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William Shakespeare. 1563-1616. Shakespeare. Stratford-on-Avon, England wrote 37 plays about 154 sonnets started out as an actor. (AP Photo/ Martyn Hayhow ). Shakespeare’s Birthplace.

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  • Stratford-on-Avon, England
  • wrote 37 plays
  • about 154 sonnets
  • started out as an actor

(AP Photo/ MartynHayhow)

Shakespeare’s Birthplace


People line up waiting to visit Anne Hathaway’s cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon, Monday May 8, 2000. The wife of William Shakespeare's home is one of the most popular tourist spots in the English countryside. (AP Photo/Dave Caulkin)

stage celebrity
Stage Celebrity
  • Actor for Lord Chamberlain’s Men (London theater co.)
  • Also principal playwright for them
  • 1599: Lord Ch. Co. built Globe Theater where most of Sh.’s plays were performed

Shakespeare was buried on April 23 or 25 (?), 1616 in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford, where he had been baptized just over 52 years earlier.

On his tombstone:

    • Good friend for Jesus’ sake forbearTo dig the dust enclosed here!Blest be the man that spares these stones,And curst be he that moves my bones
shakespeare wrote
Shakespeare wrote:
  • Comedies
  • Histories
  • Tragedies
the theater
The Theater
  • Plays produced for

the general public.

  • Most of Shakespeare’s plays

Were performed at The Globe

  • Built 1599
  • Fit 2,500 to 3,000 people
  • Roofless--open air
  • No artificial lighting.
  • Courtyard surrounded by 3 levels of galleries.
  • A flag flying from the peak=performance that day

tiring house

Play today

Blackfriars Theatre

inner room

Theatre Interiors

Sketch of the Swan Theatre

  • Wealthy got benches, seats.
  • “Groundlings”: poorer people stood and watched from the courtyard (“pit”). Paid 1 penny.
  • All but wealthy were uneducated/illiterate.
  • Much more interaction with audience than today.

Scaffolding surrounds the stage area of the new Globe Theatre being constructed using original methods and materials on the south bank of the River Thames in London Aug. 7, 1995. After a long intermission - 383 years - a blare of trumpet music Wednesday, August 21, 1996 ushers in the first performance at a $45 million reconstruction of William Shakespeare's circular, open-air theater. The original burned down in 1613. Above at left is St. Paul's Cathedral in the City of London financial district. (AP Photo/Max Nash)

staging areas
Staging Areas
  • Stage: platform that extended into the pit
  • Tiring house: Dressing & storage rooms in galleries behind & above stage.
  • Second-level gallery: upper stage: famous balcony scene in Romeo & Juliet
  • Trap door : ghosts
  • “Heavens”: Angelic beings could descend.

A general view of the Globe Theatre, a reconstruction of William Shakespeare's London Playhouse, made out of hardwood, is seen during its inauguration ceremony in Rome's Villa Borghese gardens, Monday, Oct. 13, 2003. The replica of William Shakespeare's London Playhouse opens Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2003 with a performance of Romeo and Juliet (AP Photo/IsidoroPitera`)

scenery props costumes
Scenery, Props,Costumes
  • Sparse scenery: ex: a few bushes or trees
  • Settings: references in dialogue
  • Elaborate costumes
  • Plenty of props:
  • ex: Pig’s bladder filled with blood
  • Singing, music
  • Only men and boys.
  • Young boys whose voices had not changed play women’s roles.
  • Would have been considered indecent for a woman to appear on stage.
blank verse
Blank Verse
  • unrhymed iambic pentameter
romeo and juliet
Romeo and Juliet
  • Written about 1595
  • Based on a 3,000-line poem written in 1562 by Arthur Brooke; based on a French version written in 1559
  • A tragedy
tragedy shakespearean
Tragedy (Shakespearean)
  • Drama involving descent of a tragic hero—a character who falls from a high place in society to defeat and death
    • In many tragedies, the tragic downfall results from
      • fate, or supernatural occurrences
      • a tragic flaw: makes a choice based on this

a combination of the two

object of tragedy
Object of tragedy
  • To gain the greatest possible response from the audience: pity, sympathy, horror, fear
      • Tragic ending provides a catharsis (release of emotions) for the audience
  • The sequence of events in a literary work
  • Freytag’s Pyramid (based on Aristotle’s plot triangle)

Climax (turning point)




falling action

rising action



resolution (catastrophe)




  • setting
  • characters
  • basic situation
  • things that may have already occurred
rising action
Rising Action
  • the first bit of action or “inciting moment” that sets the plot in motion
  • grows in intensity as the conflict develops
turning point climax
Turning Point/Climax


The point where the protagonist’s situation will either get better or worse.

Climax: point of greatest tension

falling action
Falling Action
  • depicts protagonist’s failure to resolve the conflict.
  • may contain moment of final suspense
  • The end of the central conflict
  • Sometimes contains a reversal or discovery.
  • Long speech expressing the thoughts of a character alone on stage (said to the audience).


  • A lengthy speech but is addressed to others on stage.
  • Words spoken, usually in an undertone, not intended to be heard by all characters

Rhyme Tag

A rhyming couplet --usually used to mark the end of a scene

  • Shakespeare loved to use them…
    • Humorous use of a word with two meanings

A discrepancy between expectation and reality

Verbal irony: the speaker/writer says one thing but means another

Dramatic irony: the audience or reader knows something that the characters do not

Situational irony: what happens contradicts what is expected

comic relief
Comic Relief
  • Use of comedy in literature that is NOT comedy
  • Used to provide “relief” from seriousness or sadness.