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Shakespeare Introduction. The Elizabethan Age Elizabeth I became Queen of England in 1558, six years before Shakespeare’s birth. With the naval defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, England was firmly established as a leading military and commercial power in the Western world.

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Shakespeare

Introduction


  • The Elizabethan Age

  • Elizabeth I became Queen of England in 1558, six years before Shakespeare’s birth.

  • With the naval defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, England was firmly established as a leading military and commercial power in the Western world.

  • Elizabeth was fond of the theater and many of England’s greatest playwrights were active during her reign, including Christopher Marlowe, Ben Johnson and William Shakespeare.

  • Upon the death of Elizabeth, King James I, rose to power in England.

  • Elizabeth I


5. At the king’s invitation, Shakespeare’s theater company, Lord Chamberlain’s Men became known as the King’s Men and they produced new works under his patronage.

6. When James died in 1628, his son Charles I ascended to the throne, and tensions wit Parliament and the Crown increased.

7. King Charles I eventually lost a bloody civil war to the Puritans, who executed the King (his son Charles II fled to France).

8. King Charles II reopened the theaters after he returned to England and claimed the throne, but England’s theatrical highpoint had passed.

  • King Charles II gave Virginia it’s

    nickname, Old Dominion because of

    its steadfast loyalty during the

    English Civil War.


  • Elizabethan Theater company,

  • Even in an era when popular entertainment included public executions and cock-fighting, theater became central to Elizabethan social life.

  • Toward the end of the sixteenth century, the popularity of plays written by scholars such as Christopher Marlowe, Robert Green, John Lyly, and Thomas Lodge led to the development of theaters and to the development of companies of actors, both professional and amateur.

  • In spite of its popularity, the Elizabethan theater attracted criticism, censorship, and scorn from sectors of English society.

  • But Queen Elizabeth and later King James offered protections that ultimately allowed the theater to survive.


13. Among the actors who performed in the Elizabethan theater, Richard Burbage, is perhaps the best known.

14. An actor himself, Shakespeare played roles in his own plays, usually as older male characters.

15. Acting was not considered an appropriate profession for women in the Elizabethan era, and even into the seventeenth century acting companies consisted of men with young boys playing the female roles.


  • Elizabethan actors wore theater, lavish costumes consistent with upper-class dress. In contrast, stage scenery was minimal, perhaps consisting solely of painted panels placed upstage.

  • Performances were usually given in the afternoons, lasting two to three hours.

  • Most performance spaces were

  • arranged “in-the-round”, giving

  • spectators the opportunity to watch

  • both the play and other spectators.


  • The Life of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) theater,

  • William Shakespeare was not born into a family of nobility or significant wealth.

  • He did not continue his formal education at university, nor did he come under the mentorship of a senior artist, nor did he marry into wealth or prestige.

  • Born to John Shakespeare, a glove-maker and tradesman, and Mary Arden, the daughter of an affluent farmer, William Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon. At the time, infants were baptized three days after their birth, thus scholars believe that Shakespeare was born on April 23, the same day on which he died at 52.

  • Shakespeare attended the local grammar school, King’s New School, where the curriculum would have stressed a classical education of Greek mythology, Roman comedy, ancient history, Latin and possibly rhetoric.


  • In 1582, at the age of 18, he married theater, Anne Hathaway, a woman eight years his senior and three months pregnant.

  • In 1594, Shakespeare became a shareholder in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, one of the most popular acting companies in London. He remained a member of this company for the rest of his career.

  • In 1599, he joined others from the Lord Chamberlain’s Men in establishing the polygonal Globe Theatre on the outskirts of London.

  • When King James came to the throne in 1603, he issued a royal license to Shakespeare and his fellow players, organizing them as the King’s Men.

  • Anne Hathaway’s family home.

  • It was sometimes called a cottage;

  • however, it was a large 12 bedroom

  • home.



  • In 1609, Shakespeare’s theater, sonnets were published, though he did not live to see the First Folio of his plays published in 1623.

  • To the world, Shakespeare left a lasting legacy in the form of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, and two narrative poems.

  • When William Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616 in his birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon, he was recognized as one of the greatest English playwrights of his era.

  • Reflecting upon the achievement of his peer and sometimes rival, Ben Jonson wrote of Shakespeare, “He was not of an age, but for all time.”


Literary term
Literary Term theater,

  • Blank Verse -Shakespeare wrote his plays in blank verse, unrhymed iambic pentameter. The word blank just means that there is no rhyme at the end of the lines.

  • Character –Person, animal, divinity or any other entity in a story, poem or play.


Climax theater, –Moment of great emotional intensity or suspense in a plot. The major climax in a story or a play usually marks the moment when the conflict is decided one way or another.

Couplets –Two consecutive lines of poetry that rhyme. Couplets often punctuate a character’s exit or signal the end of a scene.


  • Complication theater, –A problem that a character or characters in a play must deal with.

  • Denouement –The final moments of a story or play where all the loose ends are wrapped up and some type of resolution takes place.


  • Dramatic Irony theater, –Occurs when the audience or reader knows something important that a character in a play or story does not know. In Romeo and Juliet, we know, but Romeo does not, that when he finds Juliet in the tomb, she is drugged, not dead. Thus we feel a terrible sense of dramatic irony as we watch Romeo kill himself upon discovering the body.


  • Exposition theater, –The part of a story or play where the setting, characters, background, and conflict are all introduced.

  • Foreshadowing –The use of clues to him at events that will occur later in the plot. Foreshadowing is used to build suspense and, sometimes, anxiety in the reader off viewer.


  • Iambic Pentameter theater, –Verse that uses five iambic units in each line. (One unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable for a total of ten syllables.)

  • Soliloquy –A long speech by a character alone on a stage.

  • Turning Point – The point when something happens that will turn the action toward either a happy ending or a tragic one—the point of no return.


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