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PRONOUNS, PERSONAL. Thou from master to servant, you a mark of anger

Thou is generally used by a master to a servant, but not always. Being the appropriate address to a servant, it is used in confidential and good-humoured utterances, but a master finding fault often resorts to the unfamiliar you (much as Cæsar cut his soldiers to the heart by giving them the respectful title of Quirites). Thus Valentine uses you to Speed in T. G. of V. ii. 1. 1-17, and thou, Ib. 47-69. Compare “Val. Go to, sir: tell me, do you know madam Silvia?” Ib. 14. with “Val. But tell me: dost thou know my lady Silvia?” Ib. 44.

Similarly to the newly-engaged servant Julia, who says "I'll do what I can," Proteus blandly replies:

“I hope thou wilt. [To Launce.] How now, you whoreson
Where have you been these two days loitering?

When the appellative "sir" is used, even in anger, thou generally gives place to you.

“And what wilt thou do? Beg, when that is spent?
Well, sir, get you in.

“Ay, ay, thou wouldst begone to join with Richmond:
I will not trust you, sir.


“Speak, what trade art thou?

with “You, sir, what trade are you?” Ib. 9.

This explains the change from thou to you in Tempest, i. 2. 443. Throughout the scene Prospero, addressing Ferdinand as an impostor, "speaks ungently" with thou. In Tempest, v. 1. 75-79, Prospero, who has addressed the worthy Gonzalo in the friendly thou, and the repentant Alonso in the impassioned thou, turning to his unnatural brother says,

Flesh and blood You brother mine,
but, on pronouncing his forgiveness immediately afterwards, he says,
I do forgive thee, Unnatural though thou art.


“For you, most wicked sir, whom to call brother
Would even infect my mouth, I do forgive
Thy rankest fault.

“Worthy sir, thou bleed'st.

is easily explained by the admiring epithet "worthy." Compare Ib. 24: "Bold gentleman, prosperity be thy page."

The difference between thou and you is well illustrated by the farewell addressed by Brutus to his schoolfellow Volumnius, and his servant Strato:

“Farewell to you; and you; and you, Volumnius;
Farewell to thee, too, Strato.

Compare also the farewell between the noble Gloucester and Edgar "dressed like a peasant:"

“Edg. Now fare you well, good sir.

“Glouc. Now, fellow, fare thee well.” Ib. 41.

It may seem an exception that in sc. iv. 1, Edgar uses thou to Gloucester, but this is only because he is in the height of his assumed madness, and cannot be supposed to distinguish persons. Afterwards, in sc. vi., he invariably uses you--a change which, together with other changes in his language, makes Gloucester say:

“Thou speak'st
In better phrase and manner than thou didst.

It may be partly this increased respect for Edgar, and partly euphony, which makes Gloucester use you in ll. 10 and 24.

Thus Clarence to the Second Murderer:

Clar. Where art thou, keeper? Give me a cup of wine.
Sec. Murd. You shall have wine enough, my lord, anon.
Clar. In God's name, what art thou?
Sec. Murd. A man, as you are.
Clar. How darkly and how deadly dost thou speak!
Your eyes do menace me: why look you pale?
Who sent you hither? Wherefore do you come?

The last two lines seem discrepant: but they are not. Clarence is addressing both murderers, and both reply:

Both. To, to, to---- Clar. To murder me? Both. Ay, ay.
Afterwards, when the murderers reproach Clarence with his faults, they address him as thou.

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