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THE SHAKESPEARE KEY.
SHAKESPEARE often begins a scene with an abrupt commencement ; with a conversation already begun, and in course of progress, at the time the speakers enter upon the scene. It serves to give an effect of great naturalness and ease to the dialogue :
If you misdoubt me that I am not she.-All's W., iii. 7.
:-1 H. IV., iv. 1.
So much for this, sir: now shall you see the other.-Hamlet, v. 2. He occasionally makes a character enter with an abruptly commenced remark, as if in continuation of some speech addressed to the person accompanying the speaker, and not to those already on the
'Tis true, fair daughter; and this blessed day.-Yohn, iii. 1.
3. He sometimes allows his speakers to make abrupt reference to some subject that has been talked of apart by two or more persons while others are occupied more prominently on the scene; as where Polixenes says to the old Shepherd, in reply to something asked by the latter during the dance :
Oh, father, you 'll know more of that hereafter.-W.T., iv. . 3. Or where Camillo refers to some difficulty that has been suggested by Florizel while Autolycus soliloquises :
Nay, but my letters, by this means being there
So soon as you arrive, shall clear that doubt.—Ibid., iv. 3. Or where Brutus says, in reply to something Lucilius has said to him while Cassius and Messala have been engaged in spoken dialogue :
Even so, Lucilius.- Jul. C., V. 1.
Or where Duncan responds to something which Banquo has said in praise of Macbeth's valour, while the two former have been conversing apart during the latter's soliloquy :
True, worthy Banquo—he is full so valiant.—Macb., i. 4. He sometimes commences a scene with abrupt reference to some unnamed but thoroughly understood person or persons, by allowing the speaker to use only the pronoun he, his,' • him," “ her,' " them," or their,” as the case may be ; and the mode in which he employs this expedient of dramatic art occasionally serves as an admirable resource for producing emotional impression. As, for example, where Leontes bursts into the presence of his wife, furiously inquiring in reference to the escaped Polixenes :
Was he met there? his train ? Camillo with him ?-W. T., ii. 1. · Or where Queen Gertrude shudderingly refuses to admit the poor distracted Ophelia to an interview :
I will not speak with her.-Hamlet, iv. 5.
I will have my revenge, ere I depart his house.-Lear, iii. 5.
I will meet him at Saint Edmund's-Bury.-Yohn, iv. 3.
He hath wag'd new wars 'gainst Pompey.-Ant. & C., iii. 4. Or where Cleopatra comes in hurriedly asking for Antony :
Where is he?-Ibid., i. 3.
He calls me boy; and chides, as he had power to.-Ibid., iv, 1.
Go to him, Dolabella, bid him yield.-Ibid., v. I.
That we may be admitted where he is.—R. III., i. 3.
He has almost supp'd.-Ibid., i. 7.
having injured them, when the speaker incites them to undertake Banquo's assassination :
Know that it was he, in the times past, which held you so under fortune.-Macb., iii. 1. Also, in the infamous Goneril's letter to Edmund, which is found in the slain Oswald's pocket by Edgar ; where the writer refers to her injured husband :
You have many opportunities to cut him off: . . . if he return the conqueror : then am I the prisoner, and his bed my gaol.—Lear, iv. 6. Also, where the tribunes, half fearful and repenting of their deed in causing Coriolanus to be banished, creep back from the city gates, alluding to the people and to the object of their excited enmity thus :
Bid them all home; he's gone.-Coriol., iv. 2. In some passages “them " is used abruptly with dramatic and passionate effect :
Let them (the mob) pull all about mine ears.-Ibid., iii. 2.
Let them (meaning his disaffected nobles] fly all.—Macb., V. 3. In the dark grop'd I to find out them (the base agents of the king's treachery against the speaker].-Hamlet, v. 2.
The pronouns“ him” and “their” are employed abruptly, with characteristically reluctant effect, by Gloster in reference to the unnatural conduct of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall towards the poor old king
When I desired their leave that I might pity him.-Lear, iii. 3. One of Shakespeare's natural touches of abrupt reference and introduction of subject has exquisitely pathetic and characteristic effect. Although there has been no previous mention of conjugal infidelity in the scene, yet both Desdemona and Emilia use the word " such in a manner to show that the subject has been in their thoughts, that it has lain at the root of their dread that Othello is jealous, and that it is perfectly present to their mind in this unushered allusion :
Dost thou in conscience think,—tell me, Emilia,-
There be some such, no question.
As I remember, Adam, it was upon this fashion. As You L., i. 1.
Nay, but this dotage of our general's.-Ant. & C., i. 1. [See SOLILOQUIES.]