Tutor profile: Joshua S.
How does Shakespeare manipulate plot in his plays?
Shakespeare primarily used a five-act structure in his plays, otherwise known as ‘Freytag’s pyramid’, and this is reflected in the way modern editors divide his play into five acts. Typically, the first three acts depict the protagonist’s ascendancy, the last two acts, their tragic downfall. Not only could this elicit sympathy and a philosophical profundity at the nature of life from his audience, but it also ensures the plays’ narratives are always driving forward, which should help to maintain the audience’s attention - something particularly necessary in a busy, boisterous playhouse such as Shakespeare’s Globe theatre.
Subject: English as a Second Language
Is it okay to use ‘And’ at the start of a sentence and split infinitives, or is this seen as a mistake by most native-English speakers?
It is not a mistake, and in fact, such usage is more and more common, as writing increasingly reflects natural speech. There may be a minority of people with an old-fashioned attitude who take issue with this approach, so if you were writing, say, a job application, it may be best to avoid them, to be on the safe side. But even then, 99.9% of the time, I think it would be absolutely fine, and the more naturally you write, the better your personality is conveyed, and this is generally a benefit of writing - something to aim for - rather than a drawback.
How does sentence style affect mood in Beckett’s play ‘Endgame’?
The sentence style deployed by Beckett in ‘Endgame’ is characterised by concision and a staccato rhythm. The creates a kind of minimalist atmosphere, where emotion and human thought in general are muted, and an emphasis is placed on silences. This is fitting, as Beckett was an absurdist: he wanted to highlight the fundamental preposterousness of existence, and so eschewed the three-act and five-act storytelling structures that had served as the predominant basis for most Western stories. Instead, rather than a propulsive plot with frequent changes to maintain the audience’s attention, his plays, although unnaturalistic on one level, are very naturalistic in their depiction of how little alters over the course of their narrative. And this aesthetic is reflected in his sentence styles: their unvarying rhythm and length reinforces this sense that life doesn’t move forward; that things rarely, if ever, truly change.
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