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The Structure & Speaking of Blank Verse

The main forms of English verse and to giveexamples of each kind. To discuss metre and rhythm,

the use of pause in verse and explain such terms as assonance, alliteration, personification, metaphor, imagery etc.



The bulk of Shakespeare is written in verse, and that verse takes the form of iambic pentameters. Because the rhythm of the iambic pentameter is very like ordinary speech rhythms (having been evolved by the Elizabethan dramatists), a lot of the time we observe the metre instinctively - or accidentally - and it easily falls into a naturalistic speech pattern. We can always make it make sense. And because of this we are often inexact about the precise beat, and so lose something very valuable which it gives us, and that is the sense of continuum through the line, for it provides the emotional pulse of the speech.

We have to know, therefore, the function of the metre: why it is there at all, and would it be as good in prose.

The beat is very firm and because it is so close to every-day speech, it is organic to the thought, and when the rhythm breaks or jumps in any way it means there is something dramatic happening, either within the action of the play or with the feeling and behaviour of the character. The metre is there to help the actor find the impulse. For the Elizabethan audience, the beat held the tension and the attention.

The definition of the metre is as follows:

An IAMBIC FOOT consists of two syllables, the first unstressed and the second stressed - i.e. short-long, which we mark thus:

e.g. the word  alike

or the words  ’our scene’

A PENTAMETER consists of five strong beats, or feet, per line.

So an IAMBIC PENTAMETER is one line consisting of five beats in short-long rhythm. And this equals 10 syllables.

So a regular line - in this case the first line of the Prologue from ROMEO AND JULIET - works like this:

Two households, both alike in dignity…

If you read this one line aloud, you will notice at once that it is not satisfactory to read it to the metrical rule. The syllables of the first two words are long and take time to speak, whereas the syllables in the second half of the line are short, and this alters the weight of stress you can put on them. Nor would you give full stress to the final syllable of ‘dignity’, though the stress is implicit and gives an open-ended quality to the word which has no final consonant.

We see at once how the stress changes according to the length and quantity of the syllable.

Important points in the structure of Blank Verse.

A caesura: Because of the length of a five-beat line, there is nearly always a break within the line, in most cases after the second or third stressed syllable. Sometimes the break coincides with a full-stop or a colon, and so with a break in thought. But more often it is simply a poise on a word - i.e., the word holds and lifts for a fraction of a moment before it plunges into the second half of the line.

So the basic form of the iambic pentameter is: five strong beats, ten syllables to a line, with usually some break or poise within the line. And it is on this basic form that variations are made, variations which are always to do with the state of the character.

The variations on this basic form are of two kinds.

1: Those to do with the number of beats or syllables in a line. These variations alter the movement of a line, and therefore its emotional colour: there is always a reason for them.

2: Those which are used more consciously and purposefully to dramatic effect, such as the broken or split lines, rhyme and rhyming couplets.

1a:The feminine endings. This is simply when the line ends with an extra unstressed syllable, giving it 11 syllables instead of 10. They have the effect of making the line more pliant, and often give a quality of working through the thought, sometimes giving it a haunted and unfinished sound as though leaving the thought in the air: the effects are different. Here is an example where the first three lines have feminine endings, and therefore 11 syllables; the fourth ends on a stressed beat:

Katherina: A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,

Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty,

And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty

Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.

Taming of the Shrew, V.2.

1b: Short lines. When there are fewer than five beats in a line in an otherwise regular passage. There is always a reason for the missing beat, that there is a demand within the situation or within the character for silence. It may be that a movement is needed, or that the thought needs time to settle between characters, or that the thought overwhelms the speaker for that moment.

Here is an example from Othello, Act III, Scene 3, Iago’s speech beginning line 407, the first line

I do not like the office.    (three beats); and further on

I could not sleep.           (two beats); and

One of this kind is Cassio   (three or four)

These short lines seem to point to the fact that Iago is giving Othello time to absorb the implications of what he is saying. They are calculated: he is keeping Othello on the hook, and he is observing the effect he is having.

1c: Over-full lines. Where there are extra syllables within the line, and where some fitting in has to be done, often by running two unstressed syllables together:

And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep

Sometimes this is simply an awkwardness in the writing but most often full lines happen because of a density of thought that prevents the language running smoothly, and as such is an indication of the state of the character.

