How to analyse language

Here is an example of Shakespeare's word play. It is from Act 1 Scene 1, when Beatrice and Benedick first meet.

BEATRICE
I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior
Benedick: nobody marks you.
BENEDICK
What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?
BEATRICE
Is it possible disdain should die while she hath
such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick?
Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come
in her presence.
BENEDICK
Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I
am loved of all ladies, only you excepted: and I
would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard
heart; for, truly, I love none.
Act 1 Scene 1

Analyse this quotation and explore how the language creates a sense of place:

  • "nobody marks you" - creates a sense of her disrespect for him. The word 'mark' could also refer to his role as a soldier, playing on the idea of being a 'marksman'.
  • "my dear Lady Disdain" - the contrast between 'my dear', a loving term, and 'Lady Disdain' highlights Benedick's conflicting feelings for Beatrice.
  • "such meet food to feed it" - the related words 'food' and 'feed' suggest that their relationship is essential.
  • "Then is courtesy a turncoat" - this personification of 'courtesy' suggests betrayal, which hints at later themes in the play.
  • "heart that I had not a hard heart" - alliteration implies that his heart is not as hard as Benedick insists. The 'h' is a soft sound.
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