Reticence in Shakespeare

In Measure for Measure when the Duke proposes marriage to Isabella, she does not reply. Her response is interpreted differently in different productions.  Her silent acceptance of his proposal is the most common in performance. However, her response can also be interpreted as ‘no.’ Shakespeare, usually praised for the bounty of his language, is less known for his silences and moments of reticence (think of Cordelia’s “nothing.”) When Isabella does not respond to the Duke, this is one of Shakespeare’s moments of reticence or “open silences”. #reticence #shakespeare #measureformeasure #opensilences

 

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