1d: Long lines. Occasionally you will find a six-beat line or even a seven-beat line, as in Ulysses speech in Troilus and Cressida, III.3., ‘Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back…’. This may indicate that he gets lost in his own oratory.

2a: Split lines. These occur in most of the plays at some point, but frequently in the later ones. They are simply when one line is split between two or more characters, yet keeping the iambic pentameter intact. In some places they are used no more than to give a quickening to the scene and a sharpness of verbal exchange, but always they give a sense of a shared experience.

In the following scene from Othello we see how Othello breaks the rhythm three times. It is as if he wants to finish the exchange, but the interesting thing is that Iago persists and each time brings it back on to an even beat.

Iago:                   …But I am much to blame,

I humbly do beseech you of your pardon

For too much loving you.

Othello:                          I am bound to thee for ever.

Iago:    I see this hath a little dashed your spirits.

Othello: Not a jot, not a jot.

Iago:                      …In faith, I fear it has.

I hope you will consider what is spoke

Comes from my love. But I do see you’re moved.

I am to pray you, not to strain my speech

To grosser issues, nor to larger reach

Than to suspicion.

Othello: I will not.

Iago:                Should you do so, my lord,

My speech should fall into such vile success

Which my thoughts aimed not at. Cassio’s my worthy friend.

My lord, I see you’re moved.

Othello:                              No, not much moved.

I do not think but Desdemona’s honest.

Iago:    Long live she so! And long live you to think so!

In this next section from Macbeth the split lines make it very exciting.

Macbeth:      I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?

Lady Macbeth: I heard the owl-scream and the cricket’s cry.

Did you not speak?

Macbeth:                        When?

Lady Macbeth:                        Now.

Macbeth:                                 As I descended?

Lady Macbeth: Ay.

Macbeth:      Hark!

Who lies i’the second chamber?

Lady Macbeth:                               Donalbain.

Macbeth:                                           [looks at his hands]

This is a sorry sight.

Lady Macbeth: A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight.

Macbeth, II.2.

In the whole first scene of Hamlet there is a very strong feeling of shared experience, of something going on under the surface and of questions being asked.

2b: Rhyme. There is nothing difficult about this: we simply have to be alert to it and use it, we have to allow it its artificiality. Part of its purpose is either a delight in sound and meaning games, or, when used seriously, a tuning into a resonance of meaning through the sound. In the early comedies the verse passages slip in and out of rhyme a good deal. What is important to note is just how vital the caesura becomes: the poise at some point in the line not only makes you able to point up the rhyme, but, vitally, it gets the listener ready to take in the rhyme - if we are not ready for the rhyme we miss its pleasure.

Hermia: I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.

Helena: O that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill!

Hermia: I give him curses, yet he gives me love.

Helena: O that my prayers could such affection move!

Hermia: The more I hate, the more he follows me.

Helena: The more I love, the more he hateth me.

Hermia: His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.

Helena: None but your beauty. Would that fault were mine!

A Midsummer-Night’s Dream, I.1.

Sometimes Shakespeare turns rhyme to literary use and it becomes bookish, as is often the case in Love’s Labour’s Lost for instance, but on the whole it is quite down to earth and real, and we enjoy it for its inventiveness and wit. We also need to be alert to internal rhymes - that is rhymes which occur within one line; these are often quite subtle, and just have to be listened for.

2c: Final rhyming couplets. These are not the same as rhyme within a scene, for they are used quite purposefully to finish off a scene, or part of a scene or a soliloquy: and as such they have a quite specific function, for they carry us with a certain flourish into the next piece of action. They have a double function: firstly they should quicken our pulse, our interest in the action, for there is always a certain elation to them; and secondly, their artifice makes us conscious of the actor playing a part, and so they remind us of the convention of the play.

Hamlet, after he has been told of the appearance of the Ghost of his father, at the end of that scene (I.2.) has a short soliloquy:

Hamlet: My father’s spirit! All is not well.

I doubt some foul play. Would the night were come!

Till then sit still, my soul. Foul deeds will rise,

Though all the earth o’erwhelm them, to men’s eyes.

In Romeo and Juliet there is a split rhyming couplet between the end of one scene and the beginning of another. Although the two scenes follow obviously consecutively and fast, there is a humour in the way the couplet works to end one scene and begin another. Benvolio and Mercutio, unaware of Romeo’s presence, are looking for him in the grounds of the Capulet household:


Mercutio: If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark.

