or interior monologues). What emerges from this survey is a new appreciation of Shakespeare’s daring inventiveness in employing the convention that governed soliloquies in his plays.

Journal

Ben Jonson JournalEdinburgh University Press

Published: Nov 1, 2022

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