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The Meters of John Webster


Betty Jane Schlerman

Challenging the prevailing view of the meters of the Jacobean dramatist, John Webster (d.1634), this study demonstrates that they are in fact a principled instantiation of the iambic pentameter. Drawing on current linguistic theory, it argues that Webster's verse preferentially exploits a mirror-image distribution of metrical variations within the line. It analyzes how these distinctive meters contribute to the language of Webster's plays, and it contrasts his metrical practices with those of his fellow dramatists and of Donne.
Contents: Overview of current linguistic theory of meter: extrametrical syllables: «mismatches» of stressed syllables: psychological limits of metrical variation.