Imágenes de páginas
PDF

these pauses in action must be determined by the nature of the composition delivered, and by the taste and emotion of the speaker; precise rules, which would suit every sentiment and mode of delivery, cannot be given.

5. EXPRESSION, or SIGNIFICANCY OF GESTURE.-Gesture may be of three kinds —

1. REPRESENTATIVE.
2. SYMPATHETIC.

3. COLLOQUIAL. 6. In Representative Gesture, the nature of the particular action is fully illustrated, and the emotion of the speaker gives a PRESENT REALITY to his expressions. This species of Gesture is principally used in dramatic action, and frequently in vivid recitation.

7. In Sympathetic Gesture, the orator expresses his own sensations with respect to the subject described. (See paragraph 10.)

8. In Colloquial Gesture, the analogy between the words used, and the action described, is still less remote. The requisite motions are of the simplest kind, and consist generally of slight movements of the hands, and varied expression of the countenance.

9. Although Gesture is capable of being substituted for Speech, (as we frequently see in Deaf-mutes, &c.) it is, in Elocution, merely used for its illustration and enforcement. The sense to be conveyed must, in the first place, be considered; and then such action appropriated as may suit the sentiment in connexion with the FEELING OF THE SPEAKER. Perhaps nothing has tended more to deprive Gesture of its Expression, than a slavish attention to Shakspeare's rule,“ Suit the action to the word.” It is impossible that Gesture can illustrate every word; its expression is confined to feelings and emotions : ALL ACTION, THEREFORE, SHOULD REPRESENT THE GENERAL IDEA, AND NOT ILLUSTRATE ANY SINGLE WORDS WHICH MAY COMPOSE IT.

10. In Sympathetic Gesture, neither the single words, nor the ideas, are to be illustrated; but their general import, considered through the medium of the speaker's feelings. This is perhaps the most difficult part of Expressive Gesture; it is that which requires the greatest judgment, and which principally distinguishes the mere spouter from the practised Elocutionist.

11. In dignified delivery all IMITATION is to be avoided ; as in the well-known speech of Cassius

“ Ay, and that tongue of ois, that bade the Romans

Mark him, and write his speeches in their books;
Alas! it cried, Give me some drink, Titinius,-

As a sick girl.” Here it would be improper to imitate either the authoritative voice or gesture with which the command was given, or the imploring tone and action with which Cæsar besought Titinius. The gesture must express the contemptuous feelings of the speaker, and not the feeble condition of the person represented.

12. The TIME OF GESTURE refers to that period at which action gives the greatest expression to words. In unimpassioned speech, the action should accompany the expression - the principal motion falling on the emphatic word, or that part which includes the principal idea. Where passion is represented, the natural must precede the artificial expression_speech : the bodily indication of strong emotion should be made evident before its tardy utterance by words. The interval between these depends on the force of the passion. Extremely violent passions cannot be represented by words. Mental agitation has no arms.

13. The FREQUENCY OF GESTURE is, in all cases, to be regulated by the number and dissimilarity of the ideas. If the ideas are numerous but similar, one gesture, slightly varied, will be amply expressive for all; if the ideas are numerous and dissimilar, the gesture must be as frequent and as varied.

14. The UNIFORMITY OF GESTURE is used to denote that action which employs the whole of the body, in opposition to that where there is only a partial expression. “When a man clinches his fist in passion, the other arm does not lie in elegant relaxation: when the face is stern and vindictive, there is energy in the whole frame. When a man rises from his seat in impassioned gesture, there pervade every limb and feature a certain tension and straining. ... There must be perfect accordance, otherwise there can be no beauty of expression."* Nature will very seldom accomplish this perfection is only attainable by intense study and great practice. The chief difficulty then remains to use Art so, that Art may be concealed.

15. The TRANSITION from one position to another is to be made according to the principle of Grace-_in full and waving lines. The hand must seldom take the shortest route from one position to another; but it should describe a sweep or curve. (See diagrams 10, 11.)

16. Emphatical gestures are generally preceded by a suspended gesture; that is, an elevation or contraction of the arm, preceding the stroke which forms the principal action.

17. The ACCOMPANIMENT of Gesture may be considered as a part of Uniformity. It denotes the secondary expression of that limb which does not perform the principal action. In unimpassioned speech, the retired arm should be raised in a less degree than the advanced arm: in passion, a greater elevation is necessary: when the force of expression is violent, both hands may be equally elevated.(See paragraph 49, et seq.)

18. The student should not trust to gesture alone; he should make it a supplemental commentary on speech. There is much in emotion that words cannot convey : Speech should be employed only to mani. fest thought, and Action to illustrate feeling. Wide therefore is the range of Gesture-as extensive as the passions of men are various. Were it possible to trace upon paper its varieties, we should see that there is no figure of discourse, no affection of the mind, to which there may not be assigned a particular discriminative expression; whether to denote any inward feeling, or to mark suspension, continuation, or conclusion of speech; to announce modifying clauses, or to indicate verbal and emotional sense; in short, like a PERFECT Grammar, to speak all languages_“with propriety.” * 19. This system divides the human frame into the following prin. cipal parts :

I. THE FEET AND LOWER LIMBS.(IV. THE TRUNK AND SHOULDERS. II. THE ARMS.

| V. THE HEAD AND COUNTEII. THE HANDS AND FINGERS. I NANCE.

