Iambic Pentameter

Shakespeare’s Use of the Iambic Pentameter and Other Poetic Devices:

When one reads the famous and inspirational poems of William Shakespeare, immediately the attention is drawn to the rhythm that is contained within the lines. Shakespeare was able to exceptionally situate blank verse (verses of poetry that follow no rhyme scheme) and free verse (verses of poetry that follow no particular rhythmic pattern) in the midst of a rhythmically driven section of his writings. He was also skilled at utilizing iambic pentameter as the standard method of speaking in dialogues between key characters, especially in a petrarchan sonnet – where he wrote about unachievable love between two main characters; his most famous examples can be found in the work: Romeo and Juliet. His charming and regular utility of this rhythm has attracted the attention of many poetic scholars throughout the ages, but, even still, some people are left asking, “What is iambic pentameter?”

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The iambic pentameter is defined by its rhythm of pairing ten syllables for each line into five pairs. Each pair is known as an iambus and the style itself is a much renowned poetic rhythm, still emulated by poets and aspiring writers to this day. The modern lyric poem is particularly fond of containing this poetry structure, particularly because of the easy-to-follow rhythm that can keep the audience captivated throughout a recital. Often Shakespeare’s iambic lines were spoken by relatively well-to-do characters, and were rarely used by the lower class characters in his work. Because of how standard such a rhythm was throughout many of William Shakespeare’s plays, they often ran the risk of monotony. To create variety in his poetry, he often utilized breaks throughout the meter, and introduced characters or lines that spoke in a wide range of manners and meters. In addition to poetic devices that were specially created to break the meter of a long section of poetry, he was well known for experimenting with the placement of words and syllables throughout his free verses and blank verses. The placement was made exceptionally easy due to how the majority of his poems followed no rhyme scheme, and as such: allowed the placement of any word in any location so long as it was relevant to the writing.

In his unique writing techniques and break from the commonly experienced lyrical poems of his time, Shakespeare left behind a memorable legacy of poetry for all future generations to enjoy. With his experimentation in varying meters and styles, he is still widely regarded as one of the greatest dramatists and poets of all time.

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