Now will he sit under a medlar tree

And wish his mistress were that kind of fruit

As maids call medlars when they laugh alone.

O, Romeo, that she were, O that she were

An open-arse and thou a poppering pear!

Romeo, good-night. I’ll to my truckle-bed.

This field-bed is too cold for me to sleep.

Come, shall we go?

Benvolio:                   Go then, for ’tis in vain

To seek him here that means not to be found.

[Exeunt Benvolio and Mercutio.


Romeo:                                            [coming forward]

He jests at scars that never felt a wound.

Without consciously making a point of it, we begin to be aware of the huge variety of movement and texture which is possible within a line, and therefore how the quality of each play is so different. Once the pulse is firmly established within your head, then you can be free to interpret. Always, while studying a part, go back at intervals to the metre, not to limit what you are doing with it, but to see what more shades of meaning are possible.

Other important factors in the speaking of Shakespeare are:


A. Energy from word to word. Here one word can be seen to inform the next and small adjoining words such as ‘and’, ‘now’ and ‘that’ can be seen to make the following word much more telling.

B. Energy from line to line. This is something quite readily felt in the more formally poetic writing, particularly in the early plays. Practically it means that the line drives through to the final word, and that word then activates the following line. It impels the thought through regardless of punctuation.

C. Energy from thought to thought. Where adjoining words like ‘and’, ‘but’ and ‘or’ can change the direction of the thought and feed the cumulative power of the whole. And where one thought impels the next.

D. Energy from speech to speech. One speech provokes the next, as each character is both thinking his way through the situation, and feeling the others out.


The contrasting of two ideas by using words of opposite meaning in consecutive clauses. The audience’s understanding of a text hinges very much on how the actor deals with this.


The energy of the word in relation to its meaning. Technically this is to do with the syllabic length of a word: that is

a) The length of the vowel, in conjunction with

b) The number and length of the consonants, and

c) The number of syllables to the word.


What comes first, the words or the thought? Shakespeare is at its best when the thoughts are discovered at the moment of speaking. The words then have a capacity to surprise. It is not that the thoughts are necessarily new - they may have been under consideration for some time - but that always this is the first time they have been shaped in this particular way, and we are defining them at the moment of speaking.


When working on a play it is always a good thing to look through the whole of it and find out what the recurring images are, for that helps to place the play in our imagination. This in turn helps the language we have to use ring true, however small the part we have in it.


In all acting there is a balance that has to be found between thought and feeling and between motive and emotion. And different writing poses very different questions of balance. It is important in relation to Shakespeare that we understand, therefore, the differences between our modern way of thinking and Elizabethan modes of thought.


Puns, double meanings, transference of meanings and word patterns to which we always have to be alert.

a) The play on meaning.

There is always delight in double meanings. It is the same today as then. Our only difficulty with Shakespeare is that many meanings have changed or shifted slightly, and so we do not always pick them up. Also pronunciations have changed, and what once rhymed, does not any more. There is constant play on words, and this play on words does not only occur in the comedies, where they are easier to see because they are expected; it is also part of the composition of the whole text, and is used as much, or nearly as much, for darker purposes.

b) Forms and patterns of words.

When a speech is given a certain symmetry by the repetition of certain words, or by putting words in a particular order.

Richard: I give this heavy weight from off my head,

And this unwieldy sceptre from my hand,

The pride of kingly sway from out my heart.

With mine own tears I wash away my balm,

With mine own hands I give away my crown,

With mine own tongue deny my sacred state,

With mine own breath release all duteous oaths…

Richard II, IV.1.


1. The dialogue going on within the speech.

2. The general lay-out of the verse: how the thought structure and the metre structure lie together; whether the thoughts in general run in lines, or stop in the middle of a line.

3. Every speech has to do with pursuing the cause:

The title or theme of the argument is given at the beginning.

The thought is pursued, with diversions into metaphor, until the end, which is always some form of resolution.

