Brief Biography… • Born in 1564 in Stratford –upon- Avon, England • Married Anne Hathaway when he was 18, and she was 26. • They had 3 children. • Susanna • Hamnet and Judith (twins) • Died April 23, 1616.
England and Shakespeare • His career bridged the reigns of Elizabeth I (ruled 1558-1603) and James I (ruled 1603-1625) • Both adored Shakespeare and his works.
His career… • He began his career as an actor, writer, and part owner of the play company, Lord Chamberlain’s Men. • Wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets (some are skeptical about this). • The Globe Theatre
Shakespeare’s plays… • His plays were broken into different categories. • Tragedies • Comedies • Histories • There are various sub-categories for the plays, but these are the three main categories.
Macbeth • Written in 1606 • Shortest and bloodiest of all his plays. • James I was king. • Was James VI of Scotland prior to King of England. • Shakespeare paid homage to the King’s Scottish lineage with Macbeth.
Elements of a Tragedy • Element # 1: The Tragic Hero • There is usually only 1 tragic hero, except in love tragedies. • Only great men are Tragic Heroes
Common Qualities of a Tragic Hero • Tragic heroes are exceptional beings. • Tragic heroes contribute to their own destruction. • The difficulty is that the audience must desire the defeat/destruction of the tragic hero. • Shakespeare’s tragic heroes do not have to be “good”, but they usually are. • Shakespeare’s illustrate the center of the tragic impression. • Shakespeare’s tragic heroes live for what seems to be a type of the mystery of the whole world.
Element # 2: The Tragic Flaw • A tragic flaw is the quality within the Tragic Hero or Heroine which leads to his or her downfall. • The flaw is often an obsession.
Element # 3: The Tragic Story • Plot • The tragic story leads up to, and includes, the death of the hero. • The suffering and disasters that happen to the hero are unusual and exceptionally disastrous. • Shakespeare’s tragic heroes are responsible for their disasters and falls. • The center of the tragedy lies in the actions of the flawed character.
Element # 4: The Abnormal, The Supernatural, Fate/Fortune/Chance • Shakespeare occasionally represents abnormal conditions of the mind: insanity, hallucinations, etc. • Shakespeare also introduces the supernatural: ghosts and witches who have supernatural knowledge. • Shakespeare, in most tragedies, allows “chance” in some form to influence some of the action.
Element # 5: Tragic Conflicts • The action of the tragic hero is most often motivated by external and internal conflicts, which lead to complications from which more conflicts arise. (Snowball effect)
External Conflict There are usually 2 people or 2 groups involved in conflict. One is always the tragic hero. Internal Conflict Shakespeare’s tragic hero is at some point torn by inward struggle. The conception of outer and inner struggle includes the action of “spiritual forces”. The Conflicts
Element # 6: The Tragic Pattern • A man of high estate: a king, a prince, a general. • A flaw of a character: Within the first two acts, the reader is aware of the Tragic Hero’s obsession. • Intrusion of time and a sense of urgency. • Misreadings and Rationalizations • Murder, exile, alienation of enemies and allies- brought on by new conflicts. • Gradual isolation of the Tragic Hero. • Mobilization of the opposition.
Element # 7: Tragic Structure in the Plays As a Shakespearean Tragedy represents a conflict which ends in calamity (or disaster), any such tragedy can be divided into 7 parts. • Exposition • Initiating Incident • Rising Actions • Climax or Turning Point • Falling Actions • Moment of Final Suspense • Catastrophe
Exposition • The general atmosphere, time, place, main characters, and opening conditions of the play.
Initiating Incident • The event or action that starts the conflict and action of the play.
Rising Action • This is a series of actions usually covering more than one act. • The hero of the play (the protagonist) is the active force, trying to make things work out as he or she intended.
Climax • The protagonist reaches the peak of his or her power and a distinct change occurs in him or her as well as in the direction of the action. • Things begin to go against the protagonist, who seems to be following a downward path.
Falling Action • This also covers several scenes and shows all the ways the main events are going against the main character. • At this time, the antagonist begins to rise in power. • The conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist becomes the essence of the play.
Moment of Final Suspense • Usually found in the fifth act of a the play, the moment of final suspense has a particular function in the organization of the plot. • It is the moment when things begin to look as if they will go the way of the protagonist again. • He or she momentarily believes that tragedy will be averted.
Catastrophe • This is the complete downfall of the protagonist, either through death or some other devastating circumstance. • If the protagonist is a villain, then the catastrophe will be seen by the audience as a good thing.