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‘You’ and ‘Thou’ in Shakespeare

Author: Penelope Freedman

SKU: 9781350118676 Category:
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Romeo and Juliet always use ‘thou’ to each other, but they are the only pair of lovers in Shakespeare to do this. Why? All the women in Richard III address Richard as ‘thou’, but no man ever does. Why? When characters address the dead, they use ‘thou’ – except for Hamlet, who addresses Yorick as ‘you’. Why? Shakespeare’s contemporaries would have known the answers to these questions because they understood what ‘thou’ signified, but modern actors and audiences are in the dark. Through performance-oriented analysis of extracts from the plays, this book explores the language of ‘trulls’ and termagants, true loves and unwelcome wooers, male impersonators, smothering mothers, warring spouses and fighting men, as well as investigating lese-majeste, Freudian slips, crisis moments and rhetorical flourishes. Drawing on work with RSC actors, as well as the author’s experience of playing a range of Shakespearean roles, the book equips the reader with a new tool for tracking emotions, weighing power relations and appreciating dazzling complexity. show more

Additional information

Weight 214 g

Penelope Freedman


Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


Paperback / softback




137 x 217 x 20



Country of Pub

United Kingdom

Book Condition



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