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SHAKESPEARE IN

MLA FORMAT

Habitually italicize the names of plays (or underline them -- it means the same thing).
This is especially important with Shakespeare since one usually needs to distinguish the
names of the main characters from the names of the plays to avoid occasional confusion:
Titus Andronicus [or Titus Andronicus?] is concerned with vengeance.

In writing about Shakespeare, as with any literature or film, use present tense to convey
the ongoing life of the work: Hamlet stabs Polonius (vs. stabbed); Shakespeare portrays
Henry V as a subtle Machiavellian (vs. Shakespeare portrayed).

When quoting four or more lines from Shakespeare, normally you should use block
quotation: Richard III tells his troops,

Remember whom you are to cope withal:


A sort of vagabonds, rascals, and runaways,
A scum of Britains and base lackey peasants,
Whom their o'ercloyed country vomits forth
To desperate adventures and assur'd destruction.
(V.iii.315-319)

In your manuscript, indent block quotations twice -- they are distinct from normal
paragraph indentations. Also note the manner of citing the source here. The roman
numerals for Act and Scene are standard, although one sees Arabic used by some critics.
In quoting shorter passages in linear form, you still need to indicate line breaks when
Shakespeare is writing in verse: Othello recalls, "Upon this hint I spake: / She lov'd me
for the dangers I had pass'd, / And I lov'd her that she did pity them" (I.iii.166-168). Note
the withholding of final punctuation in this case until after the parenthetical citation. The
slash marks indicate line breaks in the verse.

Guidelines for Quotation Format:

1. Use a colon—most abrupt transition between the quotation and the rest of the essay.
2. Use a comma—eases the transition between your introduction of the quotation and
the quotation itself. Usually, a comma is preceded by a transition such as a dialogue
descriptor; example: This confusion occurs when Juliet says, “insert quotation here.”
3. Paraphrase—expresses the key events, images, characterization, or dialogue of a
passage from the text in your own words. This still needs to be cited, as you are directly
referencing a specific point in the text, although summarizing it in your own words. This
format works well for longer passages, or a series of events in the plot that are being
linked by your argument.
4. Integrate—expresses the key events, images, characterization, or dialogue of a
passage from the text through combining your own words with the text itself. This is
useful when multiple characters are speaking, or to shorten a lengthy passage by taking
the necessary ideas from the beginning of the quotation, paraphrasing the context of the
middle, and the direct text from the end of the quotation.
5. Ellipsis Points—indicate deleted text. They are only used in the middle of the
quotation; never use them at the beginning or end of a quotation. Be careful using them to
modify the quotations in order to change the facts within the text. Take out what may not
be necessary to your argument; to manipulate the core ideas will only weaken the logic of
your argument.
6. Square Brackets—useful when the pronouns within the quotations are affecting the
flow of the sentence, making the transition between what you have written and the
quotation awkward. Change a personal pronoun (I, me, my, etc.) or an unspecific
pronoun (he, she, it) to an impersonal pronoun, or a more specific noun—Example: a
quotation spoken by Juliet may begin with “I”, but this may need to be changed to [she]
or [Juliet] for added clarity within the context of the paragraph.