Davenant Diction In Macbeth

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Renowned playwright William Shakespeare is often praised for his manipulation of the English language into beautiful poems and plays. However, when Shakespeare wrote these famous plays in 16th century England, he was often censored and his works were released as other poets’ adaptations. While the censored versions usually followed the original plot, they typically failed to deliver the same experience to the audience due to their diminished language. William Davenant’s adaptation of Macbeth is one of the many rewritten Shakespeare plays that pale in comparison to their originals. Unfortunately, Davenant’s version is one with less vivid and sub-par imagery as well as simplified and misguided dialogue. Davenant’s visuals in his rendition of…show more content…
Diction is the key in this play to understanding both sides of Macbeth’s character and is therefore vital to the play, something Davenant must not have realized. In the “if it were done” soliloquy, Davenant excluded the word “but” which appeared in the Shakespeare version (line 6), where it is frequently repeated. By reducing its frequency, Davenant made Macbeth adapt a more confident demeanor. This new temper gives the audience the impression that Macbeth is not at war with himself because he does not weigh the pros and cons of murdering Malcolm in that passage of the Davenant adaptation. Incredibly, Davenant replaced “in double trust” (line 12) with “in doubt trust” (line 7). This change is significant because Davenant, perhaps unknowingly, discontinued the steady flow of equivocations throughout Macbeth. While Shakespeare’s diction unifies other examples of doublespeak, such as “so foul and fair a day...” (act 1.3 line 37) and “none of woman born shall harm Macbeth.....” (act 4.1 line 82) in order to articulate Macbeth’s inner struggles, Davenant misses an opportunity to develop his already weak character. He repeats the same poetic failure by omitting “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent…” (lines 25-26) and leaving only “vaulting ambition” (line 15). The excluded lines characterized Macbeth as a regular man who feels guilt and has some morals, so Macbeth was a rather stereotypical and two-dimensional villain in Davenant’s adaptation. In his version of the “tomorrow, tomorrow” soliloquy, Davenant replaced “petty pace” (line 2) with “stealing pace” (line 2). A stealing pace is one that is quiet and avoids attention. This might seem like a good description of time, but it does not deliver the same feeling of nihilism as “petty” does. A petty pace refers to one of little importance, thus, with his wife dead, Macbeth is drifting aimlessly through time. The final example of Davenant’s

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