Love, Ranks and Riverbank

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The Action Takes Place on a Boat

The action takes place on a boat as Thomas Kent-looking Viola travels to the Lessups estate. If Thomas Kent delivered viola his letter, she can still hear Will's voice as she gets ready to go ship. The intermediary between Viola and Will is Thomas. Will asks Thomas Kent whether he delivered Viola his letter as they both board the ferry. Will receives a letter from Thomas that seems to be from Viola. After reading the letter, Will somberly turns to Thomas and informs him that Viola has broken off contact with him. She cut my strings, Thomas, I'm very sorry. I am unmanned, unmended and unmade. Like a puppet in a box.

Thomas (Viola) Takes That Opportunity to Figure Out How Much Will Loves Viola

Thomas (Viola) takes that opportunity to figure out just how much Will loves Viola. He therefore gives Will the advice that if he loves her, he should stay away. Will says that doing so would break both their hearts and ascertains that he is sure that Viola loves him even when he does not say so. Thomas says that the letter was given to him by his aunt the nurse. He then says, “Tell me how you love her, Will.” Will says, “Like a sickness and its cure together.” He also goes ahead to ask Will about whether Viola is beautiful. He asked specific questions like about her eyes, her lips, her voice and her bosom. Will’s response makes Thomas who is Viola light up. Thomas then asks of lord Wessex, and Will says, “For one kiss I would defy a thousand Wessexes.” These words hit Viola (Thomas) unexpectedly, and she forgets her disguise. She kisses Will then throws the boatman a coin and runs away. Will is confused and even more when the boatman refers to Thomas as “my lady.” The boatman tells Will that Thomas is Viola De Lessups and he has known her since she was little. He says that her disguise would not deceive a child.

Will Follows Viola into the House

Will follows Viola into the house and climbs onto the balcony of her building. He enters, and Viola asks if he could love a fool. Will responds by asking her if she could love a player. Will hesitates and wants to know if viola was mistaken in her. Viola says if he is the author of the plays of William Shakespeare then she is not mistaken. They embrace and kiss again. The scene illustrates the enhanced love between Will and Viola and how finally Will came to learn of the fact that Thomas Kent was the Viola.

The Scene Depicted in This Part of the Movie

The scene depicted in this part of the movie is one of the several love scenes that occur in ‘Shakespeare in Love' movie which is one of the most interesting love movies of all times. In this essay, both main character and characters, the main general overview of the issues that crop up in the scene, language use of the characters as well as well as the themes will be analyzed.

The Characters of the Movie

The characters of any movie or a play are of great concern as they are always the determinants of how interesting the movie or the play shall be to those watching and listening to it. There are only three characters in this part of the movie. As mentioned above in the short review of the scene these characters include the boatman, Viola and Will. However, as the movie proceeds, it becomes evident that the two main characters of the scene are Viola and Will who exchange conservation. The boatman only throws in response at the beginning and towards the end of the conversation. For instance, when Will exclaims about Thomas and how she has cut his strings, the boatman asks, ‘writer, is he?’. He remains silent until toward the end towards the end of this part of the movie; Viola throws a coin to the boatman before running towards the house he replies ‘Thank you my lady’. He comes in again at the end of the conversation As Will gets surprised at this response the boatman further replies, ‘Viola De Lesseps. Known her since she was this high. Wouldn’t deceive a child’.

The Main Theme: Love

The main theme as depicted in this part of the movie is the theme of love. As the part of the movie proceeds, it becomes evident that Will is in love with Viola. He even knows that Viola loves him. This is evident by the statement he puts forth that is, ‘She loves me, Thomas!’. He further contemplates of Viola’s rejection of his love towards her. Viola has instead proposed to marry Lord Wessex. This is seen by his statement in which he says in a regrettable manner, ‘She tells me to keep away. She is to marry Lord Wessex’. Although Viola seems to be reluctant to give into this love affair, Will is determined to win her heart using all means. He is not ready to give up no matter whatever comes his way. For instance, when he is asked if a relationship and a marriage between a girl born to a noble family which has a lot of wealth and a bankside poet and player can work, he quickly responds, ‘Yes, by God! Love knows nothing by ranks or riverbanks! It will spark between a queen and a vagabond…’

Social Stratification

Social stratification refers to the act of classifying people according to their economic status. This is usually based on their occupation income, wealth and their ranks in the society (Song). People will always tend to relate and associate with those who are equal to their status. This theme is evident in this part of the movie. It comes out clearly that in the society of this movie, the rich and the noble give or is given into marriage to their fellow rich and noble individuals. It is unlikely that someone from a poor family or of low status will have a chance of a successful relationship and later marry from a rich family. This is proved when Viola as Thomas makes a comment about Will and Viola’s affair and says, ‘…..Besides, can a lady be born to wealth and noble marriage and love happily with a bankside poet and player? This statement suggests that Will being a poet and a player from a humble background, could not have a successful relationship with Viola who was from a noble family.

