Choose a word that appears at least twice in A Midsummer Nights Dream, The Merchant of Venice, or As You Like It. You may consider various forms of a particular word: for example, rich and richly in Merchant or nature and natural in As You Like It. Please write about one play. Once you have settled on a word, look it up in The Oxford English Dictionary and search an etext of the play to make sure that you are aware of every instance of the word. You do not have to address all appearances of the word2 to 5 should do the trick for most approaches to this assignment; but awareness of all appearances might help you focus and develop your analysis. You will find links to the OED and etexts on our bCourses page. Does the meaning of the word you have chosen change from appearance to appearance? If so, you might discuss how its meaning evolves and/or becomes unstable; how its meaning changes under different circumstances; how our reaction to it changes depending on who is speaking; and how Shakespeare exploits the polysemy of the word. If the meaning of the word is static, what effect does its repetition have? Your aim is to persuade us that your word is important, that we should pay it special attention.
Please do not include a grand introduction or conclusion. At the beginning of your exercise, identify the word that you have chosen and briefly articulate the claims that you will make about its meaning and its importance. At the end of your exercise, you may, if you wish, make suggestions about how attending closely to the word might open up larger interpretative issues and problems.