Ants Oras and the Analysis of Early Modern English Dramatic Verse

  • MacDonald P. Jackson English Department, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland Mail Centre
Keywords: Ants Oras, early modern, English drama, Shakespeare, blank verse, extra monosyllables, pause patterns, chronology, authorship, Marina Tarlinskaja


Ants Oras’s contribution to the study of early modern English dramatic verse is of enduring value. In 1956 his article on extra monosyllables in Henry VIII gave much needed support to the view that both this play of the Shakespeare First Folio (1623) and The Two Noble Kinsmen (first published in a quarto of 1634) were works in which Shakespeare had collaborated with John Fletcher. Oras’s Pause Patterns in Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama (1960), with its huge amount of quantitative data and readily intelligible graphs, greatly enhanced understanding of how blank verse developed from the 1580s to the closing of the London theatres in 1642. Moreover, use of Oras’s techniques of analysis has continued to throw light on questions of chronology and authorship surrounding Shakespeare and his fellow playwrights. Among plays illuminated in this way have been The Revenger’s Tragedy, Pericles, Thomas of Woodstock, Sir Thomas More, and Arden of Faversham.


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