Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Shelley’s The Cenci: Versification

  • Marina Tarlinskaja Department of Linguistics, University of Washington, Seattle, Box 354340 Seattle, WA 98195-4340
Keywords: meter, rhythm, syntax, stress, Shakespeare, Shelley, Renaissance, Baroque, Classicism, Romanticism


The article describes the development of English iambic pentameter during 260 years, 1561–1821. The evolution of the versification went in waves: strict (Renaissance) – loose (Baroque) – strict (Classicism) – loose (Romanticism); the periods developed “over the head” of adjacent periods. The similarity of the Renaissance and Classicism vs. Baroque and Romanticism was probably rhythmical homonymy rather than imitation. The article reveals the versification similarity of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Shelley’s The Cenci. The similarity of versification added to the noticed earlier similarity of motifs, phraseology and vocabulary.


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