presented by Acoustic Learning
The purpose of scanning verse is to discover the rhythm of its language.
Scansion's goal is to determine a rhythmical pattern that feels completely natural to say aloud.
Scansion's value is not to impose a rigid structure onto verse, but to reveal the natural rhythms that its language can produce.
Shakespeare's plays feature both verse and prose. Prose is not rhythmical and, therefore, is not scanned. In each work, verse lines are numbered for easy reference in discussion. Only verse lines are counted in the numbering.
Every scan given here is just one way to "solve" the verse lines. Other valid rhythms may be possible. Suggestions for alternatives are welcomed!
The Shakespeare texts used on this site are based primarily on the First Folio and its punctuation. Spelling is modernized, with five exceptions: ore, ere, nere, eene, and tane. These words are Old English variants of over, ever, never, even, and taken. These five words are typically represented in modern texts as o'er, e're, ne'er, e'en, and ta'en; however, in Old English, these words were used when a writer wanted one syllable instead of two, and the Old English spelling makes their one-syllable intention clear.