This study shows how Shakespeare exploiots the social conventions of speech to dramatic effect. It is concerned less with linguistic detail than with the rhetorical strategies of common usage. Since Shakespeare's plays are written texts designed to be heard rather than read, it follows that pragmatic models of converstaional practice are likely to be relevant in any discussion of his linguistic usage - espcially conversational analysis and the Gricean maxims. The function of the Politeness Principle in dramatic speech, and the varying strategies of topic control are also explored as important dimensions of dramatic exchanges. This volume identifies and illustres the distinctive effects of deviance from normative conversational patterns, and their consquent importance in dramatic narrative. In the light of the pragmatic models chosen, the study examines a range of typical contexts and activites in Shakespeare's plays: his explotation of questions, commands and and requests in confrontation, the strategies for control and direction in publis debate at court, techniques of arguement and persuasion, and lastly, the problems of interpretation raised by self-talk in soliloquies.
The final chapter addresses the wider theorectical implications of dramatic discourse in it's social and idealogical aspects.