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Macdonald Verbal And Physical Comic Devices English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 983 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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MacDonald employs both verbal and physical comic devices in Act III, scene iv. Identify two of each and evaluate their relative success.

Verbal and Physical Comic Devices in Act III, scene iv

MacDonald employs both verbal and physical comic devices in this scene. The two verbal devices she has used are “sexual innuendo” and “parody” and the two physical devices which have been used are “the rise of friendly brutality” and “persistence of Romeo and Juliet in getting physical with Constance and her constant struggle to avoid them”.

Use of sexual innuendo is seen throughout the scene: “I’d quench myself at thy Priapic font,” “O that I were a fountain pen within thy hand …” (3. 4. P63), “For years I’ve sought to penetrate your source” (3.4. P64). The following conversation shows the use of parody:

JULIET for with each new lust, thou creepeth close

unto the aged day when soft moist lip

and dewy eye convert to senile rheum.

ROMEO Thinkst thou to leave a lovely corpse my dear,

when even now the crows have footed it

in merry measure all about thine eyes? (3. 4. P66)

Both these types of verbal comic devices add to the effect of lightening the mood and help to change the monotonicity in progression of the drama. They also help in making the audience feel witty for catching the main intent in the use of these devices.

The use of physical device is seen when “Romeo places his hand on Tybalt’s bottom” (3. 4. P60), and Tybalt smacks Romeo’s butt in return “[Tybalt gives ROMEO a macho slap on the ass and laughs]” (3. 4. P60). Another use of this device is seen when “Romeo constantly tries to kiss Constance,” and “[Juliet takes Constance’s hand and does not release it]” (3. 4. P63).

Thus, we see that both the verbal and the physical comic devices serve to lighten the mood and engage the attention of the audience.

Part B – Drama (relates to Othello and/or Goodnight Desdemona)

How does Constance use Desdemona and Juliet for the alchemical process of turning “base metals into gold”? Discuss with specific references to the play.

Effect of Desdemona and Juliet on Constance

The concept of Alchemy literally refers to the theory of turning a base metal into gold. Thus, if this same concept is applied to the very essence of human existence, it can be interrelated in the form that a human can attain the zenith of perfection and become divine and flawless. Constance Ledbelly, the central character of this play, does not believe in this concept of a human perfection, and bases her entire thesis on her lack of belief on the academic fact that Shakespeare was the original author of his work. Instead she considers that Romeo and Juliet and Othello were originally written by an unknown author and that her judgment can be proved by deciphering a manuscript written by a character named Gustav.

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The original Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello projects Desdemona as a victim of love and trust, and she is shown being devoted to her husband and obeying his commands. Constance however perceives her as a strong-headed, “gullible and violent” (3. 9. P86) character, and finds her similar to the original Othello character, who although, was valiant and respectful, he was also responsible for his own downfall, due to the lack of trust he had for his wife [Desdemona]. Desdemona’s explosiveness is also projected when she declares that the allegations made by academia about her being a helpless victim, is baseless, and calls this “Bullshit!!” (2. 2. P38). Constance respects Desdemona for her truthfulness and hails her “magnificent” (2. 2. P38), and being “capable of greatness” (2. 2. P38). One of the bad qualities Constance finds in Desdemona is her inclination towards tragedy. The other bad quality she has is her being easily exploited, because of her angry and jealous nature. In the end, however, Desdemona promises Constance that she would amend herself and change her ways. This acknowledgement also affects Constance and inspires her to discover her own confidence and strength.

In a similar way, Shakespeare’s original Romeo and Juliet, projects Juliet as the embodiment of love, and this is even reflected by Constance who initially calls Juliet “the essence of first love – / of beauty that will never fade, / of passion that will never die” (3. 4. P64). As we get further into the play, we find Juliet obsessed with sexual love. Her attitude also reflects her being immature “I’ll tell my father!” (3. 2. P56). Juliet’s strong love for Constance and her views about love at first-sight inspire Constance to love her, but at the same time, she feels skeptical about her, due to her [Juliet’s] obsession with killing herself. In the end of the play, however, Constance makes Juliet promise her that she would reform herself and look at life in a more positive way. Thus, Juliet also inspires Constance to discover her maturity.

After the warp, Connie finds herself back in her office at Queen’s. “She tentatively touches herself as if to confirm her reality” (3. 9. P88). On removing the feathered pen from behind her ear she notices that “it has turned to solid gold” (3. 9. P88). This can be directly interrelated to how she discovered her own confidence with the help of Desdemona and Juliet. Thus, even though we see that Constance had low self-esteem initially, by the end of the play we see her as a totally different person. Hence her life has surely undergone an alchemical transformation.


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