The Theme of Rejection

Rejection can result in stress in an individual, especially when those who rejected them are of value in their lives (Peters). Being rejected implies that one’s proposal is dismissed or rather refused by those to whom it was posed. Rejection may also lead to hatred towards those who refused the proposal. It also instills the fear in someone so that they may become reluctant in making another proposal to someone else in the future. The theme of rejection has also been shown in this part of the movie. In this movie, Will who is one of the main characters feels rejected by Viola who has turned his proposal of a relationship and instead she is opting to marry Lord Wessex. This is seen by how he reacts to the letter he is given in the boat. He says, ‘Oh Thomas, she has cut my strings. Am unmanned and unmade. Like a puppet in a box.’ By saying these words, one can conclude that his attempt to lure Viola into an affair had hit a rock, and he was experiencing rejection at this point.

Personal Occupation

Personal occupation is also another theme that can be observed in this part of the movie. It refers to an activity into which a person is engaged. The intention may be either to earn a means of living or as a vacation (Angell). In this movie, both the boatman and Will are engaged in some activities, although it is not clear from this section of the movie if they are doing it for a living or as a vacation. For example, the boat carries passengers across the river in the boat. This can be proved from this scene in two ways. The first one is the name used to refer to him in the movie that is, ‘boatman’. The second evidence which is coherent from the movie is the kind of work that the man does that is rowing the boat. Will even commands him and says, ‘Row your boat!’

Styles of Language Presentation

Styles of language presentation do not only add flavor to the content of the topic being presented but also make a movie more interesting to watch and listen to. The mastery of different styles of language presentation was observed in this section of the movie. Examples of styles of language presentation as observed in this movie included syntax, imagery, foreshadowing, metaphor, hyperbolism, and tonal variation. These are employed at different times by both of the main actors in their speech.


Syntax refers to the arrangement of words into a particularly intended sentence to bring out a reasonable idea (Du Bois). In movies and writings, this style is used to help those who are watching movies and reading books to have a clear understanding of the idea or concept that is being driven to their attention. For example, Thomas/Viola says, ‘If you love her, you must do as she says.’ Here the first part of the sentence that is, ‘if you love her’ is a conditional term. She adds on the second part of the sentence by including the term ‘must’ to bring the concept that if Will really intended to have a relationship with Viola, then she had no other choice but to abide by what she wanted.


Metaphor as a style of language presentation compares one object to another without the use of the term ‘like’. It is used as a strong emphasis on the character of the object in question. Unlike the other case which uses the term ‘like’, metaphor gives a direct character possession of the object that is used as a comparison. In the movie, the use of such style of language presentation is exhibited when Will tries to describe the blossom of Viola. When Thomas/Viola asks, ‘What of her bosom?’ Will quickly replies, Oh Thomas, a pair of pippins….'


Hyperbolism was largely used in the scene of the movie. It is most often used when one describes something or an occurrence (Burgers). Under the context of hyperbolism, an individual will always tend to exaggerate the thing that is being described. In the movie, Will uses hyperbolism to bring out his opinion on the physical outlook of Viola. He also uses this chance to try to explain how much he loves her and would really have preferred that they be together in a relationship. Hyperbole must have also been used by him to show how he was determined to have a lasting relationship with Viola. For example, when he is asked to explain how he loves her, he replies, ‘Like a sickness and its cure together’. When he is asked about her lips, he replies, ‘Her lips, the early morning would wither on the branch if it could feel envy’.

Tonal Variation

Tonal variation as a tool of language style is used to show the mood of the speaker. During tonal variation, the speaker may vary the manner in which the bring out their statements to indicate whether they are happy, angry or sad about the situation at hand. Most often, a high tone is used to indicate a jovial mood or a disagreement whereas a low tone is used to indicate sadness. In the movie, Will is observed to practices tonal variation at different places across the act. For example, when the boatman asks him, ‘A writer, is he?’ Will gets a little upset. He raises his tone and answers him back, ‘Row your boat!’ Another incident is when the boatman exposes the identity of Thomas/Viola by saying, ‘Thank you, my lady’. Will gets very surprised at this moment, raises his tone and asks, ‘Lady?’

In Conclusion

In conclusion, this section of Shakespeare’s love movies brings out a presentation of its own kind. Although being brief, the section reveals several themes and topics as discussed above. In addition to the themes stated the use of different language styles by the actors makes this section one of the most interesting sites to watch in this movie. The different kinds of language style also create a good impression of the quality of the actors which can be seen in the manner they link and bring forth their ideas.


Angell, Amber Michelle. ""Occupation-centered analysis of social difference: Contributions to a socially responsive occupational science." Journal of Occupational Science 21.2 (2014): 104-116.

Burgers, Christian, Elly A. Konijn, and Gerard J. Steen. " "Figurative Framing: Shaping Public Discourse Through Metaphor, Hyperbole, and Irony."." Journal of communication Theory (2016): 410-430.

Du Bois, John W. "Towards a dialogic syntax."." Cognitive Linguistics (2014): 75-92.

Peters, Gjalt-Jorn, et al. Improving Publication Practices to Accelerate Scientific Progress. Health Psychology Bulletin, 2017.

Song, Jing, et al. "Social stratification and mobility among Chinese middle-class households: An empirical investigation." ." International Business Review (2016): 646-656.

April 06, 2023



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