Variations Of Iambic Pentameter: Trochaic Inversions & Feminine Endings

Hi everyone. Welcome back to my channel in this video I'll cover some different variations of iambic pentameter that are common in Shakespeare's plays. If you haven't already check out my previous video on regular, iambic, pentameter, linked below. Okay. So to start off let's do a quick recap of iambic, pentameter it's, a line of verse that has five iambs or five groups of two syllables, the first unstressed.

And the second stressed, take a look at this line from Macbeth and try tapping out the. Stressed syllables, only ready so foul and fair a day I have not seen. This is a perfect example of iambic pentameter, because it adheres exactly to the iambic pattern. Of course, an actor, wouldn't overemphasize, the stressed syllables like that. But it helps when trying to figure out the rhythm of a line.

However, it's actually pretty common to see lines in Shakespeare that do not strictly follow these rules. This might seem like a mistake on the part of the playwright, but it's actually, very purposeful. And thought out imagine, if all the lines were said with exactly the same rhythm after a while get quite monotonous and even a little hypnotic so inserting lines that have different numbers of syllables or stress patterns breaks that flow and makes it more interesting for the listener. Shakespeare uses these variations to call attention to certain words, or phrases that are important and also to reveal that the characters speaking them may be undergoing some kind of emotional turmoil or excitement.

That disrupts their normal speech pattern let's have a look at the first type of variation, trochaic inversion, which is sometimes called trochaic substitution. This scary sounding name is just a complicated way of saying that the stress pattern in one of the groups of syllables is backwards so stressed first and then unstressed. This usually either happens in the middle of a line, or at the beginning of the line like this one. Now is the winter of our discontent. Notice how we naturally stress the now. Rather than the is because it would sound weird.

The other way around now is a commanding word and a good way to spot a trochaic inversion is to look out for words at the beginning of a line that are pronounced forcefully, such as go come now o that why and so on putting aside the technicalities of trochaic conversions. However, what is fascinating is the significance they have in poetry. This is the opening line of Richard iii. So why did Shakespeare choose to begin this play with irregular.

Iambic pentameter because now is such a forceful word it immediately commands the audience's attention, which means we are poised to focus on the rest of his opening monologue, which contains important information about his character and the context of the play. Additionally, the fact that the first words out of his mouth break, the pattern of perfect iambic pentameter suggest that he is an unconventional character who does not play by the rules. Let's have a look at one more example that way the. Noise is tyrant, show thy face. This line is from the final act of Macbeth where the character Macduff is hunting down the man who slaughtered his wife and children with that in mind. The trochaic inversion has a clear purpose as it emphasizes, how determined he is to find Macbeth and kill him if you feel comfortable with what we've learned so far let's continue on with another common variation of iambic pentameter, the feminine ending. This simply means that the line has 11 syllables instead of 10.

And the last one is unstressed, take a look at this example to be or not to be. That is the question there are 11 syllables in this line. And the last syllable is unstressed. So we can conclude that it has a feminine ending.

There is also a trochaic inversion in the middle of the line here. So it pretty much showcases. Everything we have learned so far, but what's, the purpose of a feminine ending, we could argue again that it reveals something about the characters speaking that line that they are. Distracted or emotionally distressed using the example from hamlet, he is contemplating taking his own life.

So it would make sense that he breaks the iambic pattern at this moment, alternatively. It may simply be an easy way for the writer to add a word with an extra syllable into the line without any particular meaning to the actor or the audience. A feminine ending is definitely not as jarring as a trochaic inversion.

So it doesn't exactly make the audience sit up. And take notice, whether you think. Feminine endings have a larger purpose or not. It is good to explore both options, particularly if you're acting in a Shakespeare play or sitting an exam. Okay, let's see if you can spot, which of these three lines is in perfect iambic pentameter, which one has a trochaic inversion, and which one has a feminine ending, make sure to pause the video. So you have as much time as you need.

Did you figure it out? The first line has the feminine ending because it has 11 syllables. And the last one is unstressed. The second one is regular, iambic, pentameter, 10 syllables in an unstressed stressed pattern. Lastly, we have the trochaic inversion because the first syllable is stressed.

And the second one is unstressed. But the rest of the line follows the iambic pattern using your instinct is really important when you're trying to figure out the pattern of emphasis. But if you get stuck just saying the line aloud or tapping out the stressed syllables will almost always point you in the right direction. Keep in mind. That the analysis of some of these lines can be subjective as it's up to us to use the clues that Shakespeare has provided in order to judge how a line is emphasized people can decipher these clues very differently, but that's part of the beauty of Shakespeare that it is open to interpretation. This is not an easy subject to master so keep practicing on a few lines of your choosing and stay tuned for more content.

See you next time you.