Epilogues and last words in Shakespeare : Exploring patterns in a small corpus

Findlay, A. (2020) Epilogues and last words in Shakespeare : Exploring patterns in a small corpus. Language and Literature, 29 (3). pp. 327-346. ISSN 0963-9470

[thumbnail of Final Revised Last Words and Epilogues_REVIEWER 1_REVIEWER 2 (1)]
Text (Final Revised Last Words and Epilogues_REVIEWER 1_REVIEWER 2 (1))
Final_Revised_Last_Words_and_Epilogues_REVIEWER_1_REVIEWER_2_1_.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial.

Download (476kB)


This article considers the linguistic features of the speeches that end Shakespeare’s plays, some of which are formally labelled as Epilogues. It introduces a play’s last words as a type of paratext using the theoretical models devised by Genette (1997) Paratexts, trans. Lewin JE. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press and then considers the material evidence surrounding Epilogues, a specific form of last words, using research on their ephemeral and occasional nature by Stern (2009) Documents of Performance in Early Modern England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. The difficulties of using corpus methods in the case of small, specialist subcorpora of paratexts is then considered, and the methodology adopted to extract and present the results is outlined. The demonstrates features of the Last Words corpus: how pronouns raise questions about the speaker’s stance (with reference to work by Goffman (1979) Footing. Semiotica 25(1–2): 1–29 and Messerli (2017) Participation structure in fictional discourse: authors, scriptwriters, audiences and characters. In Locher MA and Jucker AH (eds) Pragmatics of Fiction, Berlin and Boston: DeGruyter, pp. 25–54); how these speeches deploy the language of inclusivity; how they interpellate spectators or readers to promote a specific agenda. Because last words enact the fragile liminal moment where characters, actors and audience are united by their experience of the performance, the article considers their retrospective and prospective orientation. It demonstrates how the prominence of verbs like ‘shall’ and ‘will’ can be used for marketing purposes. The problems raised by uneven dispersion of terms are discussed leading to a case study of the Epilogue of As You Like It which demonstrates how its use of language is deliberately linked to the discursive world of the play which precedes it.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Language and Literature
Additional Information:
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Language and Literature, 29 (3), 2020, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2020 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Language and Literature page: https://journals.sagepub.com/home/lal on SAGE Journals Online: http://journals.sagepub.com/
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? addressas you like it, dispersionsepiloguesinterpellationlast wordsparatextshakespearespectatorslinguistics and languagelanguage and linguisticsliterature and literary theory ??
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
24 Sep 2020 12:50
Last Modified:
04 Jul 2024 23:54