What Does 'Non-Prose' Mean?


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Florent Lefortier Profile
Well, if you want to know what non-prose is, you’ll need to know what prose is first.

What is Prose?
Prose is the most natural type of writing – it flows naturally, the sentences have a normal grammatical structure, and there’s no particular rhyme or rhythm. Books are usually written in prose.

What is Non-Prose?
As a general rule, non-prose is poetry or verse. If something follows a specific rhythm, but it doesn’t rhyme, it can still be poetry!

Prose and Verse in Literature
Shakespeare used both prose and verse in his plays. He often employed prose to show that a character was common or of low birth, and used verse (iambic pentameter, to be specific) to show that a character was a noble.

Shakespeare made particularly good use of prose and verse in the tragedy Othello. At the beginning of the play, when Othello is a respectable, clear-thinking man, he speaks in verse. However, by the end of the play – at which point he goes a little bit mental and kills his wife Desdemona  - Othello is speaking in prose. The transition from verse to prose shows the deterioration of Othello's state of mind.

There’s also something called “blank verse,” which stands somewhere between prose and verse, but you probably won’t need to think about that unless you’re studying drama or poetry!

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