4. This resolution ties up with the beginning.

5. Each individual thought throughout, both refers back to the beginning, and takes us further towards the end.

6. So in a very real sense the end is in the beginning and the beginning is in the end.

7. The speech covers both potentiality and act, and this is its energy.

Extracts from THE ACTOR AND HIS TEXT by Cicely Berry

Metre is from the Greek word for measuring; at its most basic, metre is a system of describing what we can measure about the audible features of a poem. The systems that have been used in history to structure metres are: the number of syllables (syllabic); the duration of syllables (quantitative); the number of stressed syllables, or accents (accentual); and combinations of the above. English is not a language that works easily in quantitative metre (although this has not stopped people trying), and it has developed an accentual-syllabic metre for its formal verse. This means that, in a formal poem, the poet will be counting the syllables, the stresses, and keeping them to a pattern.

To describe the pattern, the stressed and unstressed syllables are gathered into groups known as feet, and the number of feet to a line gives a name thus:

1 foot: monometer
2 feet: dimeter
3 feet: trimeter
4 feet: tetrameter
5 feet: pentameter
6 feet: hexameter
7 feet: heptameter
8 feet: octameter

Lines of less than 3 or more than 6 feet are rare in formal poems.

The pattern of the syllables within a foot is also noted. A foot that is one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one, for example, is an iamb; three of these in a row would be an iambic trimeter, while five make the famous iambic pentameter. All the common feet are outlined under ‘Foot’ in the glossary.

Like the rhythm in a piece of music, the metre is an underlying structure. Poets often slip in extra feet, or remove them, or change stress patterns around to prevent monotony,

Rhythm refers to the pattern of sounds made by varying the stressed and unstressed syllables in a


There are five basic rhythms in English poetry:

1. Iambic (made up of units of : one stressed syllable and one unstressed syllable, or “x /”)

2. Trochaic (made up of units of: one unstressed stressed and one stressed syllable, or “/ x”)

3. Spondaic (made up of units of: two unstressed syllables, or “/ /”)

4. Anapestic (made up of units of: two stressed syllables and one unstressed, or “x x /”)

5. Dactylic (made up of units of: one unstressed syllable and two stressed syllables, or “/ / x”)

Each of these units is called a “foot.” For example, one iamb or iambic foot is “x/.” If a line has 10

syllables and they are all arranged in iambic units, then the line has 5 feet. This specific rhythm is

called “iambic pentameter,” and was popularized by Shakespeare.

Important Terms:

-”Rhythm” is a sound pattern (a beat) using one or more kinds of meter.

Assonance: is the repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences, and together with alliteration and consonance serves as one of the building blocks of verse. Assonance is a Rhyme: the identity of which depends merely on the vowel sounds. Thus, an assonance is merely a syllabic resemblance. For example, in William Butler Yeat’s poem, ‘The Wild Swans At Coole’, Yeats rhymes the word “swan” with the word “stone”. Simply put, assonance is “getting the rhyme wrong.”

The silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain— Edgar Allan Poe, “The Raven

And murmuring of innumerable bees— Alfred Lord Tennyson,The Princess VII.203″

Alliteration: is the repetition of a particular sound in the prominent lifts (or stressed syllables) of a series of words or phrases. Alliteration has developed largely through poetry, in which it more narrowly refers to the repetition of a consonant in any syllables that, according to the poem’s meter, are stressed.

James Thomson “Come…dragging the lazy languid Line along”. By James Thomson

Another example is” Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers”

Personification :is attribution of human form or other characteristics to anything other than a human being

It means giving an inanimate (non-living) object human traits and qualities, such as emotions, desires, sensations, physical gestures and speech.

The leaves swayed in the wind. The stars danced playfully in the moonlit sky.

The fire ran wild and swallowed the forrest, as the flames licked the trees green leaves.

A Metaphor: Does not use a word in its basic literal sense. Instead, it uses a word in a kind of comparison. We run, and we also say rivers run. We may run into trouble.

So a metaphor uses words to make a picture in our mind. It takes a word from its original context, and uses it in another.

Metaphors are an essential part of language: it is not possible to speak or write without them. A simple example is the word “run”. This has a basic meaning of “moving quickly” or “go with quick steps on alternate feet, never having both feet on the ground at the same time”. We use metaphors to make indirect comparisons, but without using ‘like‘ or ‘as‘ – because that would be a simile. A simile is a direct comparison: “Jane is like a child”.

A metaphor very often uses the verb to be‘: “love is war”, for example, not “love is like war”

Imagery: In a literary text, is an author’s use of vivid and descriptive language to add depth to their work. It appeals to human senses to deepen the reader’s understanding of the work.

