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any of ten syllables, of which the second, fourth, sixth, eighth, and tenth are accented.' The line consists, therefore, of five parts, each of which contains an unaccented followed by an accented syllable, as in the word attend. Each of these five parts forms what is called a foot or measure ; and the five together form a pentameter. “Pentameter" is a Greek word signifying “five measures.' This is the isual form of a line of blank verse. But a long poem composed entirely of such lines would be monotonous, and for the sake of variety several important modifications have been introduced.
(a) After the tenth syllable, one or two unaccented syllables are sometimes added ; as
“ Me-thought I you said | you nei | ther lend | nor bor I row." (6) In any foot the accent may be shifted from the second to the first syllable, provided two accented syllables do not come together.
“ Pluck' the | young suck' | ing cub8' \ from the' | she bear. I” (C) In such words as "yesterday," "voluntary,” “honesty," the syllables -day, -ta-, and ty falling in the place of the accent, are, for the purposes of the verse, regarded as truly accented.
“Bars' me | the right' l of voll- | un-ta' lry choos' | ing." (d) Sometimes we have a succession of accented syllables ; this occurs with monosyllabic feet only.
Why, now, blow wind, swell billow, and swim bark.” (e) Sometimes, but more rarely, two or even three unacc nted syllables occupy the place of one; as,
“He says he does, I be-ing then | most flat | ter-ed." (1) Lines may have any number of feet from one to six. finally, Shakespeare adds much to the pleasing variety of him olank veree by placing the pauses in different parts of the line (especially after the second or third foot), instead of placing them all at the ends of lines, as was the earlier custom.
N. B.-In some cases the rhythm requires that what we usually pronounce as one syllable shall be divided into two, as fi-er (fire), su-er (sure), mi-el (mile), &c. ; too-elve (twelve), jaw-ee (joy), &c. Similarly, she-on (-tion or -sion).
It is very important to give the pupil plenty of ear-training by means of formal scansion. This will greatly assist him in bis reading.
PLAN OF STUDY
To attain to the standard of 'Perfect Pos. session,' the reader ought to have an intimate and ready knowledge of the subject. (See opposite page.)
The student ought, first of all, to read the play as a pleasure; then to read it over again, with his mind upon the characters and the plot; and lastly, to read it for the meanings, grammar, &c.
With the help of the scheme, he can easily draw up for himself short examination papers (1) on each scene, (2) on each act, (3) on the whole play. (See page 13.)
1. The Plot and Story of the Play.
(a) The general plot ;
(6) The special incidents. 2. The Characters: Ability to give a connected account
of all that is done and most of what is said by
each character in the play. 3. The Influence and Interplay of the Characters upon each other.
(a) Relation of A to B and of B to A ;
(6) Relation of A to C and D.
(a) Meanings of words ;
matical point. 6. Power to Reproduce, or Quote.
(a) What was said by A or B on a particular
occasion; (6) What was said by A in reply to B; (c) What argument was used by C at a particu
lar juncture ; (d) To quote a line in instance of an idiom or of
a peculiar meaning. 6. Power to Locate.
(a) To attribute a line or statement to a certain
person on a certain occasion ;
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.
In this delightful comedy we have a gallery of foreign scenes and portraits. Venice and the Rialto-lovers in a gondola—moonlit groves and sweet music, seem the very elements of poetical representation ; added to which we have the attraction of two dramatic plots, a succession of characters marked by strong individuality and personal contrasts, and dialogues and speeches remarkable for their select beauty, vigor, and picturesque language. The whole drama is carefully finished, and with such artistic skill and success as to render it equally interesting and effective as a romantic poem and a theatrical performance.
The composition of this play belongs to the middle period of Shakespeare's dramatic career, when imagination was the more active and predominant faculty, though often yielding to philosophic analysis and speculation. At a later period we have greater power, deeper insight, and profounder emotion, but only casual returns of that sportive gaiety and inspiring romance which form the sunshine of his drama. The Merchant of Venice is one of the plays enumerated by Meres in 1598. It was probably produced a few years earlier, as Henslow in his Diary mentions The Venetian Comedy, a play acted in August, 1594
Shakespeare's drama was published in 1598, entered in the Stationers' Registers on the 22d of July, and two other editions were issued in 1600. As usual, the poet had recourse to older fictions for the incidents of his drama. The two plots are both taken from that storehouse, the Latin Gesta Romanorum, portions of which found their way into all collections of tales. The story of the bond, and the forfeiture of the pound of flesh, is supposed to be originally Oriental; and it is also given in the work of a Florentine novelist, Ser Giovanni Fiorentino, which was written as early as 1378, but not published until two centuries later. This tale, called Il Pecorone, contains the leading incidents of the play.
· The lender of the money (under very similar circumstances, and the wants of the Christian borrower arising out of nearly the same events) is a Jew, and there also we have the
The disguise and agency of Portia, and the gift of the ring, are also taken from this novel, and the heroine is Donna del Belmonte.'
The story of the choice of the three caskets has been closely followed by the dramatist, but in the novel the chooser is a lady, daughter of the king of Apulia. To as
* Collier's Shakespeare's Library, in which the novel of Fiorentino is published. It also forms part of the Latin Stories of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, printed by Mr. Wright.