Shakespeare's Proverbial Themes: A Rhetorical Context for the Sententia as Res


This study analyzes the role of the sentenia (proverb, maxim, adage) in the rhetorical process of invention and, particularly, Shakespeare's use of the proverb as a master theme. The plays have a characteristic structure in which the thematic statement is initiated in the early scenes and then repeated, with variations, throughout. In Hamlet, for instance, the sententia "all that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity" is exemplified and concretized in scene after scene. Previous scholars have analyzed the sententia as a hallmark of style in Shakespeare's plays, but not as the controlling theme.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Westport, CT
Publication year:
  • 1992


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