“A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the Milky Way”

Daffodils” by William Wordsworth


The five main types of pause found in verse are:

Grammatical or Sense pause
Suspensive pause
Caesural pause
Metrical pause
Pause for effect

Grammatical or Sense pause

This is very similar to pause for punctuation that we use in prose.  Remember? - full stops, commas etc.  Where we see punctuation we have to pause.  But not every poem uses punctuation.  Is your poem The Sound Collector by Roger McGough?  Here is the first verse,

A stranger called this morning

Dressed all in black and grey

Put every sound into a bag

And carried them away

No punctuation!  In fact there is only one example of punctuation in the whole poem and that’s the full stop at the end.  Now it would be absolutely impossible, not to say ridiculous, to try to speak this poem on one breath.  However, this is where the sense pause is used.  The poet has not made a mistake here, although that could happen, but has deliberately chosen to write the poem in this way – this is part of his style.  And so we just have to use our common sense and pause where we feel a pause is necessary. It is important therefore that we should always follow the sense or meaning of the poem.  Remember too to pause between each verse.

Suspensive pause

This is found only in verse, and is used where the sense of one line runs into the next.

This type of line is called a run-on line or an enjambed line.

The pause is used to indicate that the end of a line of verse has been reached, but no new breath should be taken as the sense of the line is carried on unbroken.  The ‘pause’ is just a slight dwelling on the last word or syllable.  Let’s look at a couple of examples,

“Sugar and milk?  Now let me see

Two lumps, I think….Good gracious me!” Sir Smashum Uppe by E. V. Rieu

“Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” Hamlet by W. Shakespeare

So what happens here?

We make the last word in the first line, ie ’see’ and ’suffer’,a little bit longer than normal by dwelling on the sound.

Sometimes a line might end with an unimportant word such as is, a, or in. In this case the pause should be thrown back on to the last previous word that is able to bear it, in other words the last important word.  Here’s an example from Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, Act IV, Sc. 13

“Shall I abide

In this dull world, which in thy absence is

No better than a sty?”

Here the important word is ‘absence’ and so we make it just a little longer than normal again by dwelling on it.

Caesural pause.

This, like the suspensive pause, is found only in verse.  It is the natural break that the voice makes in the large majority of the longer lines of verse for the sake of rhythm.  What is rhythm?  It’s the beat of the poem.

This is a rhythmical pause and is found most often in verse which has ten beats in each line, and these beats are grouped into five pairs, called feet, normally with a light and a heavy beat in each pair.  Take a look at the following examples (the ‘/’ indicates the division of the pairs of beats and the ‘*’ shows the position of the caesural pause

I am, * / yet what / I am / * who cares / or knows.

My friends / forsake / me like / a mem / ory lost

I am / the self / consu / mer of / my woes.by John Clare

I found / a ball / of grass / among / the hay

And progged / it * as / I passed / and went / away;by John Clare

As an / unper / fect ac / tor on / the stage,

Who * with / his fear / is put / beside / his partby W. Shakespeare

Read these lines out loud to help you hear the rhythm and you’ll see that the pauses are where we naturally stop when we speak the lines.

The word “caesura” means literally “cutting”; it divides the line into two balancing parts.

The caesural pause  generally coincides with the sense pause, but it need not do so.

Metrical pause.

This pause, unlike the caesural pause, is an integral part of the metrical pattern, in other words the pause forms an essential part of the rhythm of the line.   And for those of you who study music, it corresponds exactly with a rest or a tied note.  Sometimes it will cover a whole foot, sometimes only part of one.

“Hapless | doom of | woman | ^ ^ | happy | in be | trothing

Beauty | passes | like a | breath and | love is | lost in | loathing.” Queen Mary.   Tennyson

In this example we can see that the second line is metrically complete and shows the pattern of the verse.  In the first line, however, there is a whole foot (two beats) missing from the pattern, this is the metrical pause.

Pause for effect.

