In revealing patterns of you/thou use in Shakespeare's plays, this study highlights striking and significant shifts from one to the other. Penelope Freedman demonstrates that understanding of the implications of you/thou use in early modern English has been bedevilled by overconcern with issues of power and status, and her careful research, analysing all the plays, reveals how a fuller understanding of Shakespeare's usage can provide a key to unlock puzzles of motive and character, and a glass to clarify relationships and emotions. The work focuses particularly on dialogue between men and women, and sheds new light on male and female language use. The scholarship presented in this volume is augmented with tables and a glossary of linguistic terms.
’In helping us learn to become attentive to how Shakespeare uses the complex relationships of you and thou in articulating a wide range of affects, Penelope Freedman deepens our engagement with his plays. Her study is a valuable aid on which directors and actors, and readers, too, can fruitfully call.’ European Legacy ’… a unique and provocative book.’ Sixteenth Century Journal
Contents: Preface; Introduction; The Merry Wives of Windsor: a paradigm of usage; Earlier comedies: Two Gentlemen of Verona to The Merchant of Venice; Later comedies and romances: Much Ado About Nothing to Two Noble Kinsmen; The tragedies; The histories; Conclusions; Appendix: a note on the sonnets; Glossary of linguistic terms; Bibliography; Indexes.