Shakespeare on Silence and Nonverbal Communications

speech in silence, language in gestures “… There was speech in their dumbness, language in their very gestures.” (Winter’s Tale, act 5, sc. 2)

Tips for use. Describe the astonishment of a silent audience. Also, pull the leg of an audience (it could be an audience of one) that is completely silent once you have finished your piece or speech. Substitute ‘silence’ for ‘dumbness’ to avoid misunderstandings and appearing offensive. If you are waiting for an applause that does not come, you may bring to mind the lines found in the book “Wit and Drollery” (1645),
“Applause is but a fart, the crude
Blast of the fickle multitude.”

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In the play. Autolycus has managed to travel to Sicilia and inquires of a not better specified gentleman what was Polixenes’ (and Camillo’s) reaction once they found the information contained in the shepherd’s package – namely that the shepherdess Perdita is actually King Leonte’s daughter. King Leonte of Sicilia, a hyper-jealous husband suspected that Perdita was the daughter of his wife and a visiting King of Bohemia. His wife was actually super-chaste.  Hence Leontes had ordered the baby girl killed, but she was saved by an honest courtier.

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