This includes emotional and dramatic pauses.  And as with prose it can be used to make a word or words stand out, or to help in building up a climax, and can be placed either before or after a word to be emphasised.  Here are a few examples

That china plate?  Yes, worth a lot:

A beauty too…(pause)…Ah, there it goes!Sir Smashum Uppe, by E V Rieu

A stranger called this morning

He didn’t leave his name

Left us only silence

Life (pause) will never be the sameThe Sound Collector, by Roger McGough

An epitaph: is a commemorative inscription on a tomb or mortuary monument written in praise, or reflecting the life, of a deceased person.

Lyric Poetry: Originally a composition meant for musical accompaniment. that expresses the thoughts and feelings of the poet. The term lyric is now commonly referred to as the words to a song. Lyric poetry does not tell a story which portrays characters and actions. The lyric poet addresses the reader directly, portraying his or her own feeling, state of mind, and perceptions. See Robert Herrick’s “To Anthea, who May Command Him Anything,” John Clare’s “I Hid My Love,” Louise Bogan’s “Song for the Last Act,” or Louise Glück’s “Vita Nova.”

Ballad: A popular narrative song passed down orally. In the English tradition, it usually follows a form of rhymed (abcb) quatrains alternating four-stress and three-stress lines. Folk (or traditional) ballads are anonymous and recount tragic, comic, or heroic stories with emphasis on a central dramatic event; examples include “Barbara Allen” and “John Henry.” Beginning in the Renaissance, poets have adapted the conventions of the folk ballad for their own original compositions. Examples of this “literary” ballad form include John Keats’s “La Belle Dame sans Merci,” Thomas Hardy’s “During Wind and Rain,” and Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee.”

Epic: A long narrative poem in which a heroic protagonist engages in an action of great mythic or historical significance. Notable English epics include Beowulf, Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (which follows the virtuous exploits of 12 knights in the service of the mythical King Arthur), and John Milton’s Paradise Lost, which dramatizes Satan’s fall from Heaven and humankind’s subsequent alienation from God in the Garden of Eden also TheIliad and the Odyssey by Homer

Elegy: Often a melancholy poem that laments its subject’s death but ends in consolation. Examples include John Milton’s “Lycidas”; Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “In Memoriam”; and Walt Whitman’s “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.” More recently, Peter Sacks has elegized his father in “Natal Command,” and Mary Jo Bang has written “You Were You Are Elegy” and other poems for her son. In the 18th century the “elegiac stanza” emerged, though its use has not been exclusive to elegies. It is a quatrain with the rhyme scheme ABAB written in iambic pentameter.

Sonnets :English (or Shakespearean) sonnets are lyric poems that are 14 lines long falling into three coordinate quatrains and a concluding couplet. Italian (or Petrarchan) sonnets are divided into two quatrains and a six-line sestet.

Free verse: Non metrical, non rhyming lines that closely follow the natural rhythms of speech. A regular pattern of sound or rhythm may emerge in free-verse lines, but the poet does not adhere to a metrical plan in their composition. Matthew Arnold and Walt Whitman explored the possibilities of non metrical poetry in the 19th century. Since the early 20th century, the majority of published lyric poetry has been written in free verse. See the work of William Carlos Williams, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound,

Characterization is the process playwrights use to develop characters and create images of the characters for the audience. There are two different approaches to characterization, including direct characterization and indirect characterization. With the direct approach, the playwright  tells us what he or she wants us to know about the character. With indirect characterization, the author shows us things about the character to help us have an understanding of the character’s personality and effect on other characters.


Factors to take into account when  building  a character :

Physical description - the character’s physical appearance is described. For example, characters might be described as tall, thin, fat, pretty, etc. We might be told the color of hair, or something about the clothing of the character. How the character dresses might reveal something about the character. Does the character wear old, dirty clothing, or stylish, expensive clothing?

Action/attitude/behavior - What the character does tells us a lot about him/her, as well as how the character behaves and his or her attitude. Is the character a good person or a bad person? Is the character helpful to others or selfish?

Inner thoughts - What the character thinks reveals things about the character. We discover things about their personalities and feelings, which sometimes helps us understand the character’s actions.

Reactions - Effect on others or what the other characters say and feel about this character. We learn about the relationships among the characters. How does the character make the other characters feel? Do they feel scared, happy, or confused? This helps the reader have a better understanding of all the characters.

Speech - What the character says provides a great deal of insight for the reader. The character might speak in a shy, quiet manner or in a nervous manner. The character might speak intelligently or in a rude manner.

Take into account when the play was written , as the moral views of society will also influence the character

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