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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: December ::
You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 936.  Tuesday, 14 December 1993.
 
From:           John Massa <
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Date:           Monday, 13 Dec 93 14:23 CST
Subject:        "you" vs. "thou" in Shakespeare's work
 
Could someone give me a good reference for the use of "you" vs. "thou" in
Shakespeare?  So far, it seems that the following usages hold for most
situations in Shakespeare's works:
 
          YOU:
          (1) from inferior to superior
          (2) to someone not well known
 
          THOU:
          (1) from superior to inferior
          (2) between intimate acquaintences
          (3) to express strong emotions (regardless of social
              relationships ??)
 
These rules (which I have pieced together from various sources) seem to work,
but there are exceptions, and I am not sure if something is being lost in the
amalgamation.
 
Does anyone know of a good treatment of this issue for Shakespeare's works and
times?
 
Any other comments about the significance of "you/thou" ?
 
John Massa
University of Iowa

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