From Chapter 9, 'Quotations and Quotation Marks'

9.5   Quotations from Plays

Where a quotation from a play is longer than about forty words, or two lines of verse, it should be treated as a long quotation (see 9.4). While the spelling and punctuation within the text should be preserved, general rules may be applied to the treatment of speakers’ names and stage directions.

Where a single quotation contains both prose and blank verse, special care should be taken to indicate the point at which one ends and the other begins. Where a line of text is indented in the original, it should be typed as near as possible to its original position. If a displayed verse quotation opens with a part-line, type it so that it begins at the right place; see below and 9.6 for examples.

In MHRA publications, prose quotations are set full out with the speakers’ names in small capitals, without final punctuation but followed by an em space. Second and subsequent lines of a speech are indented. Stage directions within a line of text are set in italic type within roman parentheses. If a stage direction immediately follows a speaker’s name, the space preceding the text is placed at the end of the stage direction, after the closing parenthesis. Stage directions which occupy a line on their own are indented further than the text, and set in italic type without parentheses. No extra space is inserted between speakers. Thus for example:

brassbound It will teach other scoundrels to respect widows and orphans. Do you forget that there is such a thing as justice?

lady cicely (gaily shaking out the finished coat) Oh, if you are going to dress yourself in ermine and call yourself Justice, I give you up. You are just your uncle over again; only he gets £5000 a year for it, and you do it for nothing.

        She holds the coat up to see whether any further repairs are needed.

brassbound (sulkily) You twist my words very cleverly.

(Captain Brassbound’s Conversion, ii)

In verse quotations, the speakers’ names are positioned to the left of the text:

macbeth (aside)         Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor:

           The greatest is behind.Thanks for your pains.

           (To Banquo) Do you not hope your children shall be kings,

           When those that gave the Thane of Cawdor to me,

           Promised no less to them?

banquo                                        That trusted home

           Might yet enkindle you unto the crown,

           Besides the Thane of Cawdor.

(Macbeth, i. 3. 117–23)


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