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Rob Roy
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Here is a well-known first 13. How does it fare according to our modern tastes? Is there a hook, or more than one?

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whole misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
[Last line snipped]

Ard-choille,
Rob Roy


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Robert Nowall
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It runs a little different when it's a play. I suppose Shakespeare's original audience bought their tickets (or just paid their coin and went in), and when everybody was more-or-less seated, somebody came onto the stage and read the lines, and the play was off.
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Rob Roy
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Robert,

you're right, of course; having gone to the trouble and expense of attending the play, an audience has an incentive to be more patient than a browsing book-buyer. Interestingly, the English novel actually grew up in the shadow of the theatre, and in the beginning modelled itself on the play. Older novels actually have fairly long introductions describing the setting, the props and the characters living their normal lives, before getting into the action.

Which is what makes this opening so arresting: it is simply loaded with hooks. It tells us there's going to be romance, conflict, bloodshed and tragedy, prefiguring the end but without giving away the plot, and introduces the MC's up front; and all in a sonnet!

It seems we are still learning from Shakespeare!

Ard-choille,
Rob Roy


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Since Shakespeare's work is all in the public domain, you can post the whole sonnet.
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philocinemas
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Rob Roy, I love Romeo & Juliet. I think it is one of the most amazing pieces of writing I have ever read. The word-play is what I particularly enjoy. That and the double and triple meanings Shakespeare laced into it. The story has proven itself durable as well.
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Robert Nowall
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I think I've said before---boy, it gets hard to remember what I've said before and not to contradict it---that Shakespeare is best appreciated when performed, that is, on stage (or film or video or radio) with a bunch of actors acting it out for you. They're really not meant to be read. (Excluding sonnets and other poetry, of course.)
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Andromoidus
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I dont know... Ive seen some performances that didnt do shakespeare justice. (part of the reason that I wont perform Shakespeare. the only character I could possibly do justice would MAYBE be Iago, and only then cause the guy is the closest thing Shakespeare came to a 2d character.)

but I love reading shakespeare, because unlike when its performed, everything is to your taste and your specifications.

had shakespeare written today, he would have been a multimillionaire.


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Robert Nowall
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I should'a said: when I meant performed, I mean by professionals and experts, all the way 'round. (I haven't acted since high school, myself, and never Shakespeare.)
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