“Pour out the pack of matter to mine ear” : Dramatization of Language in Antony and Cleopatra
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Shakespeare’s "Antony and Cleopatra" presents a beautiful narrative through its elaborate and eloquent passages. The masterful descriptions and dialogues make use of the ideals of Renaissance rhetorical practices with which Shakespeare was undoubtedly familiar. Emblematic of these linguistic devices are the messengers who transfer information amongst the characters. They hold the power of knowledge, but with the responsibility of moving the textual language faithfully; they thus become the functionaries of Renaissance rhetoric. Through a study of contemporary Renaissance rhetorical manuals, as well as an examination of criticism of Shakespeare and his play, this paper finds significance in the various linguistic tools Shakespeare assigned to the messengers of the play.