In compiling these directions, there were two objects :-to arrange such a plan of Notation as might enable the Speaker to express the

* Anatomy of Expression, (Sir Charles Bell,) page 166.

principal positions with brevity and accuracy; and to present the principles of Attitude and Motion in a plain intelligible form, without interfering with those peculiarities which distinguish the gestures of different individuals.

THE FEET AND LOWER LIMBS. 20. Grace of body and easy transition of gesture depend greatly on the disposition of the Feet and lower Limbs. Those positions which combine the greatest firmness with the utmost facility of change, should be adopted. In every elegant movement, whether advancing or retiring, the utmost simplicity and stability are necessary.

21. The positions of the Feet determine the predominant sensation of the speaker's mind; whether in the expression of ease, dignity, attention, or earnestness. In unemphatic speech, the body should be principally supported on the retired foot; in positions which denote dignity or elevation of sentiment, it should be either thrown back so as to be wholly supported by the retired foot, or elevated to its utmost height on the advanced foot: in moderate attention, it should be slightly thrown forward; in extreme attention, or earnest appeal, wholly thrown forward; in dislike, hatred, &c., retracted; in entreaty and supplication, advanced, with the limbs bent.

22. The weight of the body should be supported on one limb only, and never on both at once, except in the representation of bombast, haughtiness, or obstinacy. The foot which sustains the principal weight must be so placed, that a line drawn from it through the hole of the neck, shall be exactly perpendicular. The other foot may be placed either in advance or behind; but generally in such a position that a line drawn through the centre of the heel of the one foot, may pass through the heel of the other.

23. Three varieties of POSITION, dependent on the weight of the body being either advanced or retired, may be thus represented and noted :

Diag. 1.—( R. 1.c.) Diag. 2.—(R. 2.c.) Diag. 3.—(R. 3.c.)

The positions of the Left Foot, are in all respects analogous to those of the Right. The same changes of position may be thus represented :

Diag. 4.–(L. 1. c.)

Diag. 5.–(L. 2. c.) The third position of the Left Foot is an analogous reverse of that of the Right Foot (diagram 3); it may be considered as an extreme of the Second position, having the retired foot so raised that the extremity of its toe alone touches the ground.

24. Three degrees of SEPARATION may, when necessary, be noted :contracted (c), intermediate (i), and extended (x).

In the contracted separation (c), as in the preceding diagrams, the feet should be kept apart, generally a space equal to the width of the foot; the sustaining limb should be planted firmly, its leg and thigh slightly braced, and the knee straightened; the other foot should rest lightly on the ground, and be held relaxed, ready for immediate change or motion.

----------- ---

Diag. 6. The intermediate separation (1) may signify a distance between the feet, equal to the length of the foot.-(See diagram 13.)

The extended separation (x) increases the space between the feet still more, but it must never exceed the length between the knee and the heels.-(See diayram 28.)

The intermediate and extended separations require the sustaining knee to be slightly bent, while the other limb is kept braced.

25. The annexed diagram will show the manner in which the feet may be shifted, as the gesture is directed, without altering their angle

S

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Ef

Diag. 7. According to the preceding representation, the gesture is supposed to be directed forwards. In the First Position of the right foot, the lines ff, f, pass through the centre of the feet, and make an angle of about 750, in the Second Position, the lines S S make an angle of about 90°. These angles are nearly bisected by the line E E, which is supposed to point towards the eye of the person addressed. In the First Position the lines c (across), f (forwards), 9 (oblique), « (extended), and b (backwards), mark the various directions of change. The figure may be supposed to be reversed for the first and second positions of the left foot.

26. Changes of Position should not occur frequently, as they always suggest the idea of restlessness, uneasiness, or anxiety. There is nothing more disagreeable to the eye than a hyena motion. All changes must be made as lightly and imperceptibly as possible, without any unnecessary sweep of the moving foot.

Semi-lateral Changes of the direction of the feet are made by sustaining the body on the toes, and turning to the required side while slightly elevating the heels.

Lateral Changes of the direction of the body are made by sustaining its weight on the heels, and turning round while slightly elevating the toes.

27. The feet should, in their movements, describe diagonal lines.

28. In all changes of position that foot must be moved first which does not support the weight of the body. Should it be necessary te move the supporting limb, two motions are necessary: the first is to change the weight of the body; the second, to move the freed limb.

29. Stage or Dramatic action requires repeated and extended motions of the lower limbs : but the preacher, the barrister, the lecturer, or the public speaker, should keep his place : all his motions may be confined to one square yard. 30. In kneeling, a graceful mode is, by a backward sweep of the

« AnteriorContinuar »