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Dramatic Literary Terms. Sonnet: a fixed form of poetry, consisting of 14 lines, usually written in iambic pentameter. Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets. Rhyme Scheme: A-b-a-b c-d-c-d e-f-e-f g-g. Sonnets consists of 4 “quatrains” and end with a rhymed “couplet”.

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Dramatic Literary Terms

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Sonnet: a fixed form of poetry, consisting of 14 lines, usually written in iambic pentameter.

Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets.

Rhyme Scheme:

A-b-a-b c-d-c-d e-f-e-f g-g

Sonnets consists of 4 “quatrains” and end with a rhymed “couplet”.

Sonnets were the first love poems. Shakespeare became such a master of the sonnet, that this form (rhyme scheme) became known as the “Shakespearian sonnet”. Sonnets are written in ‘iambic pentameter’…Wha? Hunh?


Iambic Pentameter:

  • iamb: a “beat” (dah-dum) of lyrics. One soft sound, one stressed sound.
  • meter: the rhythm of a poem
  • penta: five (a pentagram has 5 sides)
  • So, a sonnet written in iambic pentameter has 14 lines, with 5 iambs (or da-dums) per line. See the prologue of Act I in Romeo and Juliet for an example.

When, in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes,

I all alone beweep my outcast state,

and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,

And look upon myself and curse my fate,

Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,

Featured like him, like him with friends possessed


Comic relief: a humorous scene or incident that alleviates tension in an otherwise serious work

Examples in “Romeo and Juliet”

- Juliet’s nurse: often vulgar and crass compared to the wealthy, cultured family she serves

- Mercutio: Romeo’s best friend often serves as comic relief, cracking jokes and trying to cheer Romeo up as he laments over Juliet


Aside: a brief speech (often a one-liner) directed towards the audience that is supposedly not audible to the other characters onstage


Juliet: Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I'll no longer be a Capulet.Romeo [Aside.]: Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?


Balthazar [Aside.]: "His looks I fear and his intents I doubt."

Asides are designed to keep the audience in the know about character’s actions, and to keep the audience involved: there was a great deal of audience interaction in Shakespeare’s time than in modern day plays.


Pun: a play on multiple meanings of a word


Prologue, Line 5: Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean

- Shakespeare is making a pun on the word “civil”. While it means pertaining to citizens, it also means peaceful. Are hands covered in blood peaceful?

Ex: Act 1, Scene 1:

SAMPSON: I mean, an we be in choler, we'll draw.GREGORY: Ay, while you live, draw your neck out o' the collar

What is Shakespeare punning on here?


Alliteration:use of same beginning sound in adjacent words

Ex: Mrs. Hess’ handsome husband hauled hay.

Puchany’s pupils pugnaciously procured pasta.


Oxymoron: figurative expression of contradictory terms.

Ex: Jumbo shrimp

working vacation

Act 1, Scene 1

Romeo: O brawling love, o loving hate….



reference to another work of literature, work of art, a historical event, or the Bible

Lord of the Flies is an allusion to a Biblical name for Satan

Romeo, Act 1 Scene 1:Well, in that hit you miss: she'll not be hitWith Cupid's arrow; she hath Dian's wit;


metaphor: direct comparison between two unlike things

  • Ex:
  • What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!
  • My lips, two blushing pilgrims…