Phonostylistic Analysis of the extract from
‘The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark’ by William Shakespeare
By Anna Prokopenko 30engl
The atmosphere of the poem is depressing and sophisticated. The prince of Denmark is fighting dilemmas about whether he should end his life or keep living fighting all the problems in it. He longs to find the answer to all of his questions.
As for the phonetic peculiarities, I have come across a few examples of alliteration, such as: ‘calamity of so long life’, ‘to be or not to be – that is the question’, ‘perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub’
As far as the lexico-stylistic peculiarities are concerned, there are a few examples of affective epithets such as ‘patient merit’, ‘despised love’, ‘outrageous fortune’ and such metaphors as: ‘a sea of troubles’, ‘pangs of despised love’, ‘sleep of death’ and ‘dreams may come’.
As for the stresses we can mark logical and emphatic stresses. Logical stresses can be observed in such parts as: ‘and by opposing them’, ‘and by sleep to say we end’. And the emphatic ones are present in such parts as: ‘the insolence of office and the spurns, ‘with a bare bodkin’.
As for the pitch, it is changeable throughout the soliloquy. It gets higher when Hamlet is excited, wondering, involved and gets lower when the protagonist is nervous, scornful and aggressive. For example: ‘for who would bear the whips and scorns of time’, ‘who would fardels bear’ .It gets slower when the Hamlet is nervous and aggressive. For instance: ‘to be, or not to be: that is the question’, ‘for in that sleep of death what dreams may come’.
Great changes are observed on the level of range. It is sometimes wide, sometimes narrow. It gets narrow when Hamlet is aggressive, irritated, thoughtful and uncertain as it is in the following examples, ‘The undiscovered country from whose bourn’. The level of range gets wide when Hamlet is solemn, pompous and concerned. The examples are, ‘And thus the native hue of resolution’, ‘And enterprises of great pitch and moment’, ‘To be or not to be’.
In my opinion, there are used different heads in the extract, which makes it quite alive and interesting to read.
Descending Stepping Head is used in serious parts e.g. ‘To be, or not to be…’, ‘Who would fardels bear’
Ascending Stepping Head is used to express surprise e.g. ‘And makes us rather bear those ills we have…’,
Sliding Head is used in more emphatic cases e.g. ‘For who would bear the whips and scorns of time’, ‘Perchance to dream’, ‘The pangs of despised love’
Broken Descending Stepping Head is used to point out a special word e.g. “But that the dread of something after death…”
Low Head is used to create tension e.g. “Puzzles the will…”
As for the non-final tones, both falls and rises are used. Falling tones prevail, they make the speaker more categorical. It can be shown in the following examples: ‘the oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely’, ‘the insolence of office and the spurns’. The Low Rise makes the speaker sounds deprecatory, appealing to the listener to change his mind. It can be observed in the following examples: ‘whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer’, ‘to die: to sleep’.
The final nuclear tones are mostly falling: “…must give us pause.”, “…devoutly to be wished.” But in some cases rises appear: “With a bare bodkin?” – High Rise; “Than fly to others that we know not of?” – Low Rise.
There are a lot of psychological pauses which attract attention to the important unit such as it is in the following examples – ‘and by opposing end them’, ‘with a bare bodkin’, ‘but that the dread of something after death’.