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    Pronoun Use in Richard III

    Number of Pages: 14


    Summary of the research paper:

    A 14 page analysis of second person pronoun use Act I, Scene iv of Shakespeare's Richard III. The writer first discusses how pronoun use differed in Elizabethan times, as the use of "thou" as a familiar version of the second person "you" was still in use. Then, the writer discusses in detail how this feature of language was used by Shakespeare to give the audience clues as to what characters were feeling at any precise moment, as well as signifying the shifting nature of power within this scene. Bibliography lists 2 sources.

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    second-person pronoun (Garvey 12). This is a feature that modern audiences might easily miss because the use of the informal second-person pronoun, "thou" and its variants, have fallen out of  use since the Renaissance. Unlike most European languages, English no longer differentiates between the singular and plural when using second person pronouns, always using "you" and determining singular and plural  by tone and context (Garvey 12). While the distinction between singular "thou" and the plural "you" was weakening during the Elizabethan era, both pronouns remained in use (Garvey 12).  Shakespeare always chose "you" when referring to several people, but there are also numerous instances where he used it in the singular form as well (Garvey 12). While it has  been commonly asserted that the two pronouns are randomly used, scholars, such as Garvey, feel that there was always a reason why Shakespeare chose one over the other. N.F. Blake,  as well, points out that "thou" in Shakespearean literature is always intended to carry more significance than "you" (Garvey 12). Its principal functions are to either display familiarity  or to indicate that one character considered himself or herself to be of a higher social status than the other (Garvey 12). As this suggests, "you" had come to be  regarded as the "polite" or "formal" form of the second person (Garvey 12). The familiar use of "thou" is best illustrated through Shakespeares lovers speeches. Examples of using "thou"  to signify rank include the speeches from monarch to subjects (although to their nobles, they use "you"), parents to even their adult children and by masters, such as Othello, to  inferiors like Iago (Garvey 12). Whenever characters deviate from these social norms, there is always a reason (Garvey 12). Therefore, the manner in which Shakespeare varies the interplay between "you" 

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