The Merchant of Venice Vocabulary

Act which are subdivided into scenes. There was not necessarily any clear division between these in a performance.
Alliteration Repetition of consonant sounds. A device related to rhyme. “I am Fortunes fool.”
Allusion An indirect reference to a person, place, or thing – fictitious, historical, or actual.Example: Beware the snake that invited you to dinner.
Antithesis An opposition. Shakespeare often used this to express confusion and conflict. Example: “Not having that which, having, makes them short.”
Aside A line spoken to one or more characters which cannot be heard by the remaining characters; can also be addressed to the audience.
Blank verse Unrhymed iambic pentameter
Chorus The character who speaks the prologue – and often the epilogue
Clown In Shakespeare’s plays, this term is most often synonymous with “fool”
Comedy A drama that is light, humorous and satirical in tone and often ends happily
Dialogue When two or more characters talk with each other
Epilogue Usually spoken by a main character at the end of a play, this concludes the play and is often an apology for the play – or a request for applause
Foil A character that works as a contrast to another character may be termed this; an important dramatic tool.
Fool A type-character often kept at court to entertain the nobles. There were “wise” ones, intelligent men hired for entertainment purposes, and natural ones – idiots kept for amusement. Shakespeare’s are usually “wise”
Groundling A condescending term used to refer to the standing audience in the open courtyard.
Hyperbole Figure of speech based on exaggeration and exaggerated images
Monologue A line spoken by one person
Oxymoron A form of antithesis where the opposing words are placed neck to each other. It makes a very strong image. Example: “loving hate”
Pathos Strong emotion. Often used as a comic device, because exaggerated smoothens are often funny. In Shakespeare’s works this comic device is most often employed in connection with lower class characters that accidentally make themselves appear hilarious
Prologue The introduction to/ presentation of the play. Often given to the audience by the character “Chorus”. Often in verse
Prose Shakespeare moved between verse and what in his plays;is characterized by run-on-lines of carried length, no rhyme and no meter. Shakespeare usually has the lower classes speak in this; is also used when the characters talk about the menial things in life.
Pun Word play that makes use of a word that has several meanings. Often Shakespearean’s are bathos
Repetition a favorite device of Shakespeare’s. He used to repeat words and phrases to add drama and contrast to the plays.
Rhythm The recurrence of stresses and pauses in the language of a literary work of a speech: when this falls in to a regular, identifiable patter, we refer to it as meter.
Rhyming Couplet Shakespeare often used this (two rhymed lines) to indicate something important in a play – a shift on stage, for instance an important character entering the stage, a scene/act ending etc
Scene The subdivision of an act.
Simile A comparison that uses “like” or “as”
Soliloquy A line in which a character talks to him/herself and reveals his or her private thoughts. Convention dictates that other characters on stage cannot hear it, but usually the character is alone on stage
Sonnet a 14-line poem in iambic pentameter. It consists of three quatrains and a concluding couplet. The rhyme scheme is ABAB CDCD EEF GG. usually a lone proem that is divided into three parts. 1. Exposition/problem 2. Volta/turning point 3. Conclusion