William Shakespeare, Elizabethan England, and the Tragic Hero Sophomore English Mrs. DeGraffenreid
Shakespeare’s Early Life • 1564-1616 • Middle Class family • Grew up in a town outside of London called Stratford-upon-Avon. • Married Anne Hathaway
Shakespeare in London • Established himself as an actor and a playwright. • Owned part of an acting group. • He and other built the Globe Theatre.
Shakespeare was known to be a shareholder in a prominent theatre troupe with close ties to the court of Elizabeth the First. Shakespeare and others established the Globe Theater.
Plays • Wrote 37 plays in 21 years. • Plays were meant to be watched. • About 400 years ago. • 3 types of plays: • Histories • Comedies • Tragedies
3 Categories • Histories – about the lives of English monarchs. • Tragedies – details the downfall of a tragic hero. • Comedies – about love that ended happily.
Techniques Used in His Plays • Slapstick comedy • Supernatural elements • A play within a play • Puns – words with more than one meaning. • Mistaken Identity
Why Do We Study Shakespeare? • His plays are universal in meaning, and will live on. • Same appeal for audiences today as in the past.
Blank Verse • Unrhymed Iambic Pentameter • Iamb=foot • Penta=five • Meter=rhythm • Each Iamb contains a stressed and unstressed syllable. (U /)
Alterations of English • Shakespeare changed • Grammar • Word order • Sometimes omitted words or letters • In addition to changing standard English to fit his meter, Shakespeare also liked to play with words. • He is known for using homophones, or words with more than one meaning.
Shakespeare’s language • Shakespeare wrote his plays approximately 400 years ago during which time the English Language evolved. • Many words used by Shakespeare are now archaic, which means that we no longer use them.
Elizabethan England • The era is named for Queen Elizabeth of England because she created the economic and political situation that allowed the Renaissance to spread from mainland Europe to England. • Elizabeth ruled from 1558 until 1603.
Queen Elizabeth I • Created a stable economic and political situation. • Ruled from 1558-1603. • “Virgin Queen” – wouldn’t marry King Philip of Spain to protect England from outside control. • Virginia named in her honor.
Arts and Theater • Without war or money problems, people could live a more pleasurable life. They began to focus more artistic activities. • Arts began to flourish. Queen Elizabeth liked theater.
Two Audiences • Most people were illiterate. Plays were their only form of entertainment. • Two Audiences • Uneducated • Liked “low” humor and physical activity • English Royalty • Liked intellectual humor (puns, ect.) and themes targeted to an educated audience.
Elizabethan England • Actual theatres were eventually established in London. The Globe Theater was established by Shakespeare and others around 1599. • In order to capture the attention of audiences who were mostly uneducated, plays contained low humor and a lot of physical activity. • English royalty also attended the plays; therefore the plays also contained high humor and themes of interest to an educated audience.
Tragic Hero • Character who falls from a great height (political, social, or economic) • Tragic flaw which leads to downfall • Neither a good nor bad character. • At the end, he recognizes his tragic flaw, accepts his fate (takes responsibility).
Setting and characters • The play takes place before Rome developed into an empire. Julius Caesar has just defeated Pompeii after a long civil war. He returns to Rome victorious and is in position to take power. • Julius Caesar was one of the smartest individuals in history, but Shakespeare presents him with many flaws.
Characters • Brutus is the epitome of all that is good and true in man. His sterner qualities make him admirable; his weaker qualities make him loveable. He is one of the finest characters in all Shakespeare’s writing. Had Brutus been less trusting and less merciful, he no doubt would have been successful in crushing the powerful forces of Caesar. His three mistakes cost him his life, but Brutus feels no emnity, even in death.
Characters • If ever Shakespeare created characters in contrast, he does so in molding the conspiracy around Cassius and Brutus. Cassius is the manipulator, the shrewd contriver, the ambitious one. He is the clever psychologist who knows how to manipulate Brutus’ thoughts and how to bring him into the conspiracy. Cassius is a strong leader, but he has one weakness-his admiration for Brutus.
Characters • At the time of Caesar’s assassination, Antony was only 37 years old. Never taking life very serious, he led a carefree existence. Because he was clever, careless and handsome, the people loved him. Antony proves himself to be clever when he addresses the crowd after Caesar’s murder and convinces that Caesar